Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For a While...

I have never been insulted in my whole life! It's not that I'm a VIP or Nobel prize winner but it's just that everyone deserves politeness and respect he's due. That vile 'k'reature just gave Koreans a bad name.

It happened yesterday at work (for those who don't know, I'm a part-time online English teacher). I was trying to contact my student for our arranged class at 10:30pm (Philippine time) but we can't conduct the class the usual way--headset + the virtual classroom software--since her headset is broken. The only way to hold the class is to call her phone, which of course, is more expensive. I informed my supervisor about this and a minute later he's at my station. I handed over my headset so that he could talk with my student and perhaps inform her about the additional cost of conducting phone classes. Here's what struck me as totally uncivil: he tried to extend the cord of my USB headset, which, being too long I tamed with a cord binder, with a violent pull till my CPU got dragged and crashed onto my monitor and keyboard. It made quite a noise that the teacher next to me had to check out what was happening at my station. I was just sitting in front of my desk, and him standing beside me, when this amazing display of animal behavior happened. It was just shocking.

He ended the call and returned to me my headset with its cord messed up. Before he leaves I felt I have to ask him: "Should I inform you again tomorrow if she requested for a phone class again?" He fixed his tiny eyes on me for about 2 seconds and said with the most arrogant tone: "Just continue [teaching]."
It's a pity that he cannot construct a better English sentence than that.

During that brief encounter, I felt I was turned into a second-class citizen in my own country, and that I couldn't accept. I was so pissed off at him not because he has done wrong to me. It's more of like because of him, for a while I hopped into Korean haters' boat, for a while I despised listening to my favorite Korean songs in my iPod, for a while I felt not going back anymore to Korea to meet my friends again.

There are rotten potatoes all over the planet. Thinking everything will be all happy in Korea, and that all Koreans are mild-mannered, is like believing that there exists a community of heavenly creatures on Earth. Clearly, that is not the case. Reality, once again, struck me hard. I was just lucky that when I was in Korea, not even a single vile being apparated before me. Yes, I could say that my 10-month stay there was a piece of heaven on Earth. And yes, I could also say that the Philippines could be the place where fallen angels from Korea started flocking at. Now I understand more than ever why I can't blame some Filipinos for expressing negative bias toward Koreans. But then it hurts me still when I hear nasty generalizations about these people. Rotten potatoes abound in the Philippines too. We also don't have a glittering reputation in other countries...I was just deeply saddened by the fact that I, too, felt disdain towards Koreans in general--even if it was just for a while. I care for my friends back there and I guess they care for me as much. I respect my professors who have been really generous and kind-hearted to me, to describe the least. I could not just have imagined that my admiration for them could have been dispelled quite so easily with that single encounter. My supervisor almost ruined it for me, for all the good Koreans out there.

I think I will be working some place else after I graduate this summer.

International Linkages

* start copying here *

Join the Worldwide Link Love!

Benefits of Worldwide Link Love!
1. Make new friends around the world.
2. Feel the Link Love.
3. Gain new readers and subscribers.

1. Copy from ~* start copying here *~ to ~* end copying here *~ and paste it on your blog.
2. At the end of the list, put your name and the country your in, it doesn’t matter what’s your nationality just put the country where you are publishing your blog. Don’t forget to put links at your name.
3. If you have many blogs, you can link all of it, just make sure you post the same on each blog.
4. Tag eight or more of your blog friends.
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Worldwide Link Love! Participants
1. Julia (Philippines)
2. Catherine (Malaysia)
3. shimumsy(u.s.a)
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5. Hailey (Philippines)
6. Sexymom (USA)
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I am tagging Bleuster Bleuster, Etavasi, CraigSays, SolLee, MommysLittleCorner, CanofThoughts, MySubconsciousThoughts, DonnadeGarcia, Kengkay,and Monaco

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Time in a Bottle

[I was so busy with my thesis that posting every day seems to be quite a task rather than a painless, cathartic activity. -_-""" I need to graduate this summer. I need to finish my research! 화이팅!]

This compulsion to break away from the comforts of university life has never been more intense than two days ago. It was UP's centennial graduation. As I hear the graduates' names being called, receiving their diplomas with oozing pride...There I was--far from the stage, standing on dry grass, containing the green eyed monster within with the taste of Kimchi. "The delay was worth it", I easily convinced myself. Being an exchange student in Korea has given me an inexhaustible well of joy and pride and strength from where I can draw esteem to keep my ego running unfettered. (Ego, as one of the things that keep you sane, is good, so long as you keep your head from plowing into others.)

