*** 2015 Update. Due to stricter custom inspection regulation on all Balikbayan Boxes to the Philippines, delivery time may be between 32-45 days to Manila or in some cases 55 days. And 45-60 Days to the provinces. Custom Inspections are random and can hold batches of shipment in either US or Philippine shipping dock up to 2 weeks. Normal travel time of sea cargo shipments are between 28-30 days depending on weather conditions ****
The Balikbayan Box is forever associated with Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) and Immigrants that work hard for their family and friends abroad.
Balikbayan Boxes are care packages/pasalubongs sent by Filipino’s living or working overseas which are packed with various request and gifts for loved ones. Most commonly sent items are stuff toys, canned goods, chocolates, new and hand me down clothes, rubber shoes, DVD and games and other electronic knick knacks. When a vacationing Filipino visits the Philippines, she uses the same box as a luggage alternative packed with native souvenirs and presents they have bought for themselves.
Even with the advent of online shopping in which family members can now send gifts through local stores in the metro, other relatives that live far in the rural provinces often rely on getting these care packages-sometimes with some cash through Philippine forwarding cargo companies. Vacationers back to the Philippines use Door to Door Balikbayan services to ship out heavy luggage prior to their flights back home to avoid extra baggage fees at the airlines, something I do myself every time I fly back since I carry so much “pasalubong” for my relatives.
Balikbayan Boxes can be bought at Filipino groceries and door to door cargo offices worldwide and are delivered by the logistics/cargo forwarders company within a 30-40 day period and a 10-15 for air cargo. This is much faster than relying on Philippine Postal delivery time.
In the California, it takes about 28-35 days for the Balikbayan Box to ship to the Philippines and give another 2-3 days for customs handling & processing. In case you don’t know, Balikbayan boxes takes long to send out because they are shipped literally via sea cargo. Areas like New York, Chicago and Florida may take about 45-48 days for the boxes to arrive since they need to be sent to the Los Angeles shipping hub.
Depending on which country an OFW lives and company that does the cargo forwarding, delivery rates and limitations differ. One door to door cargo company in Israel called Pinay Namaste Cargo charges about $55.00. In the US, if you live in the West Coast, most cargo companies may charge between $40.00-60.00 while states like New York, Illinois and Florida can charge you up to $70.00 minimum since they deliver all the boxes to a port in Los Angeles.
The most popular used company of choice is LBC which has branch locations in the UAE, USA, UK, Japan, and even Canada whose services also extends from cargo delivery to money and bank remittances.
I live in San Diego, California which have several Balikbayan forwarders. The one I used the most in the past 6 years is Alas Cargo in National City. What I like about them are their option of several box sizes. They have a Tipid Box size 20x17x11 that costs about $28.00 to send to Manila as long as you drop it off at one of their branches. Last March I sent out a small care package back to my friends in Makati containing items they can only purchase here in the US. Using their debit cards, they sent me the money to buy them hair care products from Garnier (since Philippines don’t have the Sleek and Shine care line), some beauty soaps from organic stores or they would buy items from Amazon and have them shipped to my house. After receiving all deliveries of everything they wanted, I went ahead and packaged the Balikbayan Box for them.
Packaging Your Box
When packaging your balikbayan box, several things you need to make sure of are:
1. Box should be sturdy
2. Pack the box tight so that it would not bend or dent when another box is on top of it
3. Securing fragile items with foam, bubble wrap or other protective casing, so as they would not crack or break during its month long journey
4. Using good packaging tape like duct/masking tape or shippers tape
5. Clear labeling of who you are sending your BB box to
6. Do not send anything that will spoil or is perishable.
** Always check with the Cargo vendor cut of dates for shipment and how long it would take your BB Box to get to the Philippines. Most companies have online tracking that will assist you in tracking your boxes.
I was concerned with the box getting wet and soggy from the outside (even though I had a pretty thick box), so I lined the bottom of my box with plastic then bubble wrap for extra cushion. I did the same later on the sides and the top of the box before sealing.
Being that my friend ordered a large quantity of hair serums and creams, the main concern was making sure the bottles would not break & leak out its contents during shipping.
The simple solution that I used and as most Pinoys would do when sending out products w/ liquid, is to securely seal the bottle’s cap and place the bottle in an air tight plastic packaging or a zip-loc bag. In this case I used masking tape to wrap around the bottle caps and placed them in ziplock bags as extra precaution. If the bottle is made of fragile or breakable material- make sure to wrap it in protective bubble wrap or foam padding.
She also ordered some fragile accessories from Amazon, and I just used the original packaging and additional bubble wrap to secure her items. It was by good luck I was sending out some towels and bed sheets that helped with the extra cushioning of the container.
After doing a checklist of every item in the box, and video call with my friend so that she can see that her purchases are intact, I placed a plastic lining on top of the packages, tucking it in the sides of inner layer of the balikbayan box to protect it from moisture. Then I securely sealed and double sealed the box with packing tape and masking tape. Even sealing the corners in case water from outside seeps in. I made sure that her name and address are written clearly on each side of the box and clear taped over the words so that it was waterproofed.
I shipped the box on March 29th. They received the box in Makati on May 3, everything intact and accounted for. This is the first time my friends used Balikbayan Boxing to deliver items from Amazon and they were happy with the results and we plan to do another one come November when there are a bunch of sales.
For those interested in finding Balikbayan door to door forwarder in San Diego here are a few I know of. You can also check with local Filipino Groceries for recommendations of other door to door cargo companies or advertisements in Philippine Newspaper Publications throughout the US.
3126 E Plaza Blvd National City, CA 91950
8983 Mira Mesa Blvd
285 E. Orange Ave.
Chula Vista, CA 91911
Landline Mira Mesa: 858-342-9612
San Diego California Owner: Cris Sankary
Forex Florida/ Forex Cargo (Florida)
2000 Wells Road STE F Orange Park, FL 32073
904-272-7466 | 904-458-7447
Rates between $75 Metro Manila $85 Visayas & Mindanao
RDR Cargo New Jersey
76 South Washington Avenue,
Bergenfield, New Jersey 07621
Rommel – 646-371-4286
Other East Coast Resources