Monthly Archives: September 2008

McCain, Obama: We are running out of time

by Momar Visaya/AJPress
NEW YORK CITY — Presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama set aside politics Thursday and talked about pressing issues such as climate change, poverty, health and education at the Fourth Clinton Global Initiative Thursday, Sept. 25.

There was, however, one major problem that they united to discuss in greater detail: the country’s burgeoning financial crisis.

With an extreme sense of urgency, Sen, John McCain told attendees that America’s fi nancial woes are getting deeper and that time is running out.

“The times are too serious to put our campaign on hold, or to ignore the full range of issues that the next president will face. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and obviously we are running out of time,” McCain said, adding that he was set to go to Washington to meet with President George W. Bush and congressional leaders.

McCain opened the plenary session for the initiative’s annual meeting. Initially, the plenary was supposed to tackle integrated solutions on the global problems of water, food and energy but the focus shifted a bit because of the current fi nancial crisis.

“The world is having various problems but here in America, we have a crisis of our own that began in the fi nancial center of this city, not too far away from where we are today,” McCain said.

Sen. Barack Obama closed the plenary with a speech he delivered via satellite. He echoed McCain’s call for the immediate fi nding of solutions to solve this deepening problem.

“You are meeting at a time of great turmoil for the American economy. We are now confronted with a fi nancial crisis as serious as any we have faced since the Great Depression. Action must be taken to restore confi dence in our economy,” Obama said.

“It’s outrageous that we fi nd ourselves in a position where taxpayers must bear the burden for the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street and Washington. But we also know that a failure to act would have grave consequences for the jobs, and savings, and retirement of the American people,” he added.

Obama also called for the creation of an independent and bipartisan board “to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way” and it was imperative for both the Republicans and Democrats to come up with bipartisan efforts.

“Now is the time to come together, Democrats and Republicans, in the spirit of cooperation on behalf of the American people,” he said..

Obama also pushed for the ordinary citizens, the taxpayers, whom he said need to be treated as investors. “Americans must not pay a single dime to reward the same Wall Street CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess,” he added.

Obama likewise outlined his four commitments should he win in November. He said, he would seek to end all malaria deaths by 2015 and promised to seek an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He also hopes to increase foreign aid to cut extreme poverty in half worldwide by 2015 and to establish a $2-billion global education fund to erase primary education gap in the developing world.

“Our dependence on oil and gas funds terror and tyranny; it has forced families to pay their wages at the pump; and it puts the future of our planet in peril. This is a security threat, an economic albatross, and a moral challenge of our time. The time to debate whether climate change is manmade has past—it’s time, fi nally, for America to lead,” Obama said.

McCain, accompanied by his wife Cindy and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, thanked Clinton for inviting them to attend the meeting.

“This man’s drive, and determination, and compassion for those in need are still a force for good in the world, and I am proud to call him a friend,” McCain said.

Clinton said that he was grateful to both presidential candidates for finding time to address the initiative’s participants.

He shared that Sen. Obama contacted both him and his wife for advice on the current crisis, “He didn’t just call me and Hillary and ask us what we thought. He had a conference call with the primary members of my economic team and we talked about what a mess we are in,” he said.

According to Clinton, Obama added, “Just tell me what you think it ought to do and do not waste any breath talking about what is – or is not – politically salable. Let’s fi gure out what the right thing to do is and then we’ll fi gure out how to sell it.”

After two days of policy and politics, the Clinton Global Initiative wrapped up Friday.

CGI is now in its fourth year and draws world leaders, celebrities, activists and scholars for three days of discussions about pressing global problems. It coincides with the General Assembly meeting taking place on the other side of town at the United Nations.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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On high speed: Bullet train awaits its future

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

The 220-mph train can take you from SF and LA—if voters approve it

The nearly 800-mile system of bullet trains that can whisk commuters between San Francisco and Los Angeles will still have to be decided by Californians on November 4 via Proposition 1A. This proposition will authorize the sale of $9.9 billion in state bonds to help pay and start the construction for a 465-mile high-speed rail line linking Anaheim, Los Angeles, Fresno and San Francisco.

