Monday, 6 August 2018

Dongdaemun's Secrets: Ancient Rites, Medicinal Herbs & Cheapest Fruits!

Tourists visiting Seoul, Korea, would always think about shopping galore when they think of 'Dongdaemun'. 

There are the all-night shopping, a night market for bags-to-die-for, a huge market full of fabrics, and a toy alley! But ask any local, and he or she would tell you that the Dongdaemun District has a lot of other interesting things to offer other than shopping. 

Well, you can ask any local. Or you can ask me. :-)

                         (Buphwa Temple)

When I first moved into my new neighborhood in the Dongdaemun District, I explored its alleys and markets. That day, I was so surprised at the hidden treasures my new neighborhood offerred its new resident!

I could not believe the various interesting spots just within a kilometer of my apartment building!  Surprised and impressed, I bragged about it!

So, I invited my friends for a tour around Jedi-dong so that they would also enjoy the places, food, and the cheapest fresh fruits this side of Seoul I get to enjoy on a daily basis!

1. Buphwa-sa
On our way to our first stop, Seonnongdan, we first stopped by a most interesting Buddhist temple, Buphwa Temple, whose building walls were decorated with excerpts of the teaching of Buddha. This temple is a few meters upon turning right from Exit 1 of Jegidong Station (Line 1).


          (A most charming interpretation of the 
      Bodhi tree with lights hanging on its 'branches')


At the temple's lobby, a sitting Buddha greets worshippers with an elegant replica of the Bodhi Tree interpreted with wooden thin slabs emanating from the floor and rising towards the ceiling, and hanging from it are lights covered with hanji (Korean traditional paper) that provided illumination, as well as enlightenment perhaps, to everyone seeking peace and guidance.

2. Seonnongdan
A few minutes of fun strolling from the Bupwha Temple (from Exit 1 of Jegidong Station) is Seonnongdan, an ancient site where the kings of the Joseon Dynasty offered prayers to the gods of agriculture since 1475.


(This place of traditional royal ritual dating
as far back as the 15th century is a hidden 
historical gem inside a residential neighborhood. 
Ingrid and Veronica are actually standing on the grounds of Seonnongdan. 
The Museum is below them.)


(Ingrid, Kristine and Gail posing in front of the 600-year old tree!)

(The walls of the house in front of Seonnongdan were painted with Seonnongdan ceremonial scenes)

This museum showcases the history, artifacts, rites, costumes, and scenes of the ancient tradition. On the museum grounds, which is actually above the main museum itself, a tall and imposing tree that has been standing there for 600 years and has welcomed monarchs, commoners, and that day, Philippine tourists as well!


                    (Seonnongdan entrance)


While Seonnongdan is a museum, it becomes a living space because of this tea shop. While we were there, Mr. Kim, a tea master and owner of the shop, treated us to a special tea ceremony, making us enjoy a rare blend of tea from China. He has been in the tea business for decades and has authored books about tea. 

                  (The tea master and guests)
                (Mr. Kim's tea and his books)
         (Huge posters adorn Mr. Kim's tea room)

Like students, we were given free lessons on tea by Mr. Kim, showing us his style of making and pouring tea on his small, dainty teacups.

I usually only had rice tea or green tea in Korea, but that day, the unique tea from a specific area in China tasted strong like a true medicinal tea would. And what was more amazing was the huge slab of jade that served as a tea table where Mr. Kim made tea. The slab had a small drain connected to it so he could wash out the tea right in front of him. He told us the slab of jade cost him a few thousand dollars.
   (Mr. Kim's business card in case you want to visit)

       (Playing with the Korean traditional farm 
             implements inside Seonnongdan)


3. Jeongneungcheon (Jeongneung Stream)

Right after our tea and visit to Seonnongdan, we just meandered around the neighborhood, walked behind a school, and crossed the Jeongneung Stream, a stream that empties into the Cheonggye Stream.


The Jeongneung Stream has fish and ducks as well as bike and hiking trails. 

                   (The tourists by the stream)

4. Seoul Yangnyeong-si Market

This is the biggest herb market in Seoul. You can walk around the alleys enjoy the aromas of dried wood, mountain herbs, and all other medicinal concoctions that waft through the air in this market. On some mornings during my walk, I made sure I included these alleys in my route just to enjoy the aromas and scents these dried wood and herbs provide to passers-by...for free!