(pics: The Stage with UP seal)

I gave my friends a very special hand-made gift that I hope they'd appreciate. When I arrived in Korea, I thought that I should collect four season leaves so that I can preserve the passing seasons with something that breathed them in. So starting from March till December, I started collecting flowers, leaves, grasses, etc. and squashed them in between pages of my book Count of Monte Cristo. I also brought home snow from the peak of mount Sorak, one of the highest peaks in ROK. The snow was so clear and pristine that you could actually boil it and use it to cook instant noodles, which was what we did. ^^; Considering all the mementoes I gathered from Korea, I thought of making something whose meaning can't be surpassed just as easily.

And that thing is the gift I gave to my graduating friends. (pic: a vial containing 'snow', dried leaves and flowers collected throughout the year--cherry blossom petals included--some colored sand and beads I bought from National Book Store. )

The four season leaves:

Colored sand and colored beads:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Big Bang

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You do not have to be tagged to play along. This game is simple and so are the rules.

1. Copy from *Start Copy Here* through *End Copy Here*

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3. Tag or don’t tag, your choice, however, the more tags you create the longer the list will grow.

4. Let me know your blog’s name and url by leaving me a comment HERE. I will add you to the master list. (If you would like a scroll box code, leave me your email address and I will email it to you.) Scroll Box Example. (I decided not to use the box for the Big Bang for ease of copying.)

5. Come back and copy the master list back to your site, often. This process will allow late-comers to get as much link benefit as the first ones in. Once you are on the master list people who have participated earlier will update their bookmarks and help everyone lower than them out on the list.

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*End Copy Here*

I'm also tagging
Pink Glamour
Can of Thoughts

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Creature of Habit

There was once a tree that refused to turn green in summer. That now it is time, every one of the tree's kin has yielded to what Nature meant for them to become. But the Tree-That-Could-Never-Move-On remains to be red as it was in winter. And when you gaze at the beautiful anomaly, you cannot help but imagine how hard it must have tried not to be engorged by everything that is green surrounding it. Perhaps you could feel it pulsating, struggling. Then I thought about what the brave tree has taught: moving on might not really mean progress, or what many people think as change for the better. Moving on doesn't mean moving forward. You could move sidewards or in a manner that's pathetically circular. I liked the red tree the way it is, how it doesn't move on. It still, however, remains in a state of pretty--a state everyone hates and envies, an amazing stasis where I, too, want to merge with. But in the end, the Tree, with all its fiery willpower, withered and died; and it lived because the life it breathed was all in its leaves--not by told by the wind nor by any other current, but by itself. Thus it has lived like no other tree has.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shellfish Memories

It was at the least of my expectations that a shellfish could actually make my day. Tides of vivid memories came rushing in as I ate baked mussels today for lunch. And it was our blockbuster recipe a year ago in Daejeon University (대전 대학교)...

Food Festival--September 18, 2007. All exchange students are encouraged to join this annual celebration of concrete diversity--cooking our country's flavors and sharing them for others to taste. This festival is also a quasi-contest for the team who has the most marks wins (visitors put stickers on a team's name that prepared the best dish).

We really didn't have in mind winning. I guess all of the participants never considered this festival as a competition. We still, however, did our best to prepare decent dishes. The past two days for team New Zealand (Dave Gardner), Philippines (Elliot & Tanya), and Vietnam (Ngan and Len) had been quite a challenge; we have to scour almost all known shopping centers in Daejeon just to find the right ingredients for our unique dishes. Turned out though that we just have to learn to settle for substitute spices and other improvisations. Below are some photos of my teammates: [Tanya, Chaehun and I seasoning the mussels, Dave singing the Coconut Song, which really boosted the popularity of our team, Len Ngan wrapping their spring rolls]
9:00. We have to be at the International Office early in the morning for the preparations. Carrying all our ingredients: steamed muscles, sauteed garlic and basil in olive oil, mozzarella cheese, ground pork seasoned with herbs and minced vegetables, melted chocolates, oats (Dave thought using oats is the next best thing for making a Kiwi chocolate desert), butane gas and portable gas range, we arrived in high spirits in Hyehwah (혜화 문화) Culture Center. 12 nationalities were there. We've gone really international. [photos: stairs leading to the Global Lounge, my Japanese friends]Stoves started igniting at around 3pm, and the mixed aroma has prompted curious visitors, fellow students and teachers to drop by the site. Each team is assigned a booth; booth assignment is in alphabetical order. Near the entrance are the Chinese, followed by Japanese and last in line is our team. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), we didn't win simply because people are already too stuffed French gourmeting at the first few booths. Our countries' names just seem to have betrayed us on this occasion. And yeah, I'm not sour graping! ^_____^ Today was a real exchange of culture, building international ties, and simply experiencing and sharing a once in a life time bond.

