Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My way back to Daejeon

I was waiting for an appropriate time to write a blog about my trip back to South Korea, since there are still rescuing and busy with helping each other out after the horrifying disaster, so I say, Ondoy totally stole my Korea trip’s thunder! Haha.

So it has been around 7 years since I have been back to Korea. I lived there for about a year in 2002-2003. I was an exchange student from De La Salle University to Hannam University in Daejeon, Korea. I was youngest in university, having been only 18 at that time. I was in a cultural exchange when I was there... that means, I was just there to have fun.

Now looking back, a year is such a short time. Now that I am older, there are a lot of shoulda woulda coulda’s; I don’t regret anything that I did, more like the things I did not get to do; like ski, travel, or stayed during winter break. I came back to Manila during winter break, I remember saying that I was afraid of the cold, but in fact I think, I was more afraid of loneliness. If were to have stayed in Korea, I would have spent Christmas alone and probably didn’t even want think what that would be like. I was 18, naive and innocent, did not know how to have (enough) fun (yet). Haha

I anxiously counted down the kilometres when the bus would arrive to Daejeon; I made plans to meet my old teachers to catch up and just to see the old alma mater, to show my sisters my alma mater. I rang the phone of my teacher, whom I lovingly call, Hwang Oppa, Oppa is “brother” in Korean. I told him that I was at our classroom beside the International Office, and he said he will be there in a few moments.

While I was waiting for him, I was telling my sisters about how we used to have those fun International Students’ Day every semester where we would have a booth to decorate for each country and the exhibit will be open to public to showcase where we are from. My first time was with Kuya Celzo or Celzo Oppa, he’s a Filipino Navy officer that I was with during that time; he was there to study Korean language at our school and later on will be enrolled in the Korean War College to study tactics and such (in Korean). We had brochures and stuffs Made in Philippines displayed on our table; I wore Filipino traditional wear, the baro’t saya and he wore the barong tagalog and sang the ridiculously popular Filipino song in Korea, Anak (by Freddie Aguilar) in both Filipino and Korean.

My other classmates were from Mexico, Uzbekistan, China, Japan and Venezuela. Next to Celzo Oppa, I was closest to Jesus, a Venezuelan, I also met his beautiful wife, Ainisis, and their 2 kids, Jesus and Ainisis! Haha cute!

I recall the second time around, I was the only Filipino there and so I had a booth all to myself, the International Office asked us all to call back home and have them send some traditional stuff that we could sell and they would shoulder the freight cost! My mom bought me abaca slippers and bags, carved carabaos and jeepneys, Filipino style ref magnets, weaved coin purses and strawberry key chains! It was so fun and I even called my booth Candie’s Sari Sari Store (The Candie Shop!) Haha

So then showed my sister the room called, Little World. This room is used by foreign exchange students to study or just hang out. This room was christened “Little World” from an idea of mine of creating a club within the university so that all the foreign exchange students would know each other. On a typical lazy afternoon at the International Office, I doodled a logo on the white board, a globe with “Little World” written across it with 3 small subtext of translation in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. So one day, all foreign students were all summoned at the office and told us that there was going to be a surprise for all of us, especially me; then, they unveiled a signage right outside the room, it was my logo! Computerized and immortalized. Here is a photo of me on that day and the day I went back in September 21, 2009 :) (P.S. I think this is where my logo making career started, visit Graphics Genie, LOL)

I met Hwang Oppa, I think he hasn’t aged at all, he’s a bit thinner but none the less, young looking. I was so excited to see him but when I saw him, I got... well... a handshake. It was a bit odd for me, because I travelled 4 hrs by air, and 2.5 hrs by bus just to see him and all I got was a handshake, I thought I should have deserved a hug or something; so anyway, I introduced him to my sisters and I was a bit disappointed, because I think I built up so much expectation on this event and somehow everything was just...normal. In my mind there were more laughter and more chatting but this was nothing like it. After the stiff handshake, he brought me to see the old department head, Mr. Lee, who was like a father to me when I was there, whom I absolutely adore; I was so excited to see him that I gave him a hug; Same as Hwang Oppa, he was stiff and professional-like, I felt like I was hugging a tree. Then I realized, oh... it’s office hours, they’re probably stiff during work and would not show much emotions... I hoped I was right or else I would be so disappointed. Then after that, we said we’d meet at 6 for dinner so as to give me time to look around school.

