I don't know if it's just a Filipino thing or what, but just about every Filipino person I know of who has a relative in the U.S. will tell you that America smells. No, not the way you think. It may stink for real, especially if you're one of it's jaded citizens, but the smell I speak of is of something foreign, far and different from anything you know. It is the scent that evokes memories of loved ones beyond reach, it conjures up the life they are living without you, away from you, in spite of you. Yet, here is this brown box we call a balikbayan box that when opened releases the smell of love, of family, of caring, of devotion, of America, and once again we are connected to our loved ones. We are reminded that we are loved. That we are cared for. That somewhere out there in this universe, someone thought of us to send this gift.
I read a very touching post about this recently on one of the blogs recently discovered. It is titled Amoy Amerika or Smells like Amerika. It is a story by KC of an anticipated balikbayan box from her brother and family who recently migrated to the U.S. It is the first box from them and she rushes home everyday in anticipation. Read her touching story and you'll get a glimpse of how it is to be on the other side of the balikbayan trail.