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Filipino food may soon be mainstream in U.S.

Filipino food may be the next Chinese food when it comes to its commonality in the U.S.

When immigrants leave their native countries so they can pursue their careers in the U.S. – and in the process, send money back home to their loved ones – family is almost certainly the component of life they missed the most about the comforts of home.

But in the conversation for the joys of life that immigrants long for the most is home cooking, be it Mexican, Indian, Thai or Chinese.

While many of these options are available in the U.S., some are less popular than others, such as Filipino fare. But according to various news outlets, Filipino cuisine is all the rage in 2013.

As noted recently by the website The Food Channel, “Today” show contributor and Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern recently penned a blog posting about Filipino food becoming more commonplace in the U.S., both among individual consumers and in restaurants.

“It’s just starting,” said Zimmern. “I think it’s going to take another year and a half to get up to critical mass, but everybody loves Chinese food, Thai food, Japanese food, and it’s all been exploited. The Filipinos combined the best of all of that with Spanish technique.”

He added that between now and 2015, he wouldn’t be surprised if Filipino food earns the distinction as the country’s “next big thing.”

Filipinos attempt to make cuisine more easily recognizable
BBC News reports that there’s been a concerted effort among Filipinos, both in the U.S. and abroad, to make Filipino cuisine more mainstream.

Rolando Laudico, a chef based in Manila, told the international news source that he and his wife are determined to take food that’s typically only found in the Philippines to a wider audience.

“We base our flavors on traditional Philippine flavors, and we get inspired by them,” said Laudico. “We innovate, we do our own style, and we make it accessible for foreigners.”

He added that because Filipino food is among the most flavorful varieties of food in the world, clearly taste is not the reason it’s not more popular than it could be. He suggests that its unpopularity may derive from Filipinos not giving it the respect that it deserves. As such, dinner hosts should not apologize to their guests when dishes like adobo, sinigang, lumpia and pancit on the menu, which people have been given to do for many years.

Perhaps one of the best U.S. cities to frequent for fine Filipino cuisine is Chicago. Recently, USA Today did a feature on Filipino restaurants in the Windy City, which is increasingly becoming a major metropolitan area for residents native to the Philippines. Restaurants like Meral’s Kitchen, Isla Filipino Restaurant, Little Quiapo Restaurant and Ruby’s Fast Food are all located within the city’s borders and feature dishes that exemplify Filipino cooking, including empanadas, barbeque pork and various chicken dishes.

The paper further notes that the many of these dishes are extremely affordable. For instance, at one restaurant located near Chicago’s historic Lincoln Square, lunch plates are no more than $5.99 on weekdays during the traditional lunch-dining hours.

How quickly Filipino food becomes synonymous with Chinese food in terms of its pervasiveness is anyone’s guess, but if it bears any resemblance to the rate at which the Filipino population has increased in the U.S., it could be soon. According to the Census Bureau, Filipinos are the second-largest Asian group in the country, totaling 3.4 million people based on 2010 estimates.


USCIS to host conference to help Chinese-speaking immigrants petition on behalf of relatives

USCIS will host a question and answer session soon to help Asians living in the U.S. petition on behalf of a relative.

Millions of people who send money to their families back home originate from China or live in a different country but have Chinese heritage, like the Philippines. Some of these people may have come to the U.S. so they can earn a living and perform an online money transfer. Due to a variety of circumstances, though, they may encounter issues in which they would like to bring a family member of theirs to the U.S. as well. This may be difficult, though, for people who are fluent in Chinese and have a limited understanding of English.

Fortunately, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will soon conduct a national Chinese-language engagement on how people who live in the U.S. can petition on behalf of a family member.

On October 18 from 2 to 3 p.m., Eastern Time, USCIS will host a question and answer session for people with a Chinese background, focusing on how they can petition for an immediate relative. People can participate either through the web, or if they live in the New York City area, in person.