Prop. 1A includes $9 billion for high-speed rail and $950 million for conventional commuter and intercity rail. For the main line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the cost would be $32 billion, and an additional $10 billion would be needed to complete the network by adding extensions to San Diego, Sacramento and Riverside County.

This network would send the electrics zipping between Northern and Southern California in just about 2 ½ hours, according to the state High Speed Rail Authority in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. The cost would be about $55, one way.

The ups and downs

Although a number of transportation, environmental and business groups support Prop. 1A because the see the high-speed rail as a faster, greener, less costly and less-complicated way to travel up and down the state, taxpayer groups and the California Chamber of Commerce are against it.

Those who are opposed to the proposition say that the state’s poor economy and seemingly endless budget defi cits can discourage voters from agreeing to take on more debts. The total cost of repaying the bonds over 30 years would amount to $19.4 billion, requiring an annual repayment of $647 billion, according to the state legislative analyst. This, they say, is going to be a signifi cant drain on the state’s general fund.

However, supporters of the high-speed rail say that the system would reduce pollution and the number of people fl ying between the Bay Area and Southern California. With gas prices soaring and reducing greenhouse gases, the project might be able to convince voters to agree on Prop. 1A.

Taking the present to the future

The bullet train project has been on the drawing board for 14 years. In 1994, a commission was formed recommending the construction of a high-speed train system to link the state’s biggest cities.

In 1996, a passed legislation created the nine-member board California High-Speed Rail Authority to oversee the planning for the trains. The bond measure was approved by lawmakers in 2002, with a planned statewide vote in 2004 and later in 2006, but was postponed twice with the concern that California had other pressing infrastructure needs.

Resembling the letter “Y” with a long tail, the 800-mile system would have its initial line start in San Francisco, along the Caltrain right-of-way, with stops in Millbrae, Palo Alto, San Jose and Gilroy. It would travel across the Pacheco Pass to the San Joaquin Valley, with stops in Fresno and Bakersfi eld. The train then would continue to head to Palmdale, with stops in Sylmar and Burbank before reaching Los Angeles and possibly Anaheim and San Diego. There are plans for extensions to Irvine, to San Diego through Riverside County and Sacramento.

A high-speed rail is defined as passenger rail running at a top speed of 125 mph (200 kilometers per hour) or higher. Commuters in countries in Asia and Europe have been depending on high-speed rail systems Japan’s Tokaida Shinkansen is the world’s fi rst high-speed train, which offi cially opened in 1964. (With reports from AP)

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Clinton, Bush announce team up to aid Ike victims

by Momar Visaya/AJPress
Clinton Global Initiative gets underway, millions of dollars pledged
NEW YORK—The 2008 Clinton Global Initiative, the annual summit of business and world leaders and celebrities opened Wednesday, Sept. 23, with a host of pledges and commitments to help the underserved communities in the world.

Former President Bill Clinton said in his opening that the financial crisis roiling markets in the US and around the world underscores the importance of taking a global perspective.

“This crisis is not an excuse to walk away from the world’s challenges but a compelling reason to intensify efforts to meet them around the corner and around the world,” Clinton said as he welcomed the plenary participants..

Now in its fourth year, the initiative draws global leaders from business, government, academia, science and non-governmental organizations, celebrities, current and former heads of states, philanthropists and scholars for three days of discussions about pressing global issues like poverty alleviation, energy, climate change, education and global health.

Lance Armstrong, who also announced his return to cycling at next year’s Tour de France, said his foundation is committing $8 million over the next five years to a global awareness campaign for cancer, including a meeting that would convene in Paris after the tour.

