Monday, March 31, 2014

Korea Welcomes Spring with Cherry Blossoms

The transition of season from Winter to Spring in Korea is quite an amusing scenario because of the presence of the cherry trees lining the streets of Seoul with its brimming white and pink petals blooming into life.

SAKURA lining the streets of Seoul.

Cherry Blossom, as it is widely known worldwide, is a treat to an eye and an effective way to uplift the spirit after months of suffering from super cold weather and view of landscapes filled with white frost. All of a sudden, cherry blossom comes to life to usher the spring season. Cherry Blossom is also known as "SAKURA" (桜 or 櫻; さくら) in Japanese, here in Korea it is called "BEOJKKOCH" (벚꽃).

What fascinates me about Cherry Blossom is that its flowers will come out first before the leaves and the flowers will only last up to one week, that is why the trees look nearly white. Once it reaches its full blooming, the white and pale pink petals will start to fall down within a week, then leaves will come out.

The blooming of cherry blossoms makes Spring a perfect season to visit Korea. These stunning and amazing trees with beautiful flowers are a treat to an eye for all tourists as well as the residence of this country. And this is also a perfect season for photographers out there. If there is one flower that you should photograph during Spring Season, it should be Cherry Blossom because it will not stay that long. However, cliche as it may sound, hit it while the iron is hot. So together with my classmates in the Media Class of Yangcheon Global Migrant Center, we visited the Anyang river for our photography workshop and we were met by these awesome presence of cherry blossoms.

The Media Class of Yangcheon Global Migrant Center.
Photo Credit to Min Im

Here are some of the best and impressive photos of the Cherry Blossoms taken during our photography workshop at Seoul by my classmates.

I like this photo because of its interesting angle. By looking at the picture, you will know that the flower is located in an elevated area and I love the idea of making the river a background of the subject.

Photo credit to Mherl Mhar Teaño Jara

With the focus on a bunch of flowers and making the rest of the petals as its background make this photo an interesting one.

Photo Credit to Ralph Marvin Tamayo Aguirre.

This photo is a good way to persuade people to go out with your family and loved ones and take a walk under the cherry blossom trees. It's a heart warming scenario.

Photo Credit to Anny Martinez.

What is good about Sakura is that, it still look beautiful eventhough it is not the main subject of the photo. Just like this one, the focus is not on the flower but it still looks awesome because of the pink and white effect of the petals.

Photo Credit to Arman Carinan.
This one I think is a clever shot. While others focused on the full bloom of petals, this one stands out because it is still in the awkward stage of the the flower. It is beautiful despite the fact that it is yet in an earlier stage of blooming.
Photo credit to Jojo Calamaan.
Ok fine. I feel obligated to include this one because I love the way the emotion is captured in this picture. And it's me. :)
Photo Credit to Meynard Ramirez.

I find this one interesting because of its angle. From a dog's eyeview. we get to see the whole scenario in a different perspective.
Photo credit to Thunieng Obmerga Ladines.

And this one, beautiful flowers blooming from a rough stem. The rawness of the image makes it more interesting and awesome.

Photo Credit to Arman Carinan.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and check out the blossoming of Cherry Blossoms near your area and take good photos of it. For your reference, here are the estimated schedule of cherry blossom:

source: Korea Tourism Organization

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Avengers:Age of Ultron Filming Locations in Korea

After the success of The Avengers last 2012, a sequel of the movie entitled AVENGERS:Age of the Ultron is set to be released in theaters this coming 2015. The shooting of the film has started last February 2014 and some of the action scenes for this movie will be shot in South Korea.

If you are a fan of the lead stars and want to stalk Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremey Renner (Hawkeye), take note of these major roads in Seoul and the shooting date as well:

March 30 : Mapo Grand Bridge area
April 2 – 4 : Northern road in Digital Media City area
April 5 : Cheongdam Grand Bridge area 
April 6 : Gangnam Boulevard area

Basically, some of the scenes will be shot in the Gangnam area of Seoul. It could be in the major roads near the Gangnam Station (Subway Line Number 2) all the way to Kyobo Tower. Other popular destinations and tourist attractions like  Apgujeong Rodeo Street, Sinsadong Garosu-gil Road, Lotte Department Store and Shinsegae Department Store - Gangnam Branch will be included in the filming locations of the said film.

Since I am a fan of this movie and some of the casts, I will definitely join the crowd of stalkers just to see them in flesh. That is if I have ample time to do so.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

How OFWs Can Process Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) Online?

Good News to all my Kabayan here in South Korea and around the globe. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) proposed a less tedious process for us OFWs in getting job certificates, an online process. Yes, you heard it right, processing of OEC will never be as hectic and stressful because you can now secure your clearances and pay for it electronically.

Unlike before, returning OFWs don't need to go to POEA offices just to process their Balik Manggagawa certificates so they can go back to the same employer abroad. According to Labour and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, the returning worker can just pay the fees through electronic portal and then print the OEC anytime, anywhere.

This new process of securing OEC is beneficial to both the OFWs and the POEA. OFWs don't need to bear the burden of waiting in the long queue for the processing and the POEA doesn't need to spend too much time entertaining each returning worker.

So how to do it? Basically, it's easy. Watch the video below on how you can process your OEC online:

When you print out the OEC, it contains a special barcode which you can then present to the immigration officer at the airport prior to the departure.

If you want to process your OEC through the traditional process, you can still choose and process on the respective POEA offices.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Travel Back in Time at Ganaan Dok (가나안 덕) Duck Korean Restaurant at Ilsan South Korea

A small city in South Korea called Ilsan could not ring any bell if you if will mention it to non-Koreans. In fact, I never have known about this place if I was not assigned to work at the Northern part of South Korea. Ilsan is actually located in the Northwest part of South Korea in the city of Goyang in the province of Gyeongi-do. It is known for its "Garden City" called "The Lake Park". 

Like any other small cities in Korea, Ilsan takes pride on their unique and good Korean restaurants. There is this one place in Ilsan where various restaurants offer only one kind of meat in their menu, the DUCK MEAT. Of all the duck restaurants in Ilsan, only one stands out for me and it is called "가나안 덕" or read as GANAAN DOK. It's a duck restaurant that has an ambiance of ancient Korea, hence the feeling of traveling back in time when you enter it.

I hesitated to enter the resto at first because this is how the door looks like. It really made of old type of wood. There are also some organic products displayed in the lobby.

Let's go back together in time as we further discover what's inside the Ganaan Dok Restaurant. 

A strong element of wood can be felt in this area of the resto. The heater is made of stone and they use wood to heat it up. If you can see the texture of the woods in the wall, you will know that it might have existed since a long time ago. Also notice the interior design, it looks ancient.

The old way of making Kimchi. This is the most basic way of fermentation which is very apparent in the Korean cuisine.

And look what we've got here. So this is how they fetched water a long long time ago? I'm not so sure, but the never ending flow of the water from this very old device may come from a spring.

The woods and stones are effective in making impression that this restaurant is already old and must preserve to look like that so that new generation customers can always visit and experience the old Korean style restaurant.

And how about the food? Since this is a duck restaurant, they serve an overwhelming variety of food in their menu. There's duck, a duck, duck, duck and guess what, a duck! Yes, a duck. Everything about this restaurant is all about duck. We had duck barbecue and green leaves, kimchi and some spicy stuffs as a side dish

And of course we have to eat it in this old wooden table.

I regret I did not bring my camera when we visited Ganaan Dok Duck Restaurant at Ilsan, I could have shared more because there are really a lot of interesting stuffs about this restaurant. But generally, with the interesting interior design and healthy food, I would rate it 7/10.