Monthly Archives: September 2008

US House passes bill to reward Filipino WWII Vets

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

WASHINGTON DC – The US House of Representatives passed a controversial legislation Tuesday, September 23, that would pay Filipino World War II veterans a one-time, lump sum payment opposed to a yearly pension.

H.R. 6897 passed by an overwhelming vote of 392 to 23 without objections.

The bill now goes to a conference committee and compete with S. 1315, the Veterans Enhancement Act, which passed in the House Monday, September 22, but removed the Filipino Equity benefits provision in order to do so – a strategic move by Democratic leaders, according to sources.

The “Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2008″ or H.R. 6897 would make one-time payments of $15,000 to Filipinos who are U.S. citizens and $9,000 to non-citizen Filipino veterans. The Senate passed a bill on veterans’ affairs in April that provided pensions for many of the surviving veterans but has not acted on the House-passed legislation. Senators could take up the House version or meet in conference committee to work out the differences in the two versions of the legislation.

Filipino WWII organization leaders said despite the lump sum’s approval and the passage of S. 1315 without the Filipino equity provision, they are still committed to seeing through S. 1315.

“Our position here in Washington is that we are alarmed by the passage of the two bills S. 1315 and H.R. 6897,” said Eric Lachica, executive director of the Washington DC-based American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACFV). “We are hopeful that the final version of S. 1315 in the conference committee can add the Filipino Equity provision so our veterans can finally have that official recognition. As for H.R. 6897, we find it unacceptable because it provides no official recognition, too little too late, doesn’t give money to the widows and it’s a quit claim bill that would surrender the veterans rights to future compensation or benefits.”

“We continue to fight for the principles for equity,” added Ben De Guzman, national coordinator of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE). “We are still committed on working on S. 1315 and to have the committee include the Filipino equity provisions.”

De Guzman also said only 18,115 veterans remain and roughly two-thirds still live in the Philippines.

The Senate bill, S. 1315, passed the Senate earlier this year by an overwhelming vote but since its passage in April, the bill has stalled in the House because of the financial burden the bill carries.

With 18,000 eligible if the bill passes, the bill would allow Filipino WWII veterans residing in the Philippines to be eligible for an annual payment of $3,600 ($300 a month) and married veterans to be eligible for $4,500. The annual payment for surviving spouses would be $2,400.

ACFV Vice President and WWII veteran Franco Arcebal said his fellow veterans are favoring S. 1315.

“Believe me when I tell you that if H.R. 6897 passes none of the veterans would apply for it,” he said. “There’s too much to risk. We would be losing all of our benefits including Social Security Income (SSI), medicare, food bank assistance and house rental assistance.”

De Guzman said while he is pleased that both the Senate and the House finally have passed bills to rectify the situation, questions remain.

“Not the least of it is the amount” for each old soldier, he said. The veterans themselves, he said, “are surprisingly of one voice on this. Traditionally if you ask 11 vets what they think, you get 11 different answers.” They are united in thinking the congressional action is lacking, he said.

Last Push

Congress was set to adjourn this week but the financial crisis and talks of a $700 billion bailout plan may be what the Filipino Veterans Equity Enhance Act needs to keep it alive.

There are already talks that Congress is extending the session until the end of this month.

Still some are not that optimistic. NAFVE are working on the timetable that if nothing happens by the end of this week, both bills are dead.

“Anything that doesn’t happen by the end of this week that’s it,” said De Guzman. “That’s how we’re looking at it. The reality of it is it’s not officially over until the final gavel adjourns the 110th Congress but in reality we’re working on the timetable that this is the final week to get something done.”

Meanwhile, Lachica and the rest of ACFV officials are planning for last minute mobilization efforts.

“We are trying to organize [Filipino WWII] veterans around the country,” said Arcebal.

Lachica said that it’s time for the community to rally and continue to call their Senators and Representatives.

The Filipino veterans would seem to have a champion in the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka, a World War II veteran from Hawaii.

His spokesman, Jesse Broder-Van Dyke, said Akaka was meeting with senators about the veterans. Akaka sponsored the bill that passed the Senate with the pensions intact.

