Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Perfect Itinerary to Maximize the 24 Hours Discover Seoul Pass

I found out about the Discover Seoul Pass when I talked to a Korean Tourism Organization representative who attended a Filipino event in Seoul last June. At first, I didn't really care about it  as I always want to plan my own trip, but when I read more about it, I realized that it is a brilliant idea from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul Tourism Organization. After 2 weeks, I finally decided to try it out. I will share here my
Discover Seoul Pass sample itinerary.

At Myeongdong Tourist Information Center

I can't believe the great deals a person can get out of buying the Discover Seoul Pass. There are two options to choose, the 24 hours and the 48 hours. This pass will allow you to visit 21 tourist attractions in Seoul for 24 hours and 48 hours respectively! There's also a Discover Seoul Pass application that will provide  you the list of 21 attractions to visit and will automatically mark the ones you have visited. Aside from that, the tourist information center also provide a brochure where you can see the directions and the address so you can easily locate the places you want to visit.

I bought the 24 hours Discover Seoul Pass which only costs 34, 900 KRW, it is a discounted price from 39,900 won because of the summer sale. I was so excited when I checked out the list of the places I can visit for free and with discount using my pass because I've never been to those places yet. I immediately planned my 24 hour itinerary. The good thing about this pass is that, it will never start unless you logged in your first visit. So after you bought it, you can have all your time of the day to plan your trip.

Obviously, I can't visit all 21 attractions in 24 hours. In order to maximize my 24 hour pass, I made an itinerary for myself including the time and the directions. I also diversified it by selecting only 1 or 2 attractions per categories just to save me some time and to make the trip even more productive and fun.

So I am going to share to you my 24 Hours Discover Seoul Pass itinerary and I also included the actual entrance fee and the transportation fee so that we can compare later on how much we can save if we use the Discover Seoul Pass. I started late because I had an errand in the morning, so my itinerary will start at 3:00 PM.


3:00 PM - 3:20 PM- Travel from Myeongdong Tourist Information Center to Anguk Station

Information: There's a subway station near the Myeongdong Tourist Information Center where I bought the 24 hour Seoul Pass. Take that station and take Line Number 3 (orange) and get off at Anguk Station. Go to Exit 3 and walk straight until you reach the Changdeokgung Palace.

Transportation Fee: 1250 won

At the Changdeokgung Palace

3:20 PM- 4:30 PM- Explore Changdeokgung Palace

Information: One of the 5 grandest palaces in South Korea. I've been to Gyeongbokgung so many times but never been to Changdeokgung Palace. Although it's not as popular as Gyeongbok, I think I like the Changdeokgung because it has a "foresty" feel due to the trees and the environment where it is located.

Address: 99 Yulgok-ro, Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Entrace Fee: With pass: 0 won/ Without Pass: 3,000 won

4:30 PM- 4:45 PM - Walk to the Changyeonggung Palace

Information: Just beside Changdeokgung is Changyeonggung Palace. You don't need to take public transportation to get there. All you need is to go to the direction where the Secret Garden of Changyeonggung is located. The entrance to Changyeonggung Palace is just beside it.

Address: 185 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 창경궁로 185 (와룡동)

Transportation Fee: 0 Won

At Changyeonggung Palace

4:45 PM - 6:00 PM - Enjoy a Photowalk at the Changyeonggung Palace

Information: Although Changyeonggung has quite the same characteristics as in the Changdeokgung, it offers a different kind of taste to its visitors. The ambiance is more relax and refreshing and I think there are other elements added to the regular architecture of a palace like ponds and arch bridge and whatnot.

