Friday, February 26, 2016

POEA Announces the Registration for the 13th Korean Language Test (KLT)

UPDATE AS OF February 28, 2016: FEMALE APPLICANTS CAN NOW REGISTER ON MARCH 3, 2016 ONLY. The information below has been revised as per the link provided.

For all of you hopefuls to go to Korea to work in manufacturing industry, this is the announcement that you have been waiting for.

POEA has just posted the announcement for the registration and schedule of examination. If you want to check it out, you can see the announcement at this LINK.

And for your sake, here is the content of the announcement:

Disclaimer: This information has been directly copied from the link specified above. To verify, you can visit the link.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Chilling At Arirang House (아리랑하우스) at Ttukseom Resort (뚝섬유원지)

Arirang House at Ttukseom Resort

We went to Ttukseom Resort (뚝섬유원지) to do something winter-ish. It was my first time to visit the place. I wasn’t expecting that much because when it says “resort”, I just thought it is just like any other parks in Korea. What is good about Ttukseom Resort is that, every winter, they hold a “Snow Flower Village” program in the area. What you can basically see there during winter are the sleigh hill, mini rides, and whatnot. It’s something kids would love to go to. Since we are kids at heart, we decided to give it a try because we were after the sledding hill. However, we arrived at the resort at around 5 pm and the guard won’t allow us to enter anymore because they were about to close that time. We were all so disappointed because we traveled so far just to go to the place. Prior to that, we actually went to the World Cup Olympic Park to try ice skating. Unfortunately, we arrived at the dismantled skating rink because apparently, it was the last day of the ice skating event of the park. Since Ttukseom Hangang Sledding Hill is just near the area, we still have hope to enjoy some winter activities, so we just went there anyway.  Much to our dismay, we were greeted by the closed gate of the sledding hill. The good thing about Ttukseom Resort is that, it’s not just all about the Snow Flower Village. It’s everything fun compressed into one area.

When you go out of Ttukseom Resort Station which is Line number 7 of the subway, you can go to different places within the area to relax and enjoy the scenic view seeing that it is located right in front of the Han River. In the southern part of the resort, near the sledding hill where we supposed to have fun, we found a ship-shaped building anchored offshore of the Han River. It is called Arirang House (아리랑하우스). It is a combination of a house, a restaurant and a café. What brought us to this place are these swan boats which are actually available for rent.

Swan boat available for rent at Arirang House in Ttukseom Resort

We decided to try it out, but we just realized that it’s winter, some parts of the river is frozen and, who would sail on a swan boat in the middle of a freezing winter? So again, the frustration was eating us. Good thing that the Arirang house was open that time seeing that it was a holiday. We just went their instead to relax and chill out after a long tiring day of traveling and walking.

Inside the Arirang House, you can either order something to eat or something to drink. Oh wait, did I mention it’s a restaurant and a café?

Well, anyways, since it’s too early for dinner, we ordered something to drink so we could get in and see what’s inside the ship, I mean the restaurant, I mean the café, I mean the house, I mean…. Whatever. It’s a combination of everything actually.

Inside Arirang House
(c) Anny Martinez
I like what’s inside the ship, it feels like cruise-y. Not that I have tried cruising before, but at least I know how it looks like. There are several Korean customers that time, most of them are couple, probably dating. Yeah, dating inside a ship, because in fairness, the ambiance is very romantic. You can talk and sip some coffee while overlooking the freezing Han River outside. I guess it’s a good place to hang out during summer.

The cozy ambiance of Arirang House
(c)Anny Martinez
Outside the café inside the ship (I hope I didn’t confuse you with this), they also set some chairs and tables should anyone want to breathe some fresh air. It was so cold that day, so nobody dared to stay outside, except us. It was windy and cold but relaxing. The area could be a perfect spot during a hot and windy summer day.

A cafe in a ship
(c) Anny Martinez

I don’t know, but somehow, I find the place romantic. I also love it when they played not only Korean music but also new English music. Seldom you can hear Maroon 5, Troye Sivan and Justin Beiber on Korean’s coffee shop. The lightings inside the ship is also relaxing, which make it even more ideal for dating couples.

If I am going to rate this café/restaurant from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, I think I will give it 7. If ever you’re in Ttukseom Hangang Park, try to locate the Arirang House if you want to chill and relax. You can easily spot it, just look for the swan boats or a ship anchored offshore, you won’t surely miss it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Pag-IBIG Overseas Program in South Korea

With Mr Dominic Leoligaw, Pag-IBIG representative in South Korea

Happy Valentines Day readers!!!

