Sunday, November 30, 2014

At Gwanghwamun (광화문에서)

In front of Gwanghwamun
KYUHYUN (규현) of Super Junior has recently went solo with the release of his first single entitled “At Gwanghwamun” (광화에서). Maybe some of you are wondering what is Gwanghwamun. If you have visited Korea at least once or if you are a little bit exposed to Korean history and culture, you probably knew about this place. I will tell you more about the song later after we find out more information about it.

Personally, Ganghwamun is a memorable place for me because this is where I first experienced wearing a Korean traditional clothing called “Hanbuk”. I have previously shared several stories about different gates of Seoul in this blog and Gwanghwamun is actually one of the 8 gates of Seoul. However, this one is the most special because this is the main and the largest gate to the most awesome and the most famous Gyeongbokgung Palace. I have also shared an itinerary to exploring Seoul in one day and that includes Gyeongbokgung, you might want to check it HERE.

Anyways, this gate is very special for Korea because this is a landmark and symbol of Korean history. If you will visit the place, you will get the feel of Joseon Dynasty. However, because of the multiple restoration and repair, the gate looks new and modernized.

The gate was originally built in the year 1395 and it plays very important role in protecting the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty. During the Japanese war, it was destroyed and reconstructed in the year 1867. Throughout the time, the gate went through a lot of restoration and innovation. Today, Gwanghwamun is still standing tall and proud in the three intersection at the northern end of Sejongno.

Statue of King Sejong at Gwanghwamun Square

Not only that, a very wide area in front of the gate which is called Gwanghwamun Square is also open to the public for leisure. In front of the main gate, you can also witness the ceremony called “Changing of Guards” every hour from 10 AM to 3 PM. In general, this is a place where one can actually find out more about the history and culture of Korea and at the same time enjoy the different activities especially created for the tourists. I was not surprise that the place has been the inspiration of Kyuhyun’s newest single.

Changing of Guards ceremony

About the song “Gwanghwamuneso” or “At Gwanghwamun”, it is actually a story of a guy who recalls the memory of love that took place at Gwanghwamun. The place is very special for him because that is where they used to walk and hold hands and celebrate and share the love together. He also described how beautiful is the place especially when the season is changing from Summer to Autumn as the leaves of the trees at the sidewalk of Gwanghwamun are starting to change colors. Although he looks like a fool standing in front of Gwanghwamun under the rain waiting for her love to come back, he still feel happy because he can just recall the past when he shared memorable moments with the love of his life.

Watch the music video of “At Gwanghwamun” by Kyuhyun.  

Here is the direction to go to Gwanghwamun:

Take Subway Line Number 3(orange Line) and get off at Gyeongbokgung Station, go to exit number 5.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

12 Months Money Challenge for OFWs in Korea- The Won Edition

Money earned from a 52 weeks money challenge
We are now gearing towards the end of 2014. How was your year 2014 so far? Have you been productive all throughout the year? How much money you have saved for this year? For all of you fellow won earners here in Korea who happened to visit this blog and read about the 52 weeks money challenge that I posted in the beginning of this year, did you follow the saving scheme presented on that blogpost? Or can you even remember that? If you have religiously followed the 52 weeks money challenge, guess what, you are about to be 3 Million won richer at the end of December. If you were not able to do it or you have done it but stopped along the way, don’t worry, there’s still 2015 and you can start all over again and discipline yourself to save money for your future needs.

52 weeks money challenge piggybank
Our colleagues from TGFI(The Global Filipino Investors)-Korea will not stop to advocate financial literacy to the OFWs here in Korea. That is why a new saving scheme has been developed courtesy of Mr. Kuripot of TGFI-Korea to give you more options to save money. When I posted the 52 weeks money challenge, I have received several reactions from the readers. From that reactions, I have identified the pessimistic people and the optimistic ones. The optimistic minded people said that they will follow it and they found the challenge quite exciting. However, the pessimistic minded people said that they don’t have enough money to save for this challenge because they need to send it to the Philippines. Ok, we got that point. So Mr. Kuripot of TGFI Korea improvised the scheme for 2015, instead of making it a weekly challenge, he made it a monthly challenge and you have options for the money goal. That means, if you think 3 Million won is too big to save for the whole year, you can choose the lower money goal. So I am going to present to you the Monthly Money Challenge for the year 2015. You can start doing this on January until the end of the year. If you want to learn more about financial literacy, savings, investments and anything related to finance, feel free to join the PINOY STOCK MARKET INVESTORS IN KOREA Facebook group. We have a lot of financial advisers in this group, so if you have any questions regarding money matters like how to invest in stock market, how to start a business and how to improve your financial status in life, you can post your questions and our friends from TGFI-Korea will answer you.