I went up to the old library where my Japanese best friend Ayako and I would act like Koreans and study on our free time (crazy eh?!). Here's a photo of us on the way to the library haha

Went up the hill to the dormitory where I was reminded of my Korean dorm friends, whom I all gave English names so it would be easier for me to remember them (which is stupid because I can’t even contact them now because I don’t know their Korean names! LOL).

I also saw the window of the room that I and my American friend, Alyson used to share, and all the memories of us drinking together with those other Japanese girls(not studying). Haha.

We went back down and passed by the garden where the leaves are slowly turning into red, autumn was in the air, which reminded me of the time that we were having a photo shoot with the university president and the famous HNU student/Korean actor Kwon Sang Woo for the university catalogue, which I later on learned that our photo is still up in the Hannam University website!

We went out into the streets and went to the mall across the school, went to my favourite Korean restaurant, which turned out to be closed too. While crossing the street, I remember I was there during the World Cup and the streets were crazy full with crazy Koreans celebrating around the streets when the Be The Reds Korea Team won! It was 2002, I made sure I watched the World Cup, twice! Once with Ayako and Aly, for the South Africa VS Spain and the next was Aly’s gift for my birthday, America VS Poland. These are just some of our photos:

It was 6 and it was time to meet Hwang Oppa, he introduced me to his current boss and said he will be joining us for dinner as well. He was a nice guy, reminded me of Mr. Lee, he had a friendly and welcoming face. Once we got to Hwang Oppa’s car, I felt it, there it was... emotions! He changed! Ahh... it was like ice breaking, that coat of professionalism out the window, and now I was talking to him how 2 long lost friends should talk! Although we’ve met a few hours before, but this, was like the first time I met him again. We talked and chatted, caught up on things with each other. We talked about my other teacher-friend, Kim Jeong Won, the English coordinator during my time, whom I also adore. He used his cellphone to call her and so we could catch up since she couldn’t come and see me and vice versa. It was difficult for me to hold a conversation in Korean when I have almost forgotten half of the vocabulary that I used to know, but then the feeling of familiarity was there, which was all that mattered.

Done with the past and into the present, we were at the restaurant and boy how much they’ve prepared. I felt so honoured to have been welcomed with a big spread of colossus, expensive Korean food: live octopus cut in front of you, killed only when dipped into boiling water. They were changing seats constantly after the end of the meal so that they would get to know me and my sisters. Amazing. Night does not end if it is not accompanied by alcohol and no-re bang (karaoke)!

The graciousness did not even end at dinner, when I told my teacher to drop me off where we checked in, he got confused, we had a miscommunication and apparently he and his new boss, had reserved us 2 rooms in a 4-star hotel in Daejeon! I was so speechless and could not express my gratitude with the limited Korean that I speak, so I could only thank, bow, and repeat as needed. If I were to say it in English, I would have said that we did not expect this kind of treatment and we feel unworthy of their overwhelming hospitality!

It was a fun day spent in retrospect. It would be so much more fun if I were with an old friend and we would remember all of this together; but this was still one of the most incredible experience I have travelling!

This is an old photo of me with Mr. Lee, Hwang Oppa, and Ms. Kim

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Struck by Typhoon Ondoy!

When sister and I was travelling in South Korea, I was receiving some text messages from my cousin and friends asking if we’ve heard about the flood and typhoon, and said hope our parents are ok, after about 5 messages, then we decided to call our mom to ask what really is happening.

When we called our mom to ask what is it all about she said in a groggy voice: You want to know? It rained for ten hours straight and 2 of our cars parked inside our house were submerged. Your father and I were stuck in traffic for 12 hours, we left at 9:30 AM and we arrived, not even to our house, but to the office, at 11PM, we’re now stuck in the office.

WHAT?!!? We understood from the messages that it was raining, but we didn’t realize that it was this grave. When we went back to the hostel, we logged into facebook and saw horrifying photos from all over Metro Manila. This typhoon was merciless; it hit rich and poor areas all the same. Here are some flickr compilation of Typhoon Ondoy’s wrath:

I think Filipinos are great; we are optimists and firm believers of God, even though problems like this arise, they never fail to see the silver lining. In fact, I think Filipinos ONLY see the silver lining. It is one thing to be proud of, that’s why the suicide rate is very low.

