Thursday, April 30, 2015

OFW Ka Sa Korea Kung…..

Filipino crowd in Korea

Paano nga ba ang buhay ng mga OFW sa Korea?

Kung pagbabasehan ang mga selfies ng bawat pinoy sa Korea na pinopost sa Facebook, pwedeng Masaya. Bongga. Magarbo. Maginhawa.

Meron din nag lulungkot-lungkutan, may nahohomesick, at napapagod.

Bilang OFW dito sa Korea sa mahigit na dalawang taon, marami na din akong nalalaman tungkol sa pamumuhay ng mga Pinoy dito. Humigit Kumulang 50,000 na ang mga pinoy na nandito at malaking bahagi sa bilang na iyan ay mga mangagawang pinoy na kadalasan ay nagtratrabaho bilang factory workers.  Sa dami na ng pinoy dito, nagkakaroon ng panibagong kultura na naadopt na rin ng bawat isa.

Pero ano nga ba ang pagkakaiba ng mga OFWs sa Korea bukod sa mas pogi at magaganda sila kumpara sa ibang OFWs na nasa ibang bansa.

Eto ay ilan lamang sa aking obserbasyon na maaring trademark na rin ng mga mangagawang pinoy dito sa Korea.

1. OFW ka sa Korea Kung…….. iba ang ibig sabihin ng salitang ARTISTA sayo.

Ano ano nga ba ang katangian ng artista sa Pinas? Top 3:

Laging hinahabol ng mga fans
magaling umarte
maraming pera

 May sariling bersyon din ng artista ang mga Pinoy dito sa Korea.

Laging hinahabol ng….. immigration.
Magaling din silang umarte na kunyare ay pasimple lang yon pala ay kabado na kapag nasa labas ng bahay.
At “maraming pera”? , sa tagal ba naman nilang nagtratrabaho dito sa Korea ewan ko lang kung hindi pa mayaman ang mga iyan, in the contrary, kung marami na silang pera eh di sana hindi na rin sila nag artista.

Malamang sa pagkakataong ito, alam nyo na kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng artista sa mga OFW dito sa Korea. Sila po ay ang version ng “Tago Ng  Tago” ng mga pinoy dito. Mga undocumented pinoy workers na talaga namang sobrang dami na. Pero hindi naman natin sila masisisi kung mas pinili nilang maging ARTISTA dito sa Korea.

2. OFW ka sa Korea Kung….. mahilig ka magbigay ng “code name” sa ibang lahi kapag pinaguusapan base sa kanilang katangian.

Ang kagandahan dito sa Korea, pwedeng pag usapan ang katrabahong ibang lahi sa harap nya mismo ng hindi nya malalaman at hindi maooffend. Teka lang, magandang pag uugali ba yan? Haha… pero aminin mo naman, for sure nagawa mo na iyan kahit minsan lang.

Halimbawa, si katrabahong Vietnamese pwedeng tawaging “pusa” bilang parang pusa naman silang magsalita. O di kaya ang katrabahong Uzbek na medyo may edad na pwedeng tawaging “Tanda” o “tatang”. Meron din “pandak”, “tangkad”, “taba” o di kaya “pangit” para sa sobrang pangit na katrabaho.

May mas malala pa dyan, ang pag usapan ang sajangnim. Marahil minsan mo na natawag ang sajang mo na “Panot” o di kaya “bugok”, yong iba naman “Korikong” at kung ano ano pa. Pero syempre, hindi mo yan pwedeng gawin sa kapwa pinoy dahil baka sabon ang aabutin mo. Subukan mo tawaging “Uling” ang kasama mong hindi kaputian.

3. OFW ka sa Korea kung…. Mahilig ka magpicture at ipost sa Facebook

Ilang beses ko na bang narinig ang mga komentong ang mga Pinoy daw sa Korea ang pinakamahilig magpicture kumpara sa ibang OFW sa ibang bansa.

Karangalan ba yan? Haha

Kakain sa restaurant……. Picture!!!

May pinoy na nagbakasyon galing pinas…. Picture!!!!

