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The Balikbayan Box - How It Helps Filipinos Overseas When Sending Packages At Home

Updated on March 24, 2011
A Balikbayan box
A Balikbayan box | Source
Filipinos with Balikbayan boxes at the airport lounge
Filipinos with Balikbayan boxes at the airport lounge
What's inside my Balikbayan Box
What's inside my Balikbayan Box | Source
How Balikbayan Box is delivered at home
How Balikbayan Box is delivered at home | Source

 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. .

Searching for my Balikbayan Box at the conveyor belt area of the airport
Searching for my Balikbayan Box at the conveyor belt area of the airport | Source

Forex Products and Services - Balikbayan Boxes, Regalo, Padala, Remittance c/o RicaMachika


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    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Georgie: Yes, it's already imbibed in our culture. You can only imagine the heave and sigh of airport staff while weighing those heavy boxes, LOL!!!

    • georgiecarlos profile image

      georgiecarlos 6 years ago from Philippines

      Whenever I go and stay abroad for a long time, I usually come home with a number of these! Haha! And I don't know why, but I always feel happy when I see these, maybe it's because I would associate it with the thought that more Filipinos coming are home :)

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @earthbound: You must try carrying it, haha! Although, balikbayan boxes should be delivered ahead of you. You don't have to carry it.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @sailor: I know that kind of experience. Hahaha! Anyways, balikbayan box is really a Filipino original. We should be proud of it. And it's TAX-FREE!

    • earthbound1974 profile image

      earthbound1974 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Must have been tough carrying it, huh?! Maybe, I'll have one of those when I work abroad.

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas

      We usually do this (LOL!). But there are times when those boxes just give up due to heavy loads.So, one must be careful packing goods and packaging it perfectly.