Because objects tie us to home, the things we carry are about the self we want to keep. Where there is no packing lightly when objects come to represent who we are, where we’ve been, where we hope to go. Where the usefulness of objects becomes secondary to the task of keeping, if not holding tight, lest self and memory and meaning are lost in the act of leaving.
But notions of migration – not just movement – are carried by the balikbayan box itself as symbol, the box from which these objects sprout. It’s in that way that these objects, while representative of what keeps people tied to spaces and selves left behind, is also about how many lives are rendered ephemeral and transient, in constant flux, in an ongoing process of coming and going.
In that sense, these objects’ meanings cannot but change, rendering stability untrue, putting a spotlight on the ideas that surround migration as a gift to nation. Because these objects are about home. This one from which we come, this one that has made a business out of letting its people go, sacrificing families and children’s upbringing, putting into question truths of completeness and normalcy.