My friend was stranded with a bunch of people at West Avenue and has been standing around the area for hours and instead of complaining and grumble while waiting; they watched the cars manoeuvre the flooded streets and applauded those who were successful. Haha.

On a more serious note, the flood was apparently brought about also by the opening of 2 dams within Metro Manila thats why the water rose so fast. For those who want to help, I would like to share the compilation by The Pinoy Chuva and Banggigay

Things you may want to donate:

1) Bottled Water
2) Instant Noodles (preferrably in bowl packaging like Nissin or Lucky Me)
3) Canned Goods w/ pull tab cover (no can opener available in relief centers)
4) Bread or Biscuits
5) Coffee or Juice
6) Multivitamins (preferrably Vitamin C)
7) Medicines (Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Loperamide, Betadine)
8) Blankets
9) Old but wearable clothes
10) Slippers/ Flip flops
11) Alcohol
12) Some organizations will accept cash donations.
13) Anti-mosquito Lotion

For babies/toddlers:
14) Diapers
15) Milk/ Infant Formula

For USA Residents:
1) Help in the typhoon relief effort by calling ABS-CBN Foundation USA toll-free 1-800-527-2820
2) American Red Cross call 1-800-435-7669

For those near ABS-CBN:
Help pack relief goods at Sagip Kapamilya at #13 Examiner St. They are also looking for people willing to go to provinces and distribute the goods.

For those near The Philippine Daily Inquirer Office or a McDonald’s Branch:
Go to: 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Streets, Makati City or to any of its classified ads branches and to any Mcdonald’s Branch within Metro Manila
Hotline: 8978808 loc.260 and look for Megi Garcia

For the Cebuanos who want to help:
Please click on the link>> Living For A Cause

For those near a La Salle School:
(OPLAN: Sagip Metro) DLSZ (Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa) and LSGH (Greenhills) are now accepting relief goods and looking for volunteers from 8am to 6pm. DLSU- Manila (Taft Avenue) will accept relief goods as early as 8:00 A.M. at South Gate

For those near Ateneo De Manila:
Go To: Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights , Quezon City
Manuel V. Pangilinan Building Center for Student Leadership Lobby
University Dorm Cervini Hall
Hotlines: 09089977166, 09178952792, 4266001 local 5050
Operations: 24-hours operations for the entire week.

For those near a Petron Station or 2Go Branches:
Visit any Petron or 2GO Branches to drop off your donations.

The Philippine National Red Cross:
Monetary Donations

Please send cash or check donations to the PNRC National Headquarters in Manila. Checks should be made payable to The Philippine National Red Cross. We can also arrange for donation pick-up.

Account Name: The Phil. Nat’l. Red Cross
Port Area Branch
Peso Acct.: 151-3-041-63122-8
Dollar Acct.: 151-2-151-00218-2
Type of Acct. : SAVINGS
Swift Code: MBTC PH MM

Port Area Branch
Peso Acct.: 4991-0010-99
Type of Account: CURRENT

UN Branch
Dollar Acct.: 8114-0030-94
Type of Account: SAVINGS
Swift Code: BOPI PH MM
For your donations to be properly acknowledged, please fax the bank transaction slip at nos. +63.2.527.0575 or +63.2.404.0979 with your name, address and contact number.


Please fax the following info to +632.404.09.79 and +632.527.0575:

Name of card member, billing address, contact nos. (phone & mobile), credit card no., expiration date, CCV2/ CVC2 (last three digits at the back of the credit card), billing address, amount to be donated.

4. ON-LINE DONATION you may also visit our website at .


Other Ways You Can Help:

1) Visit a branch of the Philippine National Red Cross and volunteer.

1.1) You can also send donations using your mobile phone: text REDAMOUNT and send to 2899 (GLOBE/TM) and 4483 (SMART/ TNT).

1.2) Globe is accepting P300 txt donation through G-Cash text DONATEAMOUNT4-digit M-PINREDCROSS to 2882

2) Visit Citizens Disaster Response Center (CDRC)
Go To: 72-A Times St., West Triangle Homes , QC
Hotlines: 9299820, 9299822
Operations: 8 a.m. onwards.

3)Radio Veritas
Go To: Veritas Tower , West Ave. cor EDSA
Look For: Karla Turingan
Hotlines: 9257931 to 39, 0918VERITAS
Operations: 24-hours, tentatively until Tuesday.

