How do you see yourself?

Last Saturday, we had a free tour in Suwon and went to Naim June Paik Art Center. I thought it was just an ordinary art museum, I didn’t feel much excitement. But when we entered, I loved the ambiance. Then we were welcomed by aquariums with videos on the background. The museum guide shared the story of Naim June Paik and his legacy in video art. I enjoyed the tour around, especially seeing artworks of this renowned artist. Being a person who really appreciates art, I told myself “this is my kind of place.”

Of all his artworks, the one that really caught my attention and got me interested into (that’s why I took so many photos of it, from different angles) is the TV Buddha.

The museum guide said that this artwork reflects the convergence of East (religion) and West (technology). It also illustrated our narcissistic nature, wanting to see ourselves all the time. I interpreted his artwork as something that reflects each and every one of us, now in the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other social media. We use these technologies to show to the world who we really are. But in the process, we actually discover ourselves. We get to see our strengths and weaknesses, we see our capabilities and shortcomings.

I also think that oftentimes, in this life, there are medium through which we get to see our real identity. It could be relationships, career, religion, and others that help us see within. Every encounter that we have is valuable as it adds to our realization.

Lastly, I would interpret Buddha as our aim to be godlike. We all wanted to be gods deep within us. We want to live by our own, we want to control everything. Yet we fail to understand that what we need is to have God within us, to see our real identity. Without knowing God, we are lost. No matter how good the medium are to discover our potentials, if we don’t have eyes of faith, we are nothing.

So the next time you see yourselves, through any medium, see it with the eyes of God. You are precious and valued. You are paid for a price, a price that you couldn’t even pay.

Jeonju: Where Tradition meets Modernity

I am really into an intensive Master’s program that’s why I don’t always have the luxury to go to FAR places here in Korea. Far means somewhere outside Seoul (actually I even seldom go around Seoul). But when I have the very rare opportunity, I seize it!

In between the end of Fall semester and the start of the Winter sem last December, my friends and I were able to plan a trip outside Seoul! Yay! 😀 Actually, being a hardcore planner, I managed to prepare our DIY tour. Our destination—JEONJU!

According to my really helpful Korea Travel Guide (I suggest you grab this at any tourist information center as it is REALLY helpful), Jeonju is in southwestern area. It is in Jeollabuk-do which is 3 hours away from Seoul.

The first thing we did was to buy bus tickets. We opted to go there by bus since it is cheaper (11,000 won for one way) and also the time difference with KTX is not that big. You can buy the tickets at Nambu Bus Terminal, subway line 3.

I was the one assigned to booking our accommodation and making daily itinerary. Searching through the web was not difficult, because the city website was helpful and I actually found everything in there. You can check http://tour-eng.jeonju.go.kr for more details on what to visit and where to stay.

And there, we’re all set for an adventure!

Our day started really early, as we left our dorm around 6 a.m. We arrived at the Nambu Bus terminal around 7:00 and had to wait. When you’re travelling in Korea, you need to be keen on time. They are very strict on schedule and they left on time. Our bus departed at exactly 8:00 a.m.

We arrived at Jeonju around 11am, and went straight to the Hanok Village. We chose to ride the bus, which was a wrong move because we didn’t know where to get off. So we ended up walking, then finally rode the cab. Tip: Just take the cab from the bus terminal going to your accommodation.

The first thing we did was to EAT at the famous Bibimbap restaurant, Gajok Hwegwan 가족 회관. They claim to have the best bibimbap in Korea, and that is really true. You just need to shell out around 12,000 won for a sumptuous treat.

We headed to our accommodation after lunch. The main reason why we went to Jeonju was to experience the traditional Hanok (Korean house). I personally chose a room that has an “Ondol” or floor heating system. We ended up in Buyonghyeon, in which a room for 5 costs 150,000 won per night. There was a free breakfast served as well!

Our cozy room! It has Hanji (traditional Korean paper) wallpaper, and an LCD TV! We also have our own toilet and bath!

