Friday, June 17, 2011

My South Korean Invasion: Arirang,Graduation Day and Endless Memories

Days have passed so quickly, we didn’t notice that the ten-days of feast and travel we were experiencing would soon be over. Despite this, we were still busy and excited like children who are anticipating a graduation day and we were also very eager to present to the Koreans our cultural dance, Cariñosa.

I photographed this toilet bowl set for the purpose of documentation and reminiscing. Me and my room mate Rod Pelina actually explored this stuff the very first night of our arrival because we really do not know it's operation since the characters in the buttons are also in Korean. We just experimentally pushed each button to find out the purpose of all of them.

Just like the other days, breakfast was served at 7:30 A.M. at the second floor of the hotel. As a proof of Korean health consciousness, non-fat and non-oily foods were always served with tea or coffee.

The breakfast was also shared with the other guests of the Hunsan Gunji House who became our new acquaintances. To mention some, we have met, Ema and Kelyn, two middle high school students from Idaho, USA. Ruchelle Baysan of Congressional NHS, who met them over breakfast yesterday, introduced them to us. They were with Dr. Stan Steiner, their mentor, also an American..

Another kind of delectable and spicy Kimchi

With Cielo, Eden and Coney.

With Melay, Ed and Cielo.

With Allan

With Michael

With lobby attendant, a very serious student OJT of CNU.

With Allan, Michael, Dr. Stan Steiner (center) and Rutchelle

At 8:30 A.M. we started to leave for the Information and Computing Center at Chonbuk National University. Another 25 minute-walk would always be making us fit everyday.

With Samol Nori Performers

Ms. Kim Eun-yeong (center) with other facilitators introducing to us our activities inside the auditorium.

The morning session was another one of a kind experience for us for we were filled with awe because of the high level performances of young Korean group waiting for us in the auditorium of the Computing Center. The group of performers was led by Ms. Kim Eun-yeong, the university’s music instructress. At first, Kim Hi Yen, a student from Woosuk University played a Korean Traditional Music through a traditional music instrument called Haegeum.
Kim Hi Yen while playing the Korean stringed instrument, haegeum which sounds like a violin.

The spectators

It was followed by Lee Chul Hong, a student from the same unive rsity who taught us Arirang, Jen do Arirang and Ganggangsullae, all Korean folk songs. Ruchelle was brave enough to show her singing prowess and sang Jendo Arirang with Chul Hong and in turn was given a couple of figurines by Ms. Kim, while me, the darling of the crowd had a chance to play Chul Hong’s Janggu.

Lee Chul Hong is playing the Janggu

I tried to play the janggu too.

I am playing haegeum.

With Kim Hi Yen

I am a star!

With Lee Chul Hong


What am I doing?

Everybody had a hard time pronouncing the Korean words but we really liked the folk songs for we were humming the tune involuntarily the whole day and the day after. The great and incomparable performance of the Samul Nori was played by the group of students led by Yu Seong Je. They underwent training under Ms. Kim Eun-yong. The world seemed to stop as the drums beat faster and faster while all of us seem breathless in deep admiration to each of the student playing in front of us.

With their leader Yu Seong Je.

Before their performances, Rutchelle and I talk to them because we did not know what they were going to do. They asked for some Philippine coins to their delight when we gave them.

Buk drum

Jing percussion

Janggu drum

Samul nori is a genre of traditional percussion music originating in Korea. The word samul means "four objects" and nori means "play". Samul nori is performed with four traditional Korean musical instruments:Kkwaenggwari (a small gong), Jing (a larger gong), Janggu (an hourglass-shaped drum) and Buk (a barrel drum similar to the bass drum). The traditional Korean instruments are called pungmul.

kkwaenggwari percussion

Samul nori has its roots in nong-ak (literally "farmers' music"), a Korean folk genre comprising music, acrobatics, folk dance, and rituals, which was traditionally performed in rice farming villages in order to ensure and to celebrate good harvests. Specifically, samul nori music derives from utdari pungmul (the gut, or shaman ceremony rhythm of the Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong provinces of South Korea), as well as the genres of Yeongnam folk music and Honam udo gut, combined with more contemporary improvisations, elaborations, and compositions. Such nong-ak is steeped in traditional animism and shamanism, but also shows influences from Korean Buddhism. While nong-ak often features the use of wind instruments, samul nori only features the aforementioned four percussion instruments.

Head banging is a part of their performance while beating the instrument.

"Take bow, the show is over," Madonna sings.

Each of the four instruments represents a different weather condition: the janggu represents rain, the kkwaenggwari thunder, the jing the sounds of the wind, and the buk clouds. The idea of yin and yang is also reflected in these instruments: the buk and janggu (leather) represent the sounds of the earth, while the jing and kkwaenggwari (metal) represent sounds of the heavens. Although generally performed indoors, as a staged genre, samul nori depicts the traditional Korean culture, an agricultural society rooted in the natural environment.[citation needed] Samul nori is characterized by strong, accented rhythms, vibrant body movements, and an energetic spirit.

They bow as a sign of gratitude.

