Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Exploring A Sex Theme Park in Jeju Island called LOVELAND Museum

Entrance to Jeju Loveland Museum

DISCLAIMER: Photos and words used in this article are NSFW. For adults only! No pun intended.

Jeju Island is famous for its beaches and scenic landscape, but if you want to visit something unique and quirky place in Jeju, no doubt that I would suggest this theme park called LOVELAND. At first, I have the slightest idea about Loveland, I know it’s a sculpture theme park where it displays some sculptures which suggests sensuality and eroticism. However, when our tour guide explained a little bit about Jeju Loveland while on our way to the park, it aroused me…… I mean, my interest as a tourist.

The Urinals at the entrance of Loveland Museum

Apparently, this theme park was built way back 2004 by the graduates of Hongik University. The reason why they created this park was to help educate newly married couples. Since Jeju Island is a primary destination for honeymooners, the genius students of Hongik University created a total of 140 sculptures to help the couple warm up a little bit and learn something out of the sculptures displayed in the park. Supposedly, the theme park should expose the visitors into the world of sex. This will help couples, especially those marriages who were arranged by parents, to become comfortable with each other when it comes to sex.

A sculpture of a penis boat

I have images running on my mind while our tour guide explained about the Loveland, but I still believe that Korea is a conservative country where the topic of sex is a taboo, so I did not expect that much. However, when we entered the Loveland park, Lo and Behold!!!!  I was so speechless. Sculptures of male sex organs are standing everywhere, there’s a woman lying erotically in one part of the park and there’s a sculpture of female sex organ just waiting to be explored by anybody, it was indeed the most interesting tour I think I’ve ever did in South Korea.

Some random sculptures you can see inside the park

But that was just in the entrance part, as we go deeper into the colorful park, everything became a head turner. The park has different parts showcasing different activities and themes relating to sex. I sighed a little bit because for me, the name LOVELAND is an understatement, I guess it’s just a subtle way of calling it PORNLAND because believe me or not, it’s a porn park.

Greek Mythology goes erotic

I think what I like most is the part where it depicts different sexual culture. It shows the different types of lovemaking from different countries like Japan, Greece, etc. It’s not as visual as other sculptures in the park but I like it because it shows that sex is not just all about the carnal pleasure of human but it also involves feeling and romance. It also shows how lovemaking differs from each country and how the culture, beliefs and traditions played a vital role in this sacred activity.

Some of the many sculptures at LOVELAND
The whole area is quite big, so people can literally just walk in the park while enjoying (or not) the sculptures all over the area. There’s a part where it shows ahjussis having sex with young ladies in different positions and different manner. There’s also a part where ahjummas are slaving and forcing young skinny men to satisfy their sexual desires and I don’t like it, just imagine the horror of being forced by fat ahjummas to make love with them. Ugh.

One of the ugly sculptures in the park

Unfortunately, during the half part of our tour at Loveland, the rain pours, good thing they also have indoor museum inside the park. We went to check what’s inside the museum, there were collections of videos about sex education, different dioramas of sex activities at home, sculptures of different sizes and shapes of penis and whatnot. There are also sex toys and some things on sale to enhance sexual activity with your partner.

Sculpture of naked ladies at the roof of an indoor museum
I don’t want to discredit Loveland though because of this. Although for me, the visuals are too much, the purpose is clear, to introduce sex to the visitors. Did I learn something from it? Maybe YES. Although I was more on “Ugh” than “Aahhhh”, I can’t deny that I learned something from the tour. It was interesting and way more than I expected. The rain killed the excitement though. Just when my interest started to arouse, it pours so hard that we had to withdraw ourselves out of the park before we get too wet. It was a quickie visit but all in all, I was satisfied with what I saw. Despite the rain, we reached the climax of the tour. When you’re in Jeju Island, go visit Loveland Museum and I will assure you, your hands will get busy afterwards (clicking camera buttons for photos).

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

5 Prominent Things That Remind Me About Jeju Island

The Natural Pool of Jeju Island

So finally, ladies and gentlemen, I can scratch off Jeju Island on my bucket list now. At first I thought there’s no way I could go to Jeju seeing that working culture in Korea is quite a time demanding activity, but thanks to our 5 days Chuseok holiday, it made my trip to Jeju possible. I personally would like to thank WINK TRAVELS for organizing everything, from itinerary, to accommodation and transportation. I shared my Jeju trip with 89 other awesome people, most of them are from the English Speaking countries like the US, South Africa, Canada and Australia and most of them are here in Korea to teach English.