Without further adieu, check out if you are up to these 12 Months Money Challenge, the won edition. Again this is courtesy of Mr. Kuripot, our friend from TGFI-Korea, so we should thank him for coming up with this plan and he generously shared it with us.

Here are the first two money goals. the 3.5 Million won and the 4 Million won money goal. The mechanics is pretty simple. Every month, you take part of your salary and put it in your savings bank account, or if you have no bank account, you can use a piggy bank or any box which will allow you to put your money, but PLEASE, discipline yourself, the first rule is Thou Shall not Use the Money that you have set aside from this challenge. The amount that you set aside every month depends on the corresponding amount as shown in the table below. The table for each money goal has three columns:

*the first column represents the months
*the second column represents the amount you should save for that particular month
*the third column represents the total amount of money that you have already accumulated for that particular month.

So simple right?

And you are like, the challenge is so intimidating!!!!! 3.5 Million won and 4 Million won are too big and we have to send money to the Philippines and we have to buy things for ourselves, etc. etc. etc.... We understand your point, so here is another option for you. Much lesser demand per month but lesser money goal too. Check the table below if you can take the 3 Million won and/or 2.5 Million Won Money challenge.

What???? You still find it hard to save that amount of money? Wow, you have endless reasons. Ok, take a look at the last two tables below. 1.5 Million Won and 2 Million won are not bad at all.

So why are we doing this and why we have to do this? Well, aside from accumulating your money goal for the whole year, this will help you develop your attitude in terms of money. Setting aside a part of your money for your personal savings every month is some kind of a discipline. And of course, to reward yourself also to buy things you want out of this savings without the guilt feeling.

Remember, your future is in your hand. We have provided you the guide, it's all up to you if you will follow it or not, but one thing is for sure, this is for your own's sake. Take the challenge and make a difference!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tips for a Convenient Trip to Nami Island (남이섬)

Entrance to the Naminara Republic

Nami Island(남이섬) is one of the most visited places in South Korea. All my friends who are planning to travel to Korea will always ask about Nami Island. They asked how to go Nami Island or if there are travel agencies who can help them go to the place. I guess this place is really special for Korea and for the tourists because this is always present in the itinerary. Nami Island or also known as Naminara Republic is an imaginary country. It also has its own passport, stamp, currency and visa.

Nami Island at Fall

If you have watched the Korean drama “Winter Sonata”, you are probably familiar with Nami Island. Yes, this is the shooting place of that particular drama. However, the island is not only famous because of that, there are a lot of things that Nami could offer to people aside from it being the primary shooting location of a famous show. The beautiful tree lanes and the breathtaking view in the island are something to look forward to. To maximize your time and to enjoy your relaxing moment, here are my tips for those who want to go to Nami Island.

1. Know the most convenient direction to go to Nami Island

Just as there are hundreds of ways to cook a fish, there are a lot of road directions in going to Nami Island. If you are going to take public transportation, you can either take the subway or a bus but for your convenience, I would suggest to take the Subway. Why? Because it is much cheaper and you have the freedom to control your own time. There is actually a shuttle bus that would take you from Seoul to Nami Island but it is expensive compared to taking the subway and you should pay a round trip ticket, that means you need to leave Nami Island at a specified time so that the shuttle bus can take you back to Seoul. When you take subway, you can just go there at any time and you can also leave any time you want.

