Friday, May 27, 2016

Filipino Dance Group “Captured Crew” Won the Third Place in Multicultural Music Festival 2016

Winners of the 2016 Multicultural Music Festival
Photo credit to:

A dance group called “Captured Crew” composed mostly of Filipino EPS workers won third place in the 2016 Multicultural Music Festival which was held last May 22, 2016 at the Everland Theme Park in Yongin, South Korea. The Festival is Korea’s way of embracing the diverse culture in the country due to the presence of a lot of foreign workers. The event was organized by the Korea Federation of SMEs together with Arirang TV with the aim to introduce the culture of different nationalities to the locals.

Different groups from different countries showcased their talents on stage. A group composed of nationalities from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Buryatia won the first place. The second place goes to the Filipino singing group. And Captured Crew, a Filipino dance group won third place.

Members of the Captured Crew dance group

“Talagang kabado kami sa umpisa dahil para na rin kaming sumali sa international competition dahil iba’t  ibang lahi ang nakalaban namin”, Jamin Vega, a member of Captured Crew, said in an interview.

Captured Crew has incorporated the K-pop music into their dance performance. They used the song “Bang Bang Bang” by the famous Korean boy group Big Bang. They bagged home 1,000, 000 Korean won for landing on the third place.

Captured Crew performing on stage

“Kahit third place kami, para na rin kaming nanalo kasi we showcased the Filipino talent to the world through this event.”, Jamin added.

Captured Crew has proven once again that Filipino talents can stand out in the international competition. Despite the busy schedule at work, the group was able to come up with an amazing dance performance. With that, Captured Crew should be added on the list of “Filipino Pride in South Korea”.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Heyri Art Valley (헤이리 예술마을) Showcases Artistic Side of Korea

art at heyri art village korea paju
One of the many artsy stuff at Heyri Art Village

I spent my first two years in Korea living in Paju, the Northernmost city of South Korea. Not a lot of tourists go to Paju unless otherwise they have DMZ on their itinerary. But what we don’t know about Paju is that there are a lot of places it can offer to the travelers aside from the usual DMZ. One of these places is this village called Heyri Art Valley(헤이리 예술마을). I’ve been wanting to go to this village ever since, but I recently just got the chance to go there. When I arrived at the gate of the village, one word came to my mind, “FUN”. The colorful surroundings, the unique design of the buildings and the whole concept of this village are so perfect for those who want to combine art and fun in one journey.

As I explored the village, I realized that it’s not just a place, it’s actually a whole city. Ok fine, I exaggerated it a bit, but yeah, it’s so huge that one whole day may not enough to just walk around the village. As I surveyed it, there are actually 8 gates (or maybe more) to enter the place. Just imagine how vast a village with an 8 gates, very big indeed.

Maybe you are now asking, what can you see at this village? Well, for me, if not for the concept of art which you can by the way see in every corner of this place, it’s just an ordinary complex, or I guess the right term is a “compound”.  As what I’ve said, the art aspect makes this place very interesting. I mean, how could you not appreciate a village of art. Walk in the street, checkout the buildings and even sit in the lobby, this place is just all about art, nothing more.

Chilling at the one of the lobbies 

What’s inside the compound? It’s just actually a haven of galleries, exhibitions halls, museums, theaters, Artshop, restaurants, cafes, shops and whatnot. In short, everything you can think related to art is best represented in this place. I was astounded by the numbers of museums in the area. Anywhere you go, there’s a museum about everything. There’s a toy museum where you can bring out the kid in you and appreciate the toys, there’s Alive museum where you can take photos with the displays that look like real. There’s a museum about knife, about time, about mirror, and.. ugh… about everything. And guess what, there’s an erotic museum too. Uhmmm.. you like that?

One of the many museums at Heyri Art Village

Galleries are everywhere too. If you want to see the works of the greatest artists in Korea, maybe you can find their exhibits in this village. But you don’t actually need to go to every museum, galleries and exhibits to appreciate the art. Just walk around and you can experience fun with art everywhere in the area.

At random street in the village

The buildings are awesome too. They come in different shapes and designs which make it even more interesting. You can see building designs from weird, to nice to sophisticated one. Truly, architecture is an art.

Unique design of buildings

The only downside of this village is you have to pay for the entrances on every museum, galleries, etc. Ticket prices range from 6,000 won to 10,000 won. But if you don’t want to pay, then you can just walk around and explore the place.There are restaurants, food stalls and themed cafes in the area, so you need not to worry about where to eat and what to eat.