This is where you can purchase some medicinal herbs for any ailment, or just for health maintenance.

And since this is really a medicinal market, don't be surprised by the horns or body parts of dead animals that are on display at the shops.



5. Seoul Yangnyeong-si Herb Medicine Museum


A few meters from the main arch of the Yangnyeong-si Market is the newly constructed multi-story museum that houses the history of herb medicine in Korea depicted in intricately made dioramas.

The museum has halls for talks, displays showcasing the herbs and their medicinal values, interactive games, and even an AI robot that greets visitors. Sadly, the robot could only speak hangeul.

(Ingrid and Veronica in front of the Museum)

The whole museum is actually a beautiful hanok-style design inside and out. Almost every corner is a spot perfect for a photograph. A year before, I once roamed this area while it was still under construction. I thought this was going to be some commercial building but I was glad this huge creative and relaxing space turned out to be a major tourist attraction for both local and international tourists! 

On the second floor, there's even an outdoor foot spa for a limited number of, well, pairs of tired feet!

        (Veronica and Ingrid on the second floor's 
              recreation of medicinal shops)



The Museum's main purpose is to showcase the Korean medicinal and herb tradition and history, and the Dongdaemun District didn't spare any expense to create this beautiful museum right in the middle of the medicinal market!

And if you're a student or a fan of traditional medicine, the Museum has a comprehensive display of herbs and their names, just like an encyclopedia.

It also has a small duty-free shop on the ground floor next to the entrance. Here's the Museum's official website:

http://museum.ddm.go.kr/eng/

6. Cheongnyangni Fruit and Vegetable Market

Well, this is my favorite part of my neighborhood! And the reason is yummy, sweet and cheap!

The Cheongnyangni market is where you can find the cheapest and freshest fruits and vegetables north of the Han River.


Aside from fresh produce, it has meat and fish sections, and alleys at the back full of restaurants. The market is really big. So, be prepared to be overwhelmed by the size and the enterprising vendors all around you.

And while walking around the market was fun, we had to stop for lunch, which turned out to be even more enjoyable! The kamja-tang restaurant is one of my yummiest discoveries inside the Cheongnyangni fruit and vegetable market.

Although I was told that kamja means potato, it also means the back of the pig. And this soupy Korean dish, is full of veggies, sprouts, spicy broth, potatoes, and the best part, the cooked, softened part of the pig's back. That part is meaty and just falls off the bone when cooked! And I am now salivating again as I write this! Ha-ha-ha!


When you decide to go to the fruit and vegetable market, don't forget to bring a big bag for your veggies and fruits, and the one with rollers if you're buying a lot more!

            (Gail and her KRW4,000 strawberries)

          (The arch entrance of the herb market 
                  near Exit 2 of Jegidong Station)

It was always fun to tour my friends. I toured them a couple of times before in my former playground, Itaewon, and around Dongdaemun shopping district.

This time, in another part of Seoul, I shared with them my new discoveries.

                             *  *  *  *  *

For an easier walk from Jegidong Station (Line 1), here's the map with numbers to label the spots we visited:


Have fun!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

'Lin-ay Sang Iloilo' & The Real Treasures of Iloilo Province

Since last year, on my visits to Iloilo City in the Philippines, I already spied on him sitting on top of the city hall. 

At first, I thought it was a statue of a saint because I have never seen any photos of a statue of some dead Filipino standing on top of a city hall in the Philippines. That honor is usually reserved for a saint, though I'd always see Jose Rizal, the country's premiere national hero, standing in the middle of a town plaza on a pedestal. But his pedestal is usually the only elevated structure you'd see him on. You'd never see him on top of a building where he probably would prefer as his view would cover most of a town's geography and that no politicians or city official would be able to climb that high to bother him with overpriced dead flowers every December 30th.


(Whose statue is that sitting 
on top of the city hall?)

So, I asked around about that statue. Last month, when we were in Iloilo City, the hotel where we stayed had a view of the city hall and the statue. Pointing at the mysterious statue, I asked the hotel staff about his identity; they didn't know, although I now realized I could just have googled!

