It’s 8 PM and Anina is dashing from one store to another in upper Manhattan. From books to cologne, a magic eraser and even a microwave cover, Anina works through a shopping list for family and friends back in Manila, before boarding her flight in the morning.
In the Philippines, an expatriate who returns is called a Balikbayan — a combination of the Tagalog words “balik” meaning to return, and “bayan” country. Filipinos arrive in their homeland laden with goods from abroad packed into suitcases and balikbayan boxes.
On the other side when Balikbayans leave again for the U.S, their suitcases are refilled with items from the Philippines.
Rosalind Tordesillas spoke to fellow Filipinos who struggle with heavy baggage and endure the scrutiny of customs officers to maintain this tradition. Listen to her story:
Listen to earlier episodes of the Dream City podcast – Mona Escapes and The Reunion
Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation.