A banking sector overhaul could provide a wide variety of benefits to Mexico, and the nation's leaders are discussing several options that may help the country's economy.
According to The Associated Press, Mexican officials are actively pursuing solutions to make credit readily available to residents. Additionally, these administrators are studying ways to make credit cheaper, which could affect Mexican citizens who currently work in the U.S. and send money to family members in their homeland.
While the economic recession of the late 2000s affected many nations, Mexico's financial crisis of 1995 had far-flung effects that still impact the country today. During the crisis, many of the nation's banks nearly went bankrupt, but federal leaders provided short-term financial assistance. Several larger Mexican banks were later sold to foreign investors, and five of these financial institutions have dominated the nation's banking segment since that time.
"When the banking sector was opened to foreign firms, [Mexican leaders] thought it would increase competition, but [these banks] didn't compete," economic analyst Rogelio Ramirez told the news source. "What we need is a reform to have them compete more and make the market more attractive, but the banks are happy to just issue credit cards."
Banking sector changes could provide additional support to the Mexican economy
Agustin Carstens, Mexico's central bank governor, told Reuters that banking sector reforms could have immediate effects on Mexican residents. In fact, boosting credit across the nation may add 0.5 percentage points to the Latin American economy within two to three years.
Increasing competition among banks could also encourage these financial institutions to provide additional loans to Mexican citizens. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that these banks may develop incentives for mid-sized businesses that list their shares on the stock market, which could deliver a substantial boost to the nation's economy.
"The [objective] is … for banks to lend more, and more cheaply," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto told the news source. "Credit is a key input for growth."
Mexican Bankers Association officials said that they would need to study the proposed banking sector reforms to determine exactly how Mexican residents would be affected. However, these leaders stated that they agreed with the goals of the reforms, but specific measures must be followed to ensure that Mexican residents will enjoy the benefits of various economic changes.
The Philippines' economy is on the rise, and several financial experts have recognized the republic's recovery from the economic downturn of the late 2000s. According to Bloomberg, Philippine stocks recently earned an investment grade from Standard & Poor's, a positive sign for the republic's economy.
S&P officials said that the Philippines' economy appears stable, which bodes well for the republic over the next several years. As many Filipinos accept jobs in the United States and send money to their families back home, the republic could watch its economy grow in the near future.
Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said that republic leaders are frequently searching for ways to improve the area's economy. S&P's investment grade could have long-term effects on the Philippines, and Purisima noted that numerous opportunities are being explored to further assist the republic and its residents.
"We're continuing to address constraints to growth," Purisima told the news source. "We're fast tracking our infrastructure projects. We're looking at areas we can open up to foreign investors."
Benigno Aquino, the Philippines' President, has significantly assisted many republic citizens by launching a variety of economic improvement campaigns in the past. With S&P's investment grade, Philippine officials could lay the foundation for future economic growth that may help the republic enhance its global reputation.
"For the Philippines, this is yet another confirmation that Aquino's reforms have borne fruit, which would help in attracting not just short-term flows, but long-term direct investments," Santitarn Sathirathai, a Singapore-based economist at Credit Suisse Group AG, told the news source.
Philippine leaders help reduce the republic's total debt
While economic recovery from the global downturn has been slow in many areas of the world, ambitious initiatives from Aquino and other Philippine leaders have helped the republic's economy improve in a short period of time.
BusinessWorld Online reports that Philippine officials have lowered the republic's total debt by 14 percent over the past 10 years. However, Philippine administrators stated that plenty of work lies ahead, and these leaders will review various options to help republic residents.
Purisima said that S&P's investment grade is a vote of confidence for the republic, but there are many areas where the republic could improve. Thankfully, Philippine officials are dedicated to supporting the local economy and will invest the necessary resources to help citizens.
It's been more than six months since Filipino fans of Manny Pacquiao made a money transfer to their families so they could watch the Fighting Congressman take on Juan Manuel Marquez on pay-per-view. And if his training goes as he plans, he hopes to return to the squared circle relatively soon to take on the man who knocked him out in the sixth round.
