PNB opens remittance center in L.A., its 12th in California

Consul General Leo M. Herrera-Lim (center) cuts  ceremonial ribbon at the opening of PNB Remittance Center with PNBRCI President and CEO Ricky Villacisneros, first Senior Vice President and Global Filipino Business Group chief Benjie Oliva, Andy Uy, President of XYZ Express Cargo, and Juan P. Francisco III, Business Development Head of Mango Tours, Inc. Photos by Dante Ochoa/TFLA.

Consul General Leo M. Herrera-Lim (center) cuts ceremonial ribbon at the opening of PNB Remittance Center with PNBRCI President and CEO Ricky Villacisneros, first Senior Vice President and Global Filipino Business Group chief Benjie Oliva, Andy Uy, President of XYZ Express Cargo, and Juan P. Francisco III, Business Development Head of Mango Tours, Inc. Photos by Dante Ochoa/TFLA.

By Dante D. Ochoa

The Philippine National Bank Remittance Center Inc. (PNBRCI) — owned by Philippine National Bank (PNB), the 7th largest bank in the Philippines — continues its drive to dominate the OFW-driven remittance market as it opened a new branch at the Equitable Plaza Building at 3435 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, last Friday, April 10.

The opening of the new branch brings to 12 the number of branches in California serving the Filipino American communities that began with the National City branch near San Diego in 1991, from where the pioneer company in the remittance industry grew its presence in 23 states with 130 centers in the U.S. and overseas.

Economists estimate that the total remittances to the Philippines stand at 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), 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.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony principals were the Hon. Consul-General for Los Angeles Leo Herrera-Lim, PNB First Senior Vice-President and Global Filipino Business Group Head Benjamin J. Oliva, PNBRCI President and CEO Ricky Villacisneros with 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 offered by PNBRCI to overseas workers (OFWs) 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 General Herrera-Lim stated: “We are proud that PNB breaks ground and opened its doors to the people of Los Angeles and to the community. It is a sign that there is progress both in our country and in our community.”

Consul-General Lim also later expressed to the media that he is 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 credits 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,” he added.

“But now, OFWs can buy properties for investments or personal residence through the home-purchase loan program offered by PNB in the U.S., ” said Oliva.

Asked why the home-purchase loan has 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 services offered by XYZ Express Cargo and travel services through Mango Tours, all in the same premises.

Salvador Agudo, an accountant employed by the Los Angeles county government, largest employer of Filipino Americans in Los Angeles, told TheFILAMLA the opening of the new branch is 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. “And besides, they’re very close to the consulate which makes it easier for me to take care of my personal transactions with them.”

PNB Remittance Center executives Ricky Villacisneros and Benjie Oliva, with Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim and newspaper editor Roger Oriel

PNB Remittance Center executives Ricky Villacisneros and Benjie Oliva, with Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim and newspaper editor Roger Oriel

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