RIYADH, FEBRUARY 4, 2013 (PHILSTAR) (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government has approved the recruitment of more than 2,000 housekeeping workers who will work in Saudi Arabia, according to Saudi Al Eqtisadiya newspaper on Sunday.

The workers are expected to arrive soon after the recruitment agencies complete all necessary procedures, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago told the newspaper.

Saudi families have been waiting for the arrival of their housekeepers since October when the Philippine government lifted its ban on housekeeping workers.

The ambassador said earlier that no workers from the Philippines would be allowed to come to Saudi Arabia without approved working contracts with their employers. He said that the new contract protects the rights of both Saudi families and their workers.

Earlier Report From Philstar

Remittances Growth poised to meet full-year forecast By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 15, 2012 - 5:30pm


MANILA, Philippines - Growth in money sent home by Filipinos abroad remained on track to meeting the full-year forecast as of the third quarter, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported Nov. 8, 2012.

Cash remittances coursed through banks amounted to $1.838 billion, an improvement of 5.9 percent from the previous year, BSP data showed. This brought the year-to-date tally to $15.571 billion, up 5.5 percent.

BSP sees a five-percent remittance expansion this year, although this outlook is up for revision this month.

Data further showed that personal remittances-- which included hand-carry money transfers-- rose at a faster six percent in September and 5.7 percent in the first three quarters of the year.

“Remittances remained resilient on the back of sustained foreign demand for skilled Filipino manpower and continued financial service innovations of banks and other financial institutions," BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr. said in a statement.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration included in the statement showed a total of 262,444 job orders processed in the first 10 months of the year. Most workers were deployed to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Taiwan and Qatar.

There were also a total of 1.276 million people still awaiting deployment as of July this year, the number represents an 8.9-percent increase from previous year.

Espenilla said “higher transfers” from OFWs to their beneficiaries affected by the southwest monsoon and tropical storm “Helen” in August could have also contributed to “the sustained rise in remittances.”

Cash remittances mainly came from the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, UAE and Singapore. These countries accounted for 78.3 percent of the total, Espenilla added.

Remittances are part of the country's balance of payments (BOP), which measures our capacity to meet external trade and debt obligations. In the third quarter, BOP already hit a surplus of $5.831 billion, more than twice the BSP's $2.6-billion forecast for 2012.

Last year, cash remittances reached $20.117 billion.


Fruits to greet the Chinese New Year: Pineapple is best, banana a no-no By Raoul J. Chee Kee Philippine Daily Inquirer


Rockwell Land is one of the more successful property developers in the country today is not likely to be contested. At one point in its history, however, one of its first towers wasn’t selling as well. At the time, Rockwell Land president Nestor J. Padilla was consulting with geomancer Paul Lau, who suddenly passed away.

When time came for the design of the Joya Towers, Padilla instructed one of his in-house architects to invite a new geomancer to attend the presentation of an American architectural firm. The one who attended, and who has remained as a consultant of Rockwell Land, was Dr. Andy Tan. Since then, it’s been smooth sailing for the property developer.

“I was one of the 100-plus people in attendance that afternoon. Halfway through the firm’s presentation, Padilla stood up and said that he had invited a ‘feng shui master,’ and that he wanted to hear what I had to say. I stood up, borrowed the firm’s PowerPoint presentation and for four hours deliberated with the American firm on what needed to be changed or improved in their design.”

Auspicious areas

Fortunately, things were still in the planning stages, so the two towers which had originally been designed with one tower facing east and the other facing west were then made to face either north or south, the auspicious areas at the time.

“During those four hours, we discussed in a very scientific way why this way was better while this one wasn’t. In a very discreet, professional manner, they threw all their questions at me: Why is this good/bad? Why should this be here and not there?

“I told them that the tower facing north has a lot of water elements. The south-facing tower has no fountains because south means fire. If there are any water elements placed in the south, they will cancel each other out. At the end, the American firm agreed and, modesty aside, Padilla was impressed.”

Practitioner, not master

Although Tan is a general practitioner, he does not have a medical practice. He calls himself a feng shui practitioner and not a master “because I am still learning.”