According to The Philippine Star newspaper, Pacquiao wants what would be a fifth go-round with Marquez. However, instead of in Las Vegas – where most of his fights have been – he wants to face off with the 39-year-old Mexican in his home country.
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, shares his fighter's wish.
"I want the last fight in Mexico," said Roach before a group of television and print news reporters at The Venetian Macao in China. "That's my dream."
While Pac-Man's thoughts and actions are almost constantly involved with boxing and training to be a better fighter, his associates say that he's devoting most of his attention toward politics these days, as elections are just around the corner in his home country of the Philippines.
Bob Arum, who has promoted a great deal of Pacquiao's fights, told the reporters that the election can't come soon enough, as once it's over, the 34-year-old Pacquiao will likely recommit himself toward training and preparation.
Singapore, Macau other potential cities for upcoming fight
Meanwhile, even though Roach and Pacquiao say that they'd like to have their next contest in Mexico – mainly because the tax rate would be more affordable there than if they had it in Las Vegas – Arum said he's hoping for a different host city. The Philippine Star pointed out that "he sounded like he was pitching for either Macau or Singapore" as the venue for Pacquiao's next bout.
Wherever Pacquiao's upcoming fight happens to be, the chances that it will be someplace outside the U.S. are almost certain. Roach told reporters at The Venetian Macao that the tax rate in Las Vegas where his previous matches have been held have skyrocketed over the last couple of years, jumping from 31 percent to nearly 40 percent. Plus, Pacquiao's popularity has grown in the international arena and there are several cities that would like to host a major boxing match with the Fighting Pride of the Philippines as the main event.
Rose Tamayo, Pacquiao's representative, also spoke on behalf of her client to reporters recently.
"The fight is definitely in September," said Tamayo, according to the United Kingdom-based newspaper the Daily Mail. "We will talk about the opponent and the place after the May 13 elections."
Tamayo corroborated some of the statements Arum and Roach made about boxing in the U.S., saying that the tax rate in Las Vegas has become too cost-prohibitive. Thus, some of the top considerations for the host city include Mexico, Macau, Dubai and Singapore.
Those close with Pacquiao, as well as boxing experts, believe that Marquez will, in fact, be the next boxing match on the docket for the 34-year-old. In an interview with Boxing Scene, former heavyweight boxer George Foreman told the online news source that he has every confidence that Pac-Man will redeem himself.
"All the odds are in his favor to become champion again," said Foreman.
He added that the best thing going for him is his peak condition and stellar training, which he says has enables Pacquiao to recover more quickly than the typical in-ring fighter.
At 34 years old, Manny Pacquiao is still a young man, who no doubt has a lot of life left to live as one of the best pound-for-pound boxing champions his home country – and the boxing world in general – has ever seen. But there has been some speculation that the Fighting Pride of the Philippines will hang up his gloves in the not-too-distant future and further pursue his political aspirations.This has left some people to question who might fill his shoes when he decides to leave the squared circle for good.
That said, a new Filipino-born pugilist has been gaining notoriety in the boxing profession by the name of Nonito Donaire.
Described as the "Filipino Flash" by his fan base, Donaire isn't exactly a fresh face, as he turned professional back in 2001. As with other boxers, once he got into the profession, many of his bouts weren't highly publicized. Over time, though, he has gained somewhat of a following because of the success he's had.
For example, less than a year after turning pro, the 30-year-old defeated Kaichon Sor Vorapin, earning himself the World Boxing Organization Asia Pacific flyweight title, which was held by no one prior to his claim of the crown. It wasn't simply that he beat Sor Vorapin that impressed boxing experts, but how quickly and the way in which the contest was one, scoring a knockout mere minutes into the second round.
After notching several more victories – some coming by knockout, others by decision – Donaire went on to win the International Boxing Federation and International Boxing Organization Fly Weight World Titles after defeating Vic Darchinyan in July 2007. The Armenian southpaw was undefeated prior to losing to Donaire in the fifth round. And once again, as with his other matches, Donaire's performance in the ring earned him not only championship belts but also the highly sought after designations for delivering the "Knockout of the Year" and "Upset of the Year," which The Ring Magazine determines on annual basis.