Address: 185 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 창경궁로 185 (와룡동)

Entrance Fee: With Pass: 0 Won/ Without Pass: 1,000 won

6:00 PM - 6:45 PM - Take Bus 301 from Changyeonggung Palace to Coreana Cosmetics Museum

Information: When you go out of Changyeonggyung Palace, there's a bus stop waiting for you. Take Bus 301 from that bus stop and get off at Apgujeong Station. If you notice, my travel time took almost 45 minutes because of the traffic. But I can forgive that because I was tired for visiting two palaces, so this would be a rest time also. At Apgujeong Station, you must go to Exit 5 and walk towards the Space C Building where the museum is located. You may need to navigate the address of this museum on Google Map because I found it hard to locate the building.

Transportation fee: 1350 won

6:45 PM - 7:30 PM - Walk down the beautiful memory lane at Coreana Cosmetics Museum

Information: There's not much to see in this museum except for the traditional beauty products and instruments of Koreans. You will see how cosmetics evolve through this museum. Although I was personally disappointed because it's not allowed to take any photo inside the museum and I just can't relate to what I saw inside, maybe because I'm a guy, but if we talk about knowing Korean culture, cosmetics should be included. So yeah, a little visit would do it justice.

Entrance Fee: With Pass: 0 won/ Without Pass: 3,000 KRW

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM - Go ahead, take a rest and have your dinner

Information: The good thing about Coreana Cosmetics Museum is that it is located in Apgujeong where shopping street is located nearby. You may want to walk around and have some food before going to the next location.

8:30 PM - 9:00 PM - Travel to Namsan Tower

Information: From wherever you are, go to Chungmuro Station, go to exit 2 and take Bus Number 2 to Namsan Tower.

Estimated transportation fee both bus and subway: 2,600 KRW

9:00 PM - 11PM - View the beautiful city lights from N Seoul Tower Observatory

Information: The reason why I put Namsan Tower at this time is because it's the only attraction that opens at this time and I want to experience going there at night time and I didn't regret my decision. it is very beautiful up there especially when you view the city lights from N Seoul Tower Observatory. It's ironic though because when you are down in the middle of the city, you can see the tower with its beautiful and colorful light. But when you are up there, you'll see even more beautiful view from down below because of the city lights. You can stay up there until 11 pm because there are a lot of things to see and do aside from the N Seoul Tower Observatory.

Address: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 용산구 남산공원길 105 (용산동2가)

Entrance Fee: With Pass: 0 KRW/ Without Pass :10,000 KRW


8:30 AM - 9:40 AM: Cuddle the teddy bears at the Teseum SEOUL Teddy Bear Themepark

Information: I chose this as my first itinerary of the day because out of the 21 attractions, this is the earliest to open in the morning. This themepark is just right at the Exit 6 of Dongmyo Station on Subway Line number 1 or 6. The moment you go out of Exit 6, you will be greeted with cute bears right outside the building of Teseum. I enjoyed my stay at Teseum because the teddy bears are just so cute.

Address: 03121  Season Building B1, 19 Jibong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Entrance Fee: With Pass: 0 KRW/ Without Pass: 13,000 won

9:40 AM to 10:00 AM : Travel to Grevin Museum

Information: The Grevin Museum is located very near the Exit 5 of City Hall Station on Line Number 1. Although it's only a 10 minute travel via subway, you must give it a little time allowance because taking a train from Dongmyo Station is a little bit of a challenge because it's a big station.

Transportation Fee: 1250 won

Wax figure of Korean actor Lee Min Ho at Grevin's Museum

10:00 AM- 11:30 AM Meet and Greet the Celebrities at Grevin Museum Seoul

Information: Do you want to meet Lee Min Ho? What about Bruce Lee? Madonna? Angelina Jolie? Or even Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein. Grevin Museum is a star studed museum as it features the wax figures of famous Hollywood celebrities, Korean actors and actresses, kpop idols and even the Korean personalities all the way from the Joseon Dynasty.