One of the many themed cafes in the village

Would I go back there?

Probably not. I think this place is good for a one time visit. Aside from it’s expensive having to pay every single museum you want to enter, it’s pretty difficult to go to the area. The village is located at 70-21, Heyrimaeul-gil, Tanhyeon-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do (경기도 파주시 탄현면 헤이리마을길 70-21), but if you will go there via Subway, you can get off at Hapjeong Station, go to Exit 2 and take Bus number 2200 and then get off at Heyri Bus Stop. If you come from Paju or from neighboring city in the Northern Part of South Korea, the most convenient way to go there is via Geumcheon Station. When you exit the station, you need to cross the road and take bus number 900 and get off at Heyri bus Stop.

Next time you feel like going around appreciating art, why not go to Heyri Art Valley? It’s a one stop art appreciation area that opens 24 hours for everyone who wants to visit. However, museums and galleries may only operate during daytime. The village is closed every Monday and entrance is absolutely free.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Romantic Million-Rose Garden in Bucheon (백만송이장미원)

Million-Rose Garden (백만송이장미원)

Tired of Spring Flowers already?

Then don’t, not just yet, because in South Korea, the later part of Spring season is saved for the flower which we often used to express LOVE, I am talking about the ROSES. From middle of May to late June, there are various Rose festivals all over South Korea. So if you are into roses, you will definitely love this part of the year.

Obviously, I can’t visit all and I can’t discuss all events related to roses. What I am going to share to you is about the Baekmansongijangmiwon(백만송이장미원) or better known as Million Rose Garden in Bucheon. It’s a garden full of….. well, guess what, ROSES!!!...of different varieties and species and colors and whatnot.

Different Kinds of roses planted at the Million Rose Garden

The garden is filled with sweet fragrance of the flower. But don’t get too secured because bees are all over the area too. But don’t worry, unless you deprive them of their right to suck the nectars, they will mind their own business. If you are not contented with just smelling the awesomeness of the roses, you can actually touch them, just be careful with the thorns though.

I have to be brutally honest that I’ve never seen a collection of roses as big as in the Million-Rose garden before. It was my first time to see them in colors purple, yellow and orange. Yes, I only know Red and White, but other colors aside from that are totally strangers to me.

Pink, red, yellow and orange roses

I also like the idea of them putting some steel framework in the garden to grow rose vines. The steel framework is formed in various shapes like arc tunnel, different kind of animals and more. Children definitely love to see these shapes decorated by rose vines.

Rose Vines in steel framework

Above all, what makes this place unique to visit is that there’s an ambiance of romance. If you are with your special someone, you would want to belt out that Bon Jovi song, that’s how romantic it is at this garden. But don’t do that, I am just exaggerating anyway. So yeah, it’s an ideal place to take somebody you love because the smell, the colors and the general ambiance will make you feel the love for your sweetheart. I mean, you are in the bed of roses, it’s obviously a lovely place for the lovers.

This place ain’t only for the lovers. Kids will like this because there are a lot of kiddie attractions in the area. Rose vines formed in different kind of animals will surely entertain them. This is also for the whole family, for group of friend or even for the whole community. This garden is made for Fun and for Love, since everybody can have fun and can love, then everybody is welcome to this garden.

Entrance to the garden is absolutely free. To go there, take Subway Line Number 7 and get off at Chunui Station. Go to Exit number 7 and take bus 661, get off at Baengmansongijangmiwon (Million-rose Garden).

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Learning About Korean Traditional Medicine at Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Museum (서울약령시 한의약박물관)

Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Museum (서울약령시 한의약박물관)
Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Museum (서울약령시 한의약박물관)

I think one of the most interesting aspects of Korean culture is their traditional medicine. You cannot say that you have fully immersed yourself into Korean culture unless you know about their ancient medical tradition. So when this donation project called “Loving Korea” sent an invite for an event connected to Korean Medicine, I was so interested so I gave it a go. At first, I felt like I was weird for being so interested in something like this. But I want to know more about ginseng and their medicine in general.

