Monday, March 31, 2008

Not at All (Kimchi Pot Chronicles #3)

March 31, 2008

Professor Ahn Song Ho (안성호 교수님) will arrive in the Philippines together with his wife, Ms. Sunny. He will stay here for 6 months to conduct a research on federalism and decentralization in the context of South East Asian countries. Prof Ahn is my Professor in East Asian Cooperation class, spring semester, while I was in Dajeon University (대전 대학교) last year.

Today was very eventful. Tanya and Lee,
my fellow scholars under the ASEAN exchange student program, went with me to the airport to pick up the guests. Thankfully Tanya has a van with air conditioning working fine. I think the Koreans won't be able to stand the hellish heat, not to mention the smoke and dust, that they'll encounter traversing NAIA to UP Diliman.
We ate in Gerry's Grill for lunch. Of course we offered them Filipino foods like Sinigang (it was blockbuster), Sisig, Chopsuey, ripe mango juice and buko juice in buko fruit. We then reserved a unit in Diliman for them to stay. Then I went to work, taught four Koreans English. Work ended at 11:00pm, Philippine time.

Today reminds me that the ember still lives...the fragments are falling into place. They're not lost nor forgotten. Not at all.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Droppings #1 Love Behind Me

You can only know if you have felt true love towards a person if you don't fall out of love. It's an expensive answer that can only be purchased at the collapse of the love transaction--and by that time you could have already been cheated and unfairly treated. The catch is there is no such thing as a safety net when 'love' went awry. You fall in, you're dead; you fall out, you're dead. 비슷하다!
그럼...I'm writing about the kernel of humanity's corniness because of some past encounter with a love bug. Not so long ago I have felt that I really liked someone--"liked" meaning that I have considered spending my lifetime with that person--until it just faded. (I won't give much details but I'm sure we'll be on the same boat after reading the next paragraph:) Now whenever I think back of how I used to like that organism, I just say to myself: "The heck were you thinking back then~! You damn crazy fella!" with a matching Quiver of Eww and some pore dilating goosebumps. So I guess what I thought was true love wasn't so true after all. True love just exists in hindsight, and if you're lucid enough, one of the few realizations on your deathbed, that you had not fallen out of love.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Dirty Carnival

You'll never realize the worth of things unless you've lost them. It's a cliche that deserves not to be downplayed. When I was in Korea, I never really watched Korean films and telenovelas (soaps). I could watch them as streaming media or download them thru torrents. I did neither. Anyhow, last night I watched A Dirty Carnival, with subs going well. Leaving my PC turned on for 3 days, I think I totally deserve a fine download!
The story is about a gangster (변부 Byeon Du played by 조인성 Jo In Sung) who tries very hard with his fists and sashimi knife to keep his family alive. He supports his ailing mother and two siblings, both he sends to school. I don't really know about the extent of realism this movie depicts since I really don't know much about gangster culture. But one thing is for sure, there is no part of this movie that's dragging to make you wanna close VLC and chat instead. Every minute is a struggle for the gangster himself--saving his family, his relationship, his dignity. What I liked was that the ending isn't predictable. There were so many possible endings, which I guessed, but didn't really consider would happen. But it did, and it's a very haunting curtain fall for all the characters. A nuclear bomb was dropped and everyone died.

When I say it's good. It's good.
Overall rating: 9/10.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kimchi Tidbits Poetries and Sayings #2

A Hope for Joy

There was a boy
Happy, mellow and coy
Running down with
A clattering jingaling jing
Golden bell a sounding.
Under a blue whispy sky
Stars smiling and true
Wonderfully twinkl'ng
He hears jingaling jingaling jing.

His feet sweeping
Running a rushing
Down the velvety hill
Blades 'o grass
Whooshing, brushing they sing.
He felt really good
As his feet like the wind
Blowing thru the blades
Longing, rushing to spring.