Address: 23, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul or 서울특별시 중구 을지로 23 (을지로1가)

Entrance Fee: With Pass: 0 KRW/ Without Pass: 18,000 KRW

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Travel and lunch

Information: To save you some time, you have to grab a quick lunch and travel from City Hall Station to the Digital Media Station for the next stop. City Hall Station is on Green Line, this is the station where you got off to go to Grevin Museum. Then you need to get off at Digital Media Station and go to Exit 9. Once you exit, cross the street and go to the bus stop and take Bus Number 18. This bus will take you to MBC, you must get off there to go to the MBC world

Transportation Fee for both bus and subway: 2500 KRW

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Enjoy the MBC World

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Enjoy the MBC World

Information: MBC world has three zones, the M, the B and the C. Each zone has different activities that could let you interact with the different Korean dramas and TV shows like news and reality shows peoduced by MBC. So if you are a kpop fan or a Kdrama fan, MBC you will definitely enjoy MBC world.

Entrance Fee: With Pass: 0 KRW/ Without Pass: 18, 000 KRW

Address: 267, Seongam-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul -서울특별시 마포구 성암로 267 (상암동)

2:00- 2:30 Travel to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station

Information: Take the Bus Number 18 to go back to Digital Media City Station, take the subway and get off at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. Go to Exit 1 and walk straight to the street, you will find a city tour booth there. Present your Discover Seoul Pass for Seoul City Tour double-decker.

Transportation Fee for both bus and subway: 2500 KRW

The Seoul City Tour Bus

2:30 Onwards : Tour the city with the tour bus

Information: You can get on and off the Seoul City Tour as it shows you the beauty of Seoul all at once. You can take the tour until evening the last schedule if you want.

And that end, the 24 hours validity of my Discover Seoul Pass. Let's see the breakdown of the places I visited and let's compute how much I spent with my pass and how much I am supposed to spend without the pass.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

OWWA Conducts Balloon Twisting And Decoration Workshop to Filipino Migrants in Korea

A total of 31 Filipino migrants in South Korea attended the free workshop on Balloon Twisting and Decoration last June 25, 2017 at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. Some of the delegates like the "Nagkakaisang Pilipino" (NAPIL) Filipino community headed by Membership Committee Chair Ms Cherilyn Abecia (Korean name : Cherin Kim) and the Secretary Ms Chona Go came all the way from Jeju Island with 5 Filipino EPS workers just to attend this rare event. Ms. Mila Nuval Pena, OWWA Director to South Korea appreciated the eagerness of the attendees to learn the skill especially the Jeju delegates. They were enthusiastic to learn the skills and they are also planning to teach what they learned from the workshop to other Filipino migrants in the Jeju island.

Mr. Arche Sapida, an EPS worker in Korea, was the trainer of the said workshop. He generously shared what he knows about the art of balloon twisting and decoration to the attendees. It's his last time to do it here in South Korea because he shall be going home for good after working 4 years and 10 months. He patiently demonstrated the different kinds of decoration using the balloons. The attendees on the other hand were so eager to acquire this skill as they tried their best to apply what they learned from Mr. Sapida using the materials provided by OWWA.

In the middle of the workshop, The Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Hon. Raul Hernandez also joined in the fun and learning as he checked on the progress of the workshop. He expressed his appreciation to everyone who attended the event and encouraged to make use of what we learned from the workshop in our future endeavors.
At the end of the workshop, the OWWA Director Ms. Mila Nuval Pena awarded the certificate of accomplishments to the attendees. She and the Labor Atache Ma. Luz Talento encouraged Filipino migrants in Korea to become good at work in Korea but also emphasized that everyone must become better when we go back for eventual reintegration. This kind of workshop is one way to prepare ourselves in going back to the home country and become ready to maximize economic gains from overseas employment through going into business ventures.