The Wink travelers in front of a temple near Seonimgyo bridge

The Jeju trip was I think one of the most interesting trips I made in South Korea because I was with interesting people and at interesting place. It was such a refreshing journey for me because Jeju Island is so unique. I’ve been to several places in South Korea, but nothing compares with Jeju Island. I don’t want to play an expert on this because it was my first and only visit to Jeju Island, so I would just like to bring this on a personal level based on what I saw and what I experienced. If you’ll ask me what to visit and what to do in Jeju island, I could not answer that, but what I can share though is about the things in Jeju that made a mark on me. What are the things that make Jeju Island unique? Here’s my personal list.

1. The Hallasan (한라산)

Behind us is the view of the tallest mountain in Korea called Hallasan. This is from the perspective of Seonimgyo bridge

Probably the most interesting fact about Jeju Island is that it is a home to the tallest mountain in all of South Korea, the Hallasan. It stands 1950 meters and it is almost at the center of the island, which is why you could see this mountain at almost all places in Jeju. This mountain is very important to the locals because for them, this represents Jeju. They believe that Gods and Spirits live on this mountain. This is actually a shield volcano and there are national parks designated around the area of the mountain. People can actually trek Hallasan, but they said it’s not an easy thing to do. But for people who are on a not so physical fit side like me, I can just look at the mountain from any point and I’m happy with it.

2. The “Dol Hareubang” (돌 하르방)

Two dol hareubangs guarding the entrance of this bridge in jeju

When in Jeju, do not be surprised if you see stone statues everywhere with bulging eyes and without pupils. The statues usually have grinning expressions and they have long and broad noses. Their hands are usually on their bellies and they have hats that look like a mushroom. These statues are called "Dol hareubang" which literally means “stone grandfather”. They used to be the Gods of ancient people in Jeju because they believe that these dol hareubang can make demons go away. They usually put these statues in the entrances or gates. If you go around Jeju Island, it is impossible you would not notice these statues because they are everywhere. In fact, they made smaller versions of these statues so people can buy and give them away as souvenirs.

3. The Jeju  Black Pig (제주흑돼지)

Now let’s go to a unique Jeju cuisine called black pig. If there’s one food that Jeju would like to share to the world, it is their so called Jeju  Heukdwaeji or Jeju Black Pig. Sure there are a lot of restaurants offering black pig meat in the mainland Korea, but the authentic ones are found and can only be tasted at the island of Jeju. We had it during our first dinner in the restaurant right in front of Hamdeok Beach where we stayed for three nights. We had a samgyeopsal that night, but instead of regular pork, they served us the black pig meat. Well, I am not a foodie type of person so I can’t describe it much, but for me, it’s tastier than the regular pork we buy in the market. It is also chewier and the taste is so distinct you can easily identify it’s not a regular pork meat. I just hope that the black pig meat we ate was not a dottongsi (돗통시) or pig toilets, these are the breed of black pigs that were fed through a pig toilet where they consume the feces of the users of the toilet (that sounds a little bit gross though).

4. The basalt rocks

We have been to several beaches in Jeju Island. We’ve been to Hamdeok Beach, to Jeongmun Beach, Hyeobji Beach and we even went to see Lonely Rocks and Jusangjeolli rock column formations. I only noticed one thing though, that everywhere you go in Jeju Island, you will see rocks and stones everywhere. The locals could have probably ignored the presence of these rocks and stones because they are so common in the place, but observant visitors like me could not help but notice how these rocks and stones play a vital role in the culture of people living in this island. After all, these are not just ordinary rocks because these are actually basalt, a gentle reminder that these were created through volcanic activity. These rocks are usually dark in color, fine-grained and commonly form as extrusive rocks.  When you’re in Jeju, unless you stay in the middle of the city, it is impossible that you can’t see, feel and experience these basalt rocks.

5. The culture

If you look at Jeju in an aesthetic perspective, it looks awesome and beautiful, no doubt on that and I couldn’t agree more. However, for me, Jeju is more of a cultural kind of island than a tourist spot. I am not really a culture vulture type of person when it comes to travel, but if you look at Jeju in a different perspective, you will appreciate the culture of the island than the things that are pleasing to the eye. I mean just think about the idea that this island is quite isolated to the mainland Korea. We traveled almost 12 hours from Seoul to Jeju. We took the bus and a ferry just to get to the island. My point here is that, because of its isolation, it developed its own language and its own culture. That is why from the beginning, I claimed that Jeju is unique. Its distinction made me appreciate the island more and I will always admire the beauty of this island not only in the aspect of tourism but also the cultural aspect.

