Every time your nanay or tatay working in Dubai sends you a balikbayan box, you probably get excited about unboxing it hoping to find some new branded shirts or a pair of imported shoes. But have you ever wondered how that box arrived at the doorsteps of your home? Unbeknownst to many, a balikbayan box has more stories to tell than being a simple package of imported goods. Stories of hard work, homesickness, sacrifices, and other experiences working abroad are all included in this special box.
With that said, let’s shed some truths about balikbayan boxes so you can appreciate these special parcels even better.
Balikbayan Box is Hard Work
It’s already a given that working abroad is hard but the task is even harder when OFWs have to make ends meet just to buy those size 10 shoes or that new tablet you “really need”. Not to mention, it takes careful planning to fit everything in the box, plus the multiple trips to different stores just to find the best deals and discounts they could avail.
Sending Balikbayan Box is a Long Process
Aside from planning, sending a balikbayan box to the Philippines takes a long process before it reaches its destination. From wrapping each item, finding a reliable forwarder, to paying the corresponding fees and making arrangement to ship the package, sending the box is extra work that the recipients tend to easily take for granted.
Balikbayan Boxes Suffer from Shipment Issues
Sad truth: balikbayan boxes also suffer from shipment issues from unreliable forwarders. In fact, Dubai got the highest number of complaints about balikbayan box shipments in the past years. This ranges from late deliveries, shipment damages to lost package and even pilferage.
Balikbayan Boxes are Subject to Exploitation
As if shipments issues are not enough, another hard truth about balikbayan boxes is that they are prone to exploitation. Since sending balikbayan boxes valuing below Php150,000 is now duty- and tax-free for qualified Filipinos while abroad (QFWA) according to the law, many have seen this opportunity to exploit the said privilege scheme. Unfortunately, this encouraged illegal deeds such as item misdeclaration and smuggling. This even created a tension between OFWs and the Bureau of Customs.
Balikbayan Box is a Symbol of Filipinos’ Love for their Families
While it’s true that balikbayan boxes can be easily taken for granted, it’s still worth the effort to go all the trouble of sending them to your loved ones. True, the balikbayan box represents the daily struggles of our OFW relatives, but it also symbolizes their great love for us—the picture of them overcoming their homesickness just to give us the best things in life. For all the missed occasions—birthdays, graduation, Christmas, etc.—, these boxes serve as their hugs and kisses to the families left back home.
And for us recipients, the balikbayan box we receive from Dubai to the Philippines is the symbol of our simple happiness—the happiness that despite the lack of presence, we still have presents to hold onto from our loved ones that worked to provide for us, and that we would treasure and appreciate by heart.