Luckily, it was a holiday last Friday, so I was able to join the tour of Loving Korea. I felt relieved because I am not the only foreigner interested in Korean medicine. There were about 13 attendees from different parts of the world. We met at Jegidong Station, the museum is about 150 meters away from this station, so it is really accessible. We met our two Korean tour guides, Jun Seok and Jaemin, they are the brains behind Loving Korea. They were so accommodating, they speak excellent English, and they are friendly too. It helps us feel comfortable travelling with a bunch of strangers with different culture. We had a little introduction before we left and then we just walked from the station to the museum. The weather was not in our favor, it was raining that afternoon but it did not stop us from our mission, to know more about the Korean Medicine.

When we arrived at Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Museum, I immediately recognize the smell, it smells like the traditional medicine!!! Look, I am no expert about this but I know how ginseng smells like. So I was thinking, this will be an interesting learning journey for me. Apparently, the museum is at the grounds of this old medical institution called Bojewon which was in operation since the Joseon Dynasty. What I saw inside the museum was a large collection of oriental relics and samples of medicinal herbs.

One of the many racks that display Korean traditional Medicine
One of the many racks that display Korean traditional Medicine

It was my first time to go to a medicine museum and I was just amazed with how Korea was able to preserve and develop their herb medicine culture. I realized how important this museum in Korea because it’s part of their culture.  There’s also a display of equipments used by the practitioners of herbal medicine, some old artifacts about oriental medicine and of course, the majority of the display is a variety of herbal medicinal items.

philosopy of korean medicine
Jaemin discussing the Philosophy of Korean medicine 

To help us understand more about this, our two Korean tour guides shared the story of the evolution of Korean Herb Medicine. From the concept of Yin Yang, to the 5 elements, we learned that Korean medicine is not just a work of science, it has anchored to their ancient tradition and beliefs. Every element has a meaning and it plays a vital role in the development of their medicine. The story telling really helped us, or me personally, to gain knowledge on the ancient Korean medical practice.
We did not just actually tour the museum because we had a little workshop inside. Our tour guide has demonstrated a Korean acupuncture and some basic techniques to treat patients. It was an effective way to gain an overall understanding of how one technique can treat a patient and to also identify what herb can heal what sickness.

Jun Seok demonstrating some basic techniques on how to treat a headache based on Korean Philosophy
Jun Seok demonstrating some basic techniques on how to treat a headache based on Korean Philosophy

There are also small diorama of medical villages way back from the Joseon Dynasty. There’s a house model of the Bojewon and how village people work together to process the medical herbs. But what I found interesting during the tour was the story of the Ginseng.

I didn’t know how sacred this thing for Koreans until I joined this event. I heard a lot about Ginseng, about how it’s good for the health and how people use this as an alternative medicine, but it was my first time to hear some unusual stories. A long long time ago, ginseng was such a rare plant, and you can only find this in the mountains. According to our guide, people demonstrate some sort of rituals before they uproot a ginseng in the mountain. Nowadays, ginseng are being cultured by Koreans, but still, nothing beats wild ginseng and it has been proven over and over again that it is very effective in healing diseases.

The real wild ginseng preserved at the museum
The real wild ginseng preserved at the museum

We also learned during the tour that Korea has formulated its own “guide for medical prescription”. It is actually inspired in the philosophy called “군신좌사” (Gun-Sin-Jwa-Sa) which means King-Servant-Assistant-Messenger. The King(Gun) represents the main substance of the medicine, and the Servant(sin) is the substance assisting the principal, the Jwa(assistant) is the one who helps the Sin and the Mesenger(sa) is the substance that helps improve the performance o the first three substances.

The Korean Medicine tour organized by “Loving Korea” was overall a fun and yet a very informative experience. After our tour at the museum, we went to the market where they sell Korean medicine products. But I think it deserves another blogpost. If you want to see all of these Korean herb collections at the Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Museum (서울약령시 한의약박물관), you can find it at this address 128, Wangsan-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul [서울특별시 동대문구 왕산로 128 (용두동)] or if you go there via subway, take Subway Line number 1, get off at Jegidong Station, go to exit 3 and walk straight for about 150 meters. Entrance fee is free.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Feasting Our Eyes on Flowers at the 2016 International Horticulture Goyang Korea (고양 국제꽃박람회)

2016 International horticulture goyang
The flower display at the 2016 International Horticulture in Goyang, Korea
If you know Korea very well, you will definitely notice that this country is so big when it comes to Festivals. There are festivals of almost everything you could ever think of including mud, water guns and whatnot. During spring time, flower festivals are everywhere, but I guess the most relevant so far is the International Horticulture Festival. This festival is held every late April to early May of the year at Ilsan Lake Park in Goyang.