But there was a more reliable way to find out because as they say when you want your question answered, 'seek and ye shall find'. And seek I did. 

During our walk from the riverside to our hotel, we decided to drop by the Iloilo City Hall. Although it was past 5PM when offices were closing, I walked up to the guards of the building to ask. And one accommodated my snooping! He brought us to a room in the building which held the answer!

Although it was already closed for the day, he opened the museum on the ground floor of the city hall that showcases the city's heritage, culture, and...the statue!

(Plaza Libertad with the San Jose
de Placer church on top)
(Her statue stands inside the museum 
inside the Iloilo City Hall)

It was not a he; it's a she!

'Lin-ay' is a Hiligaynon word that refers to a young, unmarried lady that embodies the admirable virtues of a Filipina. Hiligaynon is the language spoken in Iloilo Province and the neighboring Guimaras and Negros Island, while Ilonggo refers to the people, language, and culture of the Iloilo Province. So, Hiligaynon can be referred to as Ilonggo if you're referring to Hiligaynon spoken in Iloilo Province.

Therefore, 'lin-ay' is an Ilonggo lass. An Ilongga lady.

And I finally knew that that statue is 'Lin-ay sang Iloilo', the Lass of Iloilo, made of bronze. She is seen wearing a 'patadyong' and carrying plants on her right arm and a gardening tool on the right, which made me think she's lefthanded. While working, you'd always use your dominant hand to hold your implements, right?

The last time I saw exquisite samples of 'patadyong' was when I visited the beautiful Camiña Balay nga Bato in the Arevalo District of Iloilo City.

Lin-ay's head is covered by piece of cloth to shield her from the sun, probably because she wasn't carrying any sunblock, and her wrap-around patadyong-slash-long skirt seemed too thick for the Iloilo weather, which made me think she might be hiding something (or someone) down there. Her boyfriend, perhaps?

Her neck is unusually long for a native Filipina, which emphasizes the big necklace hanging around it. Although I would infer that the presence of the big necklace hints of the 'manangyad', the long gold necklace that, along with the golden salakot, was presented by the ten migrant datu of Borneo in 1200's led by Datu Puti to the local aetas of Panay so that they could live on the lowlands of Panay Island. And I'm thinking she is wearing a huge necklace as she went farming to show off to other Ilongga lasses her latest acquisition. Or maybe, she just wanted to remain glamorous as she dirtied her manicure and pedicure while tilling her rice fields.

A creation of an Ilonggo sculpture named Edward Defensor, the statue weighs 1.7 tons and stands at 18 feet.  According to the description about Lin-ay Sang Iloilo written next to the replica at the museum, the four sides of the pedestal represented the four major assets of Iloilo, namely, "rice farming, sugarcane farming, fishing, and education".

Hmm.

With all due respect to the sculptor, I disagree with
the 'major assets' he wrote down. In my opinion, Iloilo's major assets are really the following:



1. The Ilonggos!

Yes, it's the people! Always! 

Major assets are not the plants nor the fresh fish that end up at the Iloilo Central Market, where I bought my local snacks when I was there, by the way. 

Since I trace my ancestry to this province, I proudly count myself in. Ha-ha-ha! If not, at least my distant great-great grandfather General Martin Teofilo Delgado definitely could. He was, after all, Iloilo's revolutionary leader during the Spanish period and the provincial governor during the American years.

Since the pre-hispanic period, it has been the Ilonggos that toiled, cultivated, developed, and enriched the land! 

Iloilo's main treasures are all its citizens and inhabitants. From teachers and students to merchants, professionals, religious organizations, transport workers, artists and historians, agricultural workers and fishermen, senior citizens, moms and pops, and not to forget, those who bake my favorite Balasan bingka by the Jaro Cathedral, those who prepare batchoy at La Paz public market, and those who create the yummy barquillos and biscochos!  

2. Iloilo's rich heritage and culture! 

Even before the Barter of Panay in 1200s, Marikudo and Maniwangtiwang lorded over Panay Island and the lands that are now part of Iloilo Province. And from Datu Paiburong, who governed Irong-irong, to the time of Spanish governors and American colonizers, and through the Japanese occcupation and up to the present-day Iloilo, we all should celebrate the very rich history, heritage, culture. 