Napadaan sa palengke…. Picture!!!!

Bago ang bus na sinakyan…. Picture!!!

May cherry blossom…. Picture!!!

May pabonus na spam si sajangnim…. Picture!!!

Umulan ng snow…..Picture!!!

Eh kung umulan kaya ng apoy? May magpipicture pa kaya? O halimbawa aatakihin na ng nuclear weapon ng North Korea ang South Korea, magpapapicture pa din kaya ang pinoy? Gawing background ang nangyayaring gyera!!!

Bawat kilos, kelangan may picture at kelangan post sa Facebook. Pero ayos lang yan, picturan mo kahit ano, wag ka lang magselfie.

Meron talagang nagseselfie, kunyare lungkot lungkutan, ipopost sa Facebook, sampung selfie, iisang anggulo, at lalagyan ng caption “#NoFilter”.

Meron din nagseselfie, kelangan yong talagang fresh na fresh ang mukha at maganda ang palo ng ilaw, tapos ipopost sa Facebook with a caption “My Haggard look, I feel so pangit”. So anong point mo?

Pero syempre, kanya kanyang trip lang yan. Hayaan na lang natin.

4. OFW ka sa Korea kung…. Pag uwi mo ng pinas, halos lahat ng laman ng bag mo ay gadgets

Pag ang OFW galling sa Korea uuwi ng Pinas, madalang ka lang makakakita na sa sobrang dilaw ng mga nagkikintabang gold sa katawan ay mukhang may Hepa na. Hindi masyadong nahihilig sa mga gold na alahas ang mga pinoy ditto. Kaya naman pag umuwi yan, hindi makikitaan ng alahas sa katawan. Kung meron man, iyon ay iilan lang at hindi masyadong lantad katulad ng mga OFW na galing Saudi. Pero huwag ka, buksan ang bag, malamang makikita mo dyan, 5 smarthpones, 3 tablet at 2 laptop. Oo, sobrang mahilig ang mga pinoy dito sa gadgets. Dahil afford nila makabili ng mga gadgets, yong iba bumibili ng maramihan para pampasalubong sa kapamilya, kaibigan at kapitbahay sa Pinas. Bongga!

5. OFW ka sa Korea kung….. nagkaroon ka ng kaibigan o kakilalang Kapampangan

Oo, sobrang dami ng mga kapampangan dito. Wala akong data kung ilan sila dito pero basta alam ko, marami. Bilang laking Mindanao ako, minsan man ay hindi ko naranasang makipagkilala o makpagkaibigan sa Kapampangan. Pero nang makarating ako dito sa Korea, hindi mo maiwasang makakilala ng kahit isang Kapampangan lang. I mean, they’re almost everywhere. Pero isa lang masasabi ko, masarap magluto ang mga Kapampangan… at…. sige na nga, mabait din…yong iba, medyo hindi naman kabaitan… pero ok naman sila, hindi nga lang masyadong maintindihan ang kanilang dialect.

6. OFW ka sa Korea kung…. Alam mo ang lugar na Hyehwa

Ito na marahil ang maliit na bersyon ng Pinas sa Korea, ang Hyehwa-dong. Isang lugar sa Seoul na kung saan nagkakaroon ng Filipino Flea market every Sunday. Kung namimiss mo ang mga pagkaing pinoy, o di kaya ang makisalamuha sa maraming Pilipino at makapagattend ng Filipino mass, eto ang lugar na dapat mong alamin at puntahan. Naging lugar din ito para sa pagkikita ng mga kaibigan at dating mga kasamahan. Dito rin madalas nagpapadala ng remittance ang mga Pinoy tuwing araw ng sahod.

7. OFW ka sa Korea kung…. Mas una mo pa nakabisado ang Korean money kaysa sa “annyong haseyo” at “Chal mogeutsumnida”

Talagang ang bilis ng mga pinoy pagdating sa usapang pera. Dapat alam mo na kung magkano ang Man Won, O Man Won o di kaya ay Baek Man Won. Para naman sa talagang hirap na hirap sa pagpapamilyar sa pera ng Korea, ginagamit nilang basehan ang kulay. Kaya pag sinabing, 3 green, ibig sabihin nun 3 Man Won. O diba, may initiative na matuto.