I just think that my sojourn in South Korea will never be complete unless I go to Jeju, Island. I don’t know if I can still go back to that island, but if time and opportunity permit, I would definitely go back and visit the places that I missed during my 4 day stay in the island. Looking at all those rock formations and walking in the white sands of the beaches were all so surreal. Indeed, Jeju Island is a must go to place in South Korea.
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

OWWA Baking Class Graduates Attended Business Planning For Home Bakery And Agricultural Investment Seminar in Seoul

Ms. Mila Nuval Pena introducing the OWWA programs and benefits to OFWs

A total of 35 Filipino migrants have attended The Agricultural Production and Business Planning Seminar which was held at FWRC building in Seoul, South Korea last September 18, 2016. The said seminar was organized by OWWA in cooperation with Bucheon Filipino Migrant Community (BFMC).

The first speaker of the seminar was Agriculture Analyst Maria Alilia G. Maghirang. She talked about investment opportunities in the field of Agriculture particularly about high value crops. She presented agricultural products that can be produced per region. It was such an informative talk because we got to know the ideal crops that we can produce in our respective places. She also discussed how the government can help us if we decided to venture into Agribusiness when we return home someday.

Landbank representative to South Korea Mr. Leover Loyola presented the different loan programs that OFWs can avail if they want to start an agriculture business in the Philippines. There are various programs that have been created to assist OFWs in the financing of the Agribusiness based on the crops or production.

Our Speaker Prof. Torres discussing about Business planning

The highlight of the seminar was the Business Planning for Home Bakery. The Speaker for this topic was Professor Amelyn Manaluz-Torres. She talked about how to start a home bakery small and makes it grow big. She emphasized the importance of making a business plan and the things you need to consider to make it effective. Aside from that, she gave tips on how to grow the business. From that short period of time, we learned practical, technical and the non technical aspects of business planning.

Some of the graduates of OWWA baking class

On that same event, graduates of Baking class also received their certificate of accomplishments for completing the training on baking provided by OWWA. It was led by OWWA Officer to South Korea Ms. Mila Nuval Pena and BFMC President Mr. Rene Medrano. They awarded the certificate of completion to all the graduates of Baking class together with Console General Rodericko Atienza. He also gave a message to the participants of the said seminar to continue on growing and learn new skills. The BFMC President Mr. Rene Medrano also gave inspirational talk to all the graduates and shared his own experience in his journey to become a financial literate OFW.

Training and seminars like these are very helpful especially for OFWs in South Korea as this will prepare them for their return home someday. I hope that OWWA and all the government agencies involve for the welfare of OFWs will continue to organize events like these because these training and seminars can provide valuable information that we can use for our lives after Korea.
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

What’s in Your Bowl: Ingredients to a Successful Business Venture for OFWs while Working in Korea

Filipinos in South Korea

Professionals and nonprofessionals from the Philippines are ubiquitous to international enterprise, with eight million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) employed abroad. Not a shock, to be sure, when the local capitalism is yet to transform itself into what its people consider satisfyingly sustainable. In fact, 10 percent of the entire population is either living or working in other countries in search of financial stability.

One of the destinations OFWs prefer to work in is South Korea.  Since August 2004, the Employment Permit System has been pulling in foreign workers to address its labor shortage. Chaebol Korean companies in particular are considered the most preferable employers. Sharlene Ramos Ceniza, an OFW working as a Seoul International School teacher, said that “The Korean conglomerates pay higher salaries than the government itself, and provide additional benefits that Filipino companies can only imagine to afford.” For Sharlene, these include generous salary, a chance to travel to nearby cities, medical coverage, and job security.

With talks of a 7.1% minimum wage increase next year, close to 50,000 Filipino workers in Korea can hope to have enough savings to start their own business while away from home. By setting aside a percentage of their pay each month and with OFW loan assistance, they will be on their way to calling themselves local entrepreneurs and giving the following business ventures a try:

Korean restaurant

Korean food is steadily paving its way for being the dine-out Asian cuisine choice among restaurant guests. Staples such as kimchi, bulgogi, sannakji and japchae appeal both to Korean and non-Korean diners. Use the money you get from your OFW loan assistance for strategic marketing strategies. Quality food and excellent customer service are the keys to increasing visibility and to keeping loyal patrons.

Floral shop

Flower arrangement in Korea has thrived as an indoor art of its own, utilizing elegant tree branches, twigs, and freshly picked flowers to brighten up spaces. The first step to tackle when planning to open a floristry business is to get a license to operate. It does not hurt to enroll in Wha-Kong Hoe School, Jeonju Tea Ceremony School, or other Pyong Yang educational establishments to earn professional certifications on arranging bouquets. One very important business tip trick is to know the peak flowering period of different species of flowers. Mugunghwa or Rose of Sharon (Korea’s national flower), for example, blooms best from June to August.

