The Things They Send Home
Inside a cramped store in New York’s Little Manila, generations of Filipino immigrants stuff and ship cardboard boxes full of knickknacks, knockoffs and love.
There is hardly enough room in the store for the boxes, so May Emerine stacks them carefully behind the counter, the small ones balanced precariously on top of the bigger ones, all wrapped in white paper, all scribbled with an address in the Philippines, all lined up against the wall.
The store is busy the day I visit—Emerine is cataloguing the boxes to be sent out the next morning and arranging the new displays on the shelves, all while yelling out instructions to her newest store assistant, Diane Ajigue, who is helping out with the money transfers.
"Where's the music?" May calls out to the backroom as she hauls in an armful of wrappers, nearly whacking a customer on the forehead as she turns around. "I don't like it when it's quiet."