May 20, 2016

Philippine National Bank and Philippine Airlines Opens Times Square Office in New York

Monsignor Oscar Aquino, Our Lady of Victory and The Church of St. Andrew, NY; Maria Milagros M. Revilla, Country Manager-Americas (PAL); Benjamin S. Oliva, Global Filipino Banking Group Head (PNB); Ambassador Mario L. de Leon Jr.; Araceli Manaloto, General Manager PNB NY.

New York - Philippine National Bank (PNB) relocated & officially transferred its office from downtown to Midtown Manhattan, near Times Square & the Philippine Consulate with sister company, Philippine Airlines (PAL).

The inauguration held on May 7th, was officiated by Monsignor Oscar Aquino and attended by Ambassador Mario L. de Leon, PNB & PAL Executives, Philippine Tourism-NY, Travel Agents, FilAm community leaders and members of the Press.

Michelle Narvaez, PAL Area Manager-NY and Ricky R. Villacisneros, PNB Regional Head of North America welcomed the guests of this momentous occasion.

Ambassador Mario de Leon delivered his opening remarks and extended his best wishes to PNB & PAL for a very timely decision to hold their offices in Midtown Manhattan. He said, "The new office location of the two institutions will definitely serve a lot of our Kababayans."

Marila Revilla, PAL Country Manager-Americas who is based in San Francisco said, "The office in NY symbolizes both company's presence in the East Coast, representing PAL's availability and PNB's clientele in this corner of the world. We hope to serve the Filipinos and other tourists and encourage them to visit the Philippines with the help of PNB, Philippine Department of Tourism & the NY Philippine Consulate." With the new office location, Michelle Narvaez, proudly announced that PAL now flies four (4) times a week from New York to Manila and three (3) times a week from Los Angeles to Cebu.

Currently, there is a low fare promo ($674 RT) from JFK to MNL. For more information, please call the PAL office at 917-675-7429 or visit your local travel agent.

This year, PNB is celebrating its 100th year and PAL, its 75th year in the business. According to Benjie S. Oliva, Global Filipino Banking Group Head, PNB is the first Philippine Bank to go overseas to serve the Filipinos in the East Coast.

As PNB celebrates its 100 years, they strive to improve the services for the Overseas Filipino. Just recently, they launched the following products to further serve the Global Filipinos:

1. Global Filipino Card - a prepaid loadable card, offers safety from ATM theft. The customer will be protected with up to maximum P15k for ATM theft. The card also comes with a free Globe SIM Card with 30mins of talk time and FREE membership to popular supermarkets in the Philippines.

2. Healthy Ka Pinoy Card - for just 3 remittances, it entitles the beneficiary of Overseas Filipinos including those in NY to free hospitalization benefit in any hospital in the Philippines accredited by PNB, including regional clinics.

3. PNB/PAL PALIPARAN LAKBAY PROMO - leveraging the services with PAL by adding value to the Overseas Filipino relationship, PNB intends to offer the FREE Travel to the Philippines promo this year as they celebrate100 years.

4. Own a Filipino Home Loan Program - PNB is the first bank to offer financing for house construction, condominiums, house & townhouse loans to Overseas Filipinos. The collateral is situated in the Philippines but the loan processing will be in NY.

"These services are the clear testament to PNB's unrelenting commitment to improve the lives of our Overseas Kababayan. As we celebrate our 100th year anniversary, we remain steadfast in our commitment to serve our customers, first", says Mr. Oliva.

For more information, please visit and

May 18, 2016

Metro-North Engineering Forces Are Making Temporary Repairs to Park Avenue Viaduct After Tuesday Night Fire in East Harlem Curtailed Service

In order to restore full train service as quickly as possible, MTA Metro-North Railroad crews are working around the clock to make temporary repairs to the railroad’s Park Avenue Viaduct in Manhattan that was damaged by a four-alarm fire underneath the viaduct on Tuesday evening.
The fire caused structural damage to one steel supporting column and three adjacent horizontal steel girders that run east-west along the width of the underside of the viaduct and are known in engineering terminology as floor beam stringers. Because of the structural damage, Metro-North has taken the inside two of the viaduct’s four tracks out of service, and put a speed restriction in place on the two outside tracks.
As a result of the track restrictions, Metro-North is operating on a Saturday schedule until further notice.
Scores of workers from Metro-North’s engineering division are installing six temporary steel columns that will surround the damaged column and connect to it and to one another. Once in place, the seven columns, braced together, will function as a single structure that will bear the weight of the overhead viaduct until permanent repairs can be put in place.
As soon as the temporary repairs are completed, Metro-North will perform structural tests including the impact of train movement over the viaduct. If testing proves successful, restricted speed train service could then resume over the tracks that are currently out of service. The construction and testing process is expected to take 24 to 48 hours to complete.
The fire did not cause any damage to Metro-North’s tracks, signals, or third rail power systems. The damaged column, located near the centerline of the viaduct, is an older, multi-piece “built-up” column design notable for its lattice-like steel appearance; portions of the column date to the initial construction of the viaduct in the 19th century. Columns on the east and west sides of the viaduct, which were put in place by Metro-North in the 1990s, are a newer design consisting of single monolithic blocks; they were not damaged by the fire.