4) Victory Fellowship- Fort Bonifacio
Go to: Victory Fellowship, Every Nation Building , across from Market-Market, Fort Bonifacio
Look for: Pastor Bernard Marquez
Hotlines: 813-FORT, 8171212
Operations: Tentatively until 5pm may may extend hours. Entire week until Friday.

5) Tulong Bayan
Go to: Balay Expo Center, EDSA (northbound) cor. Gen McArthur, Araneta Center (right across Samson College) or visit WhiteSpace 2314 Pasong Tamo Ext. beside Faith Christian School
Hotline: 09175273906/ 09086579998/ 9137122/ 9136254/ 9133306
Operations: Come as early as 8:00 a.m.
Open to volunteers/ cash and goods donation

6) World Vision Philippines
Go to: Quezon Avenue (near Delta Theatre)
Open to volunteers/ cash and goods donation

7) Corporate Network for Disaster Response
How to: Donate cash through BPI Ayala-Paseo Branch with account number 0031 0654 02

Luzon Relief
Go to: Renaissance Fitness Center, 2F, Bramante Bldg., Renaissance Towers, Ortigas, Meralco Ave., Pasig City
Hotline: 0929-8713488
Operations: 9am to 7pm Daily
Open to volunteers/goods donation

9) Brainbeam Events
Go to: 2F MB Aguirre Cornerhouse Bldg 15, President Ave. cor Elizalde St. BF Pque. Across old Caltex
Goods donation


Send a letter of intent to donate to the PNRC
A letter of acceptance from PNRC shall be sent back to the donor
Immediately after shipping the goods, please send the (a) original Deed of Donation, (b) copy of packing list and (c) original Airway Bill for air shipments or Bill of Lading for sea shipments to The Philippine National Red Cross–National Headquarters c/o Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang, Bonifacio Drive, Port Area, Manila 2803, Philippines.
The PNRC does not accept rotten, damaged, expired or decayed goods. Though we appreciate your generosity, the PNRC also discourages donations of old clothes as we have more than enough to go around.

Drop off point for Ondoy relief goods:
Afreight Cargo,#03-09 Lucky Plaza,Orchard Road c/o Maureen Schepers 6235-1011.
Also LBC and I-remit singapore are waiving charges for donations to philippine red cross.

Bangkok, Thailand:
The Philippine Embassy will be receiving only donations in kind (ie., used clothing, shoes, blankets, and the like, and canned goods) anytime between 9am-5pm until Fri. Philippine Embassy at (02) 259-0139 up to 40 or (08) 992-65954, or at

Hong Kong, China:
Cash Donations to HSBC Account No. 808-416564-001 – Ateneo Alumni Association – Hong Kong Chapter
Contact: Mike Reyes at +852.67131869 or please text 62957677 the amount and time of deposit.

Sydney, Australia:
please deliver donations to: 303/5 Stromboli Strait, Homebush Bay 2127

South Korea:
Deposit Cash Donations at: KOOKMIN BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER (498101-01-232756).

Montreal, Canada:
St. Kevin’s or St. Thomas on St. Laurent Blvd., (

contact Shiera Catalan at +32485328811

For those who are from USA:

Donate through Ayala Foundation USA at the box “DONATION FOR:” drop down and select Philippine National Red Cross

New York pls participate to NAFCON’s disaster relief and rehabilitation program. Pls call Anne Beryl at 516.901.1632 (East Coast) or Ryan 626.534.4971 (West Coast) or call their hotline: 718.565.8862 or send them email to

Ondoy New York Disaster Relief drop off center @ Pandayan Center
406 W 40th St. Between 9th and 10th Aves. New York, NY 10018 or call 212.564.6057.

California (Carson/Hermosa Beach): They collecting donations to send to flood victims in Manila. Their goal is to fill up a 40ft container in one week with new or used clothing,shoes, blankets,medicines,canned food items, etc. Dropoff Location : 205 West Torrance Blvd, Carson, CA 90745. They will be setting up a booth on Oct 3, 2009 at the Substance event in Hermosa Beach CA. THANK YOU and God Bless Manila. TWITTER (Socal4Ondoy)

California (Cerritos): Their house is temp drop off point while we find a bigger venue. We’ll facilitate immediate shipment to Manila. Thank you in advance for your help. Pls pass. Dino & Jan Home:16622 Amberwood Way Cerritos, CA 90703; (562)404-0625

California (Daly City): Please contact Ryan Leano (626)534-4971. Liwanag Cultural Center, Hillside Park Clubhouse, 222 Lausanne Ave., Daly City‎, CA‎ 94014.