“He just wants to give them the recognition they reserve while they’re still alive,” Broder Van Dyke said. (with AP wire reports)

(www.asianjournal.com)

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20% of SF homeowners spend 50% of income for mortgage

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

SAN FRANCISCO—More than one out of five homeowners in San Francisco spends 50 percent or more of their income on housing. More than 7.5 million people—almost 15 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage—are spending half of their income or more on housing costs, according to a 2007 data released by the US Census Bureau last September 23. That number is up from nearly 7.1 million the year before.

In a report with the Associated Press, more that 4 million homeowners were at least one month behind on their loans at the end of June. Also, almost 500,000 had started the foreclosure process, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

A homeowner spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs is traditionally considered by the government and most lenders to be financially burdened. However, that definition now describes almost 38 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage, about 19 million.

San Francisco is one of the largest 100 metro areas analyzed by the Associated Press that showed populations in which at least 20 percent of homeowners spent more than half of their income on mortgage. Other places include California metro areas of Stockton, Los Angeles, Riverside, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, and San Diego. Also in the top 10 are the Fort Myers, Sarasota and Orlando metro areas in Florida, and New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island.   (www.asianjournal.com)

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Donaire to defend championship belt

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES  – Nonito Donaire Jr. is ready for his next and arguably biggest challenge.

The Filipino IBF Flyweight champion Donaire faces off against Moruti Mthalane of South Africa as a co-main event on November 1 featuring Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Mthalane is the No. 1 contender and a mandatory challenger for Donaire.

“I’ve worked too hard to earn this title and there is no way I’m letting anyone take it away from me,” said Donaire during a press conference announcing the fight at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Century City. “Mthalane is going back to South Africa without the only souvenir he craves most my world championship belt.”

Mthalane (22-1, 15 KOs) will make his US debut. He’s undefeated in three years winning 10-bouts eight by knockout.

“This is my first fight outside of South Africa and I intend to make the most of it,” said Mthalane, in a press statement. “I’m going to be in the middle of the ring.  Donaire will not have a problem finding me. Let’s see how he handles my pressure when he does.”

Mthalane earned his first world title shot by defeating Hussein Hussein in a 12-round unanimous decision in July.

The 25-year-old Donaire (19-1 12 KO’s) known as the “Filipino Flash” has not fought since he defeated Luis Maldonado last December in Connecticut.

Fight fallouts, promotional gaffes and a lawsuit had delayed Donaire’s career, which appeared to be on the rise after his stellar knockout victory against Vic Darchinyan to capture the IBF/ IBO championship belts last year.

He signed with Top Rank in June, got married in August and is know focus on the task at hand – defending his championship belts against Mthalane.

Donaire said that he’s been preparing well for Mthalane, a dangerous fighter that is virtual unknown by many casual boxing fans.

“He’s a tough guy,” said Donaire about Mthlane. “I call him a wild dog because he can run all day, punch all day, he’s always in shape when he gets into that ring you know so I want to get to that level in terms of stamina. I know have the upper hand when it comes to speed and power so we want to work really hard and not take this guy lightly.”

“Like me before nobody heard of me,” added Donaire. “And I took out the biggest guy out there [Darchinyan] and now I’m the top guy and that’s why I’m not taking anything lightly.”

Top Rank President Bob Arum said that the fight’s not going to be easy for Donaire but he expects Donaire to win.

“It’s the reason why we signed him,” said Arum about Donaire. “We believe that he can be the next Manny Pacquiao.”

With the fight coming close to the mega showdown between Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya, tickets for Donaire’s fight is reasonably priced, said Arum

“We understand what’s going on with the economy these days and we want to put out a fight that’s affordable for everybody,” said Arum.

Tickets start at $50, $100, $200, and $300.   (www.asianjournal.com)

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Let’s talk about it!

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

The do’s and don’ts on marriage for gay and lesbian couples

When Americans vote on Nov 4, 2008, Californians will also be asked if they agree to Proposition 8 or not. Also known as the Protect Marriage Act, Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in May 2008 that authorized the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. To vote YES to Proposition 8 is to ban same sex marriage and maintain the Family Code that explicitly defines the union of a man and a woman as the only valid or recognizable form of marriage in the State of California. To vote NO is to uphold the controversial Supreme Court decision and agree to legalize same-sex marriage.

Over the coming weeks leading to the election, we can expect Californians to encounter a lot of propaganda by gay rights organizations as well as by proponents of Proposition 8 to try to sway their votes. What are both sides saying?

