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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.


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.