Previously, USCIS has conducted similar engagements with people who have Hispanic heritage, through the quarterly Spanish-language program called "Enlaces." Due to the high demand among people with Asian heritage, though, the government agency will host "Jiao Liu" – which is the Chinese equivalent of the word "engagement."

Taking part in the program will surely be of great benefit to those who may be trying to learn English but are still working on it.

While being fluent in English may be one of the best ways to secure a job so you can send money to your family back home, being able to speak multiple languages is a supremely marketable skill that may give you an advantage in the interview process. And though there may be many thousands of languages spoken, few could argue that Chinese may be one of the best ones to know.

One in every five people in the world are Chinese

That's because China is the most populous country in the world. In fact, one in every five people in the world are Chinese, meaning that individuals are likely to encounter someone whose family originates from there every day.

This may explain why Chinese is spoken in so many places, as statistics indicate that Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, used not only in the U.S. and China, but also in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Specific to the U.S., though, according to a Newsweek article, Chinese is the third most commonly spoken language in American homes, beaten out by only English and Spanish.

And more people are realizing the advantages that come with being multilingual. According to a recent survey from the Modern Language Association, enrollment is up in many different language courses offered at American Universities. Since 2002, enrollment in Chinese languages courses have jumped 51 percent, making it among the top 10 language courses studied at U.S. universities.


Understanding pick up money services in the Philippines with Xoom

There are nearly 10,000 pickup locations in the Philippines.

Many Filipinos send money to their loved ones with Xoom’s cash pick-up service. Xoom has literally thousands of pickup locations in the Philippines. From M.Lhuillier to Metrobank, BPI to BDO, there are close to 10,000 banks, retail locations and financial service institutions ready and willing to give what your relatives have waiting for them.

But “waiting” may not be the best term to use, as once you complete your online money transfer, your recipient’s money will often be ready in 15 minutes. In other words, in the time it takes for some to walk to their nearest pickup location, there’s a pretty good chance that their money will be waiting for them instead of the reverse.

Another perk that comes with picking up money sent through Xoom is the availability of the banks your recipient will be going to. It seems that everyone has a hectic schedule – no matter where they live – so many locations, such as retailers such as Cebuana Lhuillier and M.Lhuillier are open round the clock – 24 hours a day, seven days per week. This benefits both your recipient and you, as you won’t have to worry about sending something too late and your family member can go pick it up at their convenience.

Find out why Xoom’s cash pickup is one of the more popular ways customers complete their international money transfer by signing up today.


New York-based Filipinos try to send money home to flood-ravaged Philippines

Severe flooding conditions have paralyzed much of the Philippines in recent days.

While the ability to transfer money to the Philippines is a top priority for U.S.-based Filipinos, its taken on a heightened sense of urgency in recent days, as much of the country has been gripped by severe flooding.

According to radio station WNYC, money transfer services have been a top priority for Filipinos in New York, as many people who live and work in the region have friends and family in the Southeast nation. While some people in the Philippines have been more adversely impacted than others, several Filipino natives told the station that they are looking to send money just as soon as the high water levels have subsided, as locals have been confined to their homes because the waters have been too high.

Cholito Arce, a 58-year-old freight service manager who lives in Queens, told the radio station he will wire money to his Manila-based family the second they are able to retrieve their funds.

"They'll just wait, probably, for a message," said Arce. "What do they need? Do they need some money to repair the house? Or somebody's sick. That's the time when they’ll be sending."

He added that he's in constant communication with his family, primarily through his cellphone when he either sends them a text message or calls them directly. He also indicated that he's able to stay in top of everything that's happening in his home country thanks to a local radio station that delivers the latest information on the flood.

"It concerns us because most of our relatives are there," Arce told WNYC.

Someone else whose family has been impacted by the high water levels is Jade Manuel, a resident of the Queens borough of Woodside. She's already made an attempt to send money to the Philippines, but like Arce, the flooding has made pick up difficult.

"They are just inside the house," she told the New York-based radio station. "Good thing they have canned goods for them to eat."