This could be the last workshop for Balloon Twisting and Decoration but OWWA has future training programs for those who are interested to learn new skills. If you want to know more about this and the benefits you can get for being a member of OWWA, you can always visit the office at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul or watch out for some announcements on Social Media and on this blog. Take advantage of these learning opportunities and maximize your benefits for being an OWWA member.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Department of Education Approves Teaching Korean Language in Public High Schools in the Philippines

Signing of agreement to teach Koeran Language in Philippine Public High Schools
Photo credit to: Department of Education Facebook Page

The Department of Education of the Philippine Government has just signed an agreement with the Korean Embassy to make Korean Language available in public high school of Philippine Education. With the Presence of Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones and undersecretary Dina Ocampo, the Korean Ambassador to the Philippines together with First Secretary Lee Jincheol have favored the said agreement as it can greatly help Filipino who want to learn the Korean language for any purposes. The Korean language learning will be made available through the Special Program in Foreign Language (SPFL).
The availability of this program is an advantage to those who dream to work in South Korea. More and more Filipinos are dreaming of going to Korea for work, however, one of the most basic requirements to work in Korea is to learn their language first. There are several Korean Language Training Centers in the Philippines but due to the cost of training, some could not afford to enroll. With the availability of Korean Language learning in high school, aspirants may not need to enroll in private language training center because they can learn it already in their respective schools.
Kdrama fans can also benefit from this because they no longer need to rely on subtitles in watching their favorite Korean drama. Of course, the ability to speak the language of their oppa can make an ultimate fangirling experience.
The Philippines, aside from the dialects, can speak Filipino and English. I guess it’s high time to add one more language and learning Korean could be an interesting idea. What do you think?

This Giant Library is Inside a Mall! Find Out How Big is the Starfield Library and the Number of Books It Contains

Two of the three giant bookshelves in the library

Bookworms in South Korea, you will definitely love this Starfield Library located at the Starfield Coex Mall in Gangnam. It’s such a huge library you can invite the whole class to come with you and study in this library. Now, take this!
You should never underestimate this library because even if it’s inside a mall, it takes an area of up to 2,800 square meters. Good thing Starfield COEX is a giant mall that it can even accommodate a giant library such as this. I considered it giant because it consists of three 13 meters tall bookshelves that handle about 50,000 books and magazines.
Some of the 50 000 books in the library

There are also magazines available for everybody to read. There are about 600 different titles from different parts of the world. So don’t be surprised if you see not only English magazines but also Japanese and Chinese. However, most of the books are written in Korean. Although the book title is in English, when you open it, it is all written in Hangeul. So if you don’t understand Korean, reading these books maybe a little bit challenging for you.
Sporting the Harry Potter series in Korean version

Since we can’t fully understand the context of a Korean book, we just toured inside the library because for me, it can pass as a cultural attraction especially for the tourists. The moment I entered, I realized that a lot of Koreans are into book despite the advent of ebooks and kindle. It’s a library open for everybody for free, so everybody can read anything they want inside the library. There are study tables where you can sit, relax and enjoy reading the book of your choice. I tried to look around and I saw nothing but books and people reading the books. I felt like a fish in the water because it is definitely my world. I somehow associated it with that scene in Beauty and the Beast where the Beast showed Belle his magnificent collection in a dusty and lonely giant library. I felt like I was Belle, but realized that I’m a guy, so I just admired the place without channeling Belle as a book lover.
Playing with the books

Although the library was crowded when we went there, people were generally silent as they’re all busy in their readings. It’s shameful to admit but I guess our group was the bearer of noise in the area since we just went there to tour. Famous book collections like the Harry Potter Series and Narnia were also available for read and as much as we want to read them all, we just can’t because it’s been translated into Korean.
Study area

I like how they put style on the bookshelves and their reading tables and chairs. It’s not just an ordinary library because they invested in the amenities like the e-book system. They see to it that this giant library can offer a conducive place for everybody to not only read and study but also to relax absolutely free of charge!
Magazine collectiom

If you want to go there, you take Seoul Subway Line number 2 (the green line) and get off at Samsung Station. Go to Exit 6 and just follow the underground passageway which is connected to the Starfield COEX Mall at floor B1-1F within Central Plaza.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Will There Be An Increase for Minimum Wage in Korea This 2018?