After the performances, we had the opportunity to play the instruments with the guidance of the students. Each of us was eager to try the instruments and took photos with each student. We tried and played to our heart’s content. A group picture with the students followed. Time was running fast but the moments seemed to stop as we were having fun when we were taught how to interpret Ganggangsullae. The steps were not hard and we were able to do them with merriment. Some of us in return taught some Philippine folk dance steps to the Koreans. Everyone had real fun until it was time for our lunch which means another 30-minute walk.

He whispers, "You are a fashionista".

This boy beside me can play different instruments.

Beating the Jing.

This girl is teaching me the correct hold of the left janggu drum beater.

Playing the Janggu.

They also taught us some simple Ganggangsulae steps.

One of the trainees, Eden Diones teaches Lee Chul Hong the sway balance folk dance step.

Group picture with all of the Koreans.

Afternoon walk going to the restaurant using the "parasol". Gelay and a Korean volunteer.

Melay and me.

Every meal was like the Last Supper in serving. We were served with a big hamburger patty with some sweet and sour sauce and rice inside an egg omelet. After lunch, we were given ample time to buy extra bags and still some more pasalubong for our loved ones back home. Going to and fro of the restaurant was nothing at all since this was the last day of the long walk, we got used to it and we had so much to talk about.

Inside the restaurant while waiting for the food to be served.

The afternoon session was devoted to the continuation of the Namo Web Editor lesson under Ms. Kim Yeonseon who was truly very patient and approachable. She kept on checking if we were following on and patiently went back to the first step of the procedure every time some teachers couldn’t follow. Everyone could have had followed the whole procedure had the computers been friendly and programs ran well. Just like Cielito de Borja’s computer who was unfriendly that day so she was not able to follow the whole instruction well. A ten-minute break followed and we answered the evaluation questionnaires about the training.

Enjoying the lesson and posing with the camera.

I peeked at the adjacent computer room and saw this classroom scenario of the university. The teacher with modulated microphone sound is lecturing in front while the 40 plus students listen attentively and follow what the teacher is saying. Students are very discipline because you could never see anyone doing his own thing in the internet. Notably internet connections in many parts in Korea especially in the cities are very fast.

Another pose in my 'barong' suit with a Korean friend. He seems curious with my attire and asked me if he could have my rattan necklace. But another Korean already have asked it to have. I gave it to the latter. I gave him another necklace which I have bought in Davao before. Koreans are fond of me because they said I looked like the famous Korean actor which name I forgot to recall.

Then, Mr. Han Cheon Soo initiated the graduation ceremony under the interpretation of the instructor of the day. It was indeed a very simple graduation ceremony yet everyone was honored and in high spirits to receive his Certificate of Recognition and gifts from the Jeollabukdo’s Office of Education. It was also the time when the Governor through his representative handed the Memorandum of Agreement of another five-year extension of the ICT training program to the representative of Gov. Ayong Maliksi. As a sign of gratitude, we the teachers in leadership of Dr. Ely Alicaya, ES I, ICT and Mr. Ray Salazar, the provincial assessor, presented to them our gifts, Café Amadeo, dried mangoes and Philippine Souvenir shirts to the Officers of the Office of Education. The Mayor of Silang, Hon. Areng Poblete also sent a Plaque of Appreciation to the Governor of Jeollabukdo for his support in ICT to the Philippine Teachers. As a final number, we performed Cariñosa, the Philippine National Folk Dance. The Koreans were very pleased for it was the first time that the Cavite teachers performed a dance number.

Mr. Han Cheon Soo reading the Certificate of Completion.

Folk Dancing Carinosa with my partner Ms. Lorna Mendoza.

Our last group photo inside the Computing Center
We then boarded in the bus and headed to a castle-like Chinese restaurant for the closing ceremony. It was another feast with different courses of side dishes and the main menu, rice and egg omelet. We were also given a silk fan with the colors of the Korean Flag by Mr. Ho. Many officers from the Office of Education were present that night to witness the closing program. Mr. Ray Salazar, spoke in behalf of the group.

Pretty women and gorgeous men in barong walking down the street..

Going to the waiting bus..

High tech... everything is push-button and with monitor to see clearly the rear view of the bus...

Shiningly polished!

A castle-like restaurant, a special place for the queens and kings who will soon go back to their own poor country... (just kidding)

For everlasting friendship between the two countries and as a sign of enduring happiness Ms. Josephine Monzaga represented the group for the ceremonial toast of wine... She was blushing after it because the Korean soju is really warm inside and intoxicating.

The view of the castle at night.

It was already dark when the ceremony was over. The group boarded the bus again and went back to the Hunsan Gunji House. We took some photos at the lobby of the Gunji House once again.

With my room mate Rod Pelina.

With Allan Villa

With a Korean friend.

All star cast.

After changing Barongs to ordinary clothes, we met at the cafeteria on the second floor and had an open forum about our impression on each other and of the training. Unsurprisingly, everyone had the same impression, gratefulness to each other most especially to the Team Leader and Vice Team Leader who called the group, “The Perfect Group”. The title implied good camaraderie, intelligence, wholehearted participation and cooperation in everything that has been done before, during and would surely go on after the training. It was a perfect time for bonding! But the bonding didn’t stop there. Women went to Room 201, Ms. Vicky Manlugon and Emy Santiaguel’s room. They had girl chat and endless laughter until they shed tears of joy until 2:00 in the morning. And all were really, really happy and contented.

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