Sunday, 27 June 2010

Play misty (Seoul) for me...

As I was doing my Sunday stroll in my neighborhood today, I couldn't help but remember that movie title while looking towards the mist covering Nam-san.

Today is cloudy and misty, but unlike the psychological thriller movie, I just strolled, not stalked. Ha-ha-ha!

And hopefully tomorrow, the mist will disappear and reveal the mountain again; and the clouds move away to reveal blue skies...


Clear skies over Seoul....please.

Now that rains have been ruining our days in Seoul lately -- like getting soaked in the rain while watching the World Cup matches at City Hall, to having to carry a bulky umbrella or worst, to not being able to play tennis on clay!

So, I , like most of the Seoulites, am praying for some clear skies this week - skies as clear on this photo I took a few weeks ago when one can almost see forever....on a clear day.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Badminton in the summer...

I like playing badminton because it's fast, requires quick thinking and enjoyable while losing weight.

So, one weekend, I joined my friend Seung-Ho in his quest to improve his badminton skills and....perhaps to defeat me. Hahaha!

It's always difficult to find good indoor badminton courts in Seoul. I remember I was told I could only find badminton courts on outdoor parks, where it's played on dirt -- a slippery, windy and dusty alternative. Not good enough for me. I need an indoor court with no wind to blow away the shuttle, no sun to blind my smashes and most of all, with a solid yet soft surface which is not bad to the joints.

But lucky me. My friend was able to find a great badminton courts at Yancheong-gu, with its clean, well-lit hall, solid surface wooden surface and cheap rent fees. Was it only W4,000 an hour? And the place was huge! If I remember right, there were 14 courts!

And we played for two hours - both singles and doubles with other players whom we only met there.

I probably lost a couple of pounds playing badminton that afternoon, which I gained back after ... a dinner of buddae-jiggae.

I definitely want to go back there some lose a few pounds again and enjoy the game.


PS. Try calling these numbers to get more details about the badminton courts: (02)2606-9301 or 2606-9302.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Winners of the Jose Rizal Essay Competition in South Korea

On Jose Rizal's 149th birthday, June 19, 2010, (a Saturday) the winners of the Jose Rizal essay writing competition were recognized at the awards ceremony held at the Seoul City Hall Annex's Theater.

The writing competition, organized by the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, was held to commemorate the 149th anniversary of the Philippine National Hero.

The competition was divided into two categories:

Category A was open to Korean nationals who were required to write about the Philippines and the 60th year commemoration of the Korean War.

Category B was open to Filipinos living in South Korea, with the theme 'Finding Jose Rizal in South Korea: A Migrant's Perspective'.

The winners of Category A were: Mr. Kim Jae-Ho (1st place), Mr. Lee San-Ha (2nd place), and Ms. Kyu Moon-Na (3rd place), while the winners of Category B were: Mr. Christian Romero (1st place), and the third place was shared by Mr. Vincente Angel Ybiernas and Mr. Inrico Orbe. And I think I know who won the second place. Hahaha!

The first place winners received Medals of Excellence, round-trip tickets to Manila and cash prizes, while the runners-up received cash prizes and certificates of excellence.

The prizes were awarded by the Philippine Ambassador Luis T. Cruz, while the awarding ceremony was sponsored by the Seoul Chapter of the United Pilipinas in Korea (UPIKOR).

After the awarding ceremony, the film 'Rizal in Dapitan' was shown and enjoyed by the winners, their families and a few of their friends while munching down caramelized popcorn, cheese-flavored doritos and drinks courtesy of the UPIKOR.


Saturday, 19 June 2010

The 2010 World Cup: from South Africa to South Korea!

The REDS! That's what the fans of the Korean National Football Team call themselves.

Taeguk Warriors -- are the Korean footballers!

So, on June 17, Thursday night, Korea time, at 8:30 PM, the whole of South Korea was glued on wide screens all over the country. In Seoul, the fans converged at Seoul Plaza, at the COEX, at the World Cup Stadium in Sangam, and almost at every bar and pub.

Not to miss the frenzy opportunity to once again experience the deafening sound of DAE-HA-MIN-GUK! cheering, I took the 22-minute subway ride from Hangangjin Station to the World Cup Station to meet up with a friend there and watch the South Korea-Argentina match.

Like any football fan, every Korean friend I asked about the prospects of winning against the powerhouse Argentina said that the Taeguk Warrios would win,notwithstanding the fact that Argentina has the world's best footballer, Lionel Messi, or that Diego Maradona, the flamboyant Argentine legend, is coaching the opposing team.

And when the match began, the roar of the crowd and the cheering of the fans echoed from the World Cup stadium in Seoul to the Johannesburg Soccer City Stadium and back!

The sea of red shirts, caps and blinking horns flooded the stands and the grounds that anybody wearing another color, say, Blue/White (Argentina's colors) would stand out in the crowd and earn some mean stares from everyone else. And while I moved around the Stadium, nobody was suicidal enough to wear those colors.