The Minimum Wage Commission has began the talk about the minimum wage in Korea this coming 2018. In the past years, there’s a constant hike in the wages of the workers in Korea. In 2015, minimum wage has increased by 7.1 percent. In 2016, it has increased by 8.1 percent, the highest increase since 2008. Last year, it was further increased by 7.3 percent making an hourly rate of KRW 6,470.

According to the report of the Korea Herald, the commission comprises of 27 representatives from businesses, workers and the government has started the talk about adjusting the lower limit of wages for next year. There’s no final decision yet as of this moment as they are trying to weigh things and make sure that both workers and business owners will benefit from this decision.

The Korea Employers Federation said that there’s a need for stabilization for minimum wage increase as it has rapidly risen in the past years. The increase may affect workers as this may be the reason of job loss and at the same time this will also affect other factors such as production cost and businesses will suffer.
The nation’s trade union on the other hand has claimed that there’s a need for a minimum wage increase to improve the living conditions of low income workers. They also believe that wage hike can boost the economy of the country as this will improve consumer spending.
The decision will be finalized on June 29, 2017. The Moon Administration would like to achieve a 10,000 KRW per hour minimum wage by 2020 which is only possible if they increase the wage at the rate of 15.7 percent per year. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The NAKED Truth About Korea’s Jjimjilbang(찜질방)

The common room in the Jjimjilbang
Scene from the TV series Twenty Again
I guess the bravest thing I ever did in South Korea is to participate in a public bath completely naked. The first time I heard about Jjimjilbang, I was told that everybody inside the room must go naked, and I deliberately decided right at that instant to never ever go to that room, like ever in my life. Why would I go naked in the public? No way!

However, when you live in South Korea, there’s no way you can escape the chance to try the Jjimjilbang. I was on my weekend trip somewhere down south when the train suddenly stopped and the voice prompt advised everyone to get off the train because it’s already 12 midnight and subway operation will be shut down. I was worried because I’m far from where I lived and I have no place to stay. I don’t want to spend extra money for a hotel or motel room, so the only option is to find a jjimjilbang where I can spend the night. That was the start of my Jjimjilbang shenanigans and it has opened my eyes to all the naked truth about it.

Koreans call it Jjimjilbang, but usually, the building where it is located has the word “SAUNA” written on their sign boards. If you go on a trip all over Korea, you will find hundreds or even thousands of Saunas. This is how important it is in South Korea. While it is awkward to go all out naked and share a bath tub with the naked strangers, Koreans find this thing normal.

Usually, this is how the set up inside a jjimjilbang. When you enter the building, you must go to the counter first to pay. The entrance fee ranges from 8000 won($8) up to 15000 won ($15), the price depends on the size of the sauna and the popularity. Some examples of expensive saunas in Seoul are Siloam and Dragon Hill Spa, these are the most popular ones but also expensive. After you paid, they will give you your uniform. Yes, there’s a uniform and it is usually a pair of short pants and a shirt. Don’t expect too much though because several people had worn them before, so sometimes you will get a jaded and loose shirt but they’re generally clean.

After you got your uniform, you should go to the shoe locker, this is where you should leave your shoes. And then proceed to the bigger lockers where you should leave all your belongings including the clothes you are wearing. You only have one key and one locker, so you must take care of it and make sure you locked your own locker.

This is how the locker room usually looks like
Scene from the TV series: Legen of the Blue Sea
After you get yourself all out naked, proceed to the bath room. Please note that the room for girls is different from boys (Of course!!!), so make sure you enter the right room, or else, it would be completely chaos! When you enter the bathing area, you will see naked men scrubbing each other’s naked body.  I don’t know about the girls’ room because I’ve never been there, lol, but as for the guys, you should not freak out if you see a man touching and scrubbing another man’s body. Chances are, they could be father and son, or brothers or just friends. As awkward as it may sounds, for Koreans, it’s part of their culture. They believe that being naked in the same room with your friends or a family member will strengthen the bond between each other.

