Yeah, I'll never understand the mathematics behind sending something from the U.S. (at high costs) versus buying the exact same
product locally in the PI (at low costs). I know it is a cultural thing so I accept it to a certain degree. But I am sure I will never, never ever, understand
Actually, mahal ko and I have had some discussions on this that might shed some light. In advance, I acknowledge that you said exact same, but...
She sometimes sends things over there because the quality of goods we have here is better than those available there. The example I kept getting was towels and tee shirts. I've known her and other filipinas who'd buy medium to low quality towels, tees, etc here and ship them over. They would be considered treasured gifts from the recipients. I suspect that's because the expectation of higher quality here causes the manufacturer to ship their better goods here, even when they are actually produced in Asian countries.
Another example would be that the "same exact" product(s) aren't actually that, because they are made somewhere else. This example applies to things like candy bars and chocolate. When I was travelling over there to visit her, I'd have to bring big bags of Hersheys, Cadbury, and even the small snack size of candy bars. When I recognised that there were places there (e.g. Manila) that you could actually buy the "same exact" products a lot cheaper, she told me that people could actually taste the difference and when I tried them I agreed. Sweets here are actually sweeter than the same products available over there.
This applies to artificially sweetened products too. Although I understand that "Diet Coke" (here) and "Coke Lite" (there) are the same formulation, there is a substantial difference in taste. And rest assured I tested a lot over there.
Don't even get me started with McDonalds.