Eileen R. Tabios


I forgot the giftbox was the gift.

I forgot gifts carefully differentiated among recipients—the matron’s painstaking definitions of servants versus those served.

I forgot the classic contents of the Filipino Balikbayan Box:
Dove soap
L’Oreal shampoo
Colgate (“has to be Colgate, not Crest”) toothpaste
SPAM corned beef
Set of Encyclopedia Brittanica from the 1970s
Nestle’s Quick chocolate
Folger’s (nowadays, Walmart house brand) coffee
Irish Spring soap
Libby’s corned beef
Costco Vitamin B-12
See’s chocolates
Back issues of
Conde Nast Traveler, The New Yorker, Marie Claire,
Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Glamour
Oil of Olay lotion
Almay lotion
Ziploc plastic bags
Reynolds aluminum foil and saran wrap
Campbell’s soups
Nine West and Liz Claiborne purses (“from factory outlets”)
Parker pens with refills
Osh Kosh playsuit
Baby Gap, Old Navy and Fisher Price onesies
Bayer aspirin
Carnation instant creamer
Nail polish: “L’Oreal for family, Maybelline or Wet n Wild for the servants”
Pantene for family, Suave for neighbors”

I forgot the luxury of appointments.

I forgot Tequila Corazon de Agave alchemized from the heart of blue agave bred in the rich, red soil of the “Highlands” in Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico.

I forgot W Hotel’s promise to balance “style” and “soul.”

I forgot the feminism advocated by diamond traders: Women of the World! Buy Your Own!

I forgot Microsoft snooping on our passions.

I forgot Ford’s definition of “Escape”: blowing by a mountain-high 18-wheeler through 200 horsepower V8.

I forgot shoes subject to credit approval.

I forgot Las Vegas’ invitation to be at home with The Topless, The Wet, The White: Mandalay Bay!

I forgot the artist who traded identity for a Tiffany house brand.

I forgot a silver platter on the beach. I forgot a platter serving sunlight.

I forgot financial advisors attuned to the good.

I forgot the glimpse of eternity in black obsidian.

I forgot life defined through the credit card.

I forgot Lexus engineers.

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