This boy earnestly awaiting
Season, Spring a coming
Glistening snowing flowing
A drip of hope fulfils
A waiting.
From a branch now
Blooming flowering living.
That boy, oh so
Happy mellow and coy.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Unfolding Seasons March 15

It's Spring. Living in a country where there's only summer and summer seasons I never knew what it is like. The winds are different. It's colder, nicer and has a pine flavor to it. But more than that, I knew that the world with all its places and people is not a contrived wonder; I started to know people from 10 different nations, appreciated their differences, and acquired a perspective only one can get from immersing in an international learning ground, which is Daejeon University.

First group picture on the way to Hyehwah Culture Center for the Welcoming Lunch. The first thing I noticed about DJU is how it uses pre-molded slabs of concrete that are piled on top of each other to construct stairs and elevations. Well, that's a mark of engineering parsimony, not to mention ability.

This is Songpyeon. One Korean delicacy that I've learned to appreciate. Do you know it takes a lot of uncooked ground rice to make a small ball like this. And it only takes two or three pieces to appease your revolting tummy.

At the end of the formal opening where we introduced ourselves one by one, we took a formal group picture with the Korean buddies. Each one of us is assigned a Korean guardian angel to look over us until we can get by ourselves in the foreign land, or until they get busy and leave us just like that. Haha. Thankfully, both my buddies for the 1st and 2nd sem are real guardian angels.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reliving the Moments (Kimchi Pot Chronicles #2)

I always think that the human mind is so frail that keeping a memory with much detail is impossible. You probably know that even if you swear by all the saints that you won't miss, you won't forget, slowly but surely, everything will just float away. The distinct affinity you had with the people, the emotions you've shared, the pictures of places you've been, everything. A memory is but an ember constantly threatened by gusts of change, of laziness, of indifference. I guess we can only handle a handful of memories.

Can you fix this in your mind's eye? The beauty is so elusive that even freezing it in time with my Sony didn't work. It's MT. Geumgang in North Korea btw. ^^; And I'm not going to throw the shoes I wore in hiking this mountain!

Today before I sleep (I slept past 12mn) I tried to relieve everything that has happened. March 14 is the beginning of my start. I tried to reconstruct every dialogue with Tanya in NAIAirport and the mixed emotions while waiting and boarding the plane. It was like self-hypnosis. And I never thought that I'm good at it. I felt a real surge of excitement and wonder while under the state of reliving with my past self answering the questions: "What kind of life would be waiting for me there?" "I'm spending 10 months there. Would I survive? Would I just stay for 1 semester?" "My friends whom I left behind, would we still be us when I get back?". Thinking about those things made my stomach churn back to reality. I'm lying on my bed, March 14, 2008 not 2007.

My feeble attempts to time travel did give me a very cathartic experience. I felt good that I found myself typing this the time I woke up. Tonight, I'll try to continue my journey back.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Kimchi Tidbits #1 Poetries and Sayings

Four Seasons

A puddle of water
Reflection of white concrete
Reminds me precisely
Of I in a place
A piece of heaven.
The breeze spells calm
I blithely danced with the warm music,
And the sea waves
Bring joy to my heart.
Finding is not, for already there is
It has found me but as soon
As it did
It fled away...
Farther, until I
See no more
But I am happy.
The traces are there,
I collect them every morning.
And shine them by night.
And the shards that keep
My wounds throbbing
are the constant
And painful reminiscent
Of the life
That gave me life.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Inexchangeable (Old Vineyard Chronicles #2)