Marami pa marahil ang mga palatandaan na isa kang OFW sa Korea pero sa ngayon, ito lang muna ang aking maibabahagi. Pero isa lang ang siguradong sigurado talaga ako. OFW ka sa Korea kung ikaw ang tinitingalang bayani ng iyong kapamilya, isang karangalan na higit pa sa pagiging SAJANGNIM.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

5 Korean Cultures That May Shock You

In the crowded Myeongdong where you can see the vibrant culture of Korea

Experiencing a different culture always comes with a challenge. It may be fun and interesting but oftentimes it’s shocking. When you grow up in one particular ethnicity, it will be pretty normal if you’ll feel uneasy and awkward when you expose yourself to different culture. As a Filipino living in Korea for more than 2 years now, I am still coping with a lot of culture shocks.

Philippines and Korea are both Asian countries but each has its own share of differences. Some things in Korea may appear common but there are also unusual habits and/or traits that you can only see in Korea. But just because it appears strange to you doesn't mean you judge and despise their culture for being unique and eccentric. I think it’s easier to embrace every culture shock and make fun out of it rather than trying to avoid it. After all, it’s part of a learning process. The key is to get use to it until you can finally shoo the shock away.

Here are some of culture shocks you may encounter(and I have encountered) when you go here in Korea. Whether you’ll come here to visit, to work or to live, you can take note of this list for your own perusal in the future.

1. Wreaths



I think one of the first few culture shocks I encountered was seeing wreaths in various celebrations. In Philippines, you can only see wreaths during a funeral. In fact, it symbolizes death or mourning in our culture. However, I was so shocked when I saw people displaying wreaths when a new business is opened, or if there’s a wedding, or if somebody is celebrating an anniversary. Just try to take a walk along Myeongdong or Namdaemun or any big markets in Korea and you will more likely see wreaths display all over the places. Don’t make the same mistake I made, don’t think somebody is mourning over a death because it could just be an opening of new business.

2. The Korean men affection

Guys wrapping each others arms while walking is a common scenario in Korea


I am from a culture where seeing two women holding hands or giving each other a kiss on the cheek is pretty normal and acceptable. But, that won’t give the same impression for men. Like the western culture, a guy being touchy-feely to other guy maybe suspected to be gay. Guys could just shake each other hands or pat each other in the back, but as far as experience is concerned, Korean men tend to be touchy. How many times a Korean ahjussi(adult male) held my hand feeling it as if we were close? Here in Korea, exchanging of sweet nothings and putting arms around another guy’s body are extremely common. A guy can be intimate with another guy as a sign of deeper friendship. They are even comfortable seeing each other naked. I once tried going to a public bath and I was shocked when I saw guys cleaning each other naked body, or play around with group of friends in a bath tub naked! Then I learned later on that it was pretty normal and in fact significant in Korean culture.

3. The squatter

Korea has an advance technology. Their buildings are made of modern designs and the people are so techie. Almost everything in Korea is automated and very sophisticated. But if there’s one thing in the past that made its way through to this generation, I’ll say it’s the squatty potty. A squatter is a small basin made of porcelain where you need to literally squat over to “do your thing”.  The first time I saw this kind of toilet bowl was in a subway station. I was shocked because I don’t know what to do. So I decided to not let my stomach upset if I go around Korea especially if I am in an old building because the odd of having a squatty potty in the bathroom is big.

An example of squatty potty
Photo credit to Kaleena's Kaleidoscope

For some reason, some Koreans especially the old ones are more comfortable using this than the usual toilet bowl we have today. Apparently, it’s good for the health when you do squat position during the “you know what I mean”.

