Filipino expats send balikbayan boxes regularly to their kith and kin back home GULF NEWS ARCHIVES

Dubai: Officials have reminded Filipino expatriates to send their balikbayan boxes, or care packages, through legitimate cargo companies.

Ahead of Christmas, Filipinos customarily send goods such as household appliances, chocolates, toys and clothes packed in a balikbayan box to families back home as early as September as delivery could take between one to two months depending on the destination in the Philippines.

Charmaine Mignon Yalong, commercial attache for Middle East and Africa, said: “We always warn the public that these are your love boxes. These boxes contain items that you bought with your hard-earned money. The last hurdle is really getting them to your families. We have a list of accredited Filipino companies and their foreign agents at the Department of Trade and Industry. Please choose from the listed companies as we can assure you that they are the legitimate ones.”

Yalong said the almost 50 cargo companies shipping balikbayan boxes to the Philippines are currently in the process of forming an alliance under the Philippine Business Council to ensure that all concerns in the sector are resolved.

“This will enable them to have a platform to discuss concerns and provide solutions for them. It will be easier to distinguish fly-by-night operators if the legitimate ones are under one group that is being monitored not only by the UAE Government, but by the Philippine Business Council also and, in some ways, by Manila’s Department of Trade and Industry,” she said.

Yalong said the number of complaints they received this year against fly-by-night operators has significantly dropped to just 10 compared to an average of 20 in 2016 and 2017.

Five new legitimate freight forwarding companies opened branches in Dubai this year that cater to the Filipino market: PEP Express Cargo, Sea Breeze Cargo, Imerex Forwarders, Umac Forwarders Express, and Best Cargo.

Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes welcomed the new players to the market as the more service agents there are in the market, the better the competition and rates will be.

Efren Artillaga, Operations Manager of PEP Express Cargo, said 2,000 balikbayan boxes are collected in the UAE daily by “big players”.

This is expected to double or triple around this time of the year since issues of non-delivery and pilferage of boxes have been resolved.