I Do support marriage of same-sex couples

Recently, a television commercial and a series of print ads were launched to open hearts and minds about the issues involved when same-sex couples marry. Called Let California Ring, the public education campaign addresses the public’s concerns and conflicts about marriage and same-sex couples. It builds a better understanding of the everyday challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians face, and encourages dialogue through individual and public conversations about ways to end exclusion.

Over 50 diverse organizations have come together in the Let California Ring Campaign. They hope that the campaign will be able to engage people to talk about the freedom to marry and to build public support for gay marriage.

“I dreamed of seeing my son get married,” said Sylvia Castro-Adams. “Now that California law finally allows them to marry, Paul and Max seized the opportunity. I’m so happy they’re married; it gives me great comfort to know my son will be taken care of by someone who loves him, no matter what. I want to honor and celebrate Max and Paul’s love and commitment just as we do for all the loving couples in our family. So, we’re planning a big reception, with all the family together.”

In a recent collective editorial brainstorming session in LA organized by New American Media (NAM), a PR practitioner from San Francisco named Robert spoke of other stories of love and commitment. “The first couple who married in June 16, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, has been together for 55 years. Del died Aug 27. Her last great act was finally marrying the person she has loved for over 50 years. This is why people care so passionately about this issue. How would you feel if you can’t marry the person you love? How would you feel if the government told you, you can’t marry the person you love,” Robert said.

Sandy Close, NAM executive director, said that the gay community wants society to talk about their plight, and to understand and support them. The main message of Let California Ring is that “as California’s gay and lesbian couples marry, their families grow stronger. And what’s good for families is good for our communities. Strong commitments make for strong families and strong communities.”

I Don’t support marriage of same-sex couples

Those who are opposed to gay and lesbian marriages believe that the union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and legalizing gay marriages could undermine the family.

Bishop Oscar Solis of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles stands by what Pope Benedict has stated—that the Roman Catholic Church denounces homosexual behavior but calls for empathy and compassion for gays and lesbians. The Church teaches that the inclination toward homosexuality is not necessarily a sin; it can be considered a tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. However, as Pope Benedict said, “a person engaging in homosexual behavior acts immorally,” because he feels that sex is only good if framed in the stance of being for procreation between a married man and woman. Currently, the Roman Catholic Church has strict limitations on allowing homosexuals to become members of the clergy, and it also continues to fight the legal recognition of homosexual couples

Many other Christian denominations reject same-sex marriage because several verses in the Bible denounce it, like in Romans 1:26-27: That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”

Asked to comment on the question of many gays about “how would you feel if the government tells you that you can’t marry the person you love?,” Pastor Mark Briones of Word International Ministries- Los Angeles stated that, “It’s not a question of what people wish or desire. It’s an issue of what God says is right or wrong. Since I believe the Bible is God’s Word and it says homosexual relationships are wrong, then I cannot support gay marriage.”   (www.asianjournal.com)

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Poll shows Californians favor same sex marriage

by Joseph Pimentel AJPress
LOS ANGELES—The percentage of Californians opposing a constitutional amendment that would reinstate a ban on same-sex marriages have grown over the past year, according to the Field Poll, an independent and nonpartisan organization.

The surveys latest finding released on September 18 revealed that 55 percent of Californians opposed while 38 percent favored Proposition 8, the initiative to ban same-sex marriage on the November election ballot. In May, the Field Poll’s first survey on the subject found that 51 percent had opposed the proposition. During the same time, an LA Times/ KTLA poll found that 54 percent of California residents favored the ban on same sex marriages.

“During the past two months, voter opposition has increased toward Proposition 8,” said Mark De Camillo and Mervin Field, the researchers of the poll.

The Field Poll’s recent findings show that voters are keen on this issue. The report found that 70 percent of voters have “heard something about Proposition 8.”

De Camillo said that the survey found that preferences on Proposition 8 divide sharply by party, ideology, region, religion and educational status of the voter.

The report revealed that Democrats oppose the initiative nearly four to one. Republicans are in favor of the ballot initiative by almost a three to one margin. Meanwhile, a majority (56 percent) of non-partisans are lining up on the No side.

The survey found that 57 percent of voters living in coastal counties or touching the San Francisco Bay are opposed to Proposition 8. By contrast, voters living in inland counties are closely divided (44 percent Yes vs. 48 percent No).

The poll also revealed that 52 percent of Protestants favor the bill. Catholics (55 percent) and those affiliated with other religions oppose the bill. The findings in the report are based on a random sample survey of 830 likely voters in California.

However, those favoring Proposition 8 are wary of the recent Field Poll survey.

“Recent polls published by California media outlets claim that Proposition 8 to restore marriage in California as between a man and a woman, is trailing among voters. These polls, including the Field Poll released this week, suffer from the same historic problem that other polls on this subject around the country have had: they do not accurately reflect the true support for traditional marriage,” said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for ProtectMarriage.com in a statement. “For example, the Field Poll showed that support for Proposition 22 in 2000 was at 53 percent right before the election, yet over 61 percent of voters supported the proposition.”

Anti-Proposition 8 supporters have already been lining up to defeat the ballot measure.

Earlier this week, actor Brad Pitt announced he’s donating $100,000 to fight the November initiative.

“Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn’t harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8,” said Pitt in a statement published in the LA Times.

With the November election only two months away, expect Proposition 8 supporters and oppositions to make a strong push about their case. (www.asianjournal.com)

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Filipinos’ Passion for Fashion

by Momar Visaya/AJPress

Grace Edwards, Andy Arcangel & Monique Lhuillier make Pinoys proud, too

NEW YORK—Last week, a veritable who’s who in the fashion industry converged in the city to celebrate Fashion Week where the Spring/Summer 2009 collections of famous designers were presented.

The historic Bryant Park was transformed into one giant tent, where all the fashion shows and some after-parties are held. This is also where industry insiders, designers and buyers meet and match.

“It is a very tough industry, it is so hard to get in,” Grace Edwards, a Filipina designer told the Asian Journal. “This is an opportunity for businesses and buyers to take a look at next year’s trends and for a week, they will be looking at a horde of designs so your collection must really stand out.”

Among this year’s designers whose collection gets showcased in a fashion event is Monique Lhuillier.

Lhuillier is known for her exquisite bridal gowns but through the years she has also designed ready to wear clothes, which are as elegant and timeless as her gowns. Her designs have also graced numerous red carpet events and editorial spreads in fashion magazines.

Already, there’s a long line of celebrities who have donned her design during their wedding days. The list includes, among others, the singer Pink who wore an ivory and black gown during her wedding day; Lost’s Emilie de Ravin who had a lacey long gown; Private Practice lead star Kate Walsh who wore a custom-made gown for her Ojai wedding; TV host Ali Landry; singer Natalie Imbruglia; Kevin Costner’s wife Christine Baumgartner, and Britney Spears during her infamous wedding to Kevin Federline.

According to reports, Lhuillier’s spring collection at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week showed her ability to pull off more relaxed looks.

“She offered outfits in billowy chiffon, feminine organza and, surprisingly, denim. A pleated cocktail dress with embroidered Aztec cap sleeves elevated denim to a whole new category. There also was a chambray jacquard cocktail dress with a crisscross pleated halter top that was lovely,” the Associated Press said.

“This season I used dry crisp fabrics, straw-braiding techniques, basket patterns and wave prints,” the designer wrote in her notes to the crowd at her show.

Today, Monique Lhuillier is considered one of the leading innovative fashion houses in terms of design, quality and brand image.  The Monique Lhuillier boutique, in the heart of Beverly Hills, offers world-class service and a wide selection of her latest Ready-to-Wear and Bridal collections as well as some custom offerings.

Her designs have been showcased though various Fashion Week shows and for spring/summer 2009, Lhuillier explained that it is all about the skin this time.

“Evening is about layers of sheer fabrics giving the illusion of seeing lots of skin. Billowing shirts, draped bodices and weightless volumes accented with copper and bronze beading,” Lhuillier said.

Her famous designs have been featured on such fashion forward television shows as Sex and the City and Will & Grace, and is a favorite among many noteworthy celebrities. Her Ready-To-Wear collection has been worn by megastars such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Connelly, Janet Jackson, Debra Messing, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, Mariah Carey, Sarah Michelle Geller, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Marg Helgenberger, Amber Tamblyn, Elisha Cuthbert, Jorja Fox, Holly Hunter, Tiffany Thiessen and Jamie Lynn Sigler.

