Once Upon A Flight to Taiwan And Related Memories

Back during the days when the governments of the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of China in Taiwan were in very good and cordial terms, we had that opportunity of visiting Taipei and surrounding communities. The short plane flight from Manila to Taipei was a respite from the usual hectic Makati work days.

(Above is a dated video of the final minutes before the touchdown of a plane on the runway of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Don’t worry, there was no untoward incident that happened on that landing. The amateur video is very shaky and somehow blurry.)

On this particular flight of a Saturday morning about 8:00 o’clock, majority of the passengers were returning OFWs (overseas foreign workers) to Taiwan. Their bulky luggage include food and cosmetic products made in the country which were personal gifts (pasalubong) to fellow workers and, as personal stock.

Some of the over sized baggage were to be dropped-off to a retailer for a token price. For the returning-to-work Pinoy worker, it was additional income to augment the measly sum of monthly salary from their employers.

In the city of Taipei alone, Filipino-Taiwanese (retailers) businessmen have set-up warehouse stores within their apartments, stocked with Philippine-made and manufactured products that ranged from health care, personal hygiene (toothpaste, bath soap, mouthwash, face cleanser, etc.), canned foods, biscuits, oh yes, even bagoong and balut. Ask for it and surely one will find the item on the storage bin.

The Chinoy retailers maintained preferred “Manila agents” who pack ordered products and goods and dropped off at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for the waiting warm body carriers. Sort of, a small scammy operation to the effect.

Other than Taiwan, the business of “carrying” was so infectious that Bangkok, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney, and even Los Angeles and San Francisco were part of the scheme. Frozen milk fish (bangus) were being dropped-off in Seoul, too. Turned out that the milk fish contain more than what the Seoul customs agents expect.

And since this was a round trip rendevouz for some, the return home baggage consists of vitamins and medicines, perfumes, brand named bags, chocolates, orchids and flowers, etc.

We can always credit the strong will power of the Filipino despite hardships and adversities, try to circumvent and find ways to overcome and triumph over it. But when that attitude is used to do more than the right thing, in the end, some find themselves in hapless, sometimes death-courting, situation which should have been expected like the many that languish in the jails of China and middle east Asian countries.