The Joys of Receiving a Balikbayan Box

It's finally here!

After almost two months of waiting, the balikbayan box jammed with things for Little C has finally arrived. All the stuff we bought is actually available in the baby stores in Manila, but based on our calculations, the price difference, including shipping costs, will still save us a considerable amount. Big C and I decided that since we had enough time before Little C gets here, it was more prudent for us to order baby stuff from the US and have it shipped, instead of purchasing it in Manila. Here's a glimpse of all the goodies we got for Little C, with a little surprise smuggled in for big brother J.

Just to give you an idea of how much we were able to save by doing this, here's a breakdown of our costs for the items we purchased for J and Little C.

Item Qty Purchase Price Peso Price Manila Price Savings
Fisher Price Booster Seat 1 29.99 1,289.57 2,500.00 1,210.43
Sophie the Giraffe Teether 1 16.92 727.56 1,080.00 352.44
Kiddopotamus Swaddler (Large) 2 22.04 947.72 1,600.00 652.28
Sony Baby Call Nursery Monitor 1 32.99 1,418.57 3,000.00 1,581.43
AVENT 2-pack Newborn Nipples 2 8.48 364.64 599.50 234.86
AVENT 2-pack Slow Flow Nipples 1 4.02 172.86 299.75 126.89
AVENT 2-pack Fast Flow Nipples 2 8.04 345.72 599.50 253.78
Summer Infant 3-Pack Swaddle Me 1 22.45 965.35 2,400.00 1,434.65
AVENT BPA Free 11oz Bottles (3pk) 2 37.38 1,607.34 7,798.50 6,191.16
Minus Shipping Costs -2344.13
Total Savings 9,693.79

The prices in green are estimates of how much these items cost in Manila. I remember checking out the booster seat in Baby Company and I put an estimated price since there are a lot of kinds. However, the prices start at P2,500 each. As you can see, we got the booster seat at half the price. If you recall from a previous post, this is the second booster seat we purchased. We got this one for Little C, since J is still using his. (That's how highly Big C and I think of this item!) Same goes for the baby monitor. There are a lot of different kinds, and P3,000 is actually a very conservative estimate of the price. I checked, and I found a pre-loved Avent Baby Monitor that was being sold for P2,200. Otherwise, the brand new ones that are made by reliable brands will cost you at least P4,000 - P5,000. The rest of the prices are based on the costs of the items from leading baby stores in Manila, such as Mothercare and Baby Company.

Here are some tips for expectant mommies, and mommies in general, when purchasing items online for shipping. (These tips are based on my experience or tips given to me by my extremely frugal, bargain-loving husband.)

1. This is the most important step. Find a reliable shipper from the US to the Philippines. These shippers have an American address where you can have your items shipped. This is because shipping to an American address will usually be free, as compared to asking the store to directly ship it to your Philippine address. In that alone, you save money already. The shipper will accept your products for you and pack it all together in one box and ship it to your Manila address for a standard fee, depending on the size of the box that you'll be using. This works especially well if you're ordering items from different sellers.

2. Browse different baby stores based in the US. My favorite is, of course, Babies R'Us, which is a one stop shop for mommies. I remember going to a Babies R'Us store in Canada and I told Big C, "Yeah, just come back for me before we got home." I swear, I could spend the day there. (As you might have noticed, baby stores are my new happy places.) You can browse through the items there and make a list of the stuff that you want. Then go to and look for the same stuff. Comparison shop. This is easier to do, since you're doing it electronically and you don't have to walk from store to store. I recommend buying things from Amazon, because Babies R'Us usually requires an American credit card, while Amazon will let you charge it on your local card or on your PayPal account. Also, from experience, if you're patient and persistent enough to browse through the listings, prices in Amazon can sometimes be cheaper.

3. Look for deals on shipping. You don't want to get the item cheaply, but spend a ton on getting it shipped. Case in point: the Kiddopotamus Large-sized swaddler. While all the other items qualified for free shipping because they were bought directly from Amazon and met the minimum total purchase requirement of $100, the large swaddlers were bought from another seller who charges shipping. The true cost of the item was $6.00 if I remember it correctly, but the shipping was around  $5.00. This brings the total cost of each swaddler to $11.00, which converted to pesos is still cheaper than buying it in Manila. In this case, the shipping cost is worth it.

4. DON'T BUY BABY CLOTHES, especially the basics that baby will use at home. I considered ordering some stuff for C online, but the prices of the onesies and other stuff from US stores is often the same as the prices of the stuff we have here, which means  that the cost of shipping them isn't worth it. Better to buy from  SM, and you get the pleasure of picking out all sorts of cute things for your little one to wear.

5. Lastly, do this only if you have the time to wait for the package to arrive. We ordered the items for Little C in early January, which was 5 months away from my due date. The box generally takes a month, two at the most, to arrive in Manila, because it's shipped, so you have to take this into consideration. Don't do this if you're a month away from giving birth. You don't want to have to bring your baby home and not have the essentials.

That's it for now. Happy online shopping, mommies!


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Samuel Trust said...

Tips given by experienced users are really great! I saw recently an updated rates for sending balikbayan boxes to Philippines. I think it will be useful to know these rates nowadays.

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