4. Free hugs! Anyone?

Free hugs is becoming a big trend in Korea nowadays. You can see them teenagers, boys and girls, holding big placard offering Free hugs to anybody. This maybe not new to some culture because I can see some of this trend especially in the Western Culture, but I guess Koreans are taking it to a higher level because they don’t only stand to offer free hugs, they also go around offering to anybody like selling hot cake in the market. To some extent, they go to public transportations and subways to ambush everybody with hugs. It’s weird but sweet. One time, I tried to join these two boys offering free hugs to the public. I hugged a lot of ahjummas (adult women).


Free hug in the subway


5. Pali Pali culture

This is for those who want to come here to work. When you are new to working in Korea, you may need to give it more time to adjust because you don’t only need to adjust to people or the working environment, you also need to adjust to this pali pali culture or “Hurry culture”. Don’t get intimated when your boss will tell you to work as fast and as hard as you can because for them, this is customary.  If you can slack off to work in your own country, here in Korea, you’ll probably find it hard to do that same habit of yours. They are so workaholic and every single moment at work is important. For them, productivity is essential. No wonder why they are so progressive. I can’t even count how many times I was told the magic word “pali pali”. At first, it really annoys me, but it somehow makes you more effective and productive.

These are just 5 of the many culture shocks you may encounter when you go here in Korea. I’ll tell you, there are still hundreds of those weird customs and they are inevitable. Whether you like it or not, you’ll get to encounter it once you’re here. But I guess that’s where the fun comes. These shocking experiences made me realize how diverse the culture of Korea and for that, I love the country and it’s culture including all the eccentricities even more.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Where to Eat in Busan? Try SeaFood Trip at Jagalchi Market

Jagalchi Market building

If in case you ever wander in the second largest city in Korea, don’t ever leave Busan without having a good seafood trip at Jagalchi Market.

Jagalchi Market is famous in Korea because it is the largest seafood market in the country. It is located right beside the Nampo port, which is why all the fish, shellfish and other seafood products are 100 percent guaranteed fresh.  If you take a walk around Jagalchi Market, live fish taken fresh out from the boat is a common scenario. You can also see tanks lined up with all sorts of edible sea creatures that are offered to customers fresh and at some point alive.

Live Fish in the market


Not only that, you can also eat fresh fish at the market. There’s area where people go just to try eating fish, squid and shellfish raw. The jagalchi ahjummas and jagalchi ahjussis (men and women vendors at jagalchi) will pull off these fresh fish out of the boat straight from the Nampo port and sell it to customers to eat.

Fresh seafood


But of course, you can also order seafood cooked in Korean way from the restaurants which is just in the area. There are a lot of them so you surely won’t find it hard to check it out. You can see how the vendors clean the fish, chop it and cook it right at that instant. Things in Jagalchi Market really happen fast, there will be no hungry moment there.

Korean fish dish


Aside from the sight of fresh seafood in the alley of Jagalchi Market, I am more than amaze with how people work there. It really shows the real lifestyle of people in Busan, in fact it’s the best place to represent Busan in general. If you want to see Busan in a whole perspective, Jagalchi Market will show it all to you. It will show you the best of Busan in everything, from food to culture and lifestyle and PEOPLE.

People and culture at Jagalchi market

Taking a walk along the market may smells like fish and squids and whatnot, but who cares? That’s what makes it even more interesting and conducive for a seafood trip.

If you want to go to Jagalchi Market in Busan, take subway line number 1 and get off at Jagalchi station and go to Exit 1. Walk straight ahead until you come to the fish market.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Graffiti Tunnel in Sinchon

Inside the Graffiti Tunnel located in Sinchon

Street art is becoming mainstream in Korea nowadays. Gone are the days when painting random stuff on the wall was strictly prohibited. Thanks to the Korean Government who viewed graffiti as a potential street art and a symbol of creativity. The government has legitimized graffiti as they perceived it as an art that could be used as a tool to be recognized globally.

A once considered an act of vandalism and illegal, graffiti are almost everywhere in Korea now. Artistic Koreans can now express their creative juices in a form of art. However, there are citizens who are still against this kind of art. Some local residents tend to report graffiti artists as they deemed this unethical and illegal.