Because of the flooding waters, the best means of transfer may be by bank deposit. Typically, the money that's sent with Xoom is deposited within a few hours for accounts with Bank of the Philippine Islands. Filipinos who live in the U.S. may want to get in touch with their family before they make a transaction, as well as the financial institution their recipient has an account with. They may be able to provide additional, up-to-the-minute information as it pertains to operating hours and when transfers may be completed.

According to news agency Agence France-Presse, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have been forced to abandon their homes due to the flooding waters. While some of the flooding has lessened, as much as 80 percent of Manila was flooded during the first week of August.


Filipino remittances strong but growth rate may fall short of 2011

Filipino remittances continue to "march" forward, but projections have the rate of growth slowing somewhat.

Remittance flows to the Philippines may not finish ahead of previous years after all, as a new projection indicates the rate of growth will be slower in 2012 due to trying economic circumstances in Europe.

According to financial services firm DBS Group, remittances from those who send money to the Philippines will grow 5 percent, which is down from the 7.2 percent rate of growth experienced in 2011 and 8.2 percent in 2010. This latest projection conflicts with what the financial group projected earlier this year, indicating that remittances bound for the Philippines "may perform even better [than in 2011] on the back of higher economic growth in the United States this year." However, it is in line with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' projection, which recently downgraded its forecast from earlier this year.

There is some evidence to suggest that the estimation may turn out to be accurate. According to the report, so far this year, there's been a 6 percent drop in remittances being sent to the Philippines from Europe. Meanwhile, workers in the U.S. have sent more money home, with remittance flows jumping by 11 percent when contrasted to the same period of time in 2011.

"Resilient numbers from Asia and the United States helped to prop up the overall figure," DBS pointed out in a research note.

Philippines-based online news portal indicates that through the first part of the year, Filipinos and others who send money overseas have spawned a significant growth in the number of people who are spending money on various purchases in the country. Roughly two-thirds of the Philippines' gross domestic product – which is the total value of goods and services produced in a given year – emanates from consumer spending. More specifically, about 4.6 percent of the country's 6.4 percent economic growth spurt in the first quarter was due to the things Filipinos bought. 

While these numbers suggest the Philippines places a great deal of reliance on remittances, it needs to rely on other means to keep its economy operating at its best, a recent report indicated.

Last month, the Business Mirror reported that because remittances are such a significant source of growth for the Philippines, the country may be putting a dependence on them, according to researchers from Oxford Business Group.

"The dependence on [overseas Filipino workers] to provide revenue and mitigate poverty leaves the Philippines open to external shocks over which the government has little control," the report noted.

OBG added that to guard against this overdependence, the country's leaders need to encourage people in the private sector to invest more in training, research and innovation, which will help serve as an additional source of economic growth for the Filipino economy.


See Pacquiao/Bradley PPV for free with Xoom

Manny Pacquiao puts his near perfect record on the line June 9 against Timothy Bradley, Jr.

In less than three weeks, the man many boxing analysts and fans view as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet will step inside the squared circle, looking to notch his 55th win in 59 fights. And with Xoom, you can watch the action for free.

Manny Pacquiao – or "Pac-Man" as many like to call him – will square off against Timothy Bradley Jr. on Saturday night, June 9, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Naturally, boxing enthusiasts might be willing to put up the $55 to order the pay-per-view event. However, you can watch the two go at it for free simply by signing up with Xoom.

The program is really quite simple. All you have to do is send your first money transfer to the Philippines by clicking this link and then again on the green "Get Started" button. That will take you to a screen where you'll enter your username – which is your email address – and a password.

After going through the step-by-step transaction process, check your email. Within about an hour or so after the transaction has been completed, you'll receive an email from Xoom confirming your eligibility and to inform you that the transfer has gone through. Then, simply order the June 9th Pacquiao-Bradley fight on pay-per-view with your television remote or by calling your local cable provider. Within 14 to 15 days, you should receive your $55 prepaid VISA gift card that you can use to pay for the pay-per-view event.