And yeah, the winner is Team Japan. ^^; Their takoyaki (octopus balls; thanks Ms. Betchay ^^;) was admittedly oishi! I guess we ranked in 3rd. But again, today, rankings are just mere superficialities.
As the poem I composed for this blog's heading says: flavor is the heart. I will always remember this day whenever I eat baked mussels, Kaya toast, octopus balls, Thai and Lao foods, and delicious others.

With this group picture, let's call it a post.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

In Return.

안녕하세요 한국 사람들! 저는 엘리엇이예요. 전 10개 월 동안 한국에 살았어요. 대한민국에 교환학생이었어요. 그 곳에 살 때는 모든 한국 사람들이 저에게 너무 작해서 고마웠어요.
지금 단순한 방법을 생겼는데... 학생들의 수필을 무료로 시정할 거에요. 그냥 여기로 연락해요.
이것으로 감사를 나타내는 제 방법이에요.

제 대학교: 대전 대학교 Daejeon University
전공: 사회학, 통계학 , 영어
장학금 인정하는 설립 : 아세안 ASEAN University Network

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fermented for 21 Years...and Still Fermenting

I have been living for 21 virgin, untouched, carnally unassailable, years on wanton grounds called Earth. Feeling love, in terms very well known by many, towards anyone has never been and never was...but I do wish it would crash down on me like a giant meteor that extinguished the dinosaurs, but that will serve to blast into smithereens the gigantic cardiac iceberg that has long been the reason for my emotional hypothermia.

If, given the erotically favorable circumstance, I was able to break free from the shackles of physical isolation towards L-O-V-E, would I find someone that could read it for me perfectly? I can just only spell, but hearing and feeling the perfect articulation from that dear-someone-else can make all the difference to me for all of heaven knows.

Now this is where it gets complicated--I wanted perfect articulation. I guess that's why until now I am still single--the last sabertooth among the more agile, actively reproducing, voraciously "meat-eating", tigers of the modern world.

I know, you wouldn't care much about all my blabber here, coated with lexical aphorisms, euphemisms and charms. So to end my first-rate classified grievance, I will tell you my perfect solution (and now herein comes once again the problem).

I wanted to create a person whose personality I made myself--whose abilities, interests, intellectual capacity, and most importantly, the level of sensitivity, I've decided on that person's behalf. A designer lover, that's as close as I can approximate the entity that could shed light on my life lived behind the eclipse of unfortunate solitude. I am not trying to be controlling. Manipulation is the last thing that I wanted to do. I don't want someone loving me because there are strings attached. Like everyone else, I guess, the idea that love should be desired and willful is also what I desirously want to believe in. So to reconcile making a designer lover--or a dreamlover I should say-- and at the same time not playing god, I would like to forget that I designed the person's being after all--forgetting through MIB's special pen-red light effect, or with Harry Potter's wand, whichever, whatever.

With this, I absolve myself from accusatory remarks, especially those that might come from myself that could painfully nag at my love-worthiness forever.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's a mall! It's a condo! No, It's a dorm!

It was more than what I expected. I thought I
was looking at some sci-fi construction engineered for space. The exterior of Daejeon U (대전 대학교 기숙사) dormitory was really flabbergasting, especially for someone who grew up seeing the not-so-new dorms in UP (the glory of euphemisms). Equally desirable and suicide deterring is the interior, which looks like what you'd imagine belongs to a space research center--walls painted in unadulterated white (what vandalisms?), glass window slides protected by a thin, grey, molded layer of steel with holes punched symmetrically throughout, and cylindrical pillars equally distanced from each other lining the dormitory corridors. I guess I've given too much praise, or perhaps it was just natural for me to appreciate what is indeed appreciable.