Friends, acquaintances, family members go all out naked in the sauna
Scene from TV series Perseverance Goo Hae Ra
Aside from that, you will also see a massage corner where a half naked ahjussi either massaging or scrubbing somebody’s naked body, and yes, including that thing down there. Ahjussi’s goal is to clean everything in your body. Some are on the shower, others are on the bath tub with different water temperatures ranging from 25 degrees celcius up to 50 degrees celcius. You just have to choose where you are comfortable depending on how hot your body can tolerate. Soaking your body into hot water is very beneficial to the health, so that’s one of the reasons why Koreans are into Jjimjilbang. Inside the bath room, you can freely use the soap, the toothpaste and the towel, but you must bring your own toothbrush and shampoo because oftentimes, they’re not provided.

This is how the sleeping area usually looks like
Scene from the TV series:Legend of the Blue Sea
After the public bathing, you can now wear the uniform provided when you entered. You can then proceed to the sleeping area. The sleeping room is common for both girls and boys. This is also an area where all family members or group of friends meet after taking a bath. This area is supposed to be quiet but most often than not, the common room tends to be so noisy. Good thing most of the jjimjilbang provide different kinds of room with different “healing powers”. Some rooms are too hot that it can take all the liquid out of your body. Some have pebbles where you can lie down and relax. Some have salts and there’s even a room with an ice. If you want to get just normal sleep, you can find some normal corner where you can spread the mat they provided and just sleep. Please note that amenities from one Jjimjilbang are different from another. As I’ve said, prices vary, so if you pay only around 8000 won, don’t expect that much. The expensive ones have a lot to offer though. Some Jjimjilbangs have canteen, gymnasium, arcade room and a little store where you can buy shampoo, shaves, drinks, and most of all, the ever famous boiled eggs. The boiled eggs in Jjimjilbang are different than the ordinary ones. You will know it when you eat it. Haha…… Note also that there are no beds, no blankets and no pillows in the sleeping area. There are sleeping mats provided and small cushions which you can use as a pillow.

The small store you can usually see in Jjimjilbang
Scene from the TV series: Legend of The Blue Sea
When you are inside the jjimjilbang, here are the DON’Ts that you must remember:

1. Don’t make an eye contact with other naked men inside the public bath.
2. Don’t leave your locker key anywhere, they usually put a band on every key, so wear it like a wrist band and make sure it never leaves your hands.
3. Don’t charge your phone at random outlets. There are designated outlets for charging, you must use it or else, it will be gone.
4. Don’t get too noisy in the sleeping area. People are trying to get some rest in the public place, so please respect.

After a one night stay, you can exit the jjimjilbang anytime you want the next day. Before going out, you must wear your regular clothes, make sure you pack all your belongings, then claim your shoes in the shoe locker, return the uniform at the counter and leave.

I can’t count now how many times I’ve been to Jjimjilbang but I’ve never been to a public bath with somebody I know. I am brave enough to go naked for as long as nobody knows me in the room. I guess I can’t do it with a friend or a family member or even just an acquaintance. I can’t! And I have no plans to put it on my bucket list.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Free Training for Filipino Migrants in Korea on Balloon Twisting and Decoration

First Batch of Trainess proudly present their masterpieces (photo credit: Ms. Mila Pena- OWWA Director to South Korea)

Good news to all our Kababayan in South Korea. Our Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) in Korea will conduct a free training on Balloon Twisting and Decoration of June 25, 2017 from 9 am to 5 pm at Rizal Hall, Philippine Embassy in Seoul.

If you are thinking of a future business or you want to acquire new skill, then this training is perfect for you. You can use this skill in event organizing or a possible business when you go back to the Philippines. Learn from the expert trainer and take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to learn something new while working here in South Korea.