California (LA): Relief goods accepted in LA! ANSWER ofc, 137 Virgil St, Rm 203, Los Angeles, CA

or TULONG SA PILIPINAS (STP): Accepting donations cash or check. Send to People’s CORE, 1610 Beverly Blvd. Suite No 2, Los Angeles, Ca 90026. Donations more than $50 is tax deductible.

California (Oakland): Please contact Ryan Leano (626)534-4971. Asian Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy & Leadership. Attn: Armael Malinis, AnakBayan-East Bay. 310 8th Street, Suite 215. Oakland, CA 94710

California (San Francisco):
Stanford’s Pilipino American Student Union (PASU) is also collecting donations to be sent to the Philippines to help victims of Typhoon Ondoy (international name Ketsana). If you would like to make a donation, please contact AV David at or (650) 491-4561.

New Jersey:

Sinugba Cafe – 561 Westside Ave. Jersey City, NJ 07304;
Casa Victoria – 691 Newark Ave. Jersey City, NJ 07306-2803;
or you can send cash through Metro Bank acct. 3 189 14540 1 For BAYAN’s “BALSA” (Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan).

For donations in New Jersey please contact: (201)621-3156-Yves Nibungco or Nick Corder(917)476-7855-

for friends in other parts of the world, you may check:

1. has set up a paypal account for donations. Your money will be forwarded to Red Cross.


3. Ayala Foundation:

4. World Food Programme:

for donations coming from various parts of the Philippines, PAL will accept goods bound to MNL. pls hop here for more info

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ilocos you're worth it!

For those who don’t know Ilocos, it's in the north of the Philippines. If you put your 4 fingers together, you will be forming the shape of the province.

The province is cut into 2, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. The capital Laoag is located in Ilocos Norte and further up north is Pagudpud.

This is a long stretch of white beach that is like Boracay sans the noise and party. Pagudpud is the place where you bring a loved one to spend quality time together.

This is what they claim to be the sinking bell tower,

but actually, it’s more like a rising street level.

In Ilocos Norte is where you will see the Bangui Windmills and the lighthouse, Cape Bojeador. I do not want to flood the beauty of these places with words so I’d rather put photos of them to show you.

A beautiful old structure of bell tower looking over everything

Being at Bangui was so surreal; the place full of windmills didn’t look like it was in the Philippines, it was odd. It was a long stretch of beach that has nothing else but windmills in it (and a boat, lol). They say that the beach is actually a reef and it drops down to nothingness after a few feet from the shore (the thought sends shivers down my spine).

Vigan, is located in Ilocos Sur, and Vigan is one of our UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is a street called Calle Crisologo. The city of Vigan was miraculously protected from bombings 2 times during the war, therefore it was so well preserved and you will see what Manila’s Intramuros would’ve looked like, but maybe better.
It’s difficult not to be engrossed with your camera in Vigan because it’s just beautiful. They say it’s enough to spend a day in Vigan because it’s relatively small, but I disagree; for a person to fully take in a place this nice should be given more than a day to absorb it all! Every shot is beautiful, whatever you shoot is art because architectures around it IS art.

The place was kept very clean and the rest of the new places around it were also built as if it were from the same era.

Ilocos is also a place known for its weaving, the bed sheet covers and such are ridiculously cheap and if it were not for the 15kg limit for domestic flights, I would’ve bought a lot. Those who are obsessed with the bed and freaking beyond haha, this place is grrreat! We actually went to the weaver’s place and met this weaving grandmother who was not wearing any glasses, she said she has 20/20 vision and has been weaving for a few decades now.

Whenever I travel, I get a knack of trying out new things, even the simplest things, trying out just triples the fun for me, for instance, I tried weaving.

I even tried making my own Vigan empanada! Oh, I only got this photo of me eating it! hehe

For those history freaks out there, people who like to buy weaving of native fabrics, for those who loves to eat; this is indeed the province for you. The people are so nice that they take it as an insult if you don’t eat their food! But then again, living in a country where we eat at least 5x a day, I guess the rest of the Philippines is like that too! haha