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Approximately 12 million Filipinos live outside of the Philippines, separated from their families and friends. One of the things they value highly is keeping connected with their loved ones.

The Google Balikbayan campaign helps OFWs connect with their loved ones and learn about things they need to know about their new country. Sending ”balikbayan boxes” is a traditional way for families to connect and show their love over long distances. It has a strong emotional significance for Filipinos all around the world. However, it can take many months for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to fill these boxes and send them home.

Outware was commissioned to develop the BalikbayanBox Android app for the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, a non-profit organization that handles labour and migration concerns and develops programs to empower the OFW and his or her family.

The brief was to develop a native Android app, powered by Google services, which enables OFWs to connect with their loved ones back home by bringing the traditional balikbayan box to the digital age.



The BalikbayanBox app was the result of a collaborative effort between Outware and Toaster, with multiple teams working together across Australia, Singapore and the Philippines under incredibly challenging timelines in order to release a great product in time for Christmas.

Outware was responsible for:

  • Android development
  • Backend services development using Google App Engine & Cloud Storage
  • UX & visual design refinement and consulting
  • Project management
  • Quality assurance and testing

A key challenge during the project was managing the tight timelines with team working across different time zones. In order to meet the deadlines, our team worked additional hours and weekends to ensure that all the key features of the app could be delivered on time.

The app is a virtual gift box that is powered by Google services. Users can:

  • Share photos, videos, Doodles, YouTube clips and Google Plus posts (more to come in future releases)
  • Schedule boxes for specific dates
  • Send ‘Thank you’ messages
  • Access all their contact and invite people to join



In spite of the incredibly challenging timelines, the BalikbayanBox app went live successfully on 19 December 2014, just in time for Christmas as planned. In the first two weeks after launch, the app reached over 20,000 downloads. In its first month, it will reach almost 50,000 downloads, well above the client’s targeted 15,000 downloads in the first couple of months.

Time zone differences, expensive data and telco offers, long work hours and a general lack of knowledge all influence how OFWs are able to connect with their loved ones back home. The BalikbayanBox app solves these problems and enables the OFW community to share daily moments that help them feel a sense of normality and connection with home.

To find out more about the Balikbayan campaign, check out: