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PIA Press Release

Buying real property in RP like living in a first-world country at third-world prices

Cagayan de Oro City (11 September) -- One of the world's largest shipping companies, Bejing-based China Ocean Shipping Co., is studying whether to build a multi billion- dollar cargo hub near Manila, company officials say.

This, as the South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. is investing $1.7 billion in a new shipyard at a former US Naval Base in Subic Bay attracted by the skilled, English-speaking work force and low costs offered by our coutrymen.

Meanwhile, James Hookway, in his article "For Philippine Economy, Harsh Remedies Pay Off: A Risky Tax Increase by Arroyo Helps Spur New Investments" published by the Wall Street Journal Asia in Aug. 13, 2007, said more than 10 million Filipino expatriates working abroad have taken notice.

"They are now sending home $14 billion a year, double of what they sent five years ago, as government figures indicate," he said.

Economists see this as a relatively secure source of revenue. While 35% of these expatriates work in the US, there are also large pockets in Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. That geographical diversity could provide some insulation against a downturn in the US.

Hookway said the remittances aren't just going to support families, but into the stock market and property investments.

In fact, Ayala Land, one of the country's biggest real-estate companies, says that in 2006, 37% of their revenue came from Filipinos overseas buying land and condominiums, up from 26% the year before and just 16% in 2004.

Recently, the company's chief financial officer, Jaime Ysmael, told shareholders that if economic problems in the US deepen, Ayala Land can still count on Filipinos working in Europe and the Middle East.

Norma Ravanzo, a 58-year old retired nurse from Houston, is one such investor. An American citizen for more than 30 years, Ravanzo is planning to return to her homeland with her husband, who was also born in the Philippines.

Encouraged by the economic progress and improving living condition, she bought property in Cebu City, Manila's financial district and a retirement home in Subic Bay. "It's like living in a first-world community at third-world prices," Ravanzo describes. (PIA 10) [top]

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