Donaire has lost only once
Since these notable victories, Donaire has gone on to prove that he can compete with the boxing world's most elite. With an amateur record of 68 wins and 8 losses, many boxing aficionados would call that type of record one worthy to be proud of. His professional record has been even more impressive. In the 32 occasions in which he's fought as a pro, he's won 31 times, notching 20 knockouts in the process. His only loss came mere months after he turned pro, falling to Rosendo Sanchez by way of decision. Even today, many people believe that Donaire was the better performer.
On April 13, the Filipino Flash – who Ring Magazine calls the fourth-best pound-for-pound boxer in the industry – puts his near perfect title to the test when he faces Guillermo Rigondeaux. In 2012, Donaire fought on four separate occasions, but this matchup will be his first bout of 2013.
Donaire recently indicated that he's ready for whatever Rigondeaux brings.
"I watched Rigondeaux's last fight with [Robert] Marroquin and he's pretty decent," said Donaire recently, according to ESPN. "He's pretty good at countering, so I was getting excited about fighting him. It's a good fight. I look forward to taking that belt. That's my goal."
Should Donaire improves his record, he won't be making a money transfer to the Philippines for his family back home after he collects his earnings. However, he does hope to settle down relatively soon.
"I will do as much as I can this year, but my primary thing this year after this fight is having a family," said Donaire, ESPN reports. "I can win titles and more titles and it pays the bills but I also want to be a good father and husband."
Xoom Changes the Game with “POWR”– Customers Pay Nothing Until Money Sent is Received by Their Loved Ones
Feel the POWR: “Pay Only When Received” — Another Xoom Innovation in Remittance
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, March 13, 2013 –Xoom Corporation (NASDAQ: XOOM), a global online money transfer provider, is launching POWR, or Pay Only When Received, a breakthrough initiative that gives customers assurance that Xoom will not withdraw a dime from their bank accounts until the money is received by their loved ones.
POWR is available beginning today to qualifying Filipino remitters who choose to send with their bank account. Xoom is unlike other money transfer companies in that Xoom will only withdraw the total amount of the money transfer once the money has arrived.
“With POWR, we show once again how Xoom is revolutionizing money transfers,” says Julian King, Xoom’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Development. “When our customers send money and pay with their bank account, Xoom will not charge them until their loved ones get their padala. We believe in giving people ‘power’ for a convenient, safe and fast way to send money home.”
For 10 years, Xoom has been serving the Filipino community and pioneered instant bank deposits to the Philippines. POWR is Xoom’s latest product offering to give customers peace of mind and reassurance. Earlier this year, Xoom introduced its Filipino customers to StatusTrak an online tracking service that provides ways for people to track their transfer via SMS text messages, email updates and 24/7 phone support.
“When our customers send money, they want the peace of mind of knowing that their loved ones have safely received it,” King added. “Both POWR and StatusTrak provide very reassuring money transfer experiences with Xoom.”
Xoom is a global online money transfer provider, focused on helping consumers send money in a secure, fast and cost-effective way using their mobile phone, tablet or computer. During the year ended December 31, 2012, Xoom’s 750,000 active customers sent more than $3.2 billion to family and friends in 30 countries worldwide. The company is headquartered in San Francisco and can be found online at www.xoom.com.
For many years, people who send money to the Philippines were transferring funds to a country whose economic engine was largely represented by farmers. But as a recent article published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reveals, farmers in the country aren't nearly as prevalent as they once were.
According to the UN's news and analysis source IRIN, fewer Filipino people who are still in their younger ages or choosing to enter the agricultural market, opting instead to seek out education for jobs in the city, working in an office or in an industrial setting.
Asterio Saliot, director of the agriculture department at the Agricultural Training Institute, told the news source that the farming industry could be in a predicament over the next decade or so, mainly because so few Filipinos are choosing a career path of tending to the fields.
"The average age of the Filipino farmer is 57," said Saliot. "Assuming an average lifespan of 70, we might reach a critical [shortage] of farmers in just 15 years."
Kala Pulido-Constantino, who serves as the communications coordinator in the Philippines with the international confederation Oxfam, indicated that the dearth of farmers in the country may be a self-inflicted wound.