“This disease takes 8 million people around the world every year, 22,000 people a day. This must be a global health priority.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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Concepcion wins by KO

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

EL CAJON — There’s a saying “be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.” Freddie Roach had always said that Bernabe “The Real Deal” Concepcion needed tougher opponents to prepare for a world title.

Roach got more than he bargained for last Thursday night. At Manny Pacquiao’s first boxing promotional foray, MP Promotions, the 20-year-old Concepcion squeaked out a hard fought knockout victory against a tough chin, iron hearted Giovanni Caro of Mexico at the Sycuan Resort and Casino in San Diego.

“The Real Deal” Concepcion faced a real test. Concepcion’s last two fights ended in knockouts lasting five total rounds and he barely broke a sweat in either of those two fights. This one lasted eight rounds but he left the ring with a left eye the size of a baseball and had blood seeping through the corner slit of the eye.

Caro gave Concepcion fits all night long. Reminiscent of the Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto match up, Concepcion kept throwing his best shot at Caro but the strong willed Mexican kept coming.

During the first round, Caro landed a series of jab and right cross combinations aimed at the left eye of Concepcion.

In the third round, Concepcion landed a beautifully timed right cross to the chin of Caro, which immediately dropped him to the ground. This wasn’t enough to scare the Mexican fighter. And Concepcion did not try to finish him off.

By the fifth round, Caro continued to pepper Concepcion’s left eye, which by then had swelled to the size of a mouse.

It seemed that Concepcion threw the harder and cleaner punches at Caro throughout the night. However, the left eye now nearly shut bothered him creating a blind side that Caro quickly exposed. In between rounds, Roach’s corner was frantic trying to keep the swelling down as ringside doctors continued to monitor Concepcion’s eye.

In the eighth round, the two fighters were tangled up in the corner. Concepcion threw what seemed like a clean right uppercut to Caro’s right mid section area. However, Caro bent down like it was a low blow and the referee deducted Concepcion a point.

As Caro gathered himself, the ringside doctor made a quick check on Concepcion’s eye. The doctor was about to stop the fight due to the massive swelling around the left eye but Concepcion pleaded his case saying, “I can see. I can still see.”

With time running out and the doctor nearly stopping the fight, the predominantly Filipino crowd rose to their feet. Concepcion knew he had to finish the fight soon. He looked over to Pacquiao’s ringside seat. Concepcion bumped his chest twice with his fist and nodded over to the pound-4-pound king.

Once the referee began action, Concepcion pounced on Caro. Concepcion landed a series of right and left hooks cleanly to the head of Caro causing the latter to stagger towards the corner ropes. Concepcion continued to swing wildly and finished Caro off with another devastating right cross. Caro fell with his back towards the corner ropes. The referee counted him out.

After the fight, Concepcion, who required eight stitches after the match, said that there was no way he was going to lose that fight.

“I was just thinking of all the Filipinos out there in the crowd, [and] around the world supporting me,” said Concepcion. “I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t want to surrender. I wanted to keep going to give them a good fight so I kept fighting.”

He said that Caro was one of the strongest and best fighters he’s ever faced.

“He’s a good fighter and strong puncher,” said Concepcion. “He has a strong chin and even stronger heart.”

Roach said this fight would help Concepcion prepare for a world title shot.

“If we want to fight for a world title we needed some rounds instead of a two or three round fight,” said Roach. “He [Caro] gave me exactly what we wanted. It was a tough fight maybe more than we asked for but you know it’ll build character for Bernabe and now we know what to expect in tough fights. “

Undercard

FilAm Brian Viloria (23-2 13 KOs) won easily against Javier Lagos by unanimous decision. The 27-year-old flyweight outmatched his opponent for all eight rounds. Viloria used quick feet and good combination punching to defeat Lagos.

Viloria said that the match was a good tune up for his December 13 title match against IBF Light Flyweight titlist Ulisses Solis in Macau, China.

