By Yay Padua-Olmedo
The balikbayan (overseas Filipino) box is utterly, incredibly Pinoy.
So ubiquitous, it’s become iconic, declaring to all and sundry that a kababayan who has left the country and planted his feet on an overseas “land of milk and honey” has in fact finally “arrived”― both literally and figuratively.
“Oy, ang yaman na ng arrive mo!” (Wow, you’ve become rich!)
“OFW (overseas Filipino worker) kasi!”
“Nag-migrate na kasi si Ate sa Tate (United States)!”
“Nagpadala nga ng balikbayan box.”
And what’s inside that balikbayan box? All nice-smelling katas-ng-Saudi (“fruit of working hard;” you must have seen these decals on jeepneys) or overseas strivings―branded clothing, towels and beddings, canned goods and yummies in sachets, chocolates galore, even toiletries, soaps and detergents.
So regular was someone’s balikbayan box padala (sendings) to Manila, a relative was heard to have carelessly remarked: “Naku, nakakasuka na!” (Makes me vomit!)
Imagine that! Someone’s blood, sweat and tears unappreciated by someone he probably cares for.
It takes quite some time and effort to fill one balikbayan box. A new purchase gets added with a bit of extra money; until it gets filled; then sealed; then picked up for weeks of journey to even the remotest barangay within these islands.
So if you’ve recently received a balikbayan box, remember the long nights, overtime work, even the inhuman working conditions the sender may have been through to stuff that box for your sake.
This too is etched in that balikbayan box: Someone’s dream to soar higher and be better than his former state. Couple that with the pain involved in deciding to leave family and relations to be productive even in an alien environment.
(I believe one should never leave his or her spouse and children to pursue a career overseas. But what if his situation has for a long time been dire or hopeless? Seeking God’s Word therefore and His will is very important.)
Because dreams cannot be boxed in.
It must have been painful for Abraham to leave his country for a place totally unknown. But because he heard from God, he was confident God would bless him.
Genesis 12:1-3―Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So don’t despise or belittle that balikbayan box. More than anything, it is filled with the graciousness and the kindness of one so blessed that he is happy to also bless you.