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O may gas, o may gas. No, this does not pertain to the gas used for cooking. These were words uttered by lola Aurora, a former OFW and one of the people featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show, Parts Unknown. Lola Aurora’s “o may gas” (oh my gosh) was directed towards a balikbayan box filled with Christmas gifts sent by a loved one abroad. As she probably did dozens of times during her over 30 years of working abroad, sending these boxes are a big part of the OFW culture. Retired and back in the Philippines, she is now on the receiving end of the packages filled with small gifts of love and thought. I must admit, I was looking forward to the Parts Unknown episode on the Philippines to see where Anthony Bourdain went, ate and drank. He is after all a chef and food writer. What I didn’t expect was that the episode on the Philippines would be more about the Filipino than the food. I must also admit that I cried while watching the episode…twice. Not twice during one viewing, but once on the first and once on the second. Lola Aurora’s story is the story of so many Filipino women, a story of strength, of sacrifice and of selflessness. Working abroad is difficult enough, but leaving children behind to take care of someone else’s children must add that bit more salt to the wound. Bourdain uses food as a vehicle to see through peoples, cultures. While the segment on lola Aurora starts with her kare-kare, it eventually goes to her tale of heroism, not just for her family, but for the lives she has touched while working abroad. One such life was Parts Unknown Producer/Director Eric Osterholm. The Emmy Award-winning producer was raised and cared for by lola Aurora since he was six months old. Like Anthony Bourdain’s daughter, who since birth has been under the care of a Filipino nurse/nanny, Osterholm too, grew up with lola Aurora beside him in every step and has been his “mother” for two decades..

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