Cookai is a 26-year old Print Producer who hails from Bulacan, a province north of Manila in the Philippines. Coming from a tight-knit family with only one sister as a sibling, she’s used to having a complete family around her most of the time. But like many Filipinos, her sister Kei chose to pursue better work opportunities overseas. A lucrative offer came from a company in South Korea and after months of prayers, she decided to take it.
Cookai and her parents have visited Kei in Korea, but nothing beats having her sister beside her at all times. When Kei decided to work overseas, everything changed. Instead of all four of them together in the family – her mom, dad, Kei, and Cookai – now, it was just her parents and Cookai on every important holiday. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months until it was already three years that her sister was in Korea, but the family never really got used to Kei not being around. Not many people would know that extreme loneliness plagues both the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and the families who are left behind.
“It’s really hard. Especially pag Christmas. S’yempre sanay kami talaga na complete kami sa bahay. Pero ganun talaga, eh.”
[It’s really hard especially during Christmas. We’re used to having the family all together at home but that’s the way it is now.”]
This Christmas though, they got a simple but meaningful surprise from Kei. She couldn’t celebrate with them, but that didn’t mean she didn’t show her love. She sent groceries that her family in Manila could use for their Christmas celebration!
“Naexcite kami sobra. Minsan naman kasi hindi lang pera yung kailangan, eh. Alam ko na si Ate, gusto niya iparamdam sa amin na she may be far, but she is thinking of us this Christmas. More than anything, yung goodies na pinadala niya, hindi lang tulad ng pinadalang pera – may effort attached to it; pinag-isipan and I find it more thoughtful.”
[We were really excited. Sometimes, it’s not really money that’s needed. I know my elder sister wanted us to feel that though she may be far away, she was thinking of us during Christmas. More than anything, it was the goodies she sent us, unlike money that is sent, that showed some effort attached to it. Knowing that there was some thought involved in it made the gesture more thoughtful.]
The fact that a loved one actually took the time to choose and buy something makes the act of giving much more personal. Yes, money is important, but a goody basket sends the very tangible message that the loved one working abroad is reaching out in the most concrete way possible. It conveys the message that each and every item sent was chosen carefully knowing what the family back home needs and will appreciate. For Cookai, it’s almost as if Ate Kei herself handed her family the groceries herself.
This is the Pinoy way of doing things, right? You reach out as much as you can and embrace your loved ones in a virtual hug that they can feel as soon as they get their package. Yes, Kei is still in another land, far away from her loved ones, but that doesn’t mean she can’t break bread with them especially during the season closest perhaps to Filipinos’ hearts. Christmas is special to all Filipinos and all it takes is a tiny reminder – a gift pack, a balikbayan box, a gift certificate – to tell those back home that all is well, that the miles apart cannot overcome the closeness of hearts.
If you want to reach out to your own family and make them feel your caring presence regardless of where you are, head on to BeamAndGo and get them a digital gift certificate for use with your chosen merchant. If you have any questions on how to get started, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message using Viber or WhatsApp at +63 949 839 3322. We are getting more and more merchants to serve your family back home and this will serve to keep you closer to them.