Around this time every year, and even a little earlier, it is the time that the balikbayan boxes are being packed with an array of items that is needed. It is time for the Christmas boxes to be sent.
What, you ask, is a balikbayan box? I’m glad you asked. It is a corrugated cardboard box that overseas Philippine workers typically would send to their families back home.
In fact, the Philippine government has made special regulations and exceptions to ease the shipment of items by the OFW home. According to Wikipedia, it, “Provides duty- and tax-free privileges to balikbayan boxes sent to the Philippines by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as recognition of the magnitude of their contribution and sacrifices in foreign lands as well as bringing of a considerable amount of foreign exchange annually that contributed to the national recovery effort at that time. This allowed tax-free entry of personal goods in the country from Filipinos overseas.”
Over time, they have become a wonderful way to send what is called “Pasalubong” or translated from the Tagalog, “a gift for when you welcome me”. The tradition of taking a small gift when you visit has morphed into sending a gift for many reasons.
When we send boxes to the children’s home, it is often for a much more practical reason. We find that some items we used to ship are now available there but other things either are not readily available or after the cost of traveling to where they can be purchased, it is less expensive to ship. Some things like vitamins and supplements we have found, is hard to get a good quality product for a price close to what we can get here and ship.
The Christmas boxes always have a mix of items. We will pack smaller boxes for individuals in the big box and then include things that are needed for general use.
Some examples for this year, a battery powered lantern so that they can do studies when the power is out. Living that close to the equator, the length of the day is much closer to 12 hours of light year around than they are in the USA where most of our followers live.
A large cast iron skillet to add to one previously sent. They had previously had very lightweight cookware to use.
Several head lice combs and treatment kits. Because the children almost always have to sleep on the floor, this is a constant problem.
Shampoo and conditioner. We have received a donation of a nice amount of shampoo and conditioner. Higher quality items are quite expensive in the town where they do the shopping.
I am hoping to buy a digital camera so that they can send pictures. The lady in the town that used to let them use her camera has moved to Manila to work.
These boxes cost about 80 cents a pound to $1.00 a pound to ship so we try to be careful to ship items that are not only good quality, but can be expected to last a long time. This sounds expensive because there is the cost of goods in addition to the cost of shipping. Compare it to sending a small box, under 4 lbs. Those cost $10.00 per pound and are only for emergencies and items that HAVE to get there in a hurry.
I have enough items to send at least two boxes, but right now only have funds in the budget to send one box. The shipper we have used previously charged $125.00 per box. We got the name of a person that is reported to ship for less than that so we are going to try them this time.
If you have questions, I would love to hear from you.
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