And although the ending was not the one all Korean fans hoped for, at least during the match, when a goal was scored by the Taeguk Warriors, the whole World Cup Stadium and the rest of the country erupted in one boisterous cheer heard all over the world!

Even with the 1-4 final score, the whole of 90 minutes of play were full of eager excitement and patriotic cheering for one's national team -- perhaps the same fervor and emotions any football fan would express, experience and scream for during these two weeks of the 2010 World Cup!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Holding the FIFA World Cup trophy....or just standing next to one

The final match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is two weeks away, which means the winning national team has two weeks to wait to hold le trophie de Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

I don't have to wait for two weeks. I already stood next to it. Yes, just stood next to it. Ha-ha-ha! Two months ago.

The rules are only the winners, dignitaries or selected celebrities are able to hold the gold trophy (actually 75% gold) which weighs about 5 kilos. So, when the The Trophy dropped by in Seoul on April 21, 2010, while it's on its world tour, I didn't pass up the chance.

Luckily, the Coca-Cola-sponsored visit took place at my neighborhood I-Park Mall, and during my lunch break, I hurried to the mall and visited The Trophy.

There were some Coca-Cola girls promoting the World Cup (as well as my favorite softdrink) at the venue, which gladly posed for a photo and helped me secure a pass to see The Trophy.

Too bad, no photography was allowed inside the CGV Cinema 9 where The Trophy held court. So I just tried to steal a few shots. (No flash!)

For the World Cup fans (like me on that day) who wanted to pose with The Trophy, a FIFA official photographer was there to take my photo, the hardcopy of which I claimed on my way out. The digital copy (which I'm posting here was sent by a Coca-Cola FIFA website.

Though not a football fan, at least I was able to stand next to The Trophy. Or I think it's actually a replica - why would they show off around the world the real one when some crazy people would steal it again? (In 1983, the previous World Cup trophy was stolen and was never recovered.)

And I had a feeling that perhaps they knew I wasn't into football. Why? They almost cut my head off in the digital copy they sent. Ha-ha-ha!

Well, two weeks from now, the real winners will be able to actually hold the real Trophy in their hands, while I only stood next to a replica.


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Mi amigo, El Rey Rafael Nadal...

I'm paying homage a mi amigo, Rafa. Rafael Nadal, that is.

His win last Sunday at Roland Garros, the French Open, and his unbeaten run at this year's clay season just cemented his title as one the king of clay, le roi de terre batteu.

I am paying homage to my favorite tennis player on earth, the new world Numero Uno!

There was a time when I just admired this Spanish leftie as he demolishes his opponents on clay, which is my favorite surface to play tennis on. (I like the sliding).

And there was a time when my favorite tennis player was his archrival, Roger Federer, who was in Seoul for an exhibition match with Pete Sampras in 2007. After the match,like most fans, I wanted to get closer to Federer and Sampras to get some photos, but some unreasonable Korean security personnel made sure that didn't happen. And then, I spotted Federer's girlfriend, Mirka (they weren't married then), who was walking towards me. When she got nearer, I asked her politely, "Mirka, can I have a photo with you please?" She half-smiled, perhaps too lazy to move the muscles in her mouth to show this fan she wasn't pleased with the question, and said, "Sorry, next time."

What next time? I asked myself. And that was the moment I decided being a Federer fan wasn't worth it. A tennis star with an unfriendly girlfriend.

So today, being a happy, loyal Rafael Nadal fan, I celebrate his return to the top of the world rankings!

Here are a few photos I took of him when I watched him play in Seoul and at his practice sessions at Melbourne Park during the Australian Open!

Vamos, Rafa!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Nourishment for my Seoul, er, Soul....and my Tummy

Checking my calendar today, June 4, I realized it's the first Friday of the month. And remembering the First Friday Devotions, I, being a Catholic, hurried off to the Philippine Embassy in Itaewon where a Holy Mass is celebrated every first Friday of each month.

Fortunately, the Mass is always held at noon time. And attending the Mass at lunch break would not my interrupt work.

Today's Mass was said by a Filipino priest, and the faithful was not a large group: the Ambassador, the Embassy staff and family, and a few friends.

Well, the Mass provided nourishment for my soul, and the lunch of Filipino menu provided nourishment for my tummy.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Local Elections in Korea!

Almost a month after the national elections in the Philippines, here comes the local elections in Korea.

On June 2, 2010, Koreans will vote for their local government officials, including governors, mayors and councilors, and their education superintendents and board members.

Although these local elections are not as 'hot' as the Korean presidential elections, the amusing part is the lively and energetic way of campaigning with all the colored uniforms and the dancing on the streets! Not to mention, the caravan of loudspeakers blasting out campaign speeches. And their streamers are mostly conspicuous in any neighborhood intersection.

I was able to capture a few scenes days before the elections. Amusing, colorful and they give their all!

I hope the best candidates win!

And I do hope they all keep their promises!