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Three things you must do to prepare for the Chinese New Year

Asians welcome the Year of the Dragon.

For much of the world, the New Year's holiday has come and gone. But for the largest segment of the world's population, the new year arrives January 23.

Chinese New Year is by far the most popular and important day on the Chinese calendar, as it marks the end of the winter season and the arrival of spring. It's also the time during which celebrants go to great lengths to welcome the year, anticipating any bad luck they had in the previous year will be replaced by good fortune.

Celebrated throughout the world – particularly in regions with a heavy Chinese population, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and various other parts of Asia – this year's celebration is said to be particularly noteworthy as it is the Year of the Dragon. Each year is represented by a different member of the zodiac and each have their own characteristics, but the Year of the Dragon is believed to be one with the most potential for good fortune.

Just as those who ring in festivities on the Gregorian calendar with certain customs and practices, the same holds true for the Chinese New Year, as over 15 days of celebrating, revelers fill their day with various traditions.

1. Clean the house. Getting one's house as orderly as possible is one of the more popular customs. Celebrants believe that by getting rid of clutter and everything else that can mess up a home, they're ridding their homes of bad luck so good luck has plenty of room to take its place.

2. Handing out red packets. The color red has special meaning as well, which is why many people celebrate by handing out red pieces of cloth or envelopes with money in them. Tradition says that doing this brings good luck and brings added wealth.

3. Celebrating with family. As with virtually all ethnic backgrounds, families are important in the Chinese culture, which is why the Chinese New Year is meant to be enjoyed with ones friends, brothers, sisters, parents and extended family members. Not only are families supposed to enjoy the day together, but go out of their way to be especially nice and cordial with one another.

Unfortunately, circumstances often prevent families from being together. That's why there's often a spike in the number of people who send money online to their families around this time. According to Experian, more than one-third of Asian Americans send money to their native country where their families live during the Chinese New Year, hoping that their new-found profit will be the start to a fortunate and prosperous season.

Helpful Links:

What Chinese Zodiac sign were you born under?

History of the Chinese Zodiac


Resources for newly arriving Filipinos working in the U.S.

Resources like ESL classes can be helpful for Filipinos who recently moved to the U.S.

Traveling to the U.S. for work can be overwhelming for Filipino women, but there are plenty of resources to help them adjust. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration reports that more than 3,000 workers immigrated to the U.S. last year for work, and there are currently more than 1.6 Filipino immigrants living and working in the country.

The Embassy of the Philippines provides all the necessary documents and information that Filipino workers will need when they arrive in America. The agency offers support for migrant workers for everything from renewing a Filipino driver's license to reporting marriages and obtaining work visa extensions.

One of the biggest challenges that many Filipino women will likely face when they reach America is learning the English language. While English is commonly spoken in more urban areas of the Philippines, many migrant workers come from more rural areas and may not know the language. There are many organizations across the country that offer English as a second language (ESL) courses to help Filipino people learn the main language, which will also be a valuable resource for integrating with American culture and society. It can be a good way for newly arriving immigrants to connect with other people from the Philippines as well.

Migrant workers who travel to the U.S. alone for work so they can send remittances to their families may find it difficult to be so far from their loved ones. Community support groups can be a great way for foreign workers to find people to connect with and share their experiences. This can also be a helpful resource for finding doctors who speak Tagalog and markets that sell food from the Philippines among other resources.

Filipino workers who want to send money to the Philippines to help out their families can use Xoom, an international money transfer company. Xoom offers a number of reliable, fast ways to send remittance to loved ones. Funds can be sent directly to the recipient's bank account or to nearly any bank in the Philippines. Transferring money with Xoom can take as little as a few minutes.


Pacquiao’s fight with Marquez only raises more questions

Pacquiao's fight with Marquez only raises more questions

Manny Pacquiao’s third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez was supposed to end the debate between the two fighters once and for all. Instead, it only served to raise more questions.

The Filipino phenomenon defeated Marquez by majority decision, but the fight did not end without controversy. Many in the arena felt that Marquez had outboxed Pacquiao, and one of the judges scored the fight as a draw. Pacquiao officially walked away as the winner, but its doubtful that the rivalry between these two boxers is over.

To put the fight into perspective, Pacquiao and Marquez have a long history together, and almost all of their matches have ended with controversy, as they’ve gone to a judge’s decision and the fights have been extremely close. Their first match, in 2004, ended in a draw, which is the last non-win on Pacquiao’s record. Pacquiao attempted to silence the critics in 2008, and walked away with a split decision – by just one point.