After resting for some time, the strolling around Hanok Village begun. Most of the places to visit are around the Hanok Village, so it is not hard and costly to check the tourist sites.

Here are some of the places you should not miss in Jeonju:

1. Jeondong Cathedral – It was established to uphold the precious will of the first Korean martyr, and is counted as the most beautiful Catholic church in Korea.

2. Pungnammun Gate – This is the most prominent cultural asset of Jeonju, which used to be one the the four gates of Jeonju city.

3.  Jeonju Hyanggyo- This used to be a Confucian school that was believed to be built up in Goryo dynasty.

4. Deokjin Park – This is centered upon the Deokjin Lake, and has lotus flowers during spring. A fountain show is also set around that time.

5. Gyeonggijeon – It is a historic site in Jeonju, which was built to enshrine the royal portrait of Taejo Seonggae Lee, the king that found the Joseon dynasty.

6. Hanokmaeul- The Jeonju Hanok Village

Just being at the Hanokmaeul made our trip already worth it. The serenity of the place, the convergence of tradition and modernity and the richness of culture preserved made the visit to the province worth remembering.

Jeonju was a great escape from the noise and stress in the city.

Have I mentioned that everything was fun during the trip because I had great friends with me? A must in every travel is a jovial spirit to keep good vibes all the way!

P.S. If you are a coffee lover (like ME!:)) you will enjoy in the Hanokmaeul because there are so many coffee shops there! We were able to try two of them and the coffee served was really good! Plus, you’ll love the antiques and interiors of the shops.

 

Lovely Day in Goyang City

Few weeks ago, on a freezing cold Friday, my classmates and I joined the free tour for foreigners in Goyang City. It is 30 minutes away from Seoul, famous as the flower city of Korea. It is winter though, so we cannot see blooming flowers around. But since it is free :D, we participated in the government-arranged trip.

We were picked-up at the Korean Tourism Organization Headquarters in Eulijiro 3-ga in downtown Seoul at around 9:30. Then we headed to our first stop: Goyang Lake Park. It was really freezing cold (-8 degreeh, eh?) but some of us still joined the bicycle riding. I was so happy because it was my first time to ride the bicycle in Korea (which is actually included in my bucket list). It is a crazy idea to ride a bike in winter, but we did it!

After that we headed to the Hallyu museum. Goyang is also famous for the KPOP bands that originated from the city, and some Korean dramas that were shot there.

We had a handicraft making session. We made Hanji (traditional paper) crafts. I’ve got souvenirs that I personally made, yay! 🙂

Then they brought us to the Central and South America Culture Center. It is a museum and a restaurant in one! The owner is a former ambassador to Latin America, so after he retired he built that museum. He welcomed us all and gave an inspiring talk. He’s such a man who lived his life very well. When he asked us to introduce ourselves, he had a comment on each country where we’re from!  After the talk, they served us Paella and steak. That was the best free lunch I had here in Korea!

The tour ended with the Grease musical show. Too bad I was so sleepy that afternoon so I feel asleep during the show. Also, everything was in Korean so I cannot understand it.

The best things in life are really free. I never thought that a free trip could be this good. I had a really lovely day in Goyang!

Start the year with a BANG!

New Year’s Day is such a big day for dreamers like me. It is the time of the year when I can look back and see what I was able to achieve, and look forward for the new goals I can reach. This day, I can realize how faithful God is in my life, fulfilling every desire of my heart.

I can say that 2011 was my year. It was the time of being right on track again, after all that happened the previous year. Though I do not regret anything in the past, it is inevitable that there were moments I wished never happened. But then I realized, if those events didn’t occur, I would not be here right now.

Great things happened last 2011! And I am expectant for greater things this 2012! But before completing my faith goals, I want to change how I manage my time. This year, I would be wiser on where to invest my time and effort. In 2012, I would:

1. Invest more time on relationships

The most important relationship I have is with God. I want more quality time with God, seeking him more every single day. I would also spend more time with my family. A once a week bonding/leisure time wouldn’t hurt. And also more UBE with my beloved friends.