I guess nobody can get graffiti art out of the street of Korea. In fact, there are areas and streets in Seoul where you can see obvious display of graffiti. One of the best places to check out this contemporary art is at the Exit 1 of Sinchon Station (Railroad) on Gyeongui Line. Take note that there are two Sinchon Stations, one on the green line and the other one is on the Gyeongui Line (Sky bluish). You must get off at the Sinchon station on the Gyeongui Line. When you get out of the Exit 1, you will see Megabox building, the tunnel is located to the left of that building.


Entrance to the graffiti tunnel

Inside the tunnel, you can see various graffiti expressed in different strokes and arts.

Random art in the tunnel

We may be oblivious to what the message the artist would want to convey but we know for sure that it has meanings and it takes knowing the artist behind the graffiti to decrypt the message.

Some visual message
The tunnel stinks and there are a lot of garbages that nobody dare care to clean up but in fairness, it adds some feels to the ambiance of the tunnel.


Nevertheless, it's still a fun place to visit. You will learn to appreciate the graffiti culture of Korea and discern what this art can offer to the creative economy of Korea.




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Friday, April 3, 2015

Date With the Dogs at Bau House Dog Café in Seoul






It was Sunday afternoon when me and my friends decided to pay a visit to the infamous dog café located in Hongdae Street in Korea. I have close to zero idea what’s the real deal inside a dog café. I know and I have been to a lot of cafes, it’s the first place to come in mind when you set up a meeting or quality time to talk with somebody, but a dog café? I am a dog lover but not really as in “lover-lover” because I get annoyed when they start to pee, and worse poop…. Haha… But I certainly love dogs, they’re man’s best friend after all.

So we went to Bau House Dog Café and we were so early at 11:00 am, we found out that during weekends and holidays, they opened at 12:30. We patiently waited for the café to open. Bau House is located near Exit Number 3 of Hapjeong Station, I think it’s less than 100 meters away from the exit. When you exit at the station, just look for some signs of dogs and whatnot and you will definitely find it. This is how it looks like outside the café.


When they opened the café, we were the first customers to get in, hurray!!! We were immediately attacked, I mean met by the armies of different types of dogs in the café. There are small and cute ones who barked like they’re giants, and there are big ones that could attack you like lion anytime… haha.. at least that’s how I felt. I was pretty intimidated by the dogs, but after 10 minutes, when I got used with the frequent barks and them following and running over you to beg some foods, I found myself enjoying the company of these friendly creatures.

bonding with the dog


There is no entrance fee at Bau House Café, that means you can just go inside and play with the dogs, but you must order a beverage. We ordered some fruit smoothies which cost 8,000 won ($8.00) per cup. Dog foods are also available for sale. It costs 3,000 won ($3.00) to 3,500 won ($3.5), you can then feed this to the dogs so they will befriend you. However, you must feed them carefully and properly. Yes, there’s a proper way of feeding them, if you don’t want your fingers to be their meal of the day… haha… I have hard time at first but I commend the people at Bau House Café for ensuring the safety of their customers by teaching them the proper way to feed the dog.



There are different dog breeds at Bau House Café. They have different characteristics and attitude, but they’re all cute. There are dogs, especially the small ones who are very active. They’re running almost everywhere including in your table. The only way you could make them behave and obey is food!!! If they know you have food in your hands, they will sit if you’ll tell them to sit, they will stop running and they will even kiss you… very adorable.. haha…

A kiss for a food


But favoritism is inevitable, I found a bestfriend and his name is “June”. He is one of the big dogs in the café, but he was so behaved and willing to be cuddled even without food. Unlike other dogs, you don't need to feed June to make friends with him. I spent most of my time with him.

With my bestfriend at the cafe, Chul


One of the things I commend about Bau House is that it definitely doesn’t smell like a dog. I really appreciate how they clean up the mess of the dogs immediately. There are people assigned to stand by to do the cleaning if a dog peed just to keep the cleanliness.