He commutes all the way from his home in Binondo to meet with clients wherever they may be. His bank clients often send a car to pick him up and drop him off. At the end of his meetings, the driver takes him back to Binondo.

Growing up in Chinatown, Tan was exposed early on to the practice of feng shui. “I was based in Binondo where the action is. I would hear people ask, why here and why not here, why should I choose one floor and not the other? It was the experience and exposure that motivated me to be in this field.”

JOYA Towers

Even before he began taking on bigger clients, Tan had been helping homeowners bring prosperity and good energy to their residences for over two decades. As the Chinese community prepares for the Chinese Lunar New Year, he offers a few tips, including displaying a basket or platter of round fresh fruit and vegetables.

“They don’t have to be expensive. You can include siniguelas or chico. Gabi (taro) is also good because in Chinese it sounds like money or wealth. Pineapple is a mainstay because the crown signifies something majestic. Other fruits are apples, oranges, ripe mango, pomelo, watermelon.”

Some fruits to avoid, however, are bananas because a bunch of them upturned looks like a hand begging, while grapes are not usually included because they are small or come in small bunches.

“Before midnight on Feb. 10, place a container or basin of water in the northwest side of the house. At midnight, the head of the household should tell the family members to look at that area and then say a prayer,” Tan said.

Incidentally, some Chinese keep a container of water in the northwest part of their house to ensure that the head of the household is kept safe from harm at all times.

Full attention

Despite his unassuming, low-key ways, Tan has the ear and the full attention of Padilla, as well as his other high-profile clients, when new ground has to be broken, or sales blitzes should begin or a new restaurant or bank branch should open.

Pinpointing where Padilla and his staff should sit during meetings is another task of Tan. “I don’t even need to know their positions within the company. I only need their names and their birthdates to know where they should be seated in relation to Padilla,” he said.

For Rockwell, Tan’s primary responsibility is property selection. “I go to the site to check for good vibrations and also take part in the planning of the project,” he said.

His most recent collaboration with Rockwell Land is the firm’s first low-rise development dubbed 205 Santolan by Rockwell. The property, which straddles Quezon City and San Juan, was brimming with informal settlers and required dealing with both local governments.

With the lengths of bureaucratic red tape involved, it appeared to be too much of a hassle. However, as soon as Tan saw the property, he told Padilla, “We can do something with this.” To which Padilla replied, “How sure are you?”

Considering that it wasn’t his money that would go into the purchase and development of the property, Tan bravely said, “I promise you that in less than 12 months, all the units to be built will be sold out.”

True enough, only 15 of the 105 residential units are still on the market.


Asked whether he owns a unit or two at any of Rockwell’s residential areas, Tan said he did not. “I want to help others out but I also want to be detached from things.”

To prove his point, he said that although he foresaw the deaths of his mother, father and most recently his 42-year-old wife, he could only stand aside and let these sad events take place.

“I bathed and cared for my wife for three years until she died last September. Even before then, I could already see the wake, who would visit and the funeral itself. I only prayed that she wouldn’t go at night because it would be difficult to get a ride. She died at noon so I was able to bathe her and change her clothes before she was brought to the morgue,” he said.

Good or bad vibrations

As the Chinese New Year approaches, Tan’s calendar has been filling up with scheduled talks at gatherings of a number of commercial banks.

“My talk usually lasts 25-35 minutes but the Q&A that follows can go on for two to three hours. Everybody wants to find out what they should do so their year will be luckier.”

“Potential homeowners who are unsure whether the uncharted property they plan to buy is ‘good,’ can bring along a child, three to six years old. If they readily look around or look happy, that place emits good vibrations. If the child is jittery and does not even want to explore, that place is emitting negative vibrations. Children that age can tell,” he said.

Meanwhile, those planning to rent or own a condo can base their decision on how they feel upon entering the place. If you feel heavy and need to open a window, you might want to reconsider.

Still, he said that if the price being asked for the place is low, maybe using a compass might help because it can help you decide where to place your bed or situate your workspace.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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