More often than not, in major airports abroad, check-in counters that service airlines flying in and out of the Philippines are always the busiest. Visiting Filipinos (balikbayans) are accompanied with excessive baggage. A funny sight, balikbayans would be rearranging their boxes and suitcases for everyone to see. The contents would be scattered on the floor; ever present are Brazilian corned beef, soft and fluffy towels, pairs of shoes, t-shirts, chocolates, toys, make-up, cologne, big bottles of shampoo and lotion, etc. But to us, Filipinos, that is normal — bringing home goodies bought with hard-earned money to share with the family and relatives and, sometimes, even the whole barangay — more normal, in the eyes of our kababayans, than coming home unannounced then taking a French leave.
While they are enjoying their holiday, they’d be hoarding on stuff that they miss the most to bring with them back abroad. The OFW’s from Ilocos favor cornik, dried mangoes, dried pusit, dried marunggay and saluyot, bottled bugguong and monamon bugguong, Zip-lock-packed longganisa, tupig, cassava suman and fresh Philippine mangoes. Most balikbayans hoard on medicine (especially antibiotics and heart maintenance pills, which are prescription drugs and can’t be sold over the counter abroad), banana ketchup, Mang Tomas Lechon Sauce, bottled bangus, Purefoods Corned Beef, Choc-Nut, dried monggo, Goldilock’s Pulvuron and any other food they are able to can or bottle then seal. Eskinol Classic is always on top on my two sisters’ pabili lists. In the age of dual face powder, my mother still asks me to buy her Summer Cake in Russet, the foundation you have to use with a wet sponge.
Nowadays, it’s more convenient traveling with boxes instead of suitcases. Heavy-duty suitcases are expensive, and the cheaper kind won’t last more than a round trip. I tried buying an inexpesive expandable biyahera bag in Divisoria the last time I traveled because my suitcase wouldn’t fit all my stuff and the “mga pabili at pasalubong”. Upon arrival in LA, one of the four ball casters on the bottom was already missing. On our trip back home, the stitching on the zipper was starting to break. I was lucky the bag didn’t explode from overstuffing.
In Ilocos, double wall balikbayan boxes made of recyclable paper are available at Ace Marketing, 5 Sisters Emporium, Jackie’s, Makarismus and Town Bakery.
Forget about traveling in style… travel the practical way.