PNB Remittance Center opens new LA Branch to tap $12B overseas earnings from Calif.
LOS ANGELES – Continuing its drive to dominate the Filipino remittance market, the Philippine National Bank Remittance Center Inc. (PNBRCI) opened a new branch at the Equitable Plaza Building at 3435 Wilshire Boulevard here last Friday, April 10.
The opening brings to 12 the number of PNBRCI branches serving Filipino American communities in California. Its first branch was in National City near San Diego in 1991, from where the pioneer remittance company grew its presence in 23 states with 130 centers in the U.S. and overseas. Philippine National Bank, the 7th largest bank in the Philippines, owns PNBRCI.
Economists estimate that the total remittances to the Philippines as 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and the Central Bank of the Philippines reports a record $24 billion in total remittances in 2014. In 2013 the Philippines ranked number three in the world behind China and India in total payments received from overseas.
Philippine Consul-General in Los Angeles Leo Herrera-Lim led the ribbon cutting ceremony. He was joined by PNB First Senior Vice-President/Global Filipino Business Group Chief Benjamin J. Oliva; PNBRCI President and CEO Ricky Villacisneros; PNBRCI business partners Andy Uy, president of XYZ Express Cargo and Juan P. Francisco III, business development head of Mango Tours, Inc.
Villacisneros cited the importance of the services PNBRCI offers to overseas Filipino workers who send money to their families in the Philippines. He estimates that more than 50 percent of U.S. remittances come from California alone.
Consul Herrera-Lim said he was gladdened by the happy faces he saw at the opening “which manifested the optimism of Filipino Americans for their community and their country of origin.”
Meanwhile, PNB executive Benjie Oliva credited OFWs in bringing up their families to the middle-income classes with their remittance payments. “Many OFW families move up in the consumption curve with the money sent to them from overseas,” said Oliva. “Home purchases by OFWs have lifted also the real estate and housing sectors of the country. But now, OFWs can buy properties for investments or personal residence through the home-purchase loan program offered by PNB in the U.S., ” added Oliva.
Asked why home-purchase loans have not taken off in the U.S., Oliva explained: “The housing market heated up in the last five years, so the housing developers had their hands full just with domestic demand and scaled down on overseas sales. But now the same developers are partnering with the PNB to provide the financing of overseas sales from U.S. residents, which makes me optimistic of the OFW market ”
Villacisneros touted the new branch as a “one-stop shop,” not only because PNBRCI chose to be closer and very accessible to and from the Philippine Consulate-General, which is located in the same building, but also because other services including document authentication and balikbayan box shipping offered by XYZ Express Cargo and travel services through Mango Tours are all in the same premises.
Salvador Agudo, an accountant employed by the Los Angeles county government, the largest employer of Filipino Americans in Los Angeles, told TheFILAMLA that the opening of the new branch was good for him.
“I like dealing with PNB, they’re been around for a long time so I trust them with my remittances,” he confided. “Besides, they’re very close to the consulate, which makes it easier for me to take care of my personal transactions with them.”
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