Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Korea: That Special Connection

 That special connection... everyone’s sharing in food that reminds of the last supper.

I know this is common, but for me it is something grand and special. 

In those moments, our thoughts were one as  we learned together.  When I was widowed - my Korean students, came with me in grief and prayer.  I found them a great sense of   worth to continue on living life bravely: working/teaching.

At this time, Korean culture shares to the world entertaining dramas and stories about their legendary heroes like “Jumong,” and traditional Korean cooking “Jewel in the Palace,” among others.

Koreans work hard like other Asians, too.  With regard to fashion, women take care of themselve’s, no matter the age, and at the start of day you can see them well- made and with make-up. 

Korean men are handsome and thoughtful.  At snack time they share together and to those around.  I remember drinking tea and having cookies with them at break time, as we tell stories of culture, communities, and some special topics. 

I know that travelers, visitors love to go to shrines, vacation spots, and beautiful places – but then  I remember going to church with Jason and Howard; Julie and Elly.  They prayed well and were serious.  Some of them were not Christians, but I could see how they respected my country, my religion and my beliefs.  They tried hard to adjust with my poor country.  And this makes me realize that we really don’t have to focus on our differences but our likeness.  Yes, we’re all one and the same workers for peace, love and  progress.  Again, this is ideal, but in our little communities – it worked.

Places near Manila where students visited:

  1. Intramuros  -  the walled city;  Manila Cathedral; Fort Santiago, Rizal Park

  1. Pagsanjan Falls – one of the most beautiful falls in the Philippines, situated in Laguna.

  1. Tagaytay – Weather is cool.  Tagaytay grows abundant vegetables and fruits.

  1. Asia Mall – one of the biggest malls in the world.

  1. Baclaran – the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help; cheap buys and bazaars

  1. Schools, museums and seafood restaurants

Food Preference

Koreans like food abundant in vegetables and meat that aren’t so oily.  They  can be shy, but are self-reliant.  What more they love tea, noodles and “soju.” 

What can I say, but miss them all, miss my students…

“Dangsin-eul salanghabnida.”

Teacher Rose

Vietnam: My Heart

Sept 19, 2010

Who would want to go to Vietnam?  Some wouldn’t bother because they think Vietnam isn’t so popular and quite dangerous.  But then, when I was sent to Vietnam for a teaching job – I could not cut off something in me that is part Vietnamese: my heart.

The country of Vietnam is rich in natural resources, and people with simple hearts and of great courage.  If you are their friends, they will not abandon you in your need.  I perceive the Vietnamese as always ready to defend a cause. 

Catholic lay, support catholic groups though in small communities and work together as one family.  Churches in most part are built in French architecture with strong temples and huge statues.  People solemnly pray.

Vietnamese children are adorable.  At first they seem to be quiet, but later they are merry and full of energy.  They are so curious and with stories showing a rich culture of their origins.


Succulent fruits and vegetables like strawberry, dragon fruit, water melon, potato, carrot and more, are abundantly served by the Vietnamese.  They cook a varied recipe of healthy and luscious meals.  Freshly cooked noodles and bread are available around. 


Churches in most parts are built in French architecture with strong temples and huge images/statues.  In Dalat, a huge “Sacred Heart of Jesus” is on a junction.

The “Tet,” a festival of bounty and union remembers rhythm of seasons and labor of farmers.  It is celebrated with togetherness for the members of the same family and village.  In former times, villagers hardly went outside their bamboo fences; those who could not return to their families for the first three days of the year felt deeply homesick, more than at any other time of the year.

Family members gather together to eat in one house.  Friends and relatives visit one another to exchange greetings and good wishes.  Schools and children join in festivities with tokens, dances, and moon cakes.

Truly, Vietnam still matters, and everything that it wrote in history.  Lessons are learned from war like love. 

Wars are fought by some of the bravest soldiers ever to go in a battle, Americans and Vietnamese, alike; or any country or part of the world.  With all those experiences – and with Vietnamese martyrs, peoples of every nation take part in every human struggle, for all of us to build a  common home, that is the world. 

“Toi yeu ban” (I love you),

My blood is Filipino by birth mixed from Filipino, Spanish and Chinese grandparents – and if there are other molecules in my blood; they’re the cells of my students

Japan, ESL, and Secrets

Japan was my first time.  I mean, it was my first travel for work/workshop away from my family.  Try to imagine being in the shoes of someone poor in geography.  Of course, the excitement was there, as with the anxious feeling of being lost.

You are right, I really got lost – just like when I was in my younger years and even in my own country.  So – maybe, I haven’t mastered my weakness for places.  But then, when you’re at the brim of the drink, you will see all that’s inside.

Japan is adorable.  The first time I stepped in its soil, I felt there was something sacred and peaceful in Japan.  Air was fragrant and fresh, as its nature.  Weather was cool and my body approved of its coldness.  Parks were nurtured with budding flowers and flying birds to and fro.  Around was so clean, as if Japanese wind sweeps dirt everyday.

ESL Lessons

Japanese children were so cute, smart, and full of energy.  If you dance with them, they’ll dance with you, and jump with you, and play hard.  They don’t approve of  boring moments, therefore the ESL teacher must be quick and creative.  The class came so lively with the interaction of  everyone and letting each student share what he/she has worked with (drawing, puzzle, seatwork).

Professional adults  liked to learn more about culture, fashion, food, and even God.  Discussions /conversations  were helpful for both student and teacher learning together: the student learning English and the teacher knowing about Japanese culture. 

An Experience

When I got lost, Japanese people were so kind to help me.  They kept me safe and made sure I got the right rides going to places (because I couldn’t speak Japanese).  I toured places riding on a train and sharing rides with generous Japanese mothers and students, not knowing where I was headed (dawn till dusk).  What I could remember was the caring Japanese librarian who even brought me to the train station.  I  wasn’t able to give her anything in return for her kindness, but in the differences of our culture and religion – I shared to her a ticket book of St. Jude.  She embraced it with a radiant smile.

Japan gave me a blast of a train ride, no time would ever surpass.  I keep secrets with the Japanese mountains, wind, and parks.  And forever, moments in that land of the rising sun are etched in the center of my being.

“Banzai!” May you live a thousand years,