Online fashion store

With fans dressing up like their favourite celebrities, enthusiasts downloading franchise apps and games, and the undeniable success of Girls’ Generation and Big Bang, clearly the Kpop juggernaut is taking the world by storm. The profitability of online store specializing in Korean fashion accessories and apparel, therefore, is underrated. Shipping internationally is no longer as expensive as it used to be, and being online means reaching a wider audience. Talk to suppliers who can provide you quality selections at affordable prices.

What used to be an OFW’s hopeless ambition of operating a small scale business can now be a possibility. Korean products and services is earning quite a reputation in the global market, and what better time to ride than with momentum. Strike while the iron is hot they say, but at the rate Korea is going, it seems like the iron is bound to remain hot and get hotter still.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

“Train to Busan” Reminds Me of the Ugly Reality of Korean Society

I was ecstatic to watch this movie because since the trailer of the movie Train To Busan was released, it was already making a buzz not only in Korea but around the world. When I watched Train To Busan trailer Online, I knew that the movie was promising, and true indeed, it became an instant blockbuster especially in Korea. In fact, the movie made a record as the highest single-day gross of US$9.64 million in Korea. It also topped the box office of Singapore and other neighboring South East Asian countries. So what kind of sorcery do you think has this movie brought to the audience? Why it has officially became a blockbuster hit?

To start with, it’s a zombie movie. Yes, another zombie movie with a not so complicated story line. At first I thought I will never be thrilled about this anymore because I’ve had enough of walkers in The Walking Dead TV series. Not to mention several movies with the same theme. The only thing that’s new in this movie is, they have zombies V.2.0. They leveled up their monsters by making them run faster, think a little and maybe more ugly and scary. I admit they got me in that aspect. Now, put that zombies in a bullet speed train and trap them along with greedy, coward and oblivious passengers. The result: A thrilling ride and a very entertaining show. I guess that’s the perfect formula!

However, as I look deeper into the movie, it somehow reminds me of the kind of society Korea has nowadays. The zombies, the riot, and the adrenaline-rush scenes are just metaphors of the reality about Korea. Let me specify my points one by one.

1. It reminds me of how chivalry has evolved in Korea

I supposed to say Chivalry is Dead, but it would be unfair for the Koreans if we are going to judge them like that in the context of a movie. As much as I would like to agree as per my four years stay in Korea is concerned, I would rather call it an evolution than totally dead. Koreans are respectful at some point but there are some aspects where being a gentleman is no longer a trend in this country. In Korea, it is a man’s prerogative whether to offer his seat to a standing old lady in the subway or in the bus. You can totally ignore the vulnerable ones and go on with your business without being judged. You can see this in the movie in a lot of instances, but I think the most literal one is when the kid offered the seat to an ahjumma and the father reminded her that she may not do that as she doesn’t need to be good to other people all the time.

The ideology of the father is what I called the evolution of chivalry. He, at some point may still think about the welfare of the ahjummas, but these women don’t want to project that they are weak, that they are vulnerable, that they are least than the guys. Notice how they adamantly refused to take the seat. Notice also how the pregnant woman bullied her husband and yet remain cute. The writer of the movie shows the effort of women in this country to prove their worth and their strength.
Chivalry still exists, but it comes in a different form. You will only notice that if you expose yourself into Korean society. That means, you have to live with them, ride with them in the subway and talk to them.

2. It reminds me of “Me First” attitude of Koreans

In struggling to survive from the hungry zombies, some of them are willing to let other people die just to stay alive. I guess part of this movie is a reference to what happened during the Sewol Ferry Tragedy.  Let’s recall what happened during the Sewol Tragedy. Instead of saving the clueless students on board the ferry, those who were in charged to disseminate information and rescue operation saved themselves first. Who helped the troubled passengers? The fellow students who risked their lives just to save their classmates from the drowning ferry.

As a working Filipino in Korea, you cannot escape some Koreans who are being to nosy about your finances. They would like to find out where our earnings go. When they found out that Filipinos are sending money to support families in the Philippines, and by families I meant not only parents, children and partner but also sisters, brothers, aunts, nephews, nieces, etc., they be like “whaaaattt?”. Just like chivalry, helping family members financially is not mandatory for them, it’s a prerogative. What you earn from your work is completely yours. That money is yours to spend. For them, whatever money you earn, you must spend it for yourself first. I don’t want to call it greediness, but I guess the “Me First” attitude is a part of their culture. As much as we Filipinos despise that, in Korea, you can always think for your own welfare first without being judged.