"We didn't pay enough attention to the agricultural sector because we thought that we could always import our food if we couldn't grow it ourselves," Pulido-Constantino told IRIN.
This may stem from the government putting fewer resources toward buoying the agricultural industry in the Philippines. IRIN points out that based on statistics from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, more than one-tenth of the Philippines' gross domestic product derives from farming. But in 2011, less than 5 percent of government investment went toward this sector.
Something else that's had an impact on the Philippines agricultural sector is the pace at which young people are leaving parts of the country where farming is common. IRIN notes that because certain industries bring in more money than others – such as commercial and industrial – some families are choosing to move to more urban locations where these opportunities are more available, such as in Manila.
Benefits of farming need to be emphasized
Jose Rene Gayo, president of the non-governmental organization Foundation for People Development, noted that what the Filipino people and the government need to do is make farming an industry worthy of pursuing.
"We must now change the mindset of the younger generation and make farming appealing for them," said Gayo.
This may come through promoting the fringe benefits of farm life, such as being able to work in the outdoors and generate a larger profit margin by advertising to businesses in need of fresh produce.
IRIN's report shouldn't necessarily suggest that farming is a dying industry in the Philippines. According to the Philippines' BAS, the agricultural sector expanded by nearly 3 percent in 2012, led by poultry, livestock and crop farmers. In addition, overall crop production increased by more than 4 percent last year, accounting for more than half of total agricultural yield. Some of the biggest crop yields were corn and palay producing 6 percent and 8 percent, respectively, more than in 2011. Palay is what rice is before it's been husked.
In addition to palay, some of the main crops the Philippines produce for the country and for other parts of the world include corn, sugarcane, coconut, bananas, pineapple, coffee beans and mangoes.
When the Philippines' native son and boxing hero Manny Pacquiao is away from the ring, much of his time is devoted to family responsibilities as he and his wife, Maria Geraldine Jamora – otherwise known as "Jinkee" – have four children. And as many people would expect, given the amount of money he makes in boxing, his home may be best described as luxurious.
Recently, Yes! magazine published a feature story on Pacquiao's new home in General Santos City, featured on the front page of the February issue. The headline reads "Manny and Jinkee's White House."
The in-depth story, which is more than 30 pages in length, gives readers an up close and personal look into the home life of Pacquiao, along with the creature comforts of his new digs, which have been dubbed "Mansion 2." Not far from his new home is Mansion 1.
Outside of the home, Pacquiao can be found out working for the Filipino people, as since 2007, the Fighting Congressman has served as a representative of the 1st District of South Cotabato. And in a few short months, his constituents will go to the polls to decide whether they want to re-elect Pacquiao for a third term as their representative.
And with many observers projecting he'll win, Pacquiao may not be working alone. His wife is expected to run for office as well – a fact that may have escaped the attention of Filipinos working in the U.S. to send money to their native land.
Pacquiao's wife new to the world of politics
As reported by multiple Filipino news outlets and international news agencies at the time, Jinkee will run for the vice governorship of the Sarangani province. When asked why she intended to run in October, she said her husband was her inspiration.
"I will continue what Manny Pacquiao has started," she told Franklin Gacal, her attorney, who relayed the information to the press. Gacal further elaborated that while she at one time had no intention to run for public office, the ground swell of support from the Filipino people made her reconsider.
"Jinkee is a new face in Sarangani politics," said Gacal. "It will be public service above self. Governance without corruption."
Her constituents are the only ones who feel like she has the ability to win the seat; government leaders currently serving in Sarangani feel the same way.
The general election will take place on Tuesday, May 13.
Meanwhile, lots of people are talking about how Pacquiao has fared since losing to Juan Manuel Marquez in the sixth round on December 8 in Las Vegas. Freddie Roach, the 34-year-old's trainer, recently told the Los Angeles Times that he's doing fine.
"There are things I will be looking for in our next training camp," said Roach. "First, it is the footwork. I will be able to tell if he starts feeling for the canvas. I remember when I did."
There are some indications that he may call it a career, however. Roach told the newspaper that Pacquiao will listen to him if he feels as though it's time to hang up the boxing gloves.