The finished products with Hon Raul Hernandez (photo credit: Ms. Mila-Nuval Pena)

If you wish to attend this free training session, you must be an active OWWA member or at least you intend to become a member of OWWA. Please email your complete name (first, middle, family), your birthday and phone number to Only 50 slots are available, so you need to register as soon as possible.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Showcase of Filipino Culture at the Bayanihan sa Korea 2017

The Bayanihan Sa Korea 2017 stage
With the theme “Pagkakaisa, Pag-aambagan, Pagsulong”, thousands of Filipino migrants in South Korea gathered at the Banpo Park in Seoul to commemorate the 119th Philippine Independence Day and the 22nd Migrant Day. Branded as Bayanihan sa Korea 2017, the event was organized by the Philippine Embassy in South Korea headed by Ambassador Raul Hernandez. The Kpop singer who first became famous in the Philippines Ms. Sandara Park also joined along with Filipino local artists Michael Pangilinan and Liezel Garcia who entertained the migrants in South Korea in the said event.
Liezel Garcia and Michael Pangilinan entertaining the Filipino audience

The gathering of Filipino communities today at Banpo Park was a perfect manifestation of how free we are today not only from the oppressors but also to express our being Filipino even in the foreign land. As the time goes by, our sense of “filipinism” has greatly evolved and we naturally show it off especially in the gatherings like this. Maybe we can blame the media, the technology perhaps or even the millenials for influencing us as a Filipino of the new generation. If you still didn’t get what I mean, here are some attributes of the Filipinos that manifested today at the celebration of 119th Philippine Independence Day in South Korea.

1. Celebrity Obsession

There were three celebrities present at the Bayanihan sa Korea 2017 today. There’s Sandara Park, Michael Pangilinan and Liezel Garcia. They were invited to entertain the attendees of the event, and because Filipinos are so into celebrities, most often than not, the presence of these celebrities is enough reason to attract Filipinos and persuade them to attend the event.
Sandara Park didn’t perform though because she was there as a guest. She spoke warm greetings to everyone who attended the event and she also showed a little dance move to the tune of a Filipino novelty song along with Ambassador Raul Hernandez. She also helped in the releasing of doves as a symbol of the Philippine Independence and she also received a plaque of appreciation as Friendship Ambassador for promoting good relationship between Philippines and Korea.

Liezel Garcia entertaining the crowd
To keep the attendees stay until the end of the program, celebrity guests Liezel Garcia and Michael Pangilinan entertained everyone singing some of our favorite latest hits and original Filipino music. As the singers performed, everyone in the audience showed their inner fanboy and fangirl as they sang and danced along with the performers.

2. Selfie King and Queen

Selfie moment with guest performer Michael Pangilinan
And of course, big events like this are not without taking pictures, or else, it didn’t happen. It’s not enough to just be there, see celebrities, enjoy and have fun, there should always be a selfie, on top of solo and group photo. In fact, selfie picture taking became part of Liezel and Michael’s performance. The goal for that day was, don’t go home unless you have a selfie with Sandara Park, or even the event stage, or whatever…..

3. Sense of Belongingness

Communities and participants

Communities came with their respective uniforms. Whether it’s a customized printed shirt, or some generic tribal costumes, the key is, you have to look the same with the community you are involved in. That right there is a sense of belongingness which is very apparent in the Filipino culture. We just can’t live alone; we have to be with a group who accepts us for who we are and what we have. There are hundreds of Filipino communities in Korea, all for the sake of making everybody feels that they have a family away from home.

4. Sharing is Fun

Sharing of food and place
Whether food, space or even laughter and memories, we love to share everything under the sun with our fellow Filipinos. You can see how everbody shared what they can share, after all, it’s the essence of the Bayanihan Sa Korea.

5. "Pinoy Food" Lovers

The best selling pinoy food
Wherever we go, we always crave for Filipino food, and in a Filipino gathering events like this, Filipino food will never be absent. Think of any major Filipino dish and you can definitely find it at the Bayanihan sa Korea 2017, and of course, Filipinos were buying.