3. It reminds me of the fact that Koreans define somebody with his job

If you will just listen to the society, you will really feel tired. For Koreans, your job defines who you are, that is why for them, finding a job is a pressure. Notice how one character in the movie judged a Fund Manager. Without him knowing the person personally, he automatically judged the person as somebody who will leave the weak and the useless just because he is a fund manager.

In Korea, in order to secure that their kids would land in good high paying jobs, they usually enroll them in different kinds of trainings. So for kids, after school doesn’t mean free time, it means time to learn another skill, language and whatnot. It is essential for them because they want to develop the skills and abilities of their kids so they could land a good job in the future. What you are doing defines who you are. That’s at least how they generalize people in Korea.

4. It reminds me that Korean Government  has everything in control

That portion when a spokesperson speaks on TV reminding everyone to be calm because the good Government is doing their best to stop the problem and that there’s no really problem reminds me of what happened during the MERS breakout in the country. It looks like the government is in control of the media.  During the MERS breakout, news outlets released information that there are only few cases of MERS in the country and that there are only few people died from the virus. But, there are rumors that a lot of people have been infected and a lot of people had died too. They just don’t want to reveal the true numbers because the Government doesn’t want people to panic. I am not sure if it’s just a conspiracy theory or not, but people kept talking about how the government manipulated the data of the numbers of victims just not to cause panic.

5. It reminds me that Koreans’ last resort is to commit suicide

One of the ugly things about Koreans is that, some of them, or most of them, they take their own lives if worse comes to worst. This can’t be denied because you can read it in the news every now and then. If they think there’s no more solution, they commit suicide and end everything once and for all.

Nevertheless, regardless of how this movie revealed the ugly reality of Korean society, the ugly faces of the zombies are so shout-worthy. So I am going to rate this movie 9.5/10. Train to Busan or 부산행(Busanhaeng) in Korean is directed by Yeon Sang Ho and starring Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi and Ma Dong-seo.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

5 Reasons Why You Should Check Out Naksan Beach (낙산 해변) in Yangyang, Gangwondo

Forget about Pokemon Go. Forget about Sokcho. In the neighborhood, there’s Naksan beach where you can go all out wild and loud.

Our church community at Naksan Beach

Every summer, Gangwondo is one of the many go to places in South Korea because there are a lot of beaches in this province and you know which is the best one if it is the most visited, and in this case, Naksan beach is topping the list.

Straight from our trip to Hongcheon, we went as far as the County of Yangyang to swim the beach of Naksan.  The road from Hongcheon to Yangyang was not that easy though. We felt like passing through the intestine of the chicken, in the Philippines, we call it “Bitukang Manok”. It’s a road not for dizzy people because you might just puke along the way. The best part of the trip though is reaching the highest highway in the mountain. We reached the spot where it measures around 1013 meters away from the sky.

A highway only 1013 m away from the sky

After about an hour or so, we arrived at the Naksan Beach in Yangyang. Well, it’s just like any other beaches in South Korea, but if ever you are trying to figure out about whether to visit this beach or not, here are my top 5 reasons why you should definitely go to Naksan Beach especially during summer.

1. White sands

The white sand of Naksan Beach

Who would not love white sands? The first thing that impressed me of Naksan Beach is its 4 km wide white sands. I am not sure though if it’s naturally white sand, but who cares, it’s always refreshing to see a beach with white sand because it’s a good addition to the element of fun in the beach.

2. The beach umbrella

Beach umbrellas

I like how they thought of installing beach umbrellas right in front of the seashore. Who would not want an umbrella under the scorching heat of the sun? With these giant big umbrellas set up sporadically right in front of the beach, you can picnic, sleep or just relax without being burned by the sun. But of course it comes with a small additional payment. For those who do not want to pay for the umbrellas, you can freely set up tents in the area for your shelter.

3. Shallow Waters

Unlike any other beaches, non swimmers like me could definitely enjoy Naksan beach because it has shallow waters. Even kids with their lifeguards on can be left alone swimming in this beach. Plus there are life guards everywhere who have all eyes set on the swimmers. I also noticed that the beach is not that wavy. I was waiting for the big waves to come because I enjoy playing with the sea waves, but none, which I think is favorable for some.

4. Awesome view of nature

As it is surrounded by mountains, the sight of luscious green trees are so common in the area. I think it’s better during the autumn season, but the nearby forest is an additional treat for those who are extra wanderer who maybe would like to gander the nearby attractions.

5. It’s a beach and More!

And speaking of wanderer, maybe you would like to go to the Naksana Temple and the Seoraksan National Park. Naksan beach is very near these tourists attractions, so if you want to get yourself off the water, you can take a bus and head on to these nearby must visit spots in Yangyang.

Next time you plan a trip to Gangwondo, you might want to consider going to Naksan Beach at Yangyang County of the Gangwondo Province.

