Lani of Chibong Chika Lakwatcha ATBP posted a comment on my previous post about the fish frying pan I got from Ebay. She noted the difficulties of making purchases from Ebay as a resident of the Philippines. Those difficulties will extend to other US internet shopping sites including Amazon, Barnes & Noble or the bigger retailers like Target, Old Navy, Pottery Barn, Walmart , etc. Then there are the gourmet shops like Tienda.com for everything Spanish you can think of – even Jamon Iberico that was previously banned in the US. Oh and there are the kitchen equipment/supplies stores some other food blogs have featured and which you may have checked out in the past.
First of all, most sellers only ship to a US address. If they ship worldwide, then shipping costs could be prohibitive. Another problem, until recently anyway, was opening a Paypal account. Things are moving in the right direction for Philippine shoppers however. Paypal is now providing some service to Philippine residents. Please check out this post from Yugatech’s blog which has more details about what Paypal offers. So, one hurdle down…what’s the next? Shipping. Well, there’s a perfectly legitimate way for you to receive purchases you yourself made through US internet shopping sites without begging your relatives living here to help you out.
Your solution is to sign up with Manila Forwarder to get a US shipping address. They can receive your shipments for you in their LA offices. Since they operate a balikbayan box/cargo freight business, you will receive your purchases when you want it shipped to you in the Philippines, right at your doorstep and without passing our notorious postal system. How’s that for service? It’s like balikbayan shoppping without even leaving the bayan!
Spouse told me about this in the past and I never really took it seriously until we decided it was time to move back home. I’m no internet shopping addict, but I’ve made my fair share of purchases. I knew I was going to miss internet shopping and intend to sign up for this service when we are scheduled to stop at Manila Forwarder this month. Then I got that comment from Lani and thought maybe I should dig deeper into this.
I placed a quick call to Manila Forwarder’s 1-800 number and spoke to this nice young lady named Joy Jamlang. She said they’ve had the service for almost 3 years now. When I asked her if people are lining up for it, I was surprised that they only had between 20-30 customers using it. Then again, it’s not so surprising because it’s Filipinos living in the US who are more aware of this company.
So let me say for the benefit of those back home who haven’t heard of this company, Manila Forwarder is very reliable and offers various services to US-based Filipinos. I have used their balikbayan box service a few times and never had a problem. Spouse has also spoken to the owner, Manny Paez, in the past and found him him to be an amiable, energetic and reasonable man to deal with. They also have offices in the Philippines. That means there are actual people you can bug if you have a problem. Joy was even kind enough to give me their telephone numbers in Valenzuela City, 358-8061/294-4891. We intend to use their freight cargo service for our move, and we also intend to buy our Manila-bound tickets through their travel agency.
If you are interested in this service they offer, what you need to do first is make sure your credit card is acceptable for international transactions. Most Mastercards and Visas are, but make sure with your bank. Then email Manila Forwarder and inform them you want to make an internet purchase. It will be up to you whether you want the item shipped right away or stored until you have enough for a balikbayan box. Maybe you can round up a group of your friends for an internet shopping spree and have everything shipped to one Philippine address to cut on shipping costs.
Let me be specific, I have yet to try this service. I will though. And when I do, I will write about it again – good or bad. Is there anyone out there who is currently using this service? I hope you’ll give us some feedback.