To go to Nami island via the subway station, get off at Gapyeong Station, it’s in Kyungchun line. The route is based on where you are from, I suggest you download the Metroid App, you can input the departure and the arrival stations and it will give you suggestion on how to go to that area. For your perusal, the subway map below highlights the location of Gapyeong station (see the red arrow on the right most part). Once you arrived at Gapyeong Station, Nami Island is just 20 minutes away if you will walk. You can also take a bus from the station, ask around where to get a bus ride to Nami Island. You can also take taxi but I don’t recommend because it’s too expensive compared to bus.

I also suggest another route which is also convenient at the same time practical. If you have ample time, you can take the shuttle bus from Cheongpyeong station, it is two stations before Gapyeong Station, please check the subway map above. Why this? Because the shuttle bus, which costs 5,000 won, will drop you off at the Petite France, another tourist attraction in Korea, which is just few kilometers away from the Island. So before you go to Nami, you can have the chance to see what’s inside Petite France. But there’s an entrance fee of 8,000 won, so if you are not interested, take my first suggestion for the direction then.

If you have your own car, use the navigation and search for this address:
Gyeonggi-do, Gapyeong-gun, Gapyeong-eup, Daljeon-ri 144-1

2. Buy  tickets first before lining up to the ferry ride

Don’t make the same mistake we did when we visited Nami Island. In order to go the island, a Ferry will be waiting for the passengers. This will take you there, but there’s a long line (depending on the season, usually there are a lot during autumn and spring) before you can get into a ferry. So you need to wait for your turn. It may sound stupid, but we lined up without a ticket. Good thing the ahjussi in charged allowed us to get out of the line first to buy our tickets and did not require us to line up again.

In the entrance area, look for a place where you can see the “VISA” booth. The tickets are called Visa in Nami Island. It costs 10,000 won for adults, 8,000 won for youth, olds and foreigners and 4,000 won for kids.

Again, secure your tickets first, go to the VISA booth before you line up for the ferry ride to Nami Island.

3. Rent a bike

Bike ride in Nami Island

Nami Island in the form of a half moon measures 462,809 miles. While it is good to walk around the island, I suggest to rent a bike. This is more convenient than walking plus you can even roam around the whole area especially if you have limited time. You can rent a single bike, couple bike and even family bike.

What if you have baby? You can also rent a stroller for only 4,000 won.

4. Rent a locker space

If you have bags or you brought things with you which is unnecessary for this trip, there are locker space where you can rent for only 1,000 to 1,500 won. I suggest you leave things there so you can freely walk or bike in the whole area. The lockers are located just in the entrance area so people could easily see it.

5. Bring some cash for food and rental fees

Nami Island has a variety of coffee shops and restaurants. You may find yourself hungry along the way, so cash would come in handy to buy you some ice cream or maybe coffee or if you want to dine-in in some restaurants in the island.

Last phase of autumn in Nami Island

Most of all, go to Nami Island with just one thing in mind, to have fun! It’s a place that will give you a chance to commune with nature and appreciate the beauty of the world. Naminara Republic has gained its cultural independence already. You can think you have visited another country, another world and another life in this island. It’s a place created for you to enjoy and to relax. So have fun.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

How Can an OFW in Korea Start a Business? Learn from the Entrep Champ Paulo Tibig

I watched this video entitled PERSONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT- for the OFW in South Korea created by Smoke and Mirrors Entertainment, it is a 25 minute video covering the problems of OFWs in South Korea about savings and tips on how to save and invest. I recommend you to watch that video so you can gain valuable financial insights for yourself. I have shared the video at the bottom of this page.

One of the most striking topic in that video is all about INVESTING. This one word is the key for all of us OFWs here in Korea to achieve the financial freedom that we desire. However, there are some pre-requisites before you can get into the investing stage. It is not enough that you are earning a lot of money to invest. One must have proper financial plan and management before he can invest in any business or investment vehicles. Check yourself, you have all the money you needed, but are you capable of handling a business? Or can you even start a business?

So how to actually start?

In every rag to riches story I read, there's one and only common reason why a person succeed, and that reason is KNOWLEDGE. They read book, the observed, they studied and they attended seminars hosted by remarkable speakers who are also successful in their own businesses. If you have a dream for yourself and for your family, start educating yourself financially. Learn what kind of business you can do so you don't need to stay an OFW forever.

