2014 in Review

 

It’s that time of the year when everyone tries to summarize the past 12 months or so in one blog post. And I’m here attempting to do just that. My 2014 was a year of change and stepping out. It was packed with adventures and memories that I don’t even know where and how to begin without ending up typing a very lengthy post.

Let’s start with how I ended up taking my very first Korean proficiency exam in Manila. Well, I guess no one in the world hasn’t heard of the Super Typhoon Haiyan and how it destroyed our city, Tacloban. Because of that typhoon, things happened and it just wasn’t safe to stay here so we had to evacuate to a much safer place. I ended up going to Manila. I got to attend my cousin’s wedding in Subic and celebrate last year’s Christmas in Manila with my mom and my sister. It was my first Christmas away from home and away from my dad and brothers. I also got to welcome the New Year there. Our place was located on the 23rd floor of a condominium building so I had a good view of the fireworks. It was amazing.

During my stay in Manila, I got to meet my bestfriend, Marianne, for the first time in person. Yeah, I met her online in 2010 and we’ve been good friends since then. Meeting her in person probably was one of the best things that happened to me in Manila. And she’s one of the reasons why I’m dying to go back there. I miss going to the mall with her, singing in Timezone until our throats hurt, the quick visits to the convenience store to buy ice cream, spying on other people using my camera’s super zoom, the sleepovers. Yeah, I miss it all. I wish it only costs P20 to visit her so we can do all these things at least once a week but alas, plane tickets are just ridiculously expensive now that our airport is under repair.

Other than Marianne, I also met Arin, one of my friends who is self-studying Korean like me and Jerry 쌤, a Korean I met on Facebook. He came here on a business trip and he was kind enough to spare us a few hours to eat and hangout. It was also nice of him to buy Korean books and cosmetics for us because it would’ve cost us a fortune to have them shipped here via EMS. I was so happy to get 6 secondhand Korean novels for only P1000.

I also decided to take TOPIK exam. I’ve been wanting to take the exam to test my Korean skills but I don’t live in Manila so I never got the chance to. I finally got to visit the Korean Cultural Center. I didn’t really care much about the exhibits they were holding then — they were having a Pucca exhibit and I’m not a fan of Pucca. I was more interested in their library and their huge collection of Korean language books. They had everything I wanted. They’ve got Ewha Korean 1 to 6, Yonsei Korean 1 to 6 and all the TOPIK books that I wanted to study with. Too bad I live far away from KCC. I’d love to study there everyday. I even toyed with the idea of taking Korean language classes there but I had to go back to Tacloban because a job was waiting for me.

Sometime in April, I got a text from a Korean soldier and he was offering me a job. He even called me just to make sure I really knew how to speak even just a bit of Korean. I accepted the offer but I couldn’t start working yet because I still had to take the TOPIK since I already paid for it and it would be a waste if I didn’t go through with it. After the long wait, I came home excited (and nervous at the same time) to have my first job interview.

After college, I’ve spent 3 years being unemployed. It’s not because I couldn’t find a job but because I wasn’t allowed to work. Fuck discrimination against PWDs. So I started learning Korean language to keep me from extreme depression. And that was the best decision I ever made in life. The only thing I regret about it is that I wish I had started earlier so I’d be more fluent by now. But I still got hired even though I’m not fluent in Korean yet and I started working for ARAW Contingent 필리핀 합동지원단 on May 5th.

On May 7th, I got a very rare chance of working with the cast and crew of Real Men (진짜 사나이). I got to work with Super Junior’s Henry, ZE:A’s Park Hyungsik, K.Will, Jeon Junmyeong, Rainbow etc. I even got to take a selca with Henry. I got to spent 3 days with the cast and the crew. But I didn’t get to really talk to them because time was precious and there were still a lot to be done.

A month after I took TOPIK, the results came out and I passed and got a Level 3 certificate. I wasn’t really happy because I expected to get a Level 4 but my score (69.75) didn’t reach the cut off for Level 4 which was 70. I failed to get 0.25 more. But oh well, a pass is a pass.

I started teaching Korean language to high school students and adults for ARAW. And because of that, I got interviewed by Korean media. Most days, my Korean speaking skills suck but I was glad I was able to answer every question they threw at me. As much as I like teaching Korean, I decided to quit my job and put up my own Korean restaurant. While working for ARAW, I got to meet people or got introduced to people who could help me with my restaurant like suppliers, cooks etc. It was tough leaving my teaching job because I got attached to my students and the Korean soldiers that I worked with. It wasn’t easy choosing between two dreams. But I decided I could still teach while managing a restaurant. So the planning and the construction started and the restaurant started its operation on the 26th of October.

Through ARAW, I met Pastor Kim Younghwan and his family. They invited me and my Korean friend to spend 추석 with them. It was my first time to celebrate it.

ARAW continued teaching the students and they invited TOPIK to hold the exam here as well. I got to take TOPIK again. Most of the students were beginners and I’m probably the only Filipino here in our city who can communicate in Korean so I was the only TOPIK 2 examinee. It was awkard as hell. I passed the exam and got a Level 4. Almost got Level 5 but again, I was a few points short from reaching the cut off. Ugh. There’s still next year so I’m planning to form a study group with my students. I’m aiming for Level 5 this time so I hope I don’t pass out from preparing for the exam while managing a restaurant.

Before I end this post, I would like to thank everyone who believed in me from the very beginning. I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for you guys. I look forward to another wonderful year with all of you. Thank you so much. ^^ ♡

꿀을 파는 날

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Since some of the soldiers will be going back to Korea soon, I went to a restaurant to eat with my boss and two other soldiers this morning. The restaurant was named after the typhoon Haiyan and it’s located 30-45 minutes away from the base camp.

I would have enjoyed it more if only I could understand what they were saying. They talk too fast and use a lot of slangs or dialects which I haven’t heard of before so I couldn’t keep up with the conversation most of the time. T^T Anyway, let me share two things I learned from them today.

“때려 빠쁠라”

When the waitress served the tuna sandwich, my boss suddenly uttered these words when she was out of earshot. I don’t know exactly what it means but they told me it’s a dialect that roughly translates to “I’ll make a juice out of you”.

“꿀을 판다”

It literally means “selling honey”. They use this phrase when someone is not doing anything productive but still earns from it. It’s like when you go to work but not doing the task assigned to you and yet, at the end of the month, you still get paid for doing nothing. One of them said, “What we are doing right now is an example of 꿀을 판다. It’s working time and yet, we’re out eating and enjoying a ride while sipping on mango shake.”

소풍!

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Days ago, one of the other interpreters asked me if I was coming for the outing. I was puzzled because my boss didn’t mention anything about an outing. That outing turned out to be for the other offices only and ours was scheduled last Sunday.

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I arrived at the base camp wearing shorts. How brave of me to wear shorts to a military camp bustling with soldiers. I was a little early so I stayed in our office while the soldiers were having their Sunday service.

My boss came and we left the office together. He handed a walkie talkie to me and told me to give it to the first bus’ driver. I was about to head to the bus but I quickly hid behind a car upon seeing the soldiers. But an order is an order so I did what I was told. Why did I even wear shorts in the first place? Well, they said we were going to a beach. Who on earth goes to the beach on a hot day wearing jeans? That’s just uncomfortable.

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I was told to get inside the car with my boss and two other officers then the driver. It felt like I was travelling with my dad because they kept playing songs that my dad usually listens to. My boss ended up telling the other officers about me and my family background. I think he regrets doing so because… well, in Korean culture, the youngest and the new employee must be the one to do the cooking and serving when eating out, right? But the two officers told me to sit down and just eat and let my boss do everything. Haha! Sorry, boss, but I’m just following the orders of the officers who, by the way, holds a much higher rank than you. XD

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Anyway, when we arrived at the beach, there were about 5 cottages reserved for us. 3 cottages on one side for the soldiers, 2 cottages on the other side (1 for the officers and the other was for the Filipino soldiers who were our escorts). I was pretty much disappointed because we travelled an hour and a half for it and the beach was like any other beach near the base camp.

