Friday, November 26, 2004

warm and cozy

The winter chill brings shivers down my spine, so cold that I need to bundle up right to keep myself warm. Luckily the heater in our apartment works pretty well. When we first moved here in Korea and found out how the heating system works, I was skeptical. But now that we get used to it, I think I like it better than the usual households space heater or radiator, that can visibly seen in some cold weather place.

The heating system in korea is the traditional radiant floor heating called "ondol" which means warm stones or hot floor. A typical korean houses or apartments are equipped with this system which conducts the flue gases of fire under the floor. It is a primitive way of heating the house, wherein traditionally they uses a fireplace inside to run the heat. But the modern day ondol is hydronic radiant floor heating where hot water is being used instead of hot air to warm the floor. There's a gas furnace or gas/oil boiler to which a lot of hoses connected individually and run beneath the floor and to every water faucet in the apartment. This keeps the whole house and flow of water warm. The trouble with this is sometimes it's hard to adjust the water temperature to your liking, it's either too hot or too cold.

Ondol is a good match to Korean life-style, for one thing they spent most of their indoor life on the floor. People naturally sit, eat, sleep and do everything on the floor. No matter how cold it is outside, once you came in and sit, rest your hands and legs on the floor, you'll feel comfortable and warmth all together. As for me, I sometimes lay on the floor on my stomach while watching tv or reading. Also, since winter it's hard to dry clothes, so once it's air dried outside, (electric clothes dryer is not common here) I lay the clothes on the floor which helps drying it completely.

This unique home heating system is interesting and I do enjoy it.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The season to thanks our Lord for all the blessings and
to wish that He may countinously shower us with
bountiful graces, good health, happiness and many
good things in life.

Have a safe and stress-free holiday!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

five years and counting.....

"a table for two
a bottle of wine,

candles all over
and red roses too

love song is playing,
oh, so romantic....
but something is missing,
that's me and you!"

Happy 5th Anniversary Honey!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

happy birthday bro!

I fondly remember
all the things we've done
Growing up together
having so much fun.

The times when you teased me
and made me so mad
The times when you held me
because I was sad.

You're always there for me
whenever I need help
There's no doubt about it
Bot, you are the best.

Happy Birthday from ate!

Friday, November 12, 2004

the last gasp of Fall

a bed of leaves

standing still with it's beautiful color

the last leaves clings to the bough

The cold breath of autumn had stricken it's leaves from the vine until it's skeleton branches clung, almost bare, to the crumbling bricks - Last Leaf by O. Henry

More photos here

Thursday, November 11, 2004

pepero day!

November 11th is marked as Pepero day in S.Korea. Pepero is a brand of cookie, long, skinny, chocolate coated sticks. The significance of this date is, 11th day of the the 11th month (11/11) and these cookies are stick shapes, so it was called Pepero day!(weird!)

This day is also classified as romance and friendship day, not a national holiday but everyone's celebrating it. Some said that this holiday was created by the makers of pepero, Lotte - a huge food and beverages company here in Korea. A holiday that makes the children nutzo! They buy pepero and exchanges with classmates or give it to their friends, family and teachers. I wish L would bring home some tonight :)

Japanese are also celebrating the same holiday and it's called "Pocky day". Pocky cookies are available in few flavors, while pepero are plain milk chocolate.

Children are enjoying an afternoon of Pepero day....

More pepero....

pepero at the supermarket

even bakery had their share of this holiday, a bread dipped in chocolate :)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Sunday afternoon, sunny but cool. A perfect temperature for walking! It's nice to stroll around while clear and crisp air blows on my face and colorful trees sway their branches on a cool breeze. Brown leaves are brittle on the ground and crunch on my feet as I step on them. Amazingly beautiful season!

As promised, we visited the local museum. Buyeo National Museum is across the street from our apartment, so near that we didn't bother to visits until today (after 2 mos). It was bad timing though, the whole place was crowded with children on a fieldtrip. I guess that's one reason why we didn't bother to stop-by, everyday the place is jam-pack with tourist buses. As we expected various relics and artifacts of Baekje culture, are kept in this museum. Stone and bronze daggers, clay pottery, and various incense burner, to name a few. Many of these are thousand years old. Taking picture is not allowed but we're able to take a snap of the famous insense burner.

us enjoying the nice weather :)

Our day ends with a korean take-out, kimbap and bibimbap with kimchi on the side. Kimbap is a korean roll, rice, egg, carrots, raddish, krab, and ham rolled in seaweeds. Bibimbap is made from cooked rice, fried egg, bits of meat (sometimes mushroom), seasoned vegetables and red pepper paste. It's so spicy but very nutritious!

Have a great week folks!

Friday, November 05, 2004

native tongue

L: we're going to museum (myusum) tomorrow.
Me: say that again?
L: tomor....
Me: no, say museum (myu-si-yum) again
L: museum (myusum)
Me: is that the right way to pronounce it?
L: you said it right, but when we're talking casually I dont have to say "we are going to mu-se-um"......

What can I say!

English is not the lingua franca in the Philippines, though it's widely use in schools and offices. Commonly, accents are not a problem and there is no need to correct them as long as it doesn't block the smooth flow of conversation. It should not be a source of worry as long as the speakers are able to express themselves. True, in job interviews applicants are evaluated as to the way they speak english, especially in a field where an english 'twang' is necessary. This is the case where globalization is concerned.

When I first came to the US, I had a hard time understanding the native speakers, with their deep accent. The reverse was also true. In time I learned to improve my english ability and pronunciation. Not that that I perfected it completely, but there was a big improvement! I think it's the process of learning and adapting. It's not like learning the hard way, just some overhauling :)

We are taught English in schools but some teachers, especially in public schools, don't have the proper diction (accent, intonation, enunciation) to teach students how to say English words correctly. I remember my English 101. We were asked to recite "Oh, captain! My captain!" Did the teacher bother to correct us? No! So we all said cap-teyn, instead of cap-ten. Did anybody corrected me when I said ti-ye-ter instead of di-ter (the'a-ter)? I guess it's the same as the way we pronounce tagalog words - "ika ng aking guro eh - kung anong baybay siyang bigkas." Very similar to Spanish (huh?). Student's don't consider it important, but once out of school, that's when the competitions starts. It's pitiful to listen to one who has difficulty pronouncing even simple English words.

It's a different story here in Korea. While they have advanced technology, they are behind in speaking english. There is a big language barrier in this country. Here in the small town where we live right now, not even a single person can speak english. Not even in a bank, stores, or other stablishments. We're lucky to find someone who can give us driving instructions, whenever we're lost. Many Koreans are trying hard to learn english and the price they pay is high. They have to pay big money for a native speaker to come here and teach them english. We predict it will take decades before Korea becomes an English speaking country. It will be a while before there's a new generation of an English speakers.

Come to think of it, in the Philippines english is first taught at the age of toddlers. Mother's ask questions such as, "What is your name?" and "How old are you?", but did we learn to pronounce it properly? I don't think so. Children answer the question with thier names, and hold up their hands to show their ages.

I guess no matter what we learn in school, or how many books we read, we'll always be filipinos who speak Philippine english and not American english, or British english, and so on..

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