Balikbayan and back

Published November 24, 2022, 12:02 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

‘Tis the season, between Halloween and Christmas, or haven’t you noticed?

There’s mobs and chaos at the airport terminals, with a history of 24 million travelers landing at or departing from NAIA between January and October 2022. Now, with such an urge as “revenge travel” and the irresistible call to spread your wings, the season of balikbayans – whoever coined that word deserves a mention in the dictionary – is upon us.

Our kababayan(s) who came ahead of the Christmas rush were in a hurry to return to the US to celebrate Thanksgiving today (our time) with their American relatives and their dear departed turkeys. For those who’ve been missing the longest Christmas party in the world, November is the best time to be here ‘cause it ain’t December yet.

When balikbayans arrive at this time of year, their hosts are just as happy to see their native land again through new eyes – the visitors’ as well as the guides’. Prophets have no honor in their own country, perhaps, but it’s not the same with tour guides, for in their hands lie the visitors’ fate and the success of their tours. Just think: Food, more fun in the Philippines! The beach, more sun in the Philippines! Shopping, more fun in the Philippines! Fun, it’s more fun in the Philippines!

The “fanmous” maker of Spanish fans in the Philippines, Casa Mercedes, puts it most breezily, “It’s more fan in the Philippines!” PH-made Spanish fans, incidentally, are a favorite souvenir of balikbayans to take home to their second countries. So are Palawan pearls, but did US Vice President Kamala Harris make time to shop in Puerto Princesa after communing with the sea, waves and wind at Palawan’s westernmost tip facing West Philippine Sea and South China Sea?

There would be no Palawan for our balikbayans, who left it to my sister and daughters to draft their itinerary; thus we dragged them kicking and singing from Silang (the less touristy alternative to Tagaytay) to Christmas country in Baguio; from high-end duty-free, Gucci-scented shopping at Luxe MOA to the other half of the world in 168 Divisoria. I would’ve wanted our tourists to drop in on Tarlac for Belenismo but the distance was intimidating to 60-year-olds.