Complete Address:

강원도 양양군 강현면 해맞이길 59
59 Haemaji-gil Ganghyeon-myeon Yangyang-gun, Gangwon-do

If you want to go there via public transportation, you can take a bus from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal to Yangyang Bus Terminal. From Yangyang Bus Terminal, take bus number 9 OR 9-1 in front of the terminal and get off at Naksan.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

At the Riverbed of Hongcheon County of Gangwondo Province

When we think of Gangwondo, maybe the first thing that comes in our mind is “beaches”. Sure, Gangwondo has beautiful beaches but places like Hongcheon offers a different kind of experience to its visitors.

Hongcheon is a home of the most popular summer destination in Korea, the Vivalde Park Ocean World. As I like to avoid the mainstream, I am not going to talk about the Ocean World because I haven’t been there just yet. So what did I do at Hongcheon?

Last summer, our church community in Korea held its first ever baptism ceremony at the river of Hongcheon in Gangwondo. It was also an opportunity for us to kick off our summer vacation since the place is way colder than in the City. For hotter days, Hongcheon could be a great destination because when we arrived at the place, I forgot it was summer. The weather was not as humid as in Seoul and all I felt was cool breeze from the green trees of the mountains that envelope Hongcheon as if protecting it against any unwanted invaders like typhoon or storm.

Our community at Hongcheon County

On our way to the river, we can’t help but amazed with the villages in Hongcheon. It looks like the county is in an outskirt area of Korea already because its terrain is mainly mountainous. As I look everywhere, all I saw was mountains and mountains and mountains, but the houses and the villages are definitely one for the book. I love how sophisticated the houses eventhough it’s not in the city. The houses are something you would like to live in for a relaxing vacation.

In front of one of the pension houses in Hongcheon

While we traveled to look for the best river, we can’t help but noticed the agriculture at Hongcheon. Farmers could be very happy with the outcome of their hard labor because their crops which are mainly rice, corn and vegetables looked so healthy, as if they were happily waving at us while we passed at some unknown street in the county. The green fields reminded me of my own hometown in the Philippines.

Vegetable farming at Hongcheon

The star of Hongcheon, in my book, is actually the river. That was what we came for in the first place. We were a little bit worried because when we arrived, the river looked like muddy, but luckily, it’s just one part of the river because on the other side, it was clear and clean. The challenge though was to find the best, or at least a comfortable spot to camp in. We were already hungry when we arrived so our first priority was to find for a place where we can have a picnic. It’s not surprising how the river was quite crowded that time seeing that it was summer when we went there. People tend to go to cool places like the river during summer days. The good thing about the place is that, it is open for everybody and everywhere (as long as there’s space) could be a perfect spot for picnic.

Enjoying the river of Hongcheon

After our breakfast, we walked our way down to the river just to check it out. Since we still have ample time, we ended up swimming in the cold water of the river of Hongcheon. I like how there are spots good for swimming, and there are spots good for those who just like to step on the riverbed without the intention of getting wet. The only setback was, it was so cold, icy cold. We gradually soaked our body in the water because we really can’t stand the cold. After a long while, we got the hang of the water and finally enjoyed swimming in the river. Since when was the last time I swam in the river? It was quite a nostalgic experience for me. I also spotted some squirrels freely running in the giant roots of the trees that surrounded the riverbed. It was surreal for me because my belief for the preservation and love of nature has been restored right at that moment.

So we swam the whole morning in the cold river until we burned all the food we ate. During lunchtime, we ended up hungry, we went to the pension house we rented to have some rest and to take our lunch. Yes, you read it right, there are pension houses in the area, which means, people are really going to this place and stay for several days to enjoy nature at Hongcheon. It is also important if you could get a contact of the pension houses in Hongcheon and make some reservation so you can ensure you have a place to stay there. Our pension house was an actual family house. The kind owner of the house shared their humble abode to us so we could spend a night at Hongcheon. They provided a kitchen so we could cook and eat, and shared several rooms to us so could comfortably sleep at night.
In the afternoon, we went to the river again for the baptismal ceremony. The river was not as cold as in the morning, so after the baptism, we decided to stay in the river and we swam our heart out until dusk. Swimming was more fun in the afternoon than in the morning. The heat of the sun was not that harsh and the water was a little bit friendly to us.

