4 Truths Behind Every Balikbayan Box

It’s the holiday season again in the Philippines. Christmas lights outline homes and buildings. You carefully plan what to cook for the family for noche buena. Children carollers happily belt out the latest Christmas-themed TV station ID.

Everyone rushes to buy last minute presents. And since it’s just as much the season for receiving as it is for giving, you’re looking forward to the gifts you’ll be getting this year. Among them, the ever-dependable balikbayan box sent by your loved ones from far away. The Pinoy’s image of Santa Claus, except that he comes in the form of a huge, taped-up cardboard box.

But every balikbayan box has a bittersweet journey, most especially for loved ones who are off in some distant corner of the world. Pinoys abroad, especially Overseas Filipino Workers, certainly try to make up for missing Pasko sa ‘Pinas by gifting their friends and family members in kind–and you can imagine how it is no easy feat.

Beneath all the shiny new clothes and shoes and bags and packages of assorted chocolates, beneath the imported canned goods and household necessities, lies the harsh reality of balikbayan boxes–presents, not presence. Here are a few things to think about when yours finally arrives this year:

1. Balikbayan boxes aren’t filled in an instant.

With all the random food and household items filling your box to the brim, you would think it would be as easy as going on a single trip to the supermarket. The truth is that it actually takes a lot of planning; your loved ones think about what you might need, what you want, and what their budget can accommodate. It can involve visiting multiple stores to look for good deals and discounts. It can involve several months’ work of saving coupons. It’s hard work.

2. Getting the boxes to recipients at home is a long process.

One thing recipients tend to miss and take for granted is the logistics behind every balikbayan box shipment. After the sender finishes selecting and shopping for every item, then they have to look for a freight forwarder service, make arrangements to physically transfer the box, and pay taxes and fees. From wrapping each item up to sending the final box home, there’s no denying that a lot of time and effort goes into getting that box home to each doorstep.

3. Balikbayan boxes take a lot of sacrifice.

At times, your loved ones have to scrimp on their own expenses to buy the items making their way to you. Extra tipid, and they’ll be able to get you the shoes you’ve been wanting for a long time. Sometimes, sending balikbayan boxes home even means they’re willing to forego trips back to the Philippines and instead, send their gifts in their place. Difficult, when they want to be home, and even more difficult because Christmases in the Philippines are to spend with family.

4. Sometimes, balikbayan boxes are as close to home as OFWs can be.

When loved ones who are abroad want to be home, but can’t, the only thing is to make do. It’s easy to think that a special item in your box is there because it’s your favorite, but it can go way deeper than preference or personal touch. A mother could send food home to her child, to feel like she’s still providing for them on a day-to-day basis. A son or daughter could send home gadgets to their parents, to feel like they can still talk constantly. With all the reasons they have to send particular gifts, the things in your balikbayan box are personalized to let you know even though they wish to be with you, you don’t have to feel otherwise.

The balikbayan box will continue to be a symbol of Filipinos’ love for their families and friends in spite of hardship and distance. Along with remittances, these boxes let families reach each other while being far apart, especially this Christmas season. This truly is a connection that deserves all the promise of safe and reliable service. By sending remittances via MetroRemit, loved ones in the Philippines can be assured of an easy and hassle-free way of sending money to their families without any worries.

What’s more, apply for a FREE Metrobank OFW ATM Savings account now to avail of the Premyo sa Padala promo, and get a one-time Php 100 bonus cash and additional monthly Php 55 cash gift for six consecutive months of remittances. Definitely an extra treat for OFW families. Make the most of your loved ones’ hard-earned padala, and show them how you truly value their love.

With MetroRemit, sigurado ka rito. INQUIRER.NET/MF

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