After both fights, Marquez hasn’t been shy about what he thought of the judge’s decision, repeatedly claiming he was “robbed” and that the judges were giving Pacquiao the win because of his superstar status.

After the decision was announced at the most recent fight, it appeared that nothing had changed.

“I was robbed,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It happened again. I don’t think there is much more I can do in the ring.”

Some feel that Marquez got a raw deal due to the proposed Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather superfight that has been talked about. If Pacquiao had lost to the lesser Marquez, it would mean millions of dollars in lost revenue for the Mayweather bout. Others feel that Pacquiao legitimately won the fight, mainly due to his excellent defense and counterpunching. Though not as flashy as Marquez, Pacquiao blocked many of his strikes and scored points when he left openings.

That’s a sentiment that Pacquiao himself shares, telling reporters after the match that he felt like he did enough to win the fight.

“Yes, it was clear. I blocked a lot of his punches,” he told the news source. “If he wants a rematch, he’ll get it.”

Still, that didn’t look good for a Pacquiao camp that claimed to have been training for the knockout going into the fight. Pacquiao himself was said to be truly motivated, hoping to knock out Marquez and not leave anything in the hands of the judges.

Now, it appears that the Mayweather fight will be on hold for the time being anyways. Mayweather’s managers have challenged Pacquiao to a May 5th fight, but it seems Pacquiao is leaning toward a fourth match with Marquez instead.

“I’m bound and determined to find a definitive winner from these two,” said Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum. “If we can get both fighters to agree, we’ll put it on May 5. That fight [Mayweather] can still be there for us in November [2012].”

While Marquez is obviously an elite fighter, he is typically not considered to be in Pacquiao’s class. Yet it appears that Pacquiao has found a true rival – someone whose style simply gives him fits, an opponent that he can’t seem to shake.

Thus it appears that the world will have to wait for the fight that everyone wants to see, which is Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. Then again, given the way these two have gone after each other in their trilogy thus far, the more entertaining matchup might just be a fourth bout.


Kobe Bryant watches Pacquiao train

Kobe Bryant watches Pacquiao train

Pacquiao is putting the finishing touches on his training ahead of his big fight with Juan Manuel Marquez this Sunday, November 12th. Bryant stopped by the gym, posed for a few pictures with the champ, and sat and watched as Pacquiao sparred with several different opponents.

"He's a nice guy," Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, told the Los Angeles Times. "We talked a little bit. I enjoyed meeting him. He didn't get a chance to talk to Manny that much because the training was about to start when he arrived."

Pacquiao and Bryant have met before, when the Lakers star traveled to the Philippines for two exhibition matches. Bryant has spoken of his love for boxing in the past and has cited Pacquiao as one of his favorites.

Bryant will no doubt be glued to the TV this Sunday for the big fight. Boxing fans who use Xoom to send their first money transfer to the Philippines, Latin America or the Carribean will get to see the fight for free live on pay-per-view.


Seven billionth baby born

Seven billionth baby born

The world’s seven billionth person has been born at a hospital in the Phillippines.

Weighing in at 2.5 kilograms, Danica May Camacho was chosen by the United Nations to represent the world’s population reaching seven billion, reports The Guardian. While there’s no way to know if she was the exact seven billionth person in the world, estimates put the birth as reasonably close, although some say that the seven billion people benchmark will not be reached until next year.

The U.N. chose October 31st as “Seven Billion Day” to draw awareness to the issues facing the human race as the population continues to expand. It was just 12 years ago that Adnan Nevic was named as the six billionth child, showing how quickly the world’s population is expanding.

One of the significant components of the birth is the fact that the milestone is recognized – something that may not have even been possible a few decades ago. In today’s quickly globalizing society, we now have the capability to track world population across countries, as a way of keeping the entire human civilization interconnected. Even families that are separated by great distances can talk on the phone, videochat over the internet or even send money online.


Pacquiao: It’s personal

Pacquiao: It's personal

On several occasions, Manny Pacquiao has been criticized for being a bit too "nice" in the ring. A boxing fan certainly wouldn't lump in Pacquiao's easygoing demeanor and non-boastful attitude with a former champ like Mike Tyson, for example. But for his upcoming bout on November 12th with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao admits that the rivalry has gotten personal between the two fighters.

"Right now, outside the ring, there is nothing personal but when I get into the ring on November 12 it's going to be personal for us," the fighter told Reuters. "It seems personal to him because he talks too much, and he needs to prove it. He talks a lot, and it's not good for a fighter to talk a lot without action. Me, I don't talk a lot. I just do some action."