Thankfully, Iloilo holds the very popular and fun Dinagyang Festival every January to celebrate and remind us of this rich history.


We shouldn't forget that part of it all is Iloilo's culinary heritage that includes batchoy, biscocho, and pancit molo! I don't think 'butterscotch' counts. Ha-ha-ha!

(Lin-ay sang Iloilo standing next to the lyrics of Iloilo City Hymn. I wonder how it goes?)

3. Iloilo's fertile agricultural lands and rich seas

Now, this is where you throw the plants and fish in. 

It might have been politically nice to hear that there's an economic symbolism added to the sculpture because, well, this was commissioned by the sitting mayor. But the agriculture and marine aspects of the province take a backseat to its people and their history. I also wondered whether, regardless of its height, its base should have four sides and that the sculptor just squeezed in four things he could think of as 'major assets'. 

4. Geographical location

Ever since I was a kid, I have admired Iloilo City's seaside port. It was so convenient! When your ferry boat docks, you're actually already in the city center! 

Iloilo has mountains, plains, beaches, and seas, and is situated right in the middle of the Philippines. This might have been the main reason why Spanish and American colonizers were keen on developing it ahead of the other settlements in the Visayan area. It was just accessible and rich in natural resources!

(Looking at the statue's photo presumably 
taken when it was atop the building, 
I thought the garden tool on Lin-ay's 
left hand was missing)

So, there. Thanks to the security guard who opened the museum for us even though it was past 5PM, I now know who she is. 

But even more important, 'Lin-ay' and her fellow Ilonggos should know that they, and not plants and fish, are the most important treasures of Iloilo. :-)

           (Or was it just the lighting and angle?) 

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Got a Stopover In Korea? Go Shopping in Seoul!

I have toured friends in record-breaking time around Seoul! Knowing Seoul like the back of my hand, so to speak, I draw up a route in my mind that included the tourist spots need to be visited by any visitor and a timetable that fits within their free time before heading back to the Incheon International Airport.

On my first trip, I successfully toured my friend Maria around Seoul for five hours!  Then, another friend Jean came over for a stopover and I toured him, too, within five hours!

But this time, another friend Judy Ann is asking me for a suggestion. She'll be flying from the US to the Philippines and will have a stopover at Incheon Airport for about 12 hours. Her flight will arrive early morning at Incheon Airport and her connecting flight will leave early evening. So, she's planning to go shopping in Seoul between 6AM and 3PM. 

Just what Maria and Jean did before during their layover at the Incheon International Airport, Judy Ann will simply present her passport and her boarding pass (for her connecting flight) to the Immigration officer before she's allowed to leave the Airport. But I do emphasize that the decision to allow a passenger to leave the Incheon International Airport rests solely on the Immigration officers.

Here it is:

SUGGESTED ITINERARY/INSTRUCTIONS (I added links to my BLOGS related to the instructions):


           (The bus stop in front of the Dongdaemun 
                    Design Plaza or DDP)

1. Take Airport Bus 6702 from Incheon Airport and get off at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza bus stop. If you want to have your morning coffee in Dongdaemun, there are few cafés in the area. The ride from the airport up to Dongdaemun may take more than an hour. (Read this AIRPORT BUS BLOG.)

  • Exchange a few US$ to Korean at the airport in order to buy a bus ticket at the ticket booth, depending on how much you're going to spend. 
  • The bus ticket may cost about KRW16,000 one-way; coffee about KRW 5,000; lunch about KRW 10,000; a bag at Dongdaemun about KRW 10,000-40,000. Purses are as cheap as KRW 7,000.
  • Small shops and market stalls only accept cash; cosmetic shops accept credit cards.
  • Currency exchange stalls in Dongdaemun and Myeongdong tend to give better rates than banks at the airport.
  • At the airport's information desk, ask where you can find the bus ticket booth, the gate number where you can wait for the bus, and the bus departure time. The first Bus 6702 leaves at 4:56AM for Seoul.
  • Wait at the designated bus stand for Bus 6702; it will swing by and stop for a minute to pick up passengers.
  • Show the bus driver your bus ticket.
  • If he asks you where you will be getting off, just tell him 'dongdehmoon-dee-jja-yin-pla-jja'. That's how 'Dongdaemun Design Plaza' would sound if written and read in Korean. 
  • There's a red bell above your seat at the bus. 
  • Press the red bell if you're getting off. (Read this AIRPORT BUS BLOG to find out about the red bell.)
  • Once you see the spaceship-looking building, that's the DDP and you need to get off!