Grace Edwards

Compared with Lhuillier, Grace Edwards is a novice. She’s not a household name. Not yet, at least.

At the young age of 50, Edwards is trying her best to make it in this cutthroat world of fashion. She has been fortified by time, experience and the numerous challenges that she had to face along the way.

Edwards and her husband moved to New York in 2000, shortly after the death of Jack, their middle child who succumbed to severe asthma attack.  He was only 23.

A couple of years later, Edwards worked at Henri Bendel, an affluent retail store where she believes she began to realize that she had a passion for fashion. “I was looking at the stuff that we were selling there and noticed the prices. I told myself, ‘I can do this,’” she related.

Three years later, she launched her own line: Grade Edwards, Inc., a clothing design company focusing on haute couture.

Her ascent to fame and her struggles are all documented through Start Up 2, an online reality series that featured three small business owners and produced by AOL Small Business and Entrepreneur.com.

Andy Arcangel

Andy Arcangel and his partner Dino Lomboy run Arcangel Men’s Wear in the hip East Village area of Manhattan.

Arcangel’s passion for fashion came at a young age, when he still had no idea what fashion was. Growing up in a middle class family in Sta. Mesa, Manila, Arcangel witnessed his mother create their own curtains, table covers and blankets.

“I used to watch her and I remember being wide-eyed in amazement about how raw materials could turn into such beautiful finished adornments for the house. That was how my love of fashion and fabrics started,” Arcangel said in previous interviews.

He moved to the New York in 1997 and this ignited his passion for design. He enrolled in fashion courses at the Fashion Institute in New York City and soon earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City.

During last week’s fashion week events, Arcangel showcased his own summer 2009 collection with a runway show at a loft in Chelsea.

“This collection is inspired by summer in Mexico,” Arcangel said before the show started. His collection can best be described as eclectic. Some pieces had floral and psychedelic designs while others were just bursting with colors. Most were fun going-out clothes that have been a trademark of the label for eight years now.

This is the fourth fashion show that Arcangel has staged in time for the Fashion Week.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Of Global Pinoys & Balikbayanis

by V. de Leon/AJPress

With the onset of technological advancements and the birth of new industries, the hardworking Juan has learned to broaden his horizons and has become a citizen of the world — a global Pinoy.

There are two kinds of global Pinoys — the immigrants, who have found permanent residence in another country and possibly have become naturalized citizens of the country that they’ve migrated to, and the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or expatriates. OFWs or expatriates are Pinoys who work with multi-national companies abroad on a temporary (and oftentimes,contractual) basis.

Family always comes first in Filipino culture. This trait does not only apply to immediate family members, but extends to relatives, even relations through affinity as well.

Traveling long distances to work abroad or reside permanently in another country does not make the global Pinoy forget — in fact, it makes him long for home and his family even more. In the midst of homesickness and loneliness, he strives hard to meet his financial goals and provide a better life for his loved ones.

In the beginning of his arduous journey to financial success, he comes across a familiar face, a kababayan, who would help him go through the rudiments of starting a new life in a foreign land.

With his newfound support group, the concepts of family and kababayan become synonymous and synergized for the global Pinoy. He finds reprieve and pays the kindness he receives forward. If his ventures become lucrative enough, he may even be willing to make patriotic investments on the Philippines, either through retirement or business endeavors.

Filipinos never forget their roots and will always find means to visit their home country– thus, the moniker balikbayan (balik means to return and bayan means country). After all, a Pinoy will always remain a Pinoy at heart, no matter what citizenship he has acquired or what new culture he has adapted to.

The OFW

Every year, a considerable population of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or expatriates seek greener pastures by working in different industries abroad. The spectrum is expanding further, with Pinoy professionals in different fields now working in developing Asian countries as Vietnam, Indonesia and China.

In a 2007 survey conducted by census.gov.ph, the report stated that “the number of OFWs who worked abroad at anytime during the period April to September 2007 was registered at 1.75 million. This represents an increase of 15.3 percent over the estimated 1.52 million OFWs in April to September 2006. Out of the total OFWs during the period April to September 2007, 92.4 percent (1.61 million) were Overseas Contract Workers (OCW) or those with existing work-contact abroad. The number of OCWs in April to September 2007 went up by 16.6 percent over the 1.38 million OCWs estimated for the same months in 2006.”