Pacquiao is referring to Marquez's claims that he should have won a controversial split decision that was awarded to Pacquaio the last time they fought. The Mexican boxer even went so far as to wear a t-shirt that read "We Were Robbed" while promoting his upcoming fight with the Filipino phenomenon.

Strength trainer Alex Ariza says Pacquiao is extremely motivated for the fight because of the perceived slight against him by Marquez.

"When something is personal, it's a lot different. He knows that he has to make a statement in this one," Ariza told the Associated Press. "I don't see Manny even touching gloves [with Marquez]. He has a disdain for the guy, and I've never known him to dislike anyone."

Boxing fans can see it all go down when they use Xoom to send their first money transfer to the Philippines, Latin America or the Caribbean. Qualifying transactions will get to see the fight free live on pay-per-view on November 12th. Those who complete their transactions before October 25th will be entered to win tickets to see the fight live in Las Vegas.


Márquez: “Siento que le he ganado dos veces”

Marquez: "Siento que le ha ganado dos veces"

Mexicanos que residen en el extranjero realizan envíos de dinero para que sus familias se preparen para la tan esperada pelea.

Lejos una de las peleas más esperadas de los últimos tiempos, es la de los boxeadores Manny Pacquiao y Juan Manuel Márquez a realizarse el próximo 12 de noviembre en Las Vegas, Nevada; encuentro que ha tenido una desgastante gira promocional para ambos deportistas.

La pelea que es promovida por Top Rank en asociación con MP Promotions, Márquez Boxing, Tecate y el MGM Grand, será producida y distribuida por HBO a través del sistema de pago por evento en los Estados Unidos.

La posible revancha de Márquez

“Las dos peleas anteriores con Pacquiao acabaron en decisiones polémicas –un combate nulo y decisión dividida para el campeón filipino–, por lo que ahora voy a trabajar de forma inteligente para conseguir el nocáut y no dejar ninguna duda”, señaló el boxeador mexicano de 38 años, Juan Manuel Márquez.

Los dichos de Márquez se deben a que las dos veces anteriores que los deportistas se vieron las caras, los jueces decretaron en una instancia ganador al tagalo y en la segunda un empate de último minuto.

“Sabemos que esta es una pelea difícil y que hay que entrenar muy fuerte para esta pelea, pues a pesar de que siento que le he ganado las dos veces que nos hemos enfrentado sé que Pacquiao ha mejorado mucho desde esas dos peleas”, dijo el mexicano, quien ha sido campeón mundial de peso pluma, superpluma y ligero durante su carrera profesional.

Márquez , proveniente del Distrito Federal, sabe que ésta es lejos la pelea más importante de su vida y no le quita merito a Pacquiao, considerado el mejor boxeador libra por libra de la actualidad.

Al respecto señaló a CNN México noticias que “yo lo veo difícil más no imposible, ya lo hice dos veces, la diferencia es el peso, voy a trabajar para subir de peso con velocidad y pegada, eso es lo que me tiene motivado levantándome a correr y entrenando duro, quiero fundamentar bases, la pelea contra (Floyd) Mayweather me sirvió de experiencia.

Los planes de Pacquiao

En tanto, los planes de Pacquiao en el futuro contemplan una futura carrera política. El deportista espera presentarse a candidato por el sillón de gobernador de la provincia de Bukidnon en el 2013.

 "Eso son los planes que tengo de cara al futuro, pero ahora el objetivo es centrarme en la próxima pelea, que es la más importante, seguir trabajando como congresista y disfrutar con mi grupo musical", señaló durante una conferencia de prensa en donde pudo demostrar sus dotes cantante.


Pacquiao training at torrid pace

Pacquiao training at torrid pace

Most boxers train hard for every fight – or at least tell the media that they do. But Manny Pacquiao is ramping things up to another level in his preparation for his third bout with Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12th.

The Filipino phenomenon has been hard at work training under veteran trainer Freddie Roach, to the point that he's going through sparring partners like tissue paper. Jorge Linzres, who had been training with Pacquiao for about three weeks, pulled out of sparring in order to focus on his fight for the World Boxing Council's lightweight title. Pacquiao's regular sparring partner, Ray Beltran, probably didn't want to be the sole punching bag for the fiery Pacquiao, so the camp brought in Zambian Olympian boxer Hastings Bwalya.

Bwalya is known to be a bit brash and boisterous, and he wasn't intimidated by Pacquiao's legendary pedigree. The Zambian boxer talked a good game before the sparring began, but he didn't have too much to say after two rounds – Pacquiao left him with a bloody nose and jaw. Beltran came back in for another four rounds, before Bwalya came in for two more.

