“What do you want for pasalubong? I will prepare a balikbayan box.”, my siblings asked via Skype. I always look forward to reunions. It is not often my siblings from the US come home to the Philippines. The last time we were together here was in 2003, when our father died. So when a wedding in the family last January got scheduled, everyone made travel plans.
The balikbayan box is so precious because it conveys love in a box, and also represents hard work and love for our family and friends.
When I picked up my siblings from the international airport, I often wonder what is inside each of those balikbayan boxes. A Manila Bulletin article “What’s the most precious thing you’ve ever put in your balkibayan box?” gives us a glimpse.
My favorites are: the iPad2 I sent my wife for her birthday and the laptop I sent to my daughter so she won’t have to go to computer shops anymore for school stuff. —Randy Villegas, Saudi Arabia
My mother has cancer and I send her medicines… I find comfort in the fact that even if I can’t always be with her; I can still take care of her with the medicines that I send. —Doeleth in KSA
I saved just so I can buy clothes, shoes, even groceries that I can fit in a big balikbayan box. Opening these boxes has been a favorite bonding activity of my family. —Aileen in Dubai, UAE
The balikbayan box that my siblings prepare truly represents the love and joy of giving. It is different for every one. One sister packs her balikbayan box with food items while another sibling puts in towels and bedsheets. Another family member, sends books or costume jewelry from garage sales. These are items not normally found in the Philippines. But see, there are many common items inside the balikbayan box like canned goods, chocolates, bedsheets, clothes, or personal care products like lotions, perfumes, make-up, and gadgets like mobile phones and tablets. Sometimes, there are very specific items like a particular pair of shoes or shirts bought on sale. Then, there is the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFWs) who prepare the box for months, as they watch out for sale items. Whatever the gift items, our OFW or balikbayan family member is sending love inside the box when they bring it home or sent through a courier.
But there are times, you want to send it ASAP like birthday, graduation or anniversary gifts. The delivery date of a balikbayan box is usually not reliable. It could take 60 days or, even longer to arrive. Sometimes, when there is an occasion, or the item is perishable, it becomes a challenge. It’s a good thing there are now options like iRegalo that allow you to easily send items . Their site, www.iregalo.ph, allows you to buy items like smartphones, flowers, and other gadgets online. They will then deliver nationwide in the Philippines. Now, that is so convenient.
Pretty soon, iregalo will be introducing new product categories to give the OFW choice and control. Now this is something to watch out for. How exciting!