Although I was so in love with the Hongcheon River, there are still a lot of lovable things about Hongcheon than just the river. It’s a peaceful county with friendly people and a very impressive natural environment. Overall, Hongcheon offered us a fun and relaxing vacation. It literally took us away from the hassle and buzzle of the city life.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Reminiscing My Happiest Memory In Seoul

I believe that in order to fully experience Korea, you must go visit the provinces, experience the culture and see what Korea could offer to tourists other than Seoul. However, as I explored this country from the Northernmost City of Paju to the Southern cities of Busan, Pohang and Gyeongju, I realized that Seoul is an epitome of Korea’s best. Well, how could it be the Capital City of this country if it does not really represent the best of Korea? I can be oblivious to the beauty of Seoul since I’ve been to this city for a hundred times already, but what really reminds me of its awesomeness and what really convinced me that it is indeed the best city of this country is the happy memories that happened to me during my several visits to Seoul. But just like in a contest, there should only one that has that X Factor, the one that stands out among any others, and if I have to choose the happiest one, it should be that time when I wore the Korean Traditional cloth called Hanbok during a tour in Seoul in a cold Winter day.

In front of Gyeongbokgung Palacee

It was January 2014 when a Hanbok Rental shop in Seoul contacted me to try out their Hanbok for free. Since I am a lover of freebies, I dragged some of my friends and challenged them to wear a Hanbok while roaming around Seoul. Don’t get me wrong, Hanbok is a beautiful piece of clothing, I always admire its details, I salute the heart behind the makers of every Hanbok, and I have high respect for Korean national dress. However, as a foreigner, it would be an unusual or unique experience for us to wear that and go commute in the subway and visit several tourist spots in Seoul during winter. It was such a humbling and awesome experience for me. The Seoulites in the subway were smiling at us as if we got their respect for wearing something that is important for them.

My heart leapt for joy as Koreans in Seoul were giving us a nod of approval as we walked along the Gwanghwamun Square wearing the Hanbok. For me, it was the best way to engulf in Korean culture while enjoying the happy ambiance of Gwanghwamun Square. The Hanbok we wore did not protect us well against the cold weather, but we braved it because we don’t want to spoil the experience. For several occasions that I met the statue of King Sejong, I felt like I was connected even more to the founder of Korean alphabets when I took the photo in front of his statue with my Hanbok.

Meeting King Sejong on my Hanbok

In front of the Gwanghwamun Square stands the glorious and majestic Gyeongbokgung Palace. I told my friends that we must go enter the palace while we were on our Hanbok, and I tell you, it was a different kind of experience. It was not my first time to enter Gyeongbokgung, but I felt ecstatic to tour the palace in a Hanbok. We went to different corners of the palace and pretended as if we were in the Joseon Dynasty. We imagined we were traveling back in time and that we actually live in that palace. It was so much fun, and it’s an understatement.

Pretending as if I'm in the Joseon Dynasty at Gyeongbokgung Palace

The best part of my happiest day in Seoul was when we went to the Bukchon Hanok Village after our tour at Gyeongbokgung. As much as we would like to move on with our time traveling set up, the village reminded us even more of ancient Korea as it showcased the traditional houses of Korea. It’s actually an actual village with all the houses called Hanok preserved from the Joseon Dynasty. It’s a tourist spot but it’s actually an actual village. We visited every single corner of this village, tried some of the street food in the area and took some photos to capture our happy moment as we enjoyed our stay in the village.

Showcasing the beautiful Hanbok

And then it snowed. I guess it was the most awesome way to end the most awesome day in Seoul. The white flakes falling from the sky made that day even more memorable. We may not had the warmest clothes during that time, but the warm greetings of Seoulites helped us survived the cold. I have some more happy moments in Seoul, I could still even make happier moments in the future, but so far, when I think of Seoul, I think about that day. It was an adventure, an experience, and most of all, the happiest memory.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Join Free Seminar in Korea About Investing in Foreclosure Properties in the Philippines

The Financial Literacy Advocate Network (FLAN) is organizing another free seminar for Filipino migrants in South Korea. In the past year of its existence, FLAN has introduced different investment vehicles especially Stock Market. A lot of Filipino migrants now in South Korea are not just workers but also investors of the Philippine Stock Market. Although I can’t really credit it all to the effort made by FLAN in educating OFWs in Korea in the financial aspect, but since this group conducted series of free seminars, a lot of OFWs in Korea are now more interested to learn about investing.

Now, here’s another opportunity to educate ourselves with another interesting investment vehicle. It is called Foreclosure Properties Investment. Do you have any idea about this? As Wikipedia describes it, Foreclosure Investment refers to the process of investing capital in the public sale of a mortgaged property following foreclosure of the loan secured by that property.

Sounds interesting right?

If you want to know more about this and find out if this type of investment is for you, why not join the Free Seminar about Foreclosure Properties on September 4, 2016. Please refer to the poster below for more information.