Oh, did I mention that I was the only girl in the group? OTL

I’ve never had beer before. I just don’t like the smell of it. But today, I decided to have my first can of beer. Haha! It was… okay. I didn’t like the taste so I only consumed about 1/4 of it, or maybe even less.

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After having lunch, the soldiers started grabbing other soldiers and tossed them into the sea. The other beachgoers found it weird to see them wrestle in the water but it was totally normal for me since I know that is how Koreans are.

The two officers left to take a dip, leaving me and my boss behind. My boss cooked some shrimps and told me to have some but I wasn’t in the mood to peel shrimps. And I was still feeling full from the slices samgyupsal that he dumped on my plate. We decided to cook some more samgyupsal and gave it to some beachgoers near our cottage.

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Before we left, my boss and I finally decided to get into the water. He went far into the sea with the others while I just stayed near the shore where the water was just right above my knee since I can’t swim. Bad idea. I should have just gone back to the cottage. OTL

One soldier joined me and told me to hold onto his hands. I gripped both of his hands, totally unaware of what was about to happen. Another soldier was approaching. The soldier who were holding my hands turned me around and told the other soldier to grab my feet. That’s when I realized that they were gonna toss me the way they tossed the other soldiers earlier. WAAAAAH! I was screaming in protest, yet laughing because I fell for their trap. Lol! And they gave me a few swings before tossing me into the water. OTL I was out of breath and energy that the soldier had to hold my arm so I won’t trip (the sea floor had rocks, big rocks) as we headed back to the shore.

When I reached the cottage, I noticed I got scratches on my left leg when I tripped on a big rock. The soldiers cleaned up while I washed up and changed into dry clothes. In the car, my boss lent me his Adidas shirt to cover myself with when he felt my arm was cold.

I really had a great time even though I got tossed into the water and got hurt. T^T It felt weird that the officers treated me like I was their guest who they have to treat like royalty. T^T I’m an employee, I should help out but they didn’t let me. Oh well, I enjoyed eating and talking with them.

Thanks to my boss (the topless guy beside me in the photo) for inviting me and letting me have this opportunity to hang out with everyone. ^^

D-DAY: TOPIK Results Are Out

….but where is mine?

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I’ve been anxiously waiting for this day to arrive. I wanted to know how I did on the intermediate exam. I was counting down the hours and when it was finally 2:00PM my time, I was cursing under my breath as I try to visit the TOPIK website with the shitty 3G connection. I checked the result for the beginner exam first. I passed Level 2. Almost aced it. I wasn’t expecting to get 100 for Vocabulary and Writing and 100 for Reading. I was expecting I would get high scores for those two section but not a perfect score. Lol. Then I moved on to checking the result for the intermediate exam. Lo and behold. I couldn’t check it. I don’t know why but I have a feeling they entered the wrong birthday that’s why nothing comes out. Anyway, I, with a very thick face, asked my boss for help. He said he’ll look into it on Monday. I hope I pass and get even Level 3. I’d seriously be happy if I do get Level 3. *keeps my fingers crossed* 

Anyway, I survived my first month of work. So many things happened it doesn’t feel like it’s been only a month. It feels like it’s been a year already. I’m very thankful to my awesome boss for treating me nicely and to my coworker for helping me get familiar with things. It’s too bad my coworker had to resign to continue her teaching career. It would have been better if she could have stayed even just until the end of June when the 1st batch of soldiers will head back to Korea and be replaced by the 2nd batch. Yeah, I will have a new boss by the end of June because the current one has to go back. Hmm. I’m definitely gonna miss him. I hope the next boss is just as kind and fun to be with as the current one. 