2. Invest more on things that would make me beautiful INSIDE.

I have been spending a lot on clothes and shoes. This year, I would cut expenses on such, and will invest on material things than can help me grow. What are those? I will make a habit of “Saturday is ME day”, reading books every Saturday in a coffee shop. I will also listen more to podcasts and video lectures. When I get back, I am planning to enrol in short courses on photography or events management. I will watch more movies (yeah, they help us grow too). I will TRAVEL more!

3. Invest more on my advocacies

I am praying to have a job that’s working on one of my advocacies. If that won’t happen, I will make a way on how to help others in my simple ways. I need to be functional with my skills and talents, transforming them into actions that can help other people!

I am sharing this because you may have suggestions on how to fully accomplish this. I know these are simple, but really they will contribute on my personal growth. What about you, where do you want to invest your time and effort this 2012?

 

 

My first Christmas away from home

The title says it all. It was my first ever Christmas without my mom’s really delicious spaghetti on the table, or my brothers’ gifts, and my dad’s jokes. I never imagined that I would spend Christmas 2011 in a foreign land. But that did not make it less of a celebration. I had fun. That’s even an understatement.

I can say that my Christmas celebration started on the 23rd. My classmates Vimala (Indonesia), Phouangmany (Laos) and Mili ( Fiji) wanted to have a special dinner by cooking at our dorm kitchen! So we prepared our dinner. Actually I just “cooked” (okay, I just heated) sisig-in-can and Argentina corned beef,  while they prepared fried rice and fried tofu. The dinner was special because there’s love in preparing it. 😀

After the dinner, we stayed in Phouangmany’s room, to teach them how to use torrent in downloading. Then we noticed that there was snow! Upon looking outside, we saw that the roads were already white! The next step? We ran outside and had our pictures taken! It was the first heavy snow we experienced in Seoul!

Then, we had a chick flick movie marathon, welcoming Mili’s birthday! Movie watching is really fun if you are with friends who laugh with you.

On December 24th, we decided to have a buffet dinner. But we just learned that was almost impossible because of too many Koreans waiting in line at family restaurants. We ended up in the foodcourt and had  Korean food instead. We celebrated our good friend Mili’s birthday! Thank you Lord for her life.

While some of my friends decided to welcome Christmas at the bar, I headed to Kuya Cass’ house for our Pinoy Noche Buena! I’m really glad he cooks, that’s why I am able to eat Filipino food while here at Seoul. So they prepared food for the Christmas eve. What was in our table? Paella, morcon, hamonado, dinuguan at puto, biko,  lumpiang shanghai, and my favourite tinola!!!

The sumptuous dinner made us feel it is really Christmas (hahaha! :D).  And after the Noche Buena, it was fun time! We exercised our minds with the game Pinoy Henyo.  I actually played hard because the consequence of losing was washing dishes. So if you don’t want to wash the dishes, just play it and make sure you win. We’re all girls in the team, so the result is quite expected. Yes, we won. 😀 I went home around 2am with joy in my heart.

I spent Christmas day at EN Church of Korea. It was a joint service, both in Korean and English. After the Christmas preaching, we had lunch and Christmas party. It was my first time to play “white Elephant” in exchanging gifts! My gift was stolen once but I was able to get a cute thermos! 🙂 I am thankful for my spiritual family here in Seoul.

I forgot to mention that I called my family back home who’s celebrating Christmas without me for the first time. But they had a great day as well.

I did not receive expensive gifts this Christmas, but I am surrounded by people who are God’s gift to me. They are making my life easier here. And they are gifts that are for keeps. Can’t thank God enough for them.

I don’t actually need to look under the Christmas tree to seek for gifts. I already received the greatest gift, the Child who was born in a manger 2000 years ago. He changed my life. He will change your life.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. – Matthew 1:21