Here's a wonderful opportunity for all OFWs in South Korea who have strong desire to get out the bondage of slavery to earn money. The Global Filipino Investors (TGFI) Korea will conduct a seminar on how an OFW can start a business.

TGFI Korea

You say, "Why would I spend my precious time and money on that seminar? I have money to start a business and I don't need that!" . And I say "weee?". You see, business is not just all about money. Fine, money is important, but no matter how big your capital is if you are not capable of the business you chose, I'll tell you, it will not stay long in the industry. That is why seminars are very important because this is where you can acquire proper knowledge needed for you to build your own empire.

What is this seminar all about?

Definitely not about Multi Level Marketing. The seminar will not offer you any business if that is what you expect. This seminar is not connected to any existing enterprises out there. What can you get from this then? You will be tested here if you are even capable of starting a business. You may have plans and ideas about the business that you will about to venture but the question is, are you ready? If you want to find out if you are ready or not, this seminar is a perfect venue for you. This will give you a heads up on what are the things you need to learn and improve to yourself before you can even pull up your sleeves to start your business.

This seminar will also give you step by step idea on how to start and manage your business. It may sound complicated but if you will attend, you can finally choose and decide the path that you are going to take towards getting into your ultimate goal.

Who is the speaker?

The Entrep Champ Mr. Paulo Tibig

The one and only Entrep Champ of the Philippines, Mr. Paulo Tibig. If you watch business news and maybe check random videos about business seminars, his name will most probably come out. Let's check more about his profile:

Paulo Tibig
Entrepreneur, Professional Speaker, Author and Entrepreneurship advocate

One of the sought after professional speakers today, he earned the moniker of “THE ENTREP CHAMP” in the Entrepreneurship community because of his business savvy and wisdom.

Worked his way up the ladder of entrepreneurship and success. As graduate of B.S.Airline Business Administration, was a working student taking on not-so-popular jobs like utility, messenger and delivery man from his freshman year up to his senior year in college.

Worked in various companies as medical representative, marketing assistant, and market development assistant before he ventured into entrepreneurship.

He started several enterprises like t-shirt trading, nata de coco production, handmade paper production and laundry business before he was able to strike the proverbial “pot of gold” in the logistics business offering courier, freight, logistics marketing, food logistics,  third party logistics and other supply chain services to complete as total logistics solutions provider.

At present, he is also engaged in several business enterprises: a business retail center, a Gas company and a transport service company.

 In 2005, Paulo was awarded as one of the TOP TEN ENTREPRENEURS by Entrepreneur Philippines and the 2007 TEENPRENEUR CHALLENGE WINNING MENTOR of Entrepreneur School of Asia.

He is also a finalist for 2008 NOKIA MOBILE ENTREPRENEURS AWARDS.

In 2011, he was recognized as one of Balanga’s City “Dangal Balangueño”- a recognition for outstanding achievers who made mark in entrepreneurship. In 2013 he was awarded by Bataan National High School as Outstanding Alumni. 2014  Outstanding Alumni of PATTS College Aeronautics, and also in 2014 he was awarded by Asean Business Awards as Young Entrepreneur of the year.

Mr. Tibig is also active in various organizations. He is one of the Directors of the Freeport Area of Bataan, Board of Regent, Bataan Peninsula State University. An Honorary Member, Young Entrepreneurs Society (Worldwide).
He is also a Go Negosyo Angelpreneur, Past President of the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI). And lastly, Past President of Bataan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BACCII).

He has been invited to several universities, trade organizations, corporate seminars and other related business and entrepreneurship forums all over the country to share, inspire, motivate and talk about entrepreneurship.

You can often see him guestings or featured in several TV, Radio programs and various national dailies and publications.

Mr Tibig has been featured in books such as “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” published in 2007 and Entrepreneur Philippines 67 Success Stories in its December 2008 issue.

A cover feature of the following publications: Masigasig Magazine and Express Life Commuter express newspaper.

In 2010, he was one of the Endorsers in print and television Ad of Globe Business Negostar. 

An author of the best selling book entitled “Strategies of a Champion Entrepreneur”. A book that gives you 10 guidelines for your entrepreneurial journey towards success. This book presents experiential, engaging & educational  perspectives on negosyo for aspiring, starting, and existing entrepreneurs.