Oh, I was at the presscon earlier. The media wanted some updates on the rehabilitation so they arranged a presscon at one of the hotels here. It was my first time to go there. I was scared when Lieutenant Bae (or was it Baek?) told me to go with them. The presscon started. The commander and his interpreter joined the reporters at one table while I and the other soldiers watched them from a different table. As the commander stood up from his chair, he looked at my direction and motioned for me to stand up and stay in front. 두근두근. His interpreter introduced me as “someone who is fluent in Korean”. O_O WTF! Run, Angeli, run!! I was told to introduce myself and say something in Korean but “안녕하세요! 앤젤리라고 해요” were the only words that came out from my mouth. I totally froze when I saw the cameras. Pretty much the same thing happened during the Real Men filming. *bangs head on the wall*

Moving on… After the presscon, the waiters started serving the food and I somehow ended up sitting right next to the commander (the boss of all the bosses in the camp). It was awkward to eat dinner with him sitting beside me. I was offering a silent prayer to God while having my meal. I was hoping he wouldn’t talk to me because I just can’t. I’m scared of him. Lol. But he did talk to me and showed me a photo of his daughter who is the same age as me. I was able to have a Korean conversation with some of the soldiers outside the hotel after the dinner. They kept praising me for being able to understand Korean but I wasn’t flattered at all because I know that I don’t deserve their praises because I’m still 부족해 and I still have a long way to go before I can finally have a more deeper conversation with them. Oh well, at least I don’t feel so scared to talk to them in Korean anymore unlike before. I hope that my skills will improve with their help but I haven’t been studying these days and they often talk to me in English so… ugh. ㅡ_ㅡ;; Anyway, thanks for reading. ^^

I Love My Job! ^^

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After hours of running around, following instructions of my boss and the PD 언니들 while trying to take photos and videos of the cast of MBC’s Real Men, I finally got to have a very late lunch with my students and co-teacher-slash-boss, Lt. Hwang.

And now I’m suffering from minor sunburn because of the 3-day shooting but it’s worth it. I got a selca with Henry Lau but I’m not allowed to upload it and the fancams yet til July after they air the episode. I will also not post a fanaccount for now to avoid spoilers and getting myself kicked out. ^^ I still can’t believe it. I’m still in a daze.

My 1st week at work has been very hectic yet fun and amazing. Too many stories to tell but I must keep my mouth shut for now. ^^;; Oh, for now I’m not working for them as their interpreter. I teach Korean to high school students at the Korean language school they set up near the base camp.

면접 본 날에 대해서

I haven’t started working yet. I was supposed to start on May 1st but since it was a holiday, they pushed it back to May 5th instead. So for now, I’ll just talk about how I ended up getting this job and my interview.

I was in Manila when my mom told me to text the Korean army who were sent here on an agreement to help out with the restoration of our city and nearby towns. My mom told me to ask them if they can also help with the rebuilding of a school in her hometown and if they can come over to fumigate the town because they were afraid of dengue outbreak. She told me to text them in Korean so that they’d understand. And so I did. (I wish I didn’t. >__< )

Long story short, they asked me if I wanted to work for them as…. *cringes* their interpreter. ㅡ_ㅡ;; *shivers* I rejected it without any hesitation. Muahahahaha! *slapped* I rejected it and even told them I'm not even that good to qualify as an interpeter yet. My Korean skills… well, I still have so many things to learn and I'm only good at reading. I'm not confident when it comes to speaking Korean or conversing face to face. Online chatting is fine. And despite all this, they told me it's fine and give it a try. They said they have 10 Filipino interpreters and none of them knows how to speak Korean. They needed someone who can at least speak even just a little Korean. I told them I really can't. It's scary for someone like me who isn't even fluent and only studies Korean for fun. But they told me to have some confidence in myself. They kept persuading me, telling me that this is my chance to practice and improve my Korean. In the end, I said yes. (You would too if you were in my shoes and they keep texting you almost everyday and your parents keep on telling you to do it. ㅡ_ㅡ;;)

So yeah… I guess it's safe to say that I was forced into this job. (Someone switch places with me please. OTL)

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The day after I arrived from the long roadtrip from Manila, I went to their base camp. I was trembling when I handed them my ID and got my temporary pass. I was told to get in, leaving my friend outside. I was walking towards the container vans (yeah, that's where their office is). I was welcomed by two soldiers and they escorted me to their coordination office. Going inside their office felt like going inside a lion's den. My heart was so beating so fast I thought it would jump out of my chest and run away. Lol. Once I got inside, I was told to sit down. There were four of us in the office: me, Jung, Choi and Lee. (I'm sorry, I forgot what their rank was and I only know their last names. ;;)

And so the 멘붕 started. They started speaking in straight Korean. It was so fast, I did not understand most of it and I just smiled like an idiot. I felt like every word that came out of his mouth were daggers coming at me. I was so scared. They kept on telling me to relax and gave a reassuring smile so I calmed down a bit. I asked them how I should call the soldiers and they jokingly told me to call them 아저씨. ㅋㅋ How can I call them 아저씨 when most of them are around my age. Some of them are even younger than me.

