Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sending balikbayan boxes a way of long-distance parenting for some OFWs –expert

A migration anthropologist on Tuesday highlighted the importance of balikbayan boxes to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), as he explained the negative reactions by migrant workers to the Bureau of Customs' plan to manually and randomly inspect such packages.

Interviewed on "News To Go," Dr. Clement Camposano, a professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific, said the backlash was due to the "diasporic intimacy" of sending a package or a letter home to a loved one.

"Dito nanggagaling 'yung ganong tindi ng reaksyon ng mga OFW, kasi parang binubulatlat mo 'yung [buhay nila]," Camposano said.

He said the sending of practical goods such as shampoos to their kin in the Philippines can be seen as an attempt by OFWs to create a personal effect on their family's everyday affairs, even if their relatives prefer cash.

"Talagang nagpupumilit 'yung OFW na gumawa nung ganung desisyon kasi mahalaga sa kanila na 'yung natatanggap nung mga mahal nila sa buhay ay 'yun mismo ang gusto nila," Camposano said.

He noted that women are more prone to sending practical goods while men usually send taxable goods such as motorcycle parts, which are the kind of items the BoC is after for in its plan to manually inspect balikbayan boxes.

Camposano said female OFWs sending balikbayan boxes could be considered as "long-distance mothering," as it shows their power over their households by making "consumption decisions."

"May konting problema ito sa mga kalalakihan, lalo na kung lalaki ay tradisyonal, head of the family, haligi ng tahanan, breadwinner. Pero sa ganitong mga kaso, ang babae talaga ang breadwinner," he said.

Camposano believes that while balikbayan boxes could be used in smuggling, the BOC's inspections could only yield little if compared to the expenses it may incur.

"Sa tingin ko misplaced yung ganung klaseng emphasis," he said.

The BoC's plan to manually inspect balikbayan boxes has already been shelved upon orders from President Benigno Aquino III following the noise it created on social media by OFWs and pro-OFW groups. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News - See more at:

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