Lastly, Mr. Tibig conducts experiential, engaging and educational talk on topics such as – Entrepreneurship, Franchising & Logistics.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Journey of a Filipina TV Host and Radio DJ in Korea

Korea is a place of hope and a land filled of opportunities for those who dream to expand and develop their personal career. However, these opportunities require perseverance and determination especially for foreigners who want to make it big in this country. Aside from the culture, you need to learn the language and embrace the customs and traditions of the Koreans. It may not be apparent, but some foreigners were actually able to penetrate into corporate ladder of Korea and that include some Filipinos who started small but eventually make it big into Korean corporations.

How did they do that?

Ms Amy Laguitao-Hwang
Let’s ask a Filipina who once a stranger to this place, she made herself accustomed to Korean culture and language and finally paved her way to Korean Television and started an online radio station here in Korea. Ms. Amy Laguitao-Hwang is the host of KTV Saranghamnida Daehan Minguk, a Korean TV show about culture and traditions. She is also a DJ in an online radio station called MWFM Love Radio Korea. Like any other Filipinos who are excelling on their respective field of expertise here in Korea, Ms. Amy also started small. She inched her way from an exchange student to a TV host in a government hosted channel in Korean Television and founded a radio station that would cater to the information needs of every multicultural family and Filipino workers here in Korea.

I wanted to know how she started her career on TV and radio, so I invited her for an interview and we met up that cold Saturday afternoon at Hyehwa. She arrived at our meeting place first. I was actually intimidated when I first saw her, but when we started talking, I can feel how approachable she was. So I started rolling the ball and asked her questions and she answered without any hesitations.

Interview with Ms. Amy
Life and Career in the Philippines

Ms Amy’s encounter with Koreans started way back in her college years. She was taking Bachelor of Journalism in Baguio Central University and she was a part time tutor of English language to Koreans. She realized later on that she enjoys teaching, so she took some units for Education so she could get a licensure examination for teachers.  Her part time job as English teacher to Koreans had developed her passion for teaching.

Nung nasa college ako, may mga Koreans na pumupunta sa Baguio, tapos nag English tutor ako, and then nagkaroon ako ng passion na magturo, and then after I graduated from Baguio Central University, they offered me some units to teach in College” .

 Since teaching is just her part time job, she also ventured into DJ-ing. She was a DJ of an FM station in Baguio City. At an early age, she already started her career in radio and teaching, these opportunities helped her earn money for her allowance.

The Journey to Korea began.

When she passed the Licensure examination for teachers in 2002, she has to leave Baguio and the career she started to get her Masters degree in UP Diliman. She thought her venture with Koreans has ended when she left Baguio City, but Korea was calling her. In 2005, she was sent to Korea as an exchange student of UP Diliman in Hoseo Universtiy in Cheonan, South Korea. She studied Masters in Education for one year. During her stay in Korea as an exchange student, she also started learning the language.

Goodbye Korea, for awhile.

After the one year exchange student program, she had to go back to Philippines. She enrolled for a Doctorate degree in UP Diliman. With the knowledge she acquired in Korean language, she established a Korean language training center for those who want to take the Korean Language Test to work in Korea.

In 2006, I went back to the Philippines and enrolled PhD in UP Diliman. And then while studying my doctorate degree, nagtayo ako ng eskwelahan doon for Korean language para sa mga gustong magtrabaho sa Korea.

Although she had been busy with her doctorate study and the language center, she also tried several businesses like MLM in the Philippines and taught English in the Cultural Department of UP. However, her heart is longing for Korea. She knew she has to go back to Korea, and like a magnet, Korea attracted her back.

Hello Again Korea.

Without any assurance of what would be her life in Korea, she returned to Korea as a tourist. While she was here, she further studied Korean language in a University in Pohang. In order to support her expenses, she did some tutorial jobs without pay in exchange of a free apartment. She also worked part time in a Hagwon as a tutor just to support her personal expenses while she was here.

Dahil kulang ang kaalaman ko sa Korean language, bumalik ako ng Korea para matuto pa. Binigyan nila ako ng C-3 Visa (Tourist)

She then decided to move up to Suwon and continued her Korean language study there under student visa status. She studied a lot and took TOPIK test, she got Level 4 which allowed her to study Business course in International trade.