Dennis Laurente of Paranaque, Philippines (30-3-5 16 KOs) stopped Arturo Urena in the sixth round of the scheduled eight round bout. Doctors stopped the fight due to cuts around Urena’s face.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Put Your Money WhereYour Heart Is – Invest in Your Homeland

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
Recently, while having my hair cut in a beauty salon in Glendale, I heard two Korean women talking about buying retirement homes for their parents.

One was relating to the other woman how happy her parents have been in their new retirement home inside a plush community with a golf course and country club amenities. She said it was so cheap and their money went a long, long way rather than if they just continued to live here in California. The other woman was excited to hear this and said she will surely call her friend’s sales agent. My interest quickly perked up when I heard where the parents retired. The Korean said hundreds of Koreans are doing what she did — investing and retiring in the Philippines!

Yes, many foreign nationals are buying and investing in the Philippines. With the baby boomer generation just about to retire in a few years, many are planning where and how to spend their retirement. People are realizing that in America or Europe, the high costs of living and the low interest their pensions are earning will not give them a good lifestyle in their senior years. Moving to retire in the Philippines has become a very attractive option. If foreigners are buying real estate in the country, all the more should Pinoys invest into their homeland.

Over the past decade, the Philippines has become a retirement haven for thousands of foreigners. Our country has developed communications, infrastructure, and service delivery systems that meet the needs of foreign retirees. Better yet, unlike most other countries, nearly everyone speaks English in the Philippines.

There are so many good things happening in our country, despite what you may read and hear from mass media. The Philippine Stock exchange hit a nine-year record in 2006, opened in 2007 some 30 percent higher, and continues to be strong. Among the 25 priority infrastructure projects expected for completion by 2010 are the LRT line 1 to NAIA, the P21-billion Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, the P6.9-billion Subic Port development the P1.3-billion North Expressway-South Luzon Expressway connection via C-5 Project, and the Edsa Rehabilitation Project. Six of the major projects have been completed.

The Philippines has also emerged a strong second to India in the global outsourcing market. In 2006, it recorded $3.6 billion in earnings, a 50-percent jump from 2005. By 2010 it is expected to earn as much as $12.2 billion.Big outsourcing players in the U.S. such as Sykes Enterprises, Convergys, PeopleSupport Inc, Accenture, and eTelecare Global solutions have already set up headquarters in the Philippines, and Dell computers recently opened a contact center. The Philippines is becoming a much-preferred option as it has stronger cultural ties to the United States than India, and it is expected to catch up and even overtake India as market leader.

But more than all these good news, the best news is that the Philippines offers a significantly lower cost of living. The Philippine Peso exchange rate is approximately 45 to $1, which means your dollar will go a long, long way there than in the US. Housing, food, and labor costs are very reasonable. Cable Television, Hi-Speed Internet and Satellite Communications are cheap. One can hire an air-conditioned taxicab for eight hours for less than $30. In a country where a provincial Governor’s salary is only about Php35,000 per month, and a Presidential Cabinet Under-Secretary earns something like Php45,000, your pension can go a long way. So, if you have a retirement income in the region of $1,500 to $2,000 per month (Php70,000 to Php90,000) you can live like a rich man in the Philippines.

Where can you find a 3-bedroom home with a garden for only $30,000? You can in the Philippines, and you can even get up to 14% per annum ROI from rental returns. These figures probably seem unbelievably crazy to foreign buyers —and all of this comes complete with average 85 degree temperatures and sunshine nearly all year round.

Recent studies indicated that more than 85% of all condo sales in Metro Manila were to international clients. While Metro Manila is still a popular choice with international buyers, quite a number of people are also investing in year-round vacation destinations, like in Tagaytay or Boracay. Unlike other offshore rental properties, where the rental market is largely seasonal, in the Philippines there is a strong market for rental properties year round. This gives buyers greater flexibility in choosing when to use and when to rent their property. The strong rental/second home market also has resulted in a proliferation of professional property managers and rental agents, making property ownership and rental easy.