And since it’s Valentines day, I guess it’s apt to talk about Pag-IBIG.

What is the status of your Pag-IBIG?

But just as you think this is all about matters of the heart, you are wrong, because when I say Pag-IBIG, I mean “Pagtutulungan sa Kinabukasan, Ikaw, Bangko, Industria at Gobyerno”. It’s a savings scheme that harnesses these four sectors of our society.

After a failed attempt to attend the lecture of Mr. Dominic A. Leoligao, the service officer of Pag-IBIG in South Korea, during a seminar at the Embassy of the Philippines in Seoul , I cornered him in his office to ask questions regarding the Pag-IBIG. I think I lost my account already because I never contributed since I arrived here in Korea because 1.) I don’t know how to pay for my monthly contributions. 2.) I completely forgot about it.

The good news is, if you have already contributed before and you stopped contributing for quite sometimes, your money is still there. All you need to do is check it on your online account or you can visit Mr Leoligao at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul to check your previous contributions and the dividends it earned.

If you are here in Korea and you wish to continue your contribution to your Pag-IBIG account, you can deposit it in the following Metrobank branches all over South Korea. You need to present your Pag-IBIG ID number when you pay, but if you don’t know about it, you can ask sir Dominic for assistance.

You can choose how much you would like to pay monthly. The lowest monthly contribution is 200 pesos. Here is a sample computation of how much you can save in a particular monthly contribution:

Why would you even bother contribute to your Pag-IBIG?

Well, for me, it’s one way to diversify your investment. Sure, there are stock market, time deposit, treasury bills and other investment vehicles available out there. In the sample computation, dividend rate of Pag-IBIG is 4 percent, it may not be as big as other aggressive type of investments but it is technically higher than time deposit and bank savings. What is good about Pag-IBIG is that, you can claim your lump sum including the dividends. When? Check this information:

Now, investment opportunity in Pag-IBIG doesn’t end just like that. As time goes by, it develops a new saving scheme that would benefit active contributors, and by active I mean those who were able to pay at least the latest 1 year contribution. This scheme is called MP2 or Modified Pag-IBIG 2.

What is it all about?

Technically, it’s the same as the usual savings program of Pag-IBIG except that the monthly contribution is slightly higher and the dividend is 4.5 percent rate. With a minimum contribution of 500 pesos per month, in the term of 5 years, you can get a lump sum of your contributions including the dividend, no need to wait for retirement or several months.

Here is a sample computation of savings under MP2.

So you see, Pag-IBIG is a good saving scheme. It’s just like putting your money in the bank but with higher yield of interest and better return. The only setback for this is, there are terms that you must follow to get your money back. It’s not like in a bank where you can easily withdraw your money. But then again, Diversification is the keyword. If you are one person who wants to put your eggs in different baskets, Pag-IBIG is definitely one nice basket to entrust some of your eggs.

If you have questions, shoot Mr. Dominic Leoligao a private message on Facebook, or better yet, visit him in his office at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul. You can also call him at 01071450385 or email at

Thursday, February 11, 2016

5 Quirky Habits in Public of Young Korean Couples

Public Display of Affection or PDA!!! I seem to have forgotten how it looks like because here in South Korea, rarely you could ever see young couple doing PDA. If you have been watching Korean dramas and find Korean lovers cute, adorable and likeable, well, forget about it. In reality, Korean couples are just like any ordinary couples in the world. I don’t mean that Koreans are not sweet to their lovers; it’s just that they are not really into intimate touching when in public.

In South Korea, boys and girls are generally touchy-feely to their friends, but that’s just it, sometimes it’s hard to identify if a girl and a boy holding hands while walking are just friends or dating because they touch, I mean they mingle with their boyfriends/girlfriends in the same way they mingle with their “just friends”.  I think I have stayed quite long enough here in Korea to identify if two people are dating or just talking. Well, here are some of the quirky habits I observed among young Korean couples. If you see them doing this, then they are definitely dating.

1. Wearing Couple Shirt

The best way to identify if they are couple or not is if they are wearing a couple shirt. It’s a no brainer. Apparently, here in Korea, couples are really into this kind of trend. They feel they belong to each other if they wear the same color, the same design and the same brand of shirt or sweatshirt or whatever.