Here's the online info on the airport bus: https://www.airport.kr/ap_lp/en/tpt/pblctpt/busstoinft1/busstoinft1.do



2. Visit NPH Bag Market behind MaxStyle Building, which is to your left if you're facing the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. The bag market is on the ground floor and basement of NPH Building, opens at 9PM and closes at noon the next day, and is closed on Sundays. 

  • Use your charm, if you want to haggle at the bag market, especially if you're buying more than one bag. (Read this NPH BAG MARKET BLOG.)
  • Always bear in mind that you will probably hand-carry these bags on the plane. So, make sure you're within your limit at the end of your shopping day.

3. Visit the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (opens 10AM and closes at 7PM). You can go around the DDP and inside the DDP. Behind the DDP is a garden full of the interesting LED white flowers. Read these blogs about the DDP and WHITE LED FLOWERS.

http://www.ddp.or.kr/main?hl=en_US

NOTE: There's a tourist information booth in front of GoodMorning City mall building, near Exit 14 of the Dongdaemun Culture and History Park Station in case you want to know more about the area or have questions about directions, etc.


             (Tourist information booth in front of 
                  GoodMorning City building)

4. Lunch around the Dongdaemun area. There's also a fast food restaurant on the ground floor of Doota.

5. Take the subway at the Dongdaemun Culture and History Park Station. Get on the Blue Line 4 and get off at Myeongdong Station (2 stops from where you are). You can buy a subway ticket from a ticketing machine inside the station. Be prepared with your Korean won cash.


       (Upon getting out of Exit 6, this alley leads 
           to the Myeongdong shopping center)

6. At Myeongdong Station, head out from Exit 6. At the exit, turn left and you'll see alleys upon alleys of cosmetic shops, clothes, cafés, souvenirs, and others. Make sure to ask for 'samples' when you buy cosmetic or skin products. 

NOTE: Do remember that you may have to hand-carry all the things you have shopped for, which means NO LIQUIDS!

NOTE: If you see a team of two people wearing RED jackets, they are tour guides from whom you can ask tourist information or directions.

7. Try the food stalls along the Myeongdong streets. (Read this blog on Myeongdong's STREET FOOD).

8. Visit the MYEONGDONG CATHEDRAL. It is located on the other side of Myeongdong, just a short walk from the busy center.

9. Visit the Seoul Global Cultural Center in Myeongdong for photo-op in Korean traditional costume and for other Korean experience activities. It's on the 5th floor of M-Plaza.

The Seoul Global Cultural Center was the venue of the Filipino Christmas party hosted by the Philippine Women's Club last December 2017. Also, I always hang out at this center whenever I am in Myeongdong because it's a quiet place, they have a strong wi-fi and very friendly staff! I remember giving them dried mangoes once to show them my appreciation.

For more info:
https://www.seoulculturalcenter.com/faqs/

NOTE: Do ask the RED JACKETS for the location of the airport bus stop near Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station. (Read this blog about the RED JACKETS.)


10. For the airport bus going back to the airport, go the airport bus stop a few meters from Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station. Earlier, you went out of Exit 6. Had you walked straight, instead of turning left, you would have ended up at Exit 8. 
         (Airport bus stop for the bus going back 
                     to Incheon Airport)

At the bus stop, wait for any of these bus numbers: 6001 (KRW 15,000), or Bus 6015 (KRW 15,000). Any of these will take you back to Incheon Airport. Be prepared with your EXACT change of KRW 15,000 as the driver DOES NOT have a change. Drop the money inside a plastic box upon entering the bus. (This stop also includes Bus 6021. Do not ride that bus number).

This airport bus stop is in front of KB Bank, and a few meters from a pedestrian lane a Tour Les Jours bakery.

Note to Judy Ann: Tell the airport bus driver you will be getting off at TERMINAL 2. Upon arriving at Incheon Airport, the first stop is Terminal 1, then Terminal 2.