A Filipino soldier entered and they introduced me to him. He asked me in Tagalog if I know Korean and I absentmindedly answered him "네" which brought laughter in the office. I wasn't thinking straight that time. T_T

The Choi guy (lol. I feel so rude calling him that right now. I'm terribly sorry.) took me to their commander's office. There was a conference room with two big flat screens in front. One had Korean news on with no sound and the other had Firefox on. I finally met the commander. I couldn't look straight at him so I couldn't tell if he was pleased to meet me or not. I was looking on the ground while Choi guy and the commander started talking about me. Then outside, Choi guy called Hwang guy and gave him instructions. Hwang guy was told to take me and my friend to the school where they are giving free Korean lessons to elementary and high school kids. My friend and I got on their car. I forgot to return my pass and claim my ID. *facepalm* Hwang guy and the other dude beside him were 2 years older than me. Since I was more relaxed, I was able to converse with them in Korean. After giving us a quick tour of the school, they gave us a ride downtown.

This is turning into a very long entry and it's not making sense anymore. Lol. I'm sorry. I'm typing like crazy, hoping to post this before 3G disappears again. XD

I'll end this post with a story of what happened to my friend who waited for me outside while I was having my interview.

Friend: *waits under the scorching heat*
Korean Soldier: *approaches her with a dead serious face* Are you hot?
Friend: *confused* H-huh..? N-no…
Korean Soldier: If you're hot, you can go inside.
Friend: OHHHHHH! Okay.

Did you get it? ㅋㅋㅋ

Hanging Out with Alodia

I woke up this morning feeling a little weak. I was so stressed preparing for TOPIK that I’ve been deprived from sleep for quite a while now. After taking both beginner and intermediate exam yesterday, I went to sleep earlier than usual because I was physically and mentally exhausted.

I really should have listened to everyone who adviced against me taking the beginner TOPIK. It was so easy, it didn’t feel like I was taking an exam. The intermediate exam was so-so. I don’t know if my skills have just improved or I was just lucky that the 34th intermediate was easier than some previous papers. If I do pass intermediate TOPIK, I’d definitely give myself a pat on the back for passing it without taking any formal lesson. Learning a foreign language on your own from the very beginning is not an easy task.

Before I went to sleep last night, I checked if the answer key was out already and it was. I don’t remember my answers so there really is no way to know how I did on the exam and I just have to wait til they release the results.

I mentioned in my previous post that I met Alodia at KCC yesterday but we didn’t get to talk much because the exam was about to start and I went home right after so we decided to meet up today at the McDonald’s branch near my place. I seriously feel sorry to my friends for making them meet up with me at a place that’s convenient for me since I am not from here. T^T

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디야 언니랑 같이 찍은 첫 사진.
내 얼굴이 엉망이네…

We met up at around 6PM. We talked about TOPIK and lots of other stuff while eating burgers and fries. We really did talked a lot, it didn’t feel like we just met. Lol. I honestly don’t remember most of our conversation and we were both enjoying talking to each other. We didn’t notice it was almost 10PM. Awww. I wanted to talk more but it was getting late and I didn’t want my sister to worry about me. I’m glad I got to hangout with Alodia before I head back to Tacloban. I got to know her more. I suddenly remembered that time when she organized a snack event for the crew of Kim Sun Ah’s I Do I Do. I’m so jealous of her for meeting Kim Sun Ah personally. I hope someday I’ll get to meet her too.

I am glad I decided to learn Korean through self study and started this blog. I met a lot of good people here and Alodia is one of them. I hope to meet more people who share the same interest as mine: learning Korean language.