Philippine real estate, medical, social services, and employment agencies are now working together under the government’s Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to set up standards and make the retirement industry truly world class. The objective is to turn the country into the retirement haven in Asia.

The best time to invest in the Philippines is now, when we are on the verge of a phenomenal future. The Philippine currency has reached a 5-year high in 2007 and continues to be strong and resilient, fortified by the economic management of the current administration. They say the country could be on the verge of the biggest real estate boom in history, set to totally eclipse the 1997 Asian crisis, and fueled by money from Filipino Expatriates, foreign investment, and a bullish economy.

One of my friends in the Philippines wrote to me recently, saying Koreans have bought a large part of Session Road in Baguio. She was so concerned that thousands of Pinoys are leaving our country everyday while many foreigners have been investing and buying real estate. She said that the day might come when there might not be enough attractive land for Filipinos in the Philippines. So, if we have money to invest, let’s start investing where our hearts are. In our homeland — the Philippines.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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RP as a Retirement Haven

by Rochelle C. Pangilinan/AJPress
Even with today’s financial woes, real estate investments in the Philippines remains unthreatened––and booming even––thanks to the retirees who decide to settle in the country after years and years of hard work.

It seems like real estate is something retirees do not think twice of sinking their hard-earned money in, and last July, it was reported that a total of some 40,00 units are to be built by condominium developers over the next five years to compensate for the demand for residential property of retirees (Filipinos and foreign nationals alike) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as well.

It has been a vision of the Philippine Retirement Authority (which was mandated in July 1985 to attract foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens to invest, reside and retire in the Philippines) to make the Philippines the preferred retirement destination in Southeast Asia by 2010, and it seems it would indeed materialize. Both PRA and the Philippine Retirement Inc. (PRI) plan to attract close to a million retirees by 2015 as well.

PRA’s flagship campaign is the Special Resident Retiree Visa or SSRV to would-be retirees and offer them a range of services, benefits and comforts that would make their stay truly worthwhile in the Philippines. Registered residents are set to enjoy the option for permanent residency, multiple entry and indefinite stay in the country. As of March of this year, there are a total of 17,580 retirees enrolled in the program and the number is expected to grow even bigger.

With the assistance of PRA, retires can choose to invest their required deposit through three means: (1) purchase, acquisition and ownership of a condo unit; (2) long-term lease of house and lot, condominium or townhouse for a period not shorter than 20 years; and (3) purchase, acquisition and ownership of golf or country club shares.

Indeed, with several real estate projects currently in the works, the Philippines is fast-becoming a haven for retirees.

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Pacquiao vs De La Hoya tickets now available

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
LOS ANGELES — Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank announced that ticket sales for “The Dream Match” between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao started to go on sale Wednesday, Sept. 24.
The 12-round welterweight super fight between six-division world champion De La Hoya and No. 1 pound-forpound fighter Pacquiao is slated for Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Top Rank President Bob Arum said that the demand for the tickets has been remarkable.

“There are very few tickets left because the orders have been tremendous,” Arum told the Asian Journal. “I know the people in the Philippines are ordering a massive amount of tickets.”

During the interview, Arum referred to De La Hoya as the “Mexican kid” in jest. He said that the fight is going to live up to the hype.

“It’s going to be a great fight and I know the Mexican kid is bigger and a tremendous fighter but I think Manny’s speed and determination will give him the edge,” said Arum. “And Freddy Roach and I see this fight the same way that Manny will win the fight and it won’t be close. He’ll win it decisively.”

Tickets are priced at $1,500, $1,000, $750, $500, $250, and $150.

Top Rank officials said that ticket sales are limited to two per person at each price level with a total ticket limit of four per person. Tickets are available online at http://www.mgmgrand. com, http://www.ticketmaster. com or by calling Ticketmaster.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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