"Manny told me that if I tell him it is time to stop, he will," said Roach.
In the meantime, ESPN reports that the Filipino fighter has been invited to compete in Dubai this in April, with the potential of earning $10 million.
Roach told Sport360, a UAE-based newspaper, that while the ultimate decision as to whether he competes will be that of Pacquiao and promoter Bob Arum, it would be an ideal location that would no doubt be seen worldwide.
When the temperatures are below freezing and the snow is falling, fun in the sun may not be on the typical American's list of things to do for the day. But it's at the top of to-do lists for many vacationing and native Filipinos, especially those who are particularly skilled at surfing the open waves.
On the first weekend in February, several surfing organizations launched the Philippines' first-ever "Single and Unattached Longboard Invitational," holding the event in the Ilocano province of La Union. Described as the "surfing capital of Northern Luzon," organizers said the event went off without a hitch and was a smashing success.
"As part of the traditional longboard resurgence that took place in California during the early 1990's, it's feels really great to be a part of a similar movement in the Philippines," said Carla Rowland, owner of The Surf Institute, one of the organizations that helped sponsor and fund what's expected to be a yearly event.
He added that individuals who are familiar with surfing were hopefully reminded of the glory days of past surfing success stories, such as Miki Dora, Lance Carson and Dewey Webber.
"The event was a blast," said Jay Sueno, an entrant in the contest who indicated he's been surfing for less than a year. "To be surrounded by surfers who embody the classic and cool style of single fin longboarding was inspiring and filled with good vibes."
Officials with the Single and Unattached Longboard Invitational say that all surfers were invited to compete, which included people from all corners of the earth, including California, Japan and Korea, but participation was dominated by Filipinos.
While the large waves and seasonable temperatures no doubt made the three-day competition eminently enjoyable, Rowland indicated that the best part was how many Filipinos embraced the event and made it their own.
"We are just so happy that Filipinos are falling in love with the classic style of traditional longboarding," said Rowland. "This year was a great success and we have high hopes that next year will be even bigger and better."
A worldwide leisure pursuit
While surfing may seem like a sport that only a select few take up as a hobby, it may be surprising just how many people ride the waves whenever they can, many of whom send money to their families so they can learn how it's done. According to the International Surfing Association, there are approximately 23 million surfers worldwide, 1.7 million living in the U.S.
If surfers are good enough, they may be able to make it a career. For example, professional surfer Kelly Slater made as much as $3 million in a single year in 2009, all of which derived from the proceeds he earned in competitions.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of surfing is being able to stay on the board for a long time. And the higher the wave is, the harder it can be. However, some have been able to stay on their boards for long periods. ISA data indicates that one surfer spent nearly 40 minutes riding a wave without losing his balance – the longest time ever recorded.
Surfers are similarly upping the ante on how large of a wave they can ride. Recently, professional surfer Garrett McNamara broke his own world record by successfully surfing a 100-foot wave off the coast of Portugal. His previous best was a 78-foot wave, which he conquered in 2011.
Notable Filipinos like boxing great Manny Pacquiao and veteran actor Lou Diamond Phillips have helped show that the Philippines produces some of the best talents the world has to offer. And increasingly, Filipinos’ footprint on the public stage is spreading into the musical arena.
According to a recent feature published in The New York Times, tens of thousands of Filipinos have left their native countries to pursue a career in music overseas, enabling them to send money to their families back home on occasion and at the same time establish themselves in the entertainment business. In fact, in 2002 and 2004, more than 40,000 Filipinos in each year went overseas searching for the break they needed to make it big, with most of these individuals moving to Japan.
U.S., Philippines musical preferences similar
Since then, Filipinos have been bringing the world the sounds that are favored by locals, including hard rock, reggae, jazz and the blues. Some have gone on to make it big, while others decided to walk away from their aspirations because they needed money quickly.
Domingo Mercado, Jr., told the paper that he was one of those people who may have been able to make it in the entertainment industry, but economic realities forced his hand, taking a job that paid him the money he needed to support his family.
“I resigned from the band and took a job in Korea,” Mercado told the Times. “I gave up on my dream.”
