More 'Korea towns' rising in RP

Posted at 09/20/08 3:46 PM

The Korean population in the Philippines has been steadily rising during the past few years even despite reports that their numbers have dwindled in areas such as Baguio City.

Korean-owned businesses have been on the rise in Quezon City, Baguio City and even in the province of Pampanga.

In areas between Porac and Angeles City in Pampanga, there are even subdivisions tagged as “Korean towns” because they are predominantly occupied by Korean nationals.

One Korean, Eric Kim, said that this is because it is easy to manage a business in the country.

Kim, who has been staying the country for less than a year, has already established a commercial building and is also now engaged in money changing trade.

"Philippines give me a lot of money… I'll be rich here for sure," he said.

Koreans said they favor living in the Philippines because of its steady climate. They said that back in South Korea, the climate it either too hot or too cold.

They also cited that the cost of living in the Philippines is not as expensive as in Korea. South Korea’s capital Seoul is among the most “expensive” cities in the world.

Numbers rising

Tourism Undersecretary Phineas Alburo said Koreans topped the number of foreign tourists visiting the Philippines.

In 2007, more than 650,000 Korean tourists entered the country.

Midway 2008, there were already 300,000 Koreans who visited the Philippines, effectively replacing the Japanese and Americans as country’s top foreign tourists.

The influx of Koreans to the Philippines is even greater than the number Filipinos returning home.

"Marami sa kanila, nag-i-stay at dito na naninirahan," said Alburo.

Because of this, some Filipinos express their concern over the “boom” of Korean population.

"Darating ang araw, sila na ang mamumuno dito sa amin, baka kami pa ang mapa-alis," said one Filipino.

Business down

Meanwhile in Baguio, many Koreans have left and business establishments owned by the foreigners in the summer capital have closed due to bankruptcy.

The Bureau of Immigration said from 10,000 last year, only 4,000 Koreans are living or studying in Baguio City.

The city government said many Korean establishments went bankrupt.

Koreans interviewed by ABS-CBN News said the establishments went bankrupt because of the worsening economy of the Philippines.

The city treasurer's office, meanwhile, said Baguio doesn't look at the situation as a big loss when it comes to business tax. It said Korean establishments have a minimal share to the city's revenue.

The treasurer's office, however, admitted Koreans' purchasing power would be missed by the city.

Baguio is one of the Koreans' favorite destinations in the country because of its climate and availability of English tutorial centers.

In Cebu City, Koreans said they are pleased with how the Cebuanos handle their visitors. The foreigners said that aside from the various English tutorial centers in Cebu, they appreciate the warm culture of the people in the Visayas.

Asked about the dangers of staying in the Philippines, the Koreans said the Philippines, especially Cebu, "is as peaceful as it can be."

From 2003 to 2006, the Korean population in the Philippines grew by at least 50 percent. Government data shows that from 378,602 in 2003, the number of Koreans staying in the country ballooned to 572,133.

The influx of Koreans in the country, dubbed "the Korean invasion," became more obvious with the sprouting of hundreds of Korean business establishments in the Philippines. -- With reports from Henry Omaga-Diaz, Butch Mendizabal and Carmi Cavanlit, ABS-CBN News