But don't wait – this offer is for a limited time only – extending from May 21 through June 9 – and is only available for customers who send their first transfer through this page.

As you may already know, Pacquiao has performed well in previous fights. He boasts a record of 52 wins and just three losses and 38 of his wins have been by knockout. He's also won numerous titles over his career, including flyweight, super bantamweight, featherweight light middleweight, light welterweight and light middleweight.

Timothy Bradley is no pushover, either. Though younger at 28, he's never had a loss, as his record currently stands at 27-0, six of them being KOs.

Will this be Pacquiao's latest in a long line of victories or could the younger Bradley upset the Fighting Pride of the Philippines? The world will be watching on June 9th!


Remittances ‘resilient’ thanks to Filipinos’ diverse skills

Many Filipinos are working in financially stable hospital settings, helping to increase remittance flows to their home country.

Thanks to the variety of skills Filipinos have in the workplace, remittance flows to the Philippines through the first four months of the year have been strong, according to a leading financial executive.

According to the Zambo Times, speaking at the Asian Development Bank’s 45th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Armando Tetangco said the remittances being sent to the Philippines have been resilient thanks to the diversification of skills Filipinos bring to the marketplace.

“I think the diversification that has taken place in the overseas employment industry – diversification in terms of skills, diversification in terms of destinations and the diversification strategy itself – make our remittances resilient to downturns in certain parts of the world,” said Tetangco.

He added that the diversification of skills can be found among Filipinos throughout the world, but it has been particularly noticeable in the U.S. as many are working in hospitals and office settings, two employment sectors that have been relatively unaffected by the European debt crisis. As a result, remittance flows to the Philippines will likely continue to be strong throughout 2012.


Filipino remittances thrive in February

Remittances to the Philippines have reached a value of more than $3 billion so far this year.

Thanks to more Filipinos working overseas to support their families, remittance flows in the month of February were up significantly, a new report confirms.

According to newly released data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, money sent home by overseas Filipinos totaled nearly $1.6 billion in February. That's an increase of nearly 6 percent when compared with the same month in 2011, when remittances totaled $1.5 billion.

With more Filipinos being able to send money to the Philippines, the total remittances the country has received since the beginning of the year amounts to $3.14 billion, almost 6 percent more when contrasted with the same two-month period last year, BSP reports.

Amando Tetangco, governor of the BSP, noted how Filipinos are proving to be a hot commodity on the employment front throughout the world.

"The continued inflow of remittances is supported by the sustained demand for Filipino manpower in various foreign labor markets," said Tetangco. "Latest data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed that for the period January-March 2012, job orders for professional and technical, service and production workers increased by 24.6 percent to 200,010 in the comparable period last year."

While the U.S. is one of the most highly sought after locations for Filipinos with regards to seeking work, employment opportunities mainly came from other countries in February, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Taiwan, Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong. BSP said imposed bans that had prevented Filipinos from working in certain countries have since been lifted, including those in Nigeria, Libya and South Sudan. The POEA said the bans were rescinded because security conditions have noticeably improved in these countries.

BSP's report also revealed where many of the remittances in February came from. Just over 76 percent of money transfer orders were land-based, while approximately 24 percent were from workers who earn their living on the sea.

As for the top countries that sent remittances to the Philippines, the U.S. led the pack, followed by Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, Singapore, UAE, Italy, Germany and Hong Kong. These 10 countries accounted for more than 85 percent of all cash transfers reported by banks and other financial institutions, BSP indicates.


What are Filipinos spending remittances on? Mostly food this year

Food has been the main thing Filipinos have spent money on this year.

As you probably already know, the Philippines is a country that receives a high amount of remittance flows throughout the year. Filipinos who work in the U.S. will send money to the Philippines to their families back home so that they can use it in a variety of ways. And a recent report is detailing the ways in which remittances have been spent in the first few months of 2012.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas determined this after surveying approximately 600 households who received Overseas Filipino Workers remittances between January and March of this year. The overwhelming majority of Filipinos – 95.6 percent – said they used remittances on food purchases.

