Unless you’re a Filipino or have close ties to Filipinos, you probably don’t have a clue what I’m talking about when I mention anything about a balikbayan box. The word “balikbayan” is actually a combination word coined in the 1970s. “Balik” means to go back and “bayan” means home town or home country. So “balikbayan” is someone going back to their home country, but it only pertains to people going back to the Philippines.
Since I’m an American living in the Philippines (with a permanent resident visa), I become a balikbayan when I return after a trip to the US.
Balikbayans normally bring pasalubong (gifts) to friends and relatives on return flights, but the term “balikbayan box” also refers to boxes shipped via cargo containers.
With the recent 50 pound limitation introduced by most airlines (to reduce fuel costs), bringing balikbayan boxes back with the airlines becomes less and less attractive. If your box is a single pound over the limit, you can be charged $50 (in US dollars) or more. This happened to my wife when she came back for her vacation in the Philippines (she lives in both the US and the Philippines right now).
Shipping freight via well-known cargo companies is becoming more and more attractive as time progresses. The cost of shipping each box can range from $100 to $125 (in US dollars). The advantage, however, is that there isn’t a weight limit. You say you have a box that weighs 500 pounds? If they can get it on the truck that goes to the port, it isn’t a problem. I’m exaggerating of course, but it’s common to see boxes that weigh more than 100 pounds each headed to the ships.
In California, there are a lot of cargo companies. In Phoenix, there is only a handful. That handful includes Forex Cargo and Manila Forwarders. Some popular companies in southern California include those as well as LBC and Alpha Cargo. We prefer to use Forex Cargo.