If you are stressed and you want to unwind, I guess this is a perfect place to visit. Dogs can really entertain you in their own innocent and natural way. Dog lovers will definitely love this place.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Exploring Homigot Sunrise Square and the Beaches of Pohang City in Korea

Sunrise at Pohang City

Imagine this!

You wake up in the morning to the sound of the wave of the sea. You crawl out of the warm bed of a pension house and look out of the window and you witness the astonishing sight of the sunrise that encompasses the horizon while the darkness slowly fades to give way to the light brought by the sun. The sea, the mountains, the houses on the waterfront and the total landscape appear as if some great artist is on the process of sketching its outline. The morning is quiet and still and all you want to do is sip a cup of coffee while watching the wonders of the world slowly unveiling right before your eyes.  You hold your breath not only because of the amazing extension of the sun rays from an unseen celestial being, but also because finally, a new day has come. You hear people laughing and discreetly chatting as if whispering sweet sound with each other. And you say to yourself………..

What a wonderful world!!!

I could just recall the melancholy of that imagination, the truth of the matter is that I did not just imagine it, I experienced it in the city of Pohang in North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to Pohang, a place located 110 km North of Busan and 360 km SouthEast of Seoul.

Early morning view in Pohang


So what’s so special about this place?

I’m guessing the name of the place doesn’t even ring a bell for you. When visiting South Korea, you may want to explore other parts of the country that are maybe less popular but as much interesting as Busan and Seoul, and I recommend Pohang because I guess it has the most beautiful sunrise in South Korea.

In fact, there’s this thing they call Homigot Sunrise Festival in Pohang. Homigot is one of the most famous places in Pohang, there’s a place they called Homigot Sunrise Square where people gather every first of January to watch the sunrise over the East Sea. People usually take photo of the sun that pass through the fingers of the metal hand that has been constructed in the water. However, it was already late in the morning when we went to Homigot Sunrise Square, so this is the only photo I could share (boohoo!!!)


It could have been better with the sunrise but I still feel fulfilled because I was able to see this infamous hand. Of course, taking photo with it on the background is mandatory.

Photo opp area with the metal hand in the water

We usually see photos of this hand in the water, but it actually has a pair. The other hand has been constructed on the land. The palm of the hand in the water faces the palm of the hand on the land to symbolize harmony and coexistence.

A metal hand facing the other metal hand in the water
Aside from the metal hands and the sunrise, Homigot sunrise park has a lot of interesting stuff to enjoy.  You can just go there to enjoy the ambiance and the view of the coastline and the sea. It’s a great place for family bonding and to have fun.

One of the activities you can do in Homigot is flying kite which has become a bonding activity for friends and families

I can’t express how much I appreciated Pohang city. The view and scenery make driving all over the city so much fun. It was literally a joy ride for me as we traveled from one place to another. The coastline was breathtaking. As much as I wanted to swim in the open sea, it looks as though it was not necessarily designed for that purpose because of it being so rocky. There are certain beaches in Pohang city where you can go to enjoy the water especially during summer time. Nevertheless, the cool breeze of air coming from the sea not to mention the marvelous view is still worth the visit.

Overlooking the view of the sea

For accommodations, there are a lot of Hotels in Pohang South Korea, you can just book ahead or find a pension house situated near the coastline so you can still have beautiful view even if you are in your room.

At the pension house in Pohang
Depending on where you are coming from, traveling to Pohang is very easy. You can either take a bus to Pohang Bus Terminal or through KTX to Pohang Station. Once you get to the bus terminal or subway station, you can easily take a bus or a taxi to take you to your desired destination.

For example, if you want to go to Homigot from Pohang Bus Terminal, you can take Bus Number 200 from the bus terminal, get off at Guryongpo transfer center and from there, wait for the bus that will take you to Homigot.

I can’t say my appreciation enough about the city of Pohang. I could not forget my travel on that city because it was actually an unplanned trip. I was just tagged along by a relative to attend/crash a party of Tropang Ilonggo (a Filipino tribe community in Korea) and I just found myself partying with people I don’t even know (hahaha).. but it was fun though. It was such a great opportunity to discover a city in Korea called Pohang.

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