How is sending a balikbayan box to the Philippines during a pandemic differ from a not-too-distant past?
Despite the significant impact the coronavirus pandemic has brought to the world, life goes on, as they say. This includes trying to live the same way as before and enjoying the best things in life.
For Filipinos who have relatives overseas, one of the happy memories they can remember is opening that balikbayan box and expect surprises even if the contents are quite predictable: canned goods, pairs of shoes, chocolates, and so on.
But now that the pandemic has made things a bit difficult from traveling to places to even accessing the nearby grocery store. But whether there is a pandemic or not, the beloved gesture of sending that balikbayan box continues. After all, its presence provides joy during this depressing time.
Only that we need to know how the procedure works and so we can manage our expectations like when will they arrive or if this option of sending a balikbayan box is still worth the effort and better than alternatives like a Lazada delivery or treating the family with meal fiesta ordered online.
Rules on what goes in and which items are prohibited remain the same
The same list of items allowed and prohibited remain the same despite the apparent increased sensitivity to the virus transmission. This means if you are planning to send the usual chocolate bars, canned goods, or pairs of shoes, you should be able to continue doing so. As for products that are banned from shipment via balikbayan boxes, they too remain the same — hazardous materials and fresh meat, fruit or vegetables (in case you thought apples were a good idea), and more.
Boxes may undergo quarantine
Delivery of balikbayan box is part of the essential work that’s not restricted during the time of the pandemic. In fact, it’s the one that carries the lifeline of communities cut off by health isolations and quarantine to prevent the transmission of the virus. Speaking of quarantines, it’s possible that boxes are quarantined once they arrive in the Philippines, hence the longer delivery timeframes. Consignees are also told not to open the boxes right away to reduce the risk of infection in case the virus gets transmitted through them.
It’s also possible that authorities prevent cargo ships from disembarking immediately especially if they come from places where there’s a high number of cases of the virus.
Deliveries can expect delays
Since an additional time is possibly spent to isolate and quarantine balikbayan boxes for 1-2 weeks, delays are expected. Exacerbating this delay is that delivery of goods is currently experiencing a backlog in deliveries as shoppers turn online to buy and shipment of goods puts a strain on the logistics system. Priorities set to medical supplies, food, and other essential cargo could relegate balikbayan box delivery further back in the queue.
Community quarantines, checkpoints, and other necessary measures add to the delay. Therefore, don’t feel too bad about delays, as everyone else could be sharing the same experience with you at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Measurements are typically based on box dimensions but weight limits can also be imposed
Boxes are commonly priced based on their sizes so any allowable item inside can be fitted in. However, be aware that certain courier companies set a limit on the weight of boxes they accept for delivery. The reasons behind these restrictions vary from the type of shipment they’ll use to the well-being of workers who will be picking up and hauling your boxes from your home to warehouses, and carrying them to your recipient’s home.
There are regulations on occupational health and safety in certain countries in place to protect workers who handle balikbayan boxes manually.
Prices of balikbayan boxes should be the same
Prices are not expected to rise unless cargo companies are charged more for priority shipping of balikbayan boxes. That’s because customers are already dealing with longer delivery times and charging more may not help expedite the shipment unless using a different method such as by air instead of the conventional method of using cargo ships.
However, some businesses may charge more to cover costs of ensuring the safety of workers such as face masks, protective clothing, and hazard pay to their workers fulfilling their jobs in a more risky environment.
More Filipinos are sending balikbayan boxes
When the pandemic was declared, people have generally taken a wait-and-see attitude. This was perhaps a safety measure in case their jobs are at risk or if things turn back to normal sooner. However, when it was clear that it will take some time to deal with a worldwide COVID-19 health issue, things became clearer to them. International travel was heavily restricted and planned vacations were ditched due to flight suspensions or risk avoidance on the part of travelers.
Therefore if Filipinos cannot travel and personally hand over their gifts to loved ones in the Philippines, why not use the trusted balikbayan box to send their love? Instead of spending on airfares and spending time on isolation at quarantine facilities, overseas Filipinos can simply contact their courier agents and start packing.