Now let's go to our room 3rd floor Room 303 Building B. Here, I'd just like to express my sincerest thanks to Daejeon University and ASEAN University Network for providing us with this totally furnished room-- TV, aircon, ondol (온돌 Korean style heating system), desks, bed, fridge, phone, PC, and the ever useful microwave oven. I never had been in want, not even for a day. 대전 대학교과 아세안 우리를 돌봐서 정말 감사합니다. (pic on the left) You can see Joe from Laos (standing, lives in 302 with Randy from China) and my Malaysian roommate Ken. The room is quite big and it can easily accommodate two persons more. I just miss this room--my bed, the pink quilt and the comforter with pattern of falling autumn leaves...and oh yeah, the green post-its that you can see there are actually Korean letters I posted in random order during the 2nd week,so I could train myself to read Hangeul with just one glance. It served me so well that I learned to read Hangeul in just 2 weeks.

I think I'd be a poltergeist of this room should I die now. God forbid! hahaha.

Bed. My bed. I'm itching to write a poem for you. But now I really have to hit the sack. T__T

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The First Laugh

There really was nothing academic to do during the first two weeks or so in Daejeon University. It was a period dedicated to building relationships that were physically lost when we got transplanted to the Land of Kimchi. Of course, thriving is a matter of suave diplomacy, and you really need to extract every ounce of this skill to reestablish yourself inside a working social network.

I decided to break the first block of ice. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would. I just used some help from Photoshop, whose capability was not fully exploited as you can see (I could have very well used paint instead to dabble some blood here and scatter some of Gjah's heads there.) The girl wearing a veil is Siti. She's an adorably humble girl from Malaysia. Gorging with her some heads is Jeryang Kim, who was the first Korean person I've ever spoken with; he accompanied me and Tanya from Incheon Airport to DJU-- a 3 hour highway drive where all I saw were unfathomable characters (they turn out to be Hangeul) and Christian crosses protruding from atop churchs' roofs. Anyhow, Jeriyang...I can still remember him holding a bond paper with "DJU" printed on it in black; it wasn't difficult to spot amidst the crowd since he's tall. That picture with murderously funny intent was uploaded to ASEAN 2007 YahooGroups for everyone to see. But Gjah from Malaysia retaliated with an even more hilarious picture:

We raised the first duel of the sexes with these images--ASEAN Guys (3 valiant virgos) versus ASEAN Girls (14 vicious viragoes).

Being a certified man-killer, Gjah was able to turn the tables from Siti being the laughing stock to us becoming transgendered. We even laughed our lungs out seeing this. Talking of utter defeat.

Hmm...So this is what I look like if I'm a woman. Ugly. Bleh!

Here was the first laugh. It shall resonate till all my neural connections snap off.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

There's a Time for Everything

Shedding of the old, blossoming of the new--a painful law governing everything, and I've just gotten a good reality bite from it last March 27 when the new delegation of ASEAN scholars arrived in Korea.

Last year, the stars were ASEAN 2007. We were given attention overflowing, tours abounding--and to be concisely precise, life was happy. I could hardly ask for more. That was 10 months of living in a fantasy that has an implicit promise to never end. Yet came December 27. Time to go back. I can clearly see the 'fin' slowly being inscribed on my fantasy book. At Incheon, I knew that I'm not in Korea anymore; I have to leave the life, the routine, the friends I've known for 10 months. And I have to endure everyday the struggle of Trying to Remember.

As my favorite verse in the Bible, in Corinthians I, says: There's a time for everything. My time has come to a close and I have to give a chance, or appreciate at the least, the sprouting leaves. In my heart of hearts, however, when I learned that ASEAN 2008 would be flying to Korea, replacing our history, overwriting our footprints, I felt a brief surge of envy that the thought of crashing their plane was deviously possible. Of course this has been resolved almost at the same time I thought of it. I'm going to bomb their plane.

Not! Anyhow, I present to you my juniors. 20 ASEAN scholars, 20 more torch carriers for the future of Asian cooperation, 20 souls that could make an impact in the region, 20 new students who are leaders in the making. I am very proud of you. By the way, the Philippine representative is 6th from the left, rear. Mabuhay!

It would be a disservice if I don't include our batch photo!!! [Okay. I've yet to look for a good one! haha]