2. The Goodbye Scene in the bus

Ahh, my heart is melting!!! <3 ㅠㅠHow would you react if your Korean boyfriend did this to you? :3► LIKE Koreaboo for more adorable Korean viral videos!
Posted by Koreaboo on Friday, 19 September 2014

I’ve seen it not once, not twice, not thrice, but soooooo many times. I think I’ve seen it in actual more than in movie scenes because it definitely is like a movie scene. This is how it looks like:

So, a guy or a girl must take a bus to go home, he or she must leave the partner but partner will not go unless the bus will go. Partner will look over the window to the partner patiently standing and waiting for the bus to go. They will both wave their hands to each other as if they will never see again. Oftentimes, the guy will call a girl and they will talk while waving goodbye. Sometimes, they will give each other a flying kiss or a sweet smile.

And I always cringe, like they’ve not been together for the whole day and like there’s no tomorrow…. Oh love, young love…

3. The awkward public hug

Hugging is common for couples anywhere in the world, and when you see a girl and a guy hugging each other in public while waiting for the bus or whatever, then they are dating, except that Koreans hug in an awkward way. I mean, you call that a hug? What is it this? A Korean drama?

4. Sweet selfie/selca

Selfie is one thing but sweet selfie is another thing. In Korea, they call this selca, and if two people pouting their lips towards each other while taking a selfie, then they are couple. Why would you do a kiss gesture to somebody in a selfie if they are just your friend, right? Korean couples are extra sweet to each other when taking selfie, you know, for documentation purposes.

5. Holding Hands while talking

I guess the most romantic gesture of Koreans is holding hands. They are very much into it, even to the same sex or even to the friends, they can hold hands of other people without malice. So how to spot if two people holding hands are couple and not just friends? Well, if they are not simply holding hands while walking, they talk while looking at each other’s eyes, then that’s something beyond friendship.

I guess I’ll stop right there. I think there are more, but I just don’t know about it yet. For what it’s worth, the most important thing here is there is love in between couples. Koreans maybe express it in some odd ways but as long as there are two less lonely people in the world, then it’s fine.
Oh wait, isn’t that a song?


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bumblebee Out, Ecobee In- Riding South Korea’s First Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) Train

As a Transformers fan, I am always curious how it feels like riding Bumblebee. I mean, come on, how you would not dare adore this cute yellow machine that transforms into an even more adorable autobot with shouting yellow color. While it is not possible for me to experience Bumblebee’s altmode of a compact car, South Korea has this thing called Ecobee.

Ecobee- Korea's Maglev train
Ecobee- Korea's Maglev train

Well, first and foremost, I would like to clarify that Ecobee is not a rip off of Bumblebee. It’s entirely different creation and they have no connections with each other except that they are both yellow. Ecobee is a name derives from a combination of “Eco-friendly” and “bee”. It is named that way to let people know that the maglev train is a friend to the environment. As to how it is named after a bee, I don’t know, maybe because it’s yellow and it is somehow looks like a bee.

South Korea’s Maglev train has been officially opened to the public on February 3, 2016 for free. Once we learned about this, riding Ecobee has been officially on my bucket list as well as to my equally adventurous friends who were as excited as I am. We have decided to be one of the first few people to try it.

The station of Maglev Line at Incheon Internatonal Airport
The station of Maglev Line at Incheon Internatonal Airport
(c) Anny Martinez

During the Lunar New Year, we went as a group to become the first Filipino passengers of Ecobee. Outside the maglev train station, there’s this fun activity area where you can learn the history of production of this newest technology in terms of public transformation.  We learned a lot about Ecobee through the materials they provided. We had fun playing the quiz in the machine, at the end of the game, we won cute ballpen and we learned fun facts about Maglev.

Exhibit area of Maglev train
Exhibit area of Maglev train
(c) Anny Martinez
We learned that Ecobee is actually manufactured by South Korea using their homegrown technology. None of the materials or technology was imported and South Korea is actually planning to sell this kind of technology abroad. According to the information, it has a maximum speed of 110 km per hour and its maximum operational speed is 80 km per hour with an average speed of 30 km per hour.

The Maglev Train station starts at Incheon International Airport. It is small but it’s pretty neat and surprisingly, it’s spacious. There are benches where people can sit down while waiting for the train seeing that it operates every 15 minutes.