The Speaker for the said seminar is no other than the “El Subastahero” himself, Mr. Noli Alleje. He will come all the way from the Philippines just to conduct this free seminar for all of us.  Mr.  Alleje is one of the pioneers of foreclosure investment in the Philippines. If you want to know more about our speaker, watch this video.

 For those who are interested to attend this free seminar, please sign up on the Google Document by clicking THIS LINK.

See you there.
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Life of Patriot Yu Gwansun (유관순) : A National Liberation Day of Korea Special

For most of us foreigners in Korea, August 15 is one of those National Holidays that we look forward to because we don’t have to wake up early in the morning and go to work (at least true for some). However, for Koreans, this day is a very special day because August 15 is a commemoration of the National Liberation day of Korea. What does it mean? In Korea, they call this day Gwangbokjeol which means “the day the light returned”. This day marks the victory of Korea for claiming their independence from Japanese colonial rule. If you still don’t know what it means, you better go to the INDEPENDENCE HALL OF KOREA which is located in Cheonan, this is where you get to learn how this country suffered from the invasion of Japanese.

During the Japanese invasion, many have died and suffered under the cruelty of the oppressors. If not for those heroes who sacrificed their lives, we don’t have a free and progressive Korea today. I can’t obviously mentioned every heroes and unsung heroes, but in lieu of the celebration of the National Liberation Day of Korea, I will feature here the one I admired the most, and she, yes she’s a girl, is no other than, the patriot Yu Gwansun(유관순).

The monument of Patriot Yu Gwansun

You probably just scratch your head reading her name and decide to stop reading this because this is completely boring, but you will really admire her as much as I do if I tell you that she died at 18 years old fighting for the independence of this country. Yes, you read it right, 18 years old! And what can 18 years old of this generation willing to sacrifice for the country? Let me tell you her story.

If you are familiar of March 1 Independence Movement, it’s one of the national holidays here in Korea because they commemorate the biggest movement that happened during the Japanese colonial rule, again if you are not familiar, go visit the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan. Patriot Yu Gwansun was one of the organizers of this event. It was actually a protest against Japanese, and an organizer like her could not do any harm except for protesting in a peaceful way. She led the movement to proclaim to the Japanese invaders that Korea wants its independence, because of that, she became the symbol of Korea’s fight for independence through a peaceful way. In this day and age, we may call her the Mokingjay of her generation. She’s a Katniss Everdeen of Korea.

The actual uniform of Yu Gwansun at Ehwa Women's University

During this movement, she was still a student at Ehwa Women’s University in Seoul. However, because of what happened, the government temporarily closed her University and she had no other choice but to go back to her hometown in Cheonan. The house of Patriot Yu Gwansun still exists in Yondu-ri village in Cheonan, it’s a small place with a very laid back ambiance. The government preserved her house to give honor to her patriotism.

A tour at the house of Patriot Yu Gwansun in Yonduri Village

I am proud to say that I was able to visit her humble abode. Imagine, this house is already more than a 100 years old. It’s pretty simple and everything that a household needs in a house is there. I don’t know if this is what rich people house looks like a long long time ago, but for me, it’s quite decent. There are some diorama of some scenes that happened during that time.

Inside the house of Patriot Yu Gwansun

When patriot Yu Gwansun returned to this home, the fire in her heart was still burning. The desire for independence was still there, so she encouraged her parents to fight with her for claiming the victory of the country. She spread the information about what’s happening in Seoul and about how bad the effect of Japanese occupation to the country. She visited the neighboring villages and churches in her hometown to arouse the public feelings against Japanese invasion.

One of the churches Yu Gwansun attended

Through her effort, the people were informed and she was able to encourage the public to fight for what does rightfully belong to them. She, with the help of her parents, organized a public demonstration at Aunae Market in her hometown, but it was dispatched by the Japanese Police causing the lives of her parents and hundreds of people who participated in the demonstration.

Patriot Yu Gwansun on the other hand was sentenced for 5 years imprisonment for sedition and security law violation. However, that did not kill her spirit. She continued to protest against Japanese colonial administration. Because of protesting, she was tortured while she’s in prison. In September 28, 1920, when she was 18 years old, she died because of torture.

The museum of Yu Gwansun

Today, Patriot Yu Gwansun has a memorial hall in Cheonan as a homage to her bravery and love for the country. In this museum, you will see memorabilia of Yu Gwansun. Her photos, uniform and even her story are displayed in this museum. You will also get to experience what she experienced in prison because there are scenario and actual prison cells in this hall.

In my book, the life of Patriot Yu Gwansun is a very inspiring one and it should be shared to the next generation. It should remind them that without Yu Gwansun, the August 15 National Liberation Day of Korea would never exist.

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