Why is Pacquiao so motivated? It wasn't just Bwalya's trash talk. This fight is personal for Pacquiao after Marquez claimed that the judges "robbed" him of a victory the last time they met. This time, Pacquiao doesn't want the fight to end up in the hands of the judges – he's training for the knockout, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"He wants to be as big as he was against Miguel Cotto," conditioning coach Alex Ariza told the news source. Cotto was the last fighter that Pacquiao knocked out. "But Cotto was the equivalent of a linebacker, and Marquez is a free safety. I think he just wants to kill Marquez."

In fact, the Filipino fighter seems so focused that his coaches have had to slow him down.

"We're way ahead of where we usually are, like 75 to 80 percent of where we should be by fight night," Roach told the news source. "We're usually around 50 percent right now. I have to make sure we don't overdo it."

Boxing fans can see it all go down when they use Xoom to send their first money transfer to the Philippines, Latin America or the Caribbean. Qualifying transactions will get to see the fight free live on pay-per-view on November 12th. Those who complete their transactions before October 25th will be entered to win tickets to see the fight live in Las Vegas.


Pacquiao-Marquez III coming up – but could Pacquiao-Marquez IV be on the horizon?

Pacquiao-Marquez III coming up - but could Pacquiao-Marquez IV be on the horizon?

Manny Pacquiao is set to take on Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12th in the third meeting between these two talented fighters. However, it may not be the last time that Pacquiao and Marquez go toe-to-toe in the ring, as it was recently revealed that Pacquiao's team has included a rematch clause in the contract.

Rematch clauses are common in boxing and other fighting sports. Essentially, the clause stipulates that one fighter has the right to call for a rematch in the event that they lose the fight.

Pacquiao is a more-celebrated fighter than Marquez, but the two have had some tough battles in the past. The first fight in 2004 went to a draw despite Pacquiao knocking Marquez down three times. In the second fight, held in 2008, Pacquiao won on a split decision.

The Filipino phenomenon's team has included a rematch clause in case Marquez does end up winning. Pacquiao could then uphold his reputation in a rematch.

Pacquiao's business manager, Michael Koncz, told RingTV that the team was confident in Pacquiao, but they still wanted the clause on the off-chance that something happens. He cited the recent Mayweather-Ortiz fight as an example of a bout where the losing fighter (Ortiz) should have had a rematch clause.

"How unintelligent would it be if we did not include a rematch clause just in case of some freak accident?" said Koncz. "It has nothing to do with any doubt as to whether or not we think Manny's going to win. It's just smart. It's just good business."

Fans can make their own good business decision when they use Xoom to send their first money transfer to the Philippines, Latin America or the Carribean. Those that do will get to see the fight for free live on pay-per-view November 12th. Those who make the transaction before October 25th will also be entered to win two tickets to see the fight live. 


Young girl is honored by Filipino government for saving the flag during typhoon

Jalena Arcos Lelis recently became the first Filipino child to be honored by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). The governmental branch that promotes and preserves Filipino culture and heritage recognized Janela's brave effort to rescue the national flag from floodwaters that swept through her hometown of Albay during the Juaning typhoon, according to the Inquirer Global Nation.

She was given a plaque, a Philippine flag pin to wear as a reminder of her courageous act, a new national flag of her own and P20,000 in cash. The president of the Pinoy Power Coalition of Volunteers, Dr. Ofelia Samar-Sy, told the Philippine Information Agency that the organization purchased food, supplies and clothing for Janela and her family, to help them recover in the aftermath of the typhoon.

Many Filipino people who are working abroad will also send remittance to their families and friends to help them recover from the damages incurred during the storms.

NHCP executive director Ludovico Badoy called 12-year-old Janela's deed a "selfless act of courage, reflective of her love for country and a constant reverence to the national symbol," the news source reports.

The young girl braved rushing floodwaters that were at chest-level to retrieve the flag, later telling reporters that she was taught to respect it and to never let it get dirty. Janela also said she was motivated by her brother Kuya Edcel, a 19-year-old color officer of the Citizen's Army Training in Manilao National High School – fearing he would be in trouble if anything happened to it.

"To the 12-year-old girl who saved our Philippine flag, certainly that's a very commendable act," Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told the Manila Bulletin. "It's an indication of something greater that resides on the person."

The Philippine Information Agency reports that many people are reaching out to help Janela and her family in their time of need. Philanthropist Mariel Tolentino promised to give the family P200 every day for at least a year to help them get back on their feet and recover from the typhoon's damage.

People around the world will send money to the Philippines to help others who were affected by the storm.