The Balikbayan Box - How It Helps Filipinos Overseas When Sending Packages At Home
Balikbayan box is a Filipino luggage, usually a corrogated box made out of recycled paper containing any number of items, ranging from electronic gadgets, clothes, perfumes, toiletries , toys and perishable goods (chocolates) and sent by an overseas Filipino, usually the father of the family.
It started when a massive brain drain (importation of human resources) happened in the early 80s, usually in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia). Engineers, sailors, nurses and laborers started Philippine labor exportation when the demand skyrocketed as oil-rich countries demanded for assistance from third-world countries, like ours.
As the resurgence of overseas workers took place, the late President Ferdinand Marcos enacted a law that allows the delivery of balikbayan boxes. The Philippine Bureau of Customs Circular allowed the entry of personal goods to the Philippines from Filipinos overseas, tax free.
This was the hint for Mr. Monet Ungco to start the balikbayan box business in New York way back 1981 by founding Port Jersey Shipping. Thus, sending those balikbayan boxes through shipping or freight forwarders is most significant to family members back home.
Postal services acted as the main role player in sending such boxes. From the post office, it will be transferred to container ships, as the family is notified by the sender. The wait will take several weeks and usually lack of the exact delivery date.
Balikbayan box becomes part of the cultural expectation that returning travelers or workers will bring gifts or pasalubong to family and friends that are staying in the Philippines.
Limitations of Balikbayan boxes
Balikbayan boxes comes in three standard sizes:
- Medium: 18 x 16 x 18 inches
- Large: 18 x 18 x 24 inches
- Extra large: 24 x 18 x 24 inches
You can put any items that you like that will fit inside the box. It doesn't matter how much weigh will incur. Jumbo box is the evolution of balikbayan box since the early 90s.
Before sealing it, you have to itemize it or make a checklist of the things you've put in the box for inventory. Postal agent will inspect it for verification.
However, there are instances that it is double-check by customs officers here in the Philippines. Usual complaints include that some items are missing and the like. My aunt who's working as a nurse in Germany (until now), experienced the same tale.
For air travel, restrictions should be observe to avoid flight delays. Usually, a weight limit is issued for sailors, only a maximum of 20 lbs (pounds) each . Or we weigh it as a group luggage or baggage to compensate with other loads..
As a seafarer, we use to call it, cartoonite (an eruption of Samsonite-most popular trademark for luggage). I usually wrap it with packing tape or even paint it white or gray for good impression at the airport. For easy handling, I attach a cord or rope, like my colleagues did. .