                          *   *   *   *   *

Anyone can use these instructions during a stopover at Incheon Airport, but ALWAYS make sure you have ENOUGH TIME to go to Seoul and shop. 

Because other than your shopping or sightseeing, you have to make enough time for your ride back to Incheon Airport (about 90 minutes), queuing at security and Immigration (about 30 or more depending on passenger traffic, and your walk to your plane's assigned departure gate for boarding.

Do let me know if any of you have questions.

Have fun! :-)

PS. Thanks to map.daum.net for the street-level views I used as screenshots!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Kabayao Family Quartet And An Evening Of Enchanting Music in Seoul


           (The Kabayao Family and Jimmy Tagala, Jr. 
             at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul)

I was in Grade 5 at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Victorias City, Philippines, when I first heard him play. He was on the stage of our school's gymnasium playing the violin while his wife was on the piano accompanying him. He played classical music pieces as well as popular compositions. He also gave us lessons about the violin and music tempos, which I appreciated as, at that time, I was taking piano lessons during the weekends.  

             (The Kabayao Family, Jimmy Tagala,
                    and Ambassador Luis Cruz)

                   (Maestro Gilopez Kabayao)

Our school's visitors that day were the internationally renowned violinist, Gilopez Kabayao, and his wife and pianist, Corazon Pineda-Kabayao. Their visit was part of their campaign to bring classical music to everyone in the countryside.

Looking back, I think all of the students enjoyed the afternoon's mini-concert, not only because of this special occasion but also because everyone was out of their classrooms like it was recess! Any reason to be out of the classroom was always a cause to celebrate! Ha-ha-ha!

                 (The Kabayao Family Quartet)
       (Jimmy Tagala, Jr. competed in the prestigious Seoul International Music Competition in 2012)

After the mini-concert, when we returned to our classroom, Miss Rebecca Maroma, our English teacher, asked us to write something about the musical performance. I remember writing three paragraphs with a few sentences and with the words 'excellent''magnificent', and 'music that can lull you to sleep' finding their way into my essay.

A few days after that, Miss Maroma told me and my mom that the Maestro picked three essays written by the students about his visit; one was mine! He wanted to get the original copies but since it wasn't allowed, Miss Maroma gave him photocopies instead.


    (Jimmy meeting the members of the diplomatic 
           corps who became his fans that night)


And in April 2012, Maéstro Gilopez Kabayao, accompanied by his family and a protegé, held another concert at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, with the diplomatic corps as the audience!

And on that spring evening, the grade school student, whose essay caught the Maestro's attention, was finally reunited with him!


    (Ambassador Luis Cruz and Cultural Attaché Mylo Fausto hosted the Kabayao Family concert)

The Kabayao Family came to Korea in the spring of 2012 because Jimmy Tagala, Jr., the maestro's protegé, competed at the Seoul International Music Competition. And thanks to the Philippine Ambassador Luis Cruz and the Embassy's cultural attaché Mylo Fausto, we were treated to an enchanting evening of beautiful music.

Joining the Maestro and Mrs. Kabayao were their daughters Sicilienne and Farida, who were are both accomplished violinists themselves. 

          (The Kabayao Family Quartet, Jimmy and 
            their Filipino audience members)

With the Kabayao family playing classical compositions like Brahms' Scherzo and Sonata No. 3 in D Minor for violin and piano, Mendelssohn's Trio in D Major, and Wieniawski's Legende, and Jimmy with Ravel's Tzigane, you could just imagine the enjoyment of the Filipinos and the international guests. 

One of the pieces that I especially liked that evening was the Kabayao Family Quartet's interpretation of Nais Ko, a Ryan Cayabyab composition popularized by Basil Valdez.

                (The Maestro signing my copy of 
                        his coffee table book)

Gilopez Kabayao is a legend in Philippine music. He had played in famous concert halls of the world, including the Carnegie Hall where he was the first Filipino to do so. He has volumes of violin recordings and was a Magsaysay Awardee in 1972 (the Magsaysay Award is the Asian version of the Nobél Prize).

As they say, music brings everyone together. And that evening, music brought the Maestro and that grade school student together again.


