If there is one thing that is uniquely Pilipino it is the Balikbayan Box. Balik is the word for “return” and Bayan translates to “country” or “homeland”. If you are visiting someone in the Philippines, as you leave your hosts will always tell you “Balik balik”, in other words “Please return ” or “Please visit us again”. Bayan can also refer to a person as in Kababayan, meaning “Countryman”. Balikbayan then is a Pilipino who is returning to their country.
A balikbayan box is a way for overseas Pinoy to send goods home to the RP. These could be goods they would bring as they move back to the Philippines or goods they will simply ship back to the Philippines to help their families. It is the latter that they are most used for. The boxes are packed into containers and travel by container ship so there are no weight restrictions. That’s right. You don’t pay by weight which is a great advantage over other shipping methods. Price is determined by size of the box and destination. It usually takes about three weeks for the boxes to arrive in Manila if they are shipped from the west coast of the US. They then must clear customs which is handled smoothly by your shipper and then delivered to their final destination. Boxes intended for the Metro Manila area usually take about four weeks from the time they leave port in the US until they reach your family or friends. Boxes to outlying provinces must be shipped again from Manila to their respective locations and will take another one or two weeks depending on how far they are from Manila. Shipping costs range from approximately $50-$90 depending on size and final destination. Compare that to UPS, FedEx, DHL or other worldwide shippers and you can easily see how much of a bargain a balikabayan box really is. Balikbayan box shippers are located throughout the world wherever there is a significant Pinoy population, like the US, UK, Australia and many other countries.
To send a box you must first visit your local shipper. My preferred shippers is Atlas Shipping Co. and they have an office conveniently located near to me.
Below is a foto of their Sacramento CA office.
Now what do you fill the boxes with?