Sharing is definitely caring when it comes to FIlipinos. Sharing can take on many forms, one of which is sending or bringing home a balikbayan box. In this post we share tips on packing a balikbayan box, keep the box safe and essential information about top service providers, across different states in Australia, with whom you can send a balikbayan box back home.
Balikbayan is a conjoined term between two words, “balik” and “bayan”, which translate to “return” and “country”, this is the name for a returning Filipino. In 1973 the government started the initiative to encourage Filipinos overseas to come back and spend money in their home country - making the boxes tax and duty free and decreasing limits on baggage. The promotion became so popular that it was made permanent. Today, if you want to send a tax free box you need to be working overseas, your recipient must be related to you and the contents of your box cant exceed a value of 150,000 PHP. You are also limited to three tax free boxes per year.
There are more than 10 million Filipinos living and working overseas and usually, when these Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) return home or want to send their love home, the balikbayan box is the first choice.
"The balikbayan box not only contains material gifts, but also emotional value"
The box itself is unremarkable in appearance. Although it looks like any other corrugated brown cardboard, the balikbayan box is a lot more than meets the eye. It is a care package and sign of affection from loved ones.
Caring for others is a very important part of Filipino characteristics and values which is why sending these boxes for any occasion has become such a social norm. Unlike Christmas presents, balikbayan boxes are usually made up of essentials like clothes, tinned food, school supplies and useful household items. In Australia, sending balikbayan boxes has been a common way to make up for one’s absence, especially during the pandemic.
Tips on packing goods in a balikbayan box
- Coat the outer box with packing tape while still empty.
Remember to do this before you put anything inside the box, as doing so after will be a lot more difficult. Wrapping the corners will also make your box sturdier and more water-resistant.
- Seal containers with tape, and place them in a resealable bag, even if they are unopened.
A lot can happen during travel, and reinforcing leak-prone containers will prevent spillages and stains on your other items.
- Use clothes or soft items to cushion fragile items.
If you have items that you want to protect, use other soft items such as clothes or plush toys in between.
- Make sure to balance the items in terms of weight.
Place heavier items on the bottom end, fragile items in the middle, and softer items on the topmost part of the box. Doing so will prevent your box from tipping over and getting damaged.
- Remember you have to declare your items.
You will need to declare what's in the box, so write the list as you pack the box, this way you won’t forget what you already had inside.
- To maximize space, remove non-fragile items from their containers.
While shipping companies usually do not put a weight limit on the boxes (some advise not to exceed 70kgs) the size of the box is usually important. A small box is usually around 54 x 41 x 37 cm and an extra-large shipping box is around 80 x 53 x 57 cm. Double check with the provider if they have set dimensions for boxes.
If you want to send a balikbayan box home here are some businesses that offer the service:
Not keen on going through the hassle of sending a box?
You can't always send an entire box home when you want your family to know you love them. Apart from sending a balikbayan box, sending money to the Philippines may be a good alternative, as it is also a form of care. Doing so is a lot faster and your recipients can have more freedom on what to use the money for. Sable Remit can help facilitate your money transfers to the Philippines and provide better rates than banks.