This one was different. Sure I’d sent many balikbayan boxes before, in fact that is how I sent all my stuff when I moved, but this one I awaited with much more anticipation. Watching the tracking on LBC’s site, though it seemed not to change.
My first experience with balikbayan boxes came after my previous filipina wife finally got her fiancee visa and arrived in the United States. One of the first tasks we undertook, after the marriage and government requirements, was to start shopping for the contents of BOX that we would send every few months. That was really pretty simple, as anything was needed back in the Philippines, and there were always plenty of used clothing to forward. It was easy to fill that box.
Prior to moving here, I also sent boxes at different times. Right after I got married (again) and returned home, I started sending things over. Things I wasn’t using, and that I knew would eventually be needed. Also things that I noticed were lacking and I would need for minor repairs around the house. Later, when my move became imminent, I sent everything that I had left. All that I didn’t sell or give away. Stuff I deemed useful and that would of course fit in a balikbayan box.
It had been a year since I’ve sent or received a box. I was able to get by with what I’ve found locally, for the most part. That and the cost of sending a box were the main reasons. Not that the box itself is costly to send, maybe $75 or so, but the items I’d buy to fill one could really add up. After I got my tax return, thinking I might need to pay, I decided it was time to get serious about sending another balikbayan box.
So what was different about this one? Well to start with I was not in the States to buy everything, pack it up and send it over. I had to go about it “differently.” I was able to enlist my brother to do the dirty work of getting the box and packing it up for me. It was not quite that simple, as he also had to buy a few things for me.
For the most part I ordered items online and had them shipped to his house. That went fairly well, for me anyway, other than a few minor issues like missing product or wrong items. Nothing too serious. My brother also had to deal with storing these items until such time as the box was ready to be shipped. I’m lucky to have a brother/friend like this. I know.
I’ve heard it said that it’s like Christmas when they receive a box here. It certainly was for me, with the difference being that I bought all the presents for myself. Much of the box contained upgrade parts (pickups, nut, tuners, bridge, tailpiece, wiring kit, knobs, etc.) for my Hamer Echotone electric guitar. There was also a custom speaker for the amplifier, and NOS (New Old Stock vintage) tubes. Items that just aren’t available here in the quality and/or specifications I wanted. I also had some OTC medicine, again not available here, a new pair of Levi’s, razor blades, spinach and cilantro seeds, clipper blade and various household items. In almost all cases, things that I could not find here. It may not sound like much but it was many hundred dollars worth of items, and more importantly exactly what I wanted.
I write a lot about adapting to things here. Learning to live with what’s local, and for the most part I try to do that. This box was definitely an exception. I was able to get by a year before sending one though, so I thought I did pretty well. I could have lived without all those things of course, but I guess I’ve still got some attachment to things that I’ve not been able to let go of yet.