Special wine made form a well-aged friendship.
March 2, 2008, Sunday, I met with Vichell, Malou and Cyril, three of my 52 high school girl classmates. We had a mini reunion in Alabang Town Center with me as the only guy around. Felt quite a bit awkward at first. And as much as I wanted to hear something about my highschool guy friends, they're just too inactive even for a Japanese seismograph to detect.
Me bill-less but penny-ful, which doesn't count much if one wants to treat long unseen friends, felt quite disappointed especially that I actually have a part-time job, but money doesn't really trickle down on me one drop. Yeah, blame that on over-extraction of labor from a competent underpaid laborer. Anyhow, I ended up being treated instead! hahaha. Pains and gains.
It was in Shakey's that we just talked, shared stories over a pan of pizza combo meal and mojo so as to catch up with each other's lives spent with contact so scarce that each sentence we utter tells a whole lot of stories, substories and other interesting digressions. And speaking of that Shakey's! I'm pissed off with the waiter whom I think regards himself very handsomely, while the fact stands out that he'll not stand out from a pile of cow dung. For we were still enjoying sitting on the couch not longer than an hour, and this certain creature approached us with an impish tone: "Sir, Ma'am, are you still going to order something?" Logically it follows "then if none you could now pack your things and leave." OH MY! I've never been treated that way before, not by a dung-esque persona! Anyhow, I kept my cool and said we need none and we left. If only I have money at that time I'd buy a family size pizza and bottomless iced tea and I will piss him off by making the thing refill my glass over and over and over. Anyhow, us four left ATC and hopped to Festival Supermall. We finished our chit-chat at the 4th floor near the cinema, with Vichell telling more than the three of us combined. Filled with plans for March, we parted ways expecting to see again. This time, with money to keep our activities floating, and of course, more fun. Realistically speaking, it's always fun with money and friends around. hahaha.

And yeah. Don't worry my friends. I am not exchanging your for anything, however intense and lugubrious (at times! hahaha) I am particularly with my experiences in Korea.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Shard Struck: A Precious Wound (Kimchi Pot Chronicles #1)

Every click of My Pictures folder, every hit of Play button of WMP, every Korean song I play-- are the shards that keep my gaping wound open and as fresh as the first day that everything that has been had been...
Since I've been back from Korea, I found it very hard to move on. I'm now inflicted with a chronic laziness that my thesis had been stalled for two months; I've never produced anything that amounts greater than a bug's fart. The stasis has been formed and it's where I'm living now. I think what's more serious is that I am participating in my self incarceration. I know that if I stay inside for long, I'll just rot inside with the memories and friendships I cherish. And these fragments of life had already given me a hell load of joy and lessons learned; they have done their purpose. They are now expired. Should I stay longer, I'll expire too..And clearly, doing that is committing intellectual and interpersonal suicide. So starting tomorrow, I'd start moving in for the kill. I'll work for my future, leave the stasis behind in my growing museum for memories.
My wound will not close, for I will never permit it to.
The certain throbbing sensation will forever remind me that I have lived once in a way that I never will live again...

1st Fragment: The Stasis Forms (Korea Chronicles #1)

My most dreaded day has come. I am about to leave for Korea. That night, I borrowed a weighing scale from my neighbor who sells rice and vegetables. This time, however, it is not the rice nor the vegetables that will be weighed—it would be my clothes. Two of my closest friends Ej and Jabez, whose houses are 2 hours away from mine went that night to help me pack my stuff. It felt the real essence of farewell when I saw them folding and compressing my clothes, praying that my luggage would just weigh all right. As they are graduating this month (March), we spent our last few hours together watching TV, reminiscing college life in UPLB, in the Purple Room (Jabez' dorm unit where we usually hang out). I also fixed Ej's PC for I was their only technician who never asks for fees. Everything that night was not at all an emotional experience for me--perhaps not yet. The atmosphere was such in a state of ambiguity-- that one second I felt like I'm leaving and then in another second I felt that it's just like any ordinary night for me and my family. If there's anything sure, it would be that it was the longest moment in my life. The Waiting. It is the time of my life where I felt that the past, present and future all converge into one uberly cramped time frame. It was a deluge of stimuli of what I had been, what I am now, and what I'm going to be and what will it be in Korea. Agony, excitement, assurance, anxiety, anticipation were all mixed in my head and it's definitely disorienting.
Time to rest. Tomorrow will be the beginning of something really special. It was around 3am that we all slept... Looking at the clock, fixing my eyes on every second that passes by, knowing that I would spend 10 months in a different time zone...the thought made me all the more more jittery. I fell asleep on my bed for the last time. I prayed a lot, close to sweating blood. Next night I’d be in the Land of Kimchi--unseasoned, perhaps a bit bland, but will get savory as each day begins and ends.