Chinese Real Estate Investment Plays Growing Role in U.S. Economy

NEW YORK — Chinese direct investment in U.S. real estate has grown dramatically and visibly since 2010, according to a new report by Asia Society and Rosen Consulting Group (RCG) titled Breaking Ground: Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate.
The report provides the first comprehensive analysis of Chinese inbound investment into all areas of U.S. real estate. More than any foreign investor other than Canada, China stands out for the breadth, depth, and speed of its participation in the U.S. real estate market.
According to the report, Chinese investors acquired at least $17.1 billion of existing commercial property between 2010 and 2015, representing an annual growth rate of 70%. Half of that investment came in 2015 alone.
While 70% of commercial real estate transaction value between 2010 and 2015 was concentrated in the New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco metro areas, the remaining volume is spread widely throughout the rest of the country.
Chinese buyers spent at least $93 billion on residential real estate between 2010 and 2015. Spending rose at an annual rate of 20% and provided important demand in many local markets hit by the housing crisis. California accounted for 35% of Chinese home purchases in 2015, followed by Washington state with 8% of sales, and New York at 7%. These markets correlate well with the availability of direct flights from China and established Chinese and Chinese American populations.
Chinese capital has had a significant impact on the U.S. economy and jobs, the report finds. Chinese-funded projects under construction or planned totaled at least $15 billion by the end of 2015. These range from multi-billion-dollar mixed-use projects in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area to smaller-scale developments in secondary markets. The report also estimates that the EB-5 immigration visa program has generated at least $9.5 billion of Chinese investment capital and contributed to the creation of 200,000 jobs since 2010.
Despite China’s recent economic turbulence, the volume of investment in U.S. real estate will continue to grow. In the short term, capital controls will likely slow individual purchases of U.S. homes, the biggest component of Chinese real estate investment, and slow the growth rate of commercial property acquisitions.
Chinese direct investment across existing U.S. commercial real estate assets and residential purchases excluding new development projects, however, could still total at least $218 billion, cumulatively, from 2016 through 2020. Beyond 2020, Chinese investment in U.S. real estate could accelerate further, thanks to a widening pool of Chinese investors, many of whom have not ventured into U.S. real estate; increasing global appetite by Chinese developers and construction companies; a $1.6-trillion insurance industry that has become active overseas but invested just a fraction of funds available for real estate projects; and new Chinese investment vehicles such as private equity funds.
“This wave of investment is coming from diverse sources in China,” said Arthur Margon, a partner at RCG and one of the authors of the report. “But that's really a small piece of the potential investor universe.”
Breaking Ground combines information from public records, reports, and trade groups with RCG’s database, based in part on gathering of data and interviews with industry sources.
The report also presents discussions of the motivations and drivers for various Chinese investors; benefits and impediments posed by this wave of investment; analysis and projections of the sustainability of Chinese investment in commercial and residential property; and recommendations for U.S. and Chinese investors, policy makers, and stakeholders to keep investment channels open.
“Policymakers, business leaders, and the general public in the United States still do not have a comprehensive understanding of the patterns and implications of Chinese investment in the United States,” Bruce Pickering, VP, Global Programs, Asia Society and Executive Director, Asia Society Northern California and Jonathan Karp, Executive Director, Asia Society Southern California write in the report’s introduction. “This report paints a clearer picture of what these investments mean for this country."
Breaking Ground is the fourth report in a series dating back to 2011 that looks at the broader phenomenon of Chinese investment in the U.S. The past reports, produced as a partnership between Asia Society and Rhodium Group, have looked at foreign direct investments from China at the national level and in California, and at investments in the high tech sector.
About Asia Society
Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, Asia Society is headquartered in New York with state-of-the-art cultural centers in Hong Kong and Houston, and offices in Los Angeles, Manila, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, and Zurich.
About Rosen Consulting Group
Rosen Consulting Group (RCG) is the leading independent real estate economics consulting firm. Founded in 1990 and with offices in Berkeley and New York, RCG provides strategic consulting and unbiased investment guidance through all market cycles. RCG is a trusted advisor to leading banks, insurance companies, institutional investors, and public and private real estate operators.