Read of the Day: “The Things They Send Home”
6:00 pm, July 5th | by Colette McIntyre
Today’s Read of the Day is Anne Lagamayo’s Narrative.ly story about a cramped store in New York’s Little Manila where generations of Filipino immigrants gather to ship cardboard boxes full of “knickknacks, knockoffs, and love.”
Filipino tradition dictates that anyone traveling away from home, whether to another town or a different country, bring something back indigenous to the place he visited. A Filipino traveling to Baguio, a city in the northern region of the country, could bring home a basket of strawberry jam made by a local convent, while someone traveling to Hawaii might bring back macadamia nuts. Considering 8.6 million Filipinos are working and living abroad, this tradition is steeped in familial ties and unspoken obligation and runs deeper than mere souvenir collecting. It’s a way to maintain relationships much stronger than email or video conversations ever could.
On this afternoon at Pinoy Etc., Emerine is helping two Filipinos fill up a box of pasalubong to send home. Lorna Aglibot came to New York in 1988 as a medical secretary and has been sending boxes home ever since. She left behind her two children when they were eight and six years old. Now Aglibot is a certified home help aid and both her children in Manila are married with their own children, whom Aglibot is putting through school.
In a corner of the cramped store, Aglibot sets down a dozen fake Lacoste caps, an assortment of scarves, three faux leather wallets and a beige bag wrapped in plastic as Teri DeSario’s “Ain’t Nothing Gonna Keep Me from You” starts blaring from the speakers. Emerine holds out the beige bag with an indulgent smile.
“‘Abay’,” she says, calling Aglibot by the Tagalog word for bridesmaid—although neither has been a bride nor a bridesmaid for decades; it’s used as a term of endearment. “Why don’t you keep the stuffing in the bag? It’ll look nicer in the box with it.”
“No,” says Aglibot shortly. “I’m putting it in a t-shirt box.”
Aglibot opens the calculator on her battered red LG clamshell phone and starts muttering out loud, absently running her hand along the scarves. “Bag, thirty-five. Wallets are thirty. Nine. Plus twenty-five. Plus ten. Equals 109.” She removes her glasses. “Okay, that’s enough, that’s enough.”
The read the full story, click here.