6. Freebies Lovers

Aside from the fun and entertainment, freebies are also everywhere. There were booths for the sponsors installed at one side of the Banpo Park. Airplane company, remittance centers, tourism industry and a lot more sponsors were giving away freebies and raffle prizes for as long as you sign up to them and patronize the product and services they offer.

7. Love to Laugh

From the very shallow jokes of the hosts, to the little mishaps on the side, you’ll find everyone in the venue smiling and laughing. Because Filipinos are generally happy people, we can always find a way to laugh even at the small things.

8. Festive

Participants of a street dancing competition came with their colorful and attractive costumes not only to win the prize but also to bring festivity to the event, because we love that kind of ambiance. What better way to become festive is to bring out those ethnic attires and dance to the beat of our very own Filipino tribe.
True independence is not only being free from the oppressors but also showing our culture to the world without a hint of awkwardness. We don’t seek approval because we are what we are, we just show our culture naturally without even trying hard, and that for me is the most impressive part of being Filipino.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Tree of 30,000 Shoes at Seoullo 7017

a tree of 30000 shoes 

Where do broken shoes go? Do you give them away? Throw them away? Or just keep it!
Well, in Seoul, environmental artist Hwang Ji-hae has created a place for all well-used, broken and over-used shoes in Korea. They call this a Shoes Tree and it is currently installed at the Seoullo 7017. Ever wonder what’s the significance of this tree made of 30,000 shoes for Seoullo 7017? There are two major reasons, not that I know any other reasons, but for all of you skeptical, here are the significant factors of this shoes tree at Seoullo 7017.
For a start, Seoullo 7017 means Seoul Road 7017. In Korean, the suffix lo(로) is a direction article which is primarily used for methods, transport, tools, places and destination. Since Seoul is a place, when you say a road in Seoul or By the Seoul, you can say Seoullo. Ok enough for Korean language class! The 7017 means the two significant years for Seoullo. It was built in 1970, but it was declared dangerous in 2006 due to its old age, it was reconstructed and finally turned into a skyway park in 2017, hence the numbers 7017. But what does the Shoes Tree mean for Seoullo 7017?

A skywalk park called Seoullo 7017

Firstly, Seoul 7017 is a skywalk, meaning, it’s a walking lane in the sky. And what do people usually do in a walking lane? They either walk or run. When you walk or run, the most essential thing you should wear is a pair of shoes! It’s a no brainer. So the shoes tree is a reminder to get people for walking.

Second, the shoes tree is a tribute to the history of the place. There’s a street behind the Seoullo 7017 called Yeomcheon-gyeo which is famous for suppliers of handmade shoes. The shoes is a reminder that somewhere in the neighborhood, skillful Korean shoemakers used to exist and maybe still existing even up to these days.
It also helps that the artist is an environmentalist. He did not just recycle the used shoes, he also planted some plants and flowers inside the shoes and make it look like a little garden at the bottom of the tree. I just think it’s a genius idea.

The shoes

Like any other parks, Seoullo 7017 has its own amenities to be considered as a skyway park. They planted different varieties of plants to add a forest-y feel in the area. There are fountains which children really enjoy. There are also food booths where you can try kimbap and food made of flowers.

The plants at the skywalk

At some point of the skywalk, there are small glass floors too where you can step on and look down to the bottom where fast cars are running on the road.

Glass floors

The view of the city from the top is also quite remarkable. You can see the busy street of Seoul full of people and cars and whatnot.

View from Seoullo 7017 skywalk park

Will I consider Seoullo7017 a tourist spot? A park, yes! But a tourist spot? Hmmm… I don’t think so. I guess Koreans really do enjoy walking in the skywalk with their family, so maybe we can just leave this place for them to enjoy. Although it wouldn’t hurt to include this area in your itinerary and go there as a tourist, just don’t expect that much.
To go to Seoullo 7017, just take Seoul Subway and get off at Seoul Station. There are several access to the skywalk, but if you want to visit the Shoes Tree first, you can go to Exit 2 and you will smell it, I mean see it the moment you go out of the exit area.