For this year 2016, the festival is scheduled from April 29, 2016 up to May 15, 2016. If you are into festivals, this one should not be missed because as the name suggests, it is an international event. So together with my church mates at SCCFM in Seoul, we took part in this one of a kind flower exhibition which happens to be Korea’s representative in an international event. We were so amazed because everything you think you can do with flowers, from decorating to gardening, we have witnessed it all at this event.

I like how Korea was able to integrate their culture in international festivals like this. This is not just all about flowers. When we arrived in the area, we can’t help but to animate the gastronomic part of us because Korean street food are everywhere. The stalls at the entrance of the festival are so enticing for the hungry visitors. Before we feasted our eyes on the flowers, we have feasted first at the food festival.

lake side at Ilsan lake park
At the lake side of Ilsan Lake Park
No one actually verbalized it but I saw how in loved we are in the view of the lake. Ilsan Lake Park did a great job in preserving the lake because we saw how clean the water and how they make the place looks romantic and ideal place to relax and enjoy.

As we entered the event area for the festival, I can’t help to notice the photo opp area at the lake side. It makes the place even more romantic. The Love Road offers nice composition for couples, friends or even group of friends to take photos at the pre-made frames with the lake as a background.

love road ilsan lake park
The love road at Ilsan lake park

The first area we visited was this pavilion which showcases flower culture. It’s all about flowers and the art you can do to present it to the onlookers. There seems to be a flower arrangement contest in this pavilion. I just can’t tell, all I know is we had a great photo opportunity inside the pavilion and of course, we enjoyed the beautiful flowers and the way they were arranged. It is indeed an art and it requires skill to come up with such awesome flower arrangement ideas.

flower culture pavilion
The flower culture paviilion

When we talk about Korea and how it is in the international arena, the Hallyu Wave or Korean Wave plays a big role driven by the popularity of Korean dramas, Kpop and movies. Youth and adult from around the globe were greatly influenced by the Korean wave hence increasing the popularity of the country and making it one of the most go to places for travelers. The Korean wave deserves a place in international event like this. I like how they have dedicated part of the event area to highlight the Korean wave as part of its cultural. There’s no kpop idols or drama though, just a literal wave made with flowers. I know, very clever right?

korean wave garden
Korean wave garden at the flower festival

But of course, a Korean festival is not without them looking for the opportunity to segue their culture. Through the help of flowers, Korea was able to present how they are when it comes to art. In their rose tunnel and orchid tunnel, you’ll see how they can use non bio degradable products to create an attractive tunnel through the help of orchids and roses.

korean culture at the festival
Using the flowers to introduce Korean culture

What really attract me are the flower walls. If wallflowers are meant not to be noticed, flower walls are undeniably the head turner of the event. You look at every wall in the event area and you’ll see flowers hanging and crawling at every corner of the wall.

flowers in the wall of Goyang
flowers in the wall

I also enjoyed the LED Roses tunnel. Having a tunnel full of roses is already a treat, but with LED all over it, this thing makes you want to stay the whole day as the sequence of lights change with the music.

A video posted by Shirgie Scf (@malditongserjz) on

If you think that this festival is just all about culture, flowers and exhibitions, you are wrong. There are different performances and events take place in different areas. At the Lakeside stage, there are exciting performances like dancing and cheerleading. At the Happiness stage, you can watch the performance of the classical musicians. In another spot, you can witness a taekwondo performance and so on and so forth. All you need to do is walk around and witness these different performances all over the place.

taekwondo show at the festival
One of the many performances at the International Horticulture Festival in Goyang, Korea

I can’t even tell the whole story because this is a very big event in a big venue with big stories to tell. Of course you will appreciate it more if you go there and check the International Horticulture Festival in Goyang. This 2016, you can still have the chance until May 15 to visit and join the festival.

flowers at Ilsan lake park
Different variety of flowers at Goyang

Entrance fee is 10,000 won, but if you are a foreigner, you have a discount and you only need to pay 8,000 won. You can even get further discount if you come in group and pay only 7,000 won.
If you want to attend this festival, you can go to Ilsan Lake Park. If you go there via subway, take Seoul Subway line number 3, get off at Jeongbalsan Station and go to Exit 1 or 2. Ilsan Lake park is about 500 meters away from the station.