We have been riding the subway train for the nth time already but when we stepped our foot at the maglev train, it brought us a different kind of excitement because we knew that right at that moment, we were making history. And it is also pretty challenging because we are about to ride a train in its testing period, a train with no wheels, and a train with no driver. Technically, it’s risky, but for the sake of experience, we were more than excited than afraid.

Maglev Line Time Table
Maglev Line Time Table
(c) Anny Martinez
Since this looks like the testing stage, the maglev train operates to few stations just yet. We passed through six stations which are Long-Term Parking, Combined Government Office, International Business Complex, Waterpark and Yongyu. Aside from the modern looking stations, the view while transferring from one station to another is something I could sell to the passengers of Maglev train. Magnificent is just an understatement and for people like us who love nature, we enjoyed the 20 minutes ride from Incheon International Airport to Yongyu station, and vice versa.

Inside the Maglev train
Inside the Maglev train
(c) Anny Martinez
The Maglev train has no driver. It is completely automated. So I appointed myself as an imaginary driver of our trip. I went to the area where the driver is supposed to operate. I like how I am standing there looking at the road in the perspective of the driver.

Taking the driver's seat at the unmanned Megalev train
(c) Anny Martinez

All throughout the duration of the trip, I can hardly hear any noise or vibration. The trip was generally smooth and I completely felt safe even it is unmanned. Thanks to the absence of wheels that made the trip even more comfortable because the train runs 8 mm over the rail. Ecobee is small with only 2 carriages and can carry up to 230 passengers.

Maglev train running 8 mm above the rail
Maglev train running 8 mm above the rail
At the end of the day, we were happy campers because we can finally scratch this out of our bucket list and we just enjoyed the simple experience of riding a Maglev train of South Korea. This is so far the second country to successfully develop this kind of technology after Japan launched the first Maglev train way back 2005.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

INSADONG- A Must Visit Place in Seoul to Experience Korea’s Tradition and Culture

Filipino migrants at the busy street of Insadong
Filipino migrants at the busy street of Insadong

If there’s one place in Seoul you must visit, it should be Insadong. This street may not be the primary choice for shopping, for sightseeing, or for bar hopping, but if you really want to “travel”, and by travel I mean learning more about the people, the culture and the tradition of the place you are visiting, when in Seoul, do not ever leave the place without going to Insadong. This is where you can actually see and experience the tradition and culture of Korea as it is considered to be the focal point of Korea’s art and culture and crafts.

Souvenir shopping at Insadong
Souvenir shopping at Insadong

At Insadong, you can also buy some souvenirs that you can always incorporate to Korea alone. Stuff like pottery, traditional teas, Korea folk crafts and hanbok or the Korean traditional clothing can be bought at this unique street.

The reason why this street is very rich in Korean culture and tradition is because this was used to be a place of study for painters during the Joseon Dynasty. So it is not surprising that even up to this day, you can still see things related to paintings at Insadong. In fact, there are centers for arts, painters and craftsmens available in the area. If you love arts, you will surely love this street.

Antiques at Insadong
Antiques at Insadong

I usually go to Insadong at weekend, I think I have visited the place for like three or five times already, and everytime I go there, it’s always crowded. The crowd does not necessarily compose of foreigners or tourists, most of the people there are just actually the locals. I guess Koreans know how to put value into their culture that is why they go to places where they can be reminded of their rich tradition.

Traditional tea house and cultural shop at Insadong
Traditional tea house and cultural shop at Insadong

What I like most about Insadong is the availability of different traditional tea shops. These tea shops usually are in a traditional Korean houses and offer Korean tea to the customers. However, there are some modern tea houses also in the area, but you can see their effort to preserve the old traditions.

To go to Insadong via train, you can take the Subway Line Number 1 and get off at Jonggak Station. Go to exit 3 and you can find the Insadong street.

Or you can also take Subway line number 5 and get off at Jongno 3-ga station, then go to Exit 1.

People, culture, and tradition are what Insadong can offer to every visitor that will set their foot on it. There is something about this street that emanates the charm of Korea. I don’t know about what others feel, but as for me, I feel like I am traveling back in time during those days when Koreans are still wearing Hanbok. Women are busy peddling their goods while men are riding their horses with pride. But of course, you couldn’t see it the way I imagine, but it somehow give me an idea of the lifestyle of Korea’s olden days. So if you are looking for a place to visit in Seoul, Insadong must be in your itinerary.