And decades after the Maestro received a grade school student's essay about his music, this time, it was the other way around...

       My Gilopez Kabayao coffee table book with a                dedication from the Maestro!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Question of the Day: A Social Media Experiment on Facebook

I have read articles about how one's personality, attitude, or even how the current state of your life reflect your posting and comments on social media.

So I decided to conduct my own social media experiment to test the theories.

Blasted from the Past
Last year, in October 2017, I posted on a Facebook group page of the citizens of a local Philippine city a photo of iron railings on a city sidewalk, blocking the path of pedestrians.

I posted the time and date of the photo, and why the scene was wrong on so many levels.



Hours after that, the city officials took care of the problem and posted explanations, which the citizens were thankful for. Hmm. Those city officials were probably just enjoying their airconditioned offices and were not to be bothered by whatever was happening on the city's streets.

Well, we, the citizens of the streets and netizens in social media, have to, to borrow Anderson Cooper's words, "keep them honest". We have to make them accountable. After all, we pay for their salaries.

But during the weekend, when I saw a table (yes, a home furniture!) blocking a sidewalk that is used by the elderly, women with babies and kids, and everyone else, I immediately thought how thoughtless that person/persons who put it there!

The sidewalk is a public property that should be free of any hindrance at all times as it's used by pedestrians.

So, an idea came to mind. Let me test the members of Victoriahanon Kami Facebook group as to find out who are smart enough to see what's wrong with the picture. 



Question of the day
Titled 'Kuwestiyon ob da di', a rephrased 'question of the day' written as if spoken in a hard Hiligaynon accent, my post included a street photograph of a sidewalk where the said table sat. This sidewalk was along the national highway.

I took the photo because, at first, I wondered why is there an impediment on the sidewalk where pedestrians, including children, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, mothers carrying babies, and elderly people pass.

While the table sat there blocking the pedestrians that pass, the person or persons who put the table there in the first place just DID NOT CARE.

So, five days after I posted the photo, it gained about 175 likes and lots of comments, which I categorized into three: (1) comments from people who just wanted to have fun as the question posed seemed like a joke; (2) negative comments from pessimists and people living miserable lives; and (3) comments from people responsible for the table being there or those who knew the people actually responsible.

1. Comments from people who just wanted to have fun! 


As I asked as to why the table was there people came up with funny answers to the joke.

All of it was in Hiligaynon though.









2. Negative comments, which probably reflect the commenter's pessimism or his/her miserable life.



3. I think these comments are from people responsible, or people who knew those responsible for the table being on the sidewalk.



These are (above) the angriest of all comments, which made me think he had something to do with the table or the house next to that sidewalk. Hmm. If I'm right, shouldn't he be thinking about the safety of the pedestrians passing by the sidewalk of the house, not about the post?



This comment (above) says, "Ging, the table outside  your house".




This comment above, I think, calls out the person living there. 


This commenter (above) probably had no idea about public safety. She said "it's a small issue". But what if I told her that I personally know of an elderly lady who regularly passes through this sidewalk with her female alalay almost every morning to hear Mass at the parish church, which is a few meters from this spot. 

The table blocking the sidewalk prevents the two people from walking side by side, forcing the alalay to walk behind the elderly lady, and not right next to her to hold her and keep her balanced and safe.

No winner
On my post, I said the best answer would win a prize: a used table. Ha-ha-ha!

But sadly, nobody won here. Why?

Nobody got my message about public safety. The people who put that table didn't care about the safety of pedestrians passing as long as the table served their interest. The sidewalk is a public property for everyone's use but it seemed it was for their family's personal use anytime.

I also learned that we comment on social media based on how we wanted things to be. Some people living a good life don't care or are sensitive about other people's situations. As long as they could comment, that's it.

I also learned that people who are negative, or whose lives may not be a rosy, comment negatively or want to drag other people down. Although I am sure it's not true about all people with problems.

So, let me ask you this: if you saw that post, how would you have commented?

Or better yet, what was your actual comment? 

PS. 

I also posted this on the same Facebook group. I was trying to help the local tourism team that doesn't seem to know how to promote the city on social media. This post has at least 900 likes as of this writing with lots of commenters agreeing to my suggestion. They have yet to take action. :-(