He added that he hasn’t given up on his musical career entirely, though, as he has performed in public settings for nearly 20 years, primarily in Asia.
As difficult as it may be for Americans to make it into the entertainment world, the same is true for Filipinos – whether they display their talents in distant corners of the earth or in the U.S. POEA notes that 1.6 million people left the Philippines in 2011 to live and work overseas, with most of those leaving pursuing careers in household services.
“A hotel might need many waiters, cooks and housekeepers,” Ceslo Hernandez, head of the POEA’s operation division, told The New York Times. “But they only need one or two musicians.”
A combination of luck and skill may help explain how some Filipinos have been able to successfully break into the entertainment business. People like Charice Pempengco. According to her official website, Pempengco got her break in 2007, after posting a variety of web videos of her singing. Her talent got her noticed almost immediately among the Hollywood elite, earning appearances on television talk shows like “Ellen” and “Oprah.”
“You are a force to be reckoned with,” Oprah once said of Pempengco. “That voice comes from something bigger than yourself.”
Then there’s Lea Salonga, a singer and actress that may be best known for her work in the Broadway musical “Miss Saigon” and for serving as the voice of Jasmine in the 1994 animated film Aladdin. Salonga recently released a studio-produced album, “The Journey So Far,” and her website is constantly updated with details on where she will be appearing next to sing or perform on-stage.
Prior to devoting much of their earnings to their families through an international transfer, there was a time in many Filipinos’ lives when they spent a lot of their money attending sporting events and purchasing gear representing their favorite teams. In a way, this was to give thanks to the professional athletes who performed at their peak and provided millions of Filipinos with entertainment and fun.
Today, the Filipino government is providing past sports heroes with their fellow countrymen’s appreciation in a more direct way.
According to the Philippines Inquirer, the senate has passed a piece of legislation - Senate Bill 3322 – that would provide government-sponsored health insurance benefits to professional Filipino athletes who have retired.
Aquilino Pimentel III, one of the main senators who supported the bill, indicated that many of today’s sports legends are facing serious health issues because of the sacrifices they made, stretching their physical exertion abilities to the limit.
“Many professional athletes have risked their health and sometimes their very lives for the nation,” said Pimentel III. “Their achievements have put the Philippines in the map. But our memories are short.”
He added that while these men and women were idolized when they were playing professionally, many have been forgotten since then and have few they can turn to for help when they need it most.
“This bill seeks to provide more than lip service to professional athletes who have dedicated their careers to the nation and who have brought prestige to our country,” he stated, according to the Inquirer.
Should SB 3322 gather enough votes to be signed into law, all Filipino professional athletes older than 50 years of age would be given a lifelong stipend that could be put toward healthcare services. Much of what they earn will depend on their level of achievement. For example, the paper notes that each member of a team that wins a championship after defeating another Filipino athletic team will get 10,000 pesos while championship team members will be awarded 15,000 pesos for winning an international crown.
2012 notable performances
Many of today’s Filipino coaches and athletes know what it’s like to be a champion. The Philippine Star recently put together a list of the world’s most-successful athletes, originating from the Philippines, who will long remember 2012.
Perhaps no athlete is better known among Filipinos – or more revered – than boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. The Fighting Congressman has experienced few losses and setbacks over his professional boxing career, but 2012 was not a year that will likely go down as one of his best. In June, Pacquiao lost in a split decision to Timothy Bradley, though many ringside experts as well as viewers watching from home thought Pac-Man had the better performance.
Six months later, Pacquiao return to the ring, only this time facing Juan Manuel Marquez. In a stunning upset, the 34-year-old was knocked out in the sixth round, giving Marquez the match and sending Pacquiao to his fifth defeat.
Faring better performance wise was Erik Spoelstra, head coach for the NBA Champion Miami Heat. Spoelstra led the Heat to their first NBA title since 2005 after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in a best-of-seven series.
Another headliner cited by The Philippine Star was the entire Philippine Volcanoes Rugby Team. Their respective performances in the Philippine Rugby Football Union were so impressive, they earned the attention of some of the game’s most respected experts. Many say the Volcanoes are among the best in all of Asia.