Her stay in Korea also opened the door to her budding friendship with a Korean guy that she met when she was in Singapore. Eventually, the Korean guy married her and that was the start of her embracing more of Korean culture and lifestyle.

Early life in Korea

Ms. Amy has her own share of difficulties in coping up with the Korean culture and language. She especially experienced a lot of shenanigans with Korean language.

Ang daming nakakahiya na nangyari sa akin, kagaya nung naghatid ng Taekbe, sinabihan ko yong ahjussi ng ‘Saranghamnida’ (I Love you), tumatawa na lang syang umalis, na coconfuse ako sa ‘saranghamnida’(I Love you) at ‘Kamsahamnida’ (Thank you)“.

Her life had been even put to risk when she acquired an allergy eating Ramyeon to the point of her wanting to give up.

Gusto ko ng umuwi nun dahil grabeng allergy ko dahil sa Ramyon.”

Not to mention the mishaps, gross experiences and other challenging events during her early years here in Korea.

Hindi ko makalimutan nung nahulog ang pustiso ko sa toilet bowl. Very gross na nangyari sa akin yon, nakakahiya na tinatawanan ako ng estudyante but I didn’t care.”

Hindi ko rin makalimutan yong sa elevator. Diba pag puno may lalabas na “Manwon”, sabi ko ano? Pati elevator may bayad? Yon pala Manwon means full.”

Despite all of these difficulties and embarrassing experiences, she persevered and continued her journey in Korea.

Starting a Career as TV Host and Radio DJ

While studying PHD in Policy in Korea, she met a lot of people and managed to establish connection with people in position. When Korea KTV was looking for a TV reporter, she was advised to apply and audition for it. Apparently, she got the job of a TV reporter for Korea KTV’s program “Saranghamnida Daehan Minguk”.

Syempre meron akong nakilalang mga tao, yong may mga matataas na posisyon, and then pinag apply ako sa as a reporter sa KTV at natanggap naman.”

She also just recently started a career in radio.

Yong radio naman, kakastart lang actually yan. Actually tinuro lang yon kung paano gumawa ng radio program, tapos nakita nila na parang alam ko na

Because she’s already a DJ in Philippines, she was able to get into the field of radio broadcasting. She started in a training program and since she already knew radio per se, she was able to put up an online radio station here in Korea in partnership with a fellow Filipina in Korea.

About the TV program.

Korea KTV is a TV network by the government. It shows activities of the president and can be watched nationwide. Her show is every Monday at 2 PM entitled “KTV Saranghamnida Daehan Minguk". She hosts the show together with her partner from Ukraine.

Ms. Amy and her partner interviewing a guest on their show KTV Saranghamnida Daehan Minguk

KTV Saranghamnida Daehan Minguk is all about multicultural issues and information. It tackles culture, language and everything related to it.

For more information about this channel, go check their official website at

Also, you can like the Facebook page Amy & Dean KTV I Love Korea

About the Radio program

She recently started an online radio program called “MWFM Love Radio Korea”. The radio program is all about the general life of expats here in Korea. In this program, they have different topics in every episode. Here, they tackle the life of people, festivals, benefits of workers and marriage immigrant and employment information.

Ms. Amy and her Filipina partner in the radio program

Also, the program is accepting broadcast request for anybody who has organizations and needed donations, you can request them to announce on air about your donation drive for as long as your organization is legit.

If you have events or activities that you want to announce on air, they can also do that for you.
For events and other activities, you can also contact them.

And if you have suggestions and recommendations, you are welcome to contact them.

You can check out their Facebook page online MWFM Love radio Korea and feel free to send them your message and questions especially about Visa and work issues.

In order to listen to MWFM Love Radio Korea, just CLICK HERE. You can also download the MWFM Love Radio Korea application to listen to the podcasts.

The Journey of Ms. Amy here in Korea is truly an inspiration to every OFW here in Korea. Like her, if you are new in this country, you will most likely experience awkwardness and culture shock. Don't give up, continue with your journey, embrace Korea and it will embrace you back to make your life easy in its bosom.