Balikbayan Box Tradition: Things OFW Commonly Sends to the Philippines


Every individual has their fair share of sacrifices for their families. In fact, there are Filipinos who are left without a choice but to leave their families to look for opportunities abroad. For most, this might be a fortunate event because a lot of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) find their way to improve their financial status and state of living. As much as it is considered to be a life-changing opportunity, the sadness of being away from your family in the Philippines is the hardest part of being an OFW.

For any parent, this might be the hardest decision to make. By choosing to work abroad, you may not become hands-on on the growth of your child. Worst is that you may not be able to build a close relationship with your child as he grows.

Still, this tough decision of every individual roots from their love for their family. Who does not want to give the most convenient life for their family members if they have a chance, right? Even if there will be consequences like being homesick or the risk of having a distant relationship among your family members.

To compensate for their physical absence, a famous way to showcase an OFW’s love to their families and relatives in the Philippines is through balikbayan boxes. Aside from love, these boxes contain the fruit of hard work of an OFW and their strong desire to give the best of the best for their families. A balikbayan box is the best and only way they thought of to fill their shortcomings on their relationships to their family members.

Aside from the gifts and precious items inside the box, Filipinos love balikbayan boxes as a way to show appreciation for all the sacrifices made by their family in exchange for a convenient life. Thus, a balikbayan box is really special because of the emotions attached in every care package sent to our country. With this, if you plan working overseas understanding why Filipinos get excited with balikbayan boxes and the usual items contained by these will help you create the best care package for your family.

Read More: Top Ten Countries Where OFWs Work

Why Do Filipinos Love Balikbayan Boxes

“A manifestation of the strong desire to remain connected with their family.”

This might be the best explanation why Filipinos get excited with a balikbayan box. These balikbayan boxes are the only way for Filipino families to feel the presence and affection of an OFW. Although there are social media platforms where you can communicate and see each other virtually, balikbayan boxes has still a unique and unexplainable factor which makes it priceless for families and somehow nurture or build a strong relationship between the OFW and his family.

Gifts Ideas to Include in Your Balikbayan Box


The most common item wished by your family members and even your close friends! A balikbayan box will not be complete without chocolates and sweets. Usually, the sweets included in this package come from imported and famous brands like Hershey’s, M&Ms and others. These chocolates are usually cheaper abroad and even in Duty Free stores in Philippine airports. Families and friends are excited even with chocolates as a simple souvenir because these sweets are considered a luxury locally due to its price and rarity in supermarkets.

Canned Goods and Other Food Stuff

Like chocolates, foreign countries offer delicious canned goods compared to our local brands. However, if purchased locally, its price is way higher compared to local goods. For most, the common and wished canned good is Spam. It is an imported luncheon meat brand that is expensive if purchased in local grocery stores.

Aside from canned goods, you can also include imported chips, cookies and biscuits to let your families try the best delicacies abroad.


In foreign countries, gadget shops usually give high sales discount or you can purchase used gadgets and appliances at a low price yet in good condition. It is common for foreign nationals to catch up with latest tech trends and dispose their gadget at a low price. This is a perfect chance for those thrift gadget buyers to purchase great gadget deals abroad. Just make sure to package the gadgets well so it will arrive at a good condition to your family members.

Shoes and Clothing

Like the previous inclusions, shoes and clothing apparels have a variety of low price offers abroad especially if you are not fond of joining the hype of fashion trends. In fact, you can go to thrift shops abroad and purchase old stocks of clothing apparels and shoes at a brand new condition and cheap price.

Dietary Supplements

The best vitamins and medicines are usually manufactured abroad. Since it is normal for stores abroad to hold a huge sales discount, it is better to seize this opportunity to bring the best supplements for your family members and boost their immune system and decrease their chances of getting severely ill. Remember, the pandemic highlighted the importance of taking good care of your health.

Read More: Healthy Living: Wellness Tips for Homeowners in the Philippines

Lotions, Colognes or Perfumes

These hygiene products are considered luxuries in the Philippines especially with its price. But with proper timing in shops abroad, you can purchase such with huge discount. Imported lotions, colognes or perfumes have a long-lasting scent and variations compared to local brands. In addition, wearing imported colognes and perfumes makes you fancy especially with the unique scent it offers.

Things Not to Include in Your Balikbayan Box

Illegal Drug Paraphernalia

This is not a news for every OFW. In fact, the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine government is very strict when it comes to drug prevention and smuggling. Including illegal drugs in your balikbayan box is an unlawful activity which would make you charged of criminal liability.

Goods for Merchandising Purposes

Balikbayan boxes are defined by the Bureau of Customs as “packages of personal effects or pasalubong sent by OFWs to their families and relatives in the Philippines. Hence, this prohibits the inclusion of commercial goods in this boxes. Additionally, the care package’s value should not exceed $500 or PHP 10,000 in monetary terms.

Pornographic Materials

Like drugs, pornographic materials are illegal inclusions in a balikbayan box. Whether be it written or printed, film or images, any representation of immorality is prohibited to be included in this package.

Balikbayan Boxes: A Symbol of Love and Care of OFWs

The sacrifices and resiliency of our fellow Filipinos abroad are admirable. With their strong desire to create a better future for their family, they decided go abroad and leave their families back home. Unlike the Filipinos working locally, OFWs have long contracts which make it impracticable to go back and forth in the Philippines. The only way to express their great love and care for their families and relatives is through these balikbayan boxes. For some, these boxes show the enhanced living status of an OFW’s family. But this is more than just a box filled with random and expensive stuff. This contains the hardships of every OFW. Furthermore, this also has a magic that will give comfort and affection to their family members and most especially, put a smile on their faces.

If you are looking to give the best lifestyle to your family, you should also consider investing in a real estate property from a reputable developer like Bria Homes. We offer affordable house and lot packages as we envision to bring sheltering needs closer to every Filipino household. To learn more about our offers you may contact us through our social media platforms or book an appointment for a virtual tour of our house models.

Read More: Smart Investments OFWs Can Start Today

Written By Steven Hernandez