In the same survey, it was elaborated that “OFWs sent a total remittance of Php110 billion for the period April to September 2007, an increase of Php8 billion (7.7%) from the estimated remittance of Php102 billion for the same months in 2006. Included in the total remittances are cash sent (74.6%) cash brought home (20.7%) and remittances in kind (4.7%). Of the total cash remittance sent for the period April to September 2007, 76.8 percent were sent through the bank, 14 percent were sent through door-to-door and the rest (9.2%) were sent through the agency and or local office, friends or co-workers and other means. OFWs working in Asia, comprising 78.1 percent of all OFWs, sent the biggest cash remittance of Php57.7 billion. Among occupation groups, OFWs working as laborers or unskilled workers posted the highest cash remittance of Php17.6 billion.”

With his intelligence, ingenuity and industry, the Pinoy expatriate has elevated his country’s stature and competence in the global job market. The stigma that was once associated with OFWs has now become a myth. The OFW is no longer deterred nor disheartened by derogatory perceptions, because his sacrifices prove beneficial not only to his family and loved ones, but to his beloved country as well.

The Pinoy immigrant

Filipino immigrants are a common sight around the world — countries as the United States, Canada and Australia are fast-becoming new settlements for migrating Pinoys. In the United States alone, there is already a significant population of Filipino-Americans who have found their place and have adapted to the ways of American culture. The numbers continue to increase, especially with the continuing high demand for medical professionals. Times are changing and opportunities are rising for nurses, physical therapists and doctors.

In an article by Aaron Terrazas from the Migration Policy Institute, it was reported that “the number of Filipino immigrants in the United States tripled between 1980 and 2006, from 501, 440 to 1.6 million, making them the second largest immigrant group in the United States after Mexican immigrants and ahead of the Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese foreign-born.

“Over two-thirds of all Filipino immigrants resided in just five states, although their numbers are growing in places like Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas.”

Other notable facts in migrationinformation.org include: (1) “There were 1.6 million foreign-born from the Philippines residing in the US in 2006. The 1960 census counted 104,843 Filipino immigrants, a number that increased 15.6 times to 1,638,413 Filipino immigrants in 2006. The Filipino-born were the second-largest foreign-born group in the US in 2006 after immigrants from Mexico. (2) Filipino immigrants made up 4.4 percent of all immigrants in 2006. In 1960, Filipino immigrants composed 1.1 percent of all foreign-born in the United States. That share more than tripled to 3.6 percent in 1980 and increased to 4.6 percent in 1990 but decreased slightly to 4.4 percent in 2006.”

From balikbayan to balikbayani

According to Inquirer.net,the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced in October 2007, through a study that was released in Washington DC, that the Philippines ranked fourth in dollar remittances among developing countries with $13.7 billion of global remittance flows in 2006.

In these trying times, The Philippines has found refuge in the new income-generating global Pinoy — the foremost contributor in revving up dollar revenues and boosting the Philippines’ economy. They have become a new breed of heroes – the balikbayanis, instigators of an economic revolution that counters poverty. Global Pinoy Power has become the new People Power, a teeming source of economic stability and empowerment.

Specialized needs

Global Pinoys have become a formidable force to reckon with — a potential market with unique needs. These unique needs necessitated the inception of a new industry — one solely dedicated to ensuring that their exigencies are met with ease and convenience. Remittance centers, balikbayan box companies and travel agencies are all part of this singular group.

Their specialized services have made this industry an indispensable part of global Pinoy culture. They may even be considered as balikbayanis themselves. They are the mediators that turn the global Pinoy’s dreams into reality through balikbayad (remittances), the balikbayan box and of course, the balikbayan.

The balikbayani ecosystem operates with such efficiency and symbiosis. Remittances to the Philippines provide our economy with much needed dollar revenues. Balikbayan boxes sent to the Philippines not only bring the global Pinoy’s parcel of love home but also generate jobs and added income for our kababayans. Reasonable airfare rates and travel packages attract millions of global Pinoys to come home every year, thus increasing income for the country further through tourism.

Indeed, it’s always a win-win situation in the balikbayani ecosystem — a manifestation of Pinoy’s ingenuity and adaptability wherever in the world he may be.   (www.asianjournal.com)

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