But they were also used in other ways. For example, more than two-thirds said they allocated some of their remittance funds for educational costs and 60 percent said they put a portion of it toward medical payments. Just under 50 percent used it for other non-medical debts

Debt obligations Filipinos carry can sometimes temper economic sentiment, but remittances were among the things that actually led to consumer sentiment in the Philippines improving.

In the same report released by the BSP, consumer sentiment in the country rose to -14.7 percent from -20.6 percent when compared to the last three months of 2011. BSP says this is a strong indication economic growth will continue through the first half of the year.

Improved sentiment was largely due to Filipinos receiving wire transfers from their relatives living overseas, but there were other reasons for why they were optimistic. This included more jobs being available, an increase in the number of employed family members, average salaries going up, and a reduced amount of civil instability combined with greater peace and order throughout much of the country. In addition, the Filipinos surveyed also cited good governance and an appreciation in the value of the peso for why they were more upbeat about the country's financial state.

However, Filipinos aren't without their concerns, as the survey found some aspects of life in the country are tempering expectations. For example, the rising cost of oil is proving to be a burden for some families, and forecasts indicate prices won't be dropping any time soon. BNP noted that oil prices are Filipino consumers' top concern for the year ahead.

Nevertheless, the cost of energy didn't prevent many Filipinos from buying big-ticket items in the three-month period.

"Respondents were of the view that the current quarter is a favorable time to buy real estate for investment, motor vehicles for income generation and family use, as well as consumer durables," the report noted. "Relative to a year ago, buying conditions on big-ticket items improved at the national level."

If you have a family in the Philippines, consider visiting Xoom for all your money transfer needs, as their funds will be sent quickly and securely.


Payout options to choose from when sending money to the Philippines

It's no secret. Your bank options are numerous if you're sending money to the Philippines.

One of the most significant components of the Philippines’ economy is remittances, as statistics indicate it’s consistently among the top five countries Filipinos send money to every year.

Because remittances are so vital to the country and its people, Xoom has tried to make it as easy as possible for you to send a money transfer to one of several financial institutions that operate there.

1. Banco De Oro. As with the previous banks, BDO also offers cash pickup, and because you’ll find it in many of the country’s malls, your friends and loved ones may be able to stop there to pick up their money while shopping.

2. M. Lhullier. If you’re from the Philippines, you’re likely very familiar with this financial institution, as there are over 1,000 branches located throughout the country. And because most locations are open on nights and weekends, choosing M. Lhullier as a pickup destination is a great idea.

3. Cebuana Lhuillier. Xoom also partnets with Cebuana Lhuillier. The pawnshop chain offers convenient 24-hour pickup locations across the country. Its many branches services more than 30,000 clients daily.

4. Philippine National Bank. While Filipinos have a variety of remittance service providers to choose from, PNB recommends Xoom, as online transfer transactions are completed in minutes. PNB’s endorsement of Xoom is significant, as it’s one of the country’s largest banks and boasts a variety of banking products. You can also send money for cash pickup.

5. Bank of the Philippine Islands. This bank has stood the test of time, as it was established more than 150 years ago and was the first one located in all of Southeast Asia. Xoom customers will understand why it’s lasted so long, as deposits are ready in just a few hours, or you can choose cash pickup.

6. Metrobank. Xoom users can also send money to their relatives via Metrobank. Deposits can be made in hours, without you needing to leave the comfort of your own home.

7. SM Malls – You also have the option to send money to one of 30 SM Forex locations at SM Malls. Xoom has a complete list of these locations across the country.

These are just some of the 9,751 branches that serve the Philippines. You can also send money through door-to-door delivery to most provinces in one to two business days.

Regardless of the method, Xoom is confident you’ll find the one that best fits you and your family’s needs.