Friday, December 26, 2008

CHRISTMAS TREES IN ASIA and Some Christmas Reflections

Below is a Christmas Reflection of my good friend Fides Bagasao. The foto below was taken on Christmas Day when she accompanied me at Incheon International Airport and bade me goodbye.

From 100NCD40

I traveled around several countries in Asia these past weeks :Cabanatuan City and Metro Manila in Philippines, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Bangkok in Thailand ,Taipei (airport ) in Taiwan, and then Seoul, South Korea. In each of these places, pretty Christmas trees ,decorated with balls and blinking lights, made me reflect on the Christmas trees and décor I have seen in these different cities , on past Christmases and what Christmas means for me at this period in my life, that I am overseas and living in Seoul, South Korea.

First, was the Christmas tree in my youngest brother Vicky and Helen my sister -in-law’s home in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija.. The Christmas tree was set up right before All Saints Day ,probably in middle of October 2008. The tree was green and tall and had local materials to make it look festive and pretty. Looking at it, really made me feel happy, something to look forward to.. images of “noche buena”(Christmas eve midnite meal) and almost two weeks of Christmas holiday with family and friends. A great time for reunions, recharging and reflections.

In Phnom Penh, I was surprised to see many places festooned with Christmas trees and glittering décor. Phnom Penh is thoroughly Buddhist, but shops, stores and window displays showed colorful Christmas décor as well as pretty chrismas trees.Golden and red glittering Christmas balls were aplenty. I was intrigued why a Budhhist city had sprung out with glittering Christmas décor.It was interesting that after less than 20 years after Cambodia had its first elections, following a horrible Pol Pot genocidal regime, its people specially in commercial Phnom Penh are putting out Christmas decorations.. it was specially interesting that a friend who has been in Cambodia since the early post war mentioned that people only wore black and white during those years right after the war and a peace treaty was signed.

Back in seoul, I was getting restless thinking about the Christmas décor I will put up for my little noche buena dinner on December 24th with young Filipino and Korean friends. Besides, I was starting to feel very homesick, that I will be missing Christmas this year in the Philippines.. I dressed up one Saturday afternoon in middle of December and headed straight for the store near the Miari-gogi bus stop that displayed a number of colorful Christmas trees.

I bought two Christmas trees that afternoon, one taller at 20,000 korean won (about US$16) .I realized later, this taller tree, all covered in white seeds to pass for snow,was a very ugly, almost hideous looking Christmas tree. I looked worriedly at the white tiny seeds that heavily covered the tree to pass for snow, and felt relieved that I had no pets who could get poisoned eating those seeds .The white tree was overloaded with red ribbons and Christmas balls and lights.. I was probably half asleep or half out of my mind to get this Christmas tree.But I thought I t would look pretty in the evening when it was all lighted up. Up to now, I could not set up this chritmas tree, cuz I still have to buy an extension cord. My housemate says just to borrow the one in the office. Brilliant.

The smaller tree I got for 5,000 korean won,(about US$3) I bought looked less hysterical. It was decorated by pink lilac Christmas balls and ribbons, that looked kinda delicate and really looked quite pretty when I turned the lights on with the whole room in darkness.

Last weekend, when the seoul winter temperatures were hitting below zero, I found myself in my bedroom, feeling cosy and content ,while I was curled up under a warm blanket reading a novel , with the Philippine radio on internet playing familiar Christmas carols while my little lilac christmas tree lights blinked merrily .

I felt I was really in my own room at home in the family house in Cabanatuan City very warm and secure in that feeling.

Next day, I went to Sunday mass in the Korean church in hehwah dong in a Filipino mass with about 500 pinoy OFWs, I was relieved to see two Christmas pine trees, so starkly bare and simple, in contrast to the ugly plastic ones that I bought the day before to ward off my loneliness and homesickness in the time of Christmas.Those plastic Christmas trees made in capitalist china(with chinese characteristics) reflected the hideous, distortion that Christmas had become in the hands of commercial profit, without any spirit or symbol of the spirit of christmas.

All the Christmas trees I saw, whether green or white, decorated with Christmas balls, ribbons, glittering stuff,whether in duty free of Taipei, or hotel in Bangkok, or shops in Phnom penh, contrasted dramatically with the two bare Christmas trees that stood at the altar of the Catholic Hehwadong Church in seoul. The trees provided a backdrop for the belen /nativity scene where the Holy Family, Mary ,Joseph, the infant Jesus, shepherds , and the three wise magi from the East knelt in adoration for the newborn Jesus.

But what I really miss is the Christmas tree that my Mommy used to set up at home in Cabanatuan while she was still alive. My Mommy’s Christmas tree was tiny and old, almost shabby, but its various décor,obviously some faded from many years of use, (ala velveteen rabbit) held for me an endless fascination everytime I encountered it : angels, stars, santas, cloth cut- outs of a round and cute doll.. then the Christmas lights that blink the whole night.

During her time, it was still safe to leave Christmas trees on overnite, but not anymore nowadays, when the market got flooded by Christmas lights made in china. My Mommy’s presents to her old amigas, the Bishop and a few priests in the catholic church , as well as the gifts for family members ,helpers, gardener,driver, all of which she asked me or my sister to wrap every year on Christmas eve would be all placed under this Christmas tree on Christmas eve.

After the noche Buena, when my father was still alive, my Mommy or brother would play the piano and we would sing Christmas carols after the midnite meal. Later,the whole family would gather around the christmas tree and the family after enjoying arroz caldo(traditional noche Buena in my father’s family in Ilocos) and macaroni salad or some rice cakes, one or two of the children would get a gift and call out the person’s name and hand out the gift to the noisy cheer of the whole family and househelp while pets were absorbed by the scene. Once in while, there would be some nuisance gifts- huge wrappers with tiny,tiny gift inside a huge box. These would draw a lot of noisy heckling and laughter.

Three years ago, the first time, we celebrated Christmas without Mommy, I could not bear seeing that old Christmas tree put up by my mother through the years without crying, so I decided to put up a new green pine Christmas tree for the family house and bought gold and red Christmas balls. Together with the kids and the househelp, I also decorated the tree with the local sinamay material in lieu of the ribbons…that Christmas,

Thank God, that particular noche Buena and exchange gifts, the children brought all their gifts to the family house and arranged them under the tree on top of the table in the living room.The children had internalized in their young age, the spirit of Christmas and New year:on Christmas Eve and New year’s eve, my young newphews and niece came to wake me and my older sister May to greet us Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. My sister and me had a late breakfast on Christmas day in 2005, something she and I haven’t done for a very long time. We chatted endlessly and there was a sense of warmth and bonding from that lengthy conversation. It felt like the old times.

I didn’t know that this was going to be our last Christmas together-she died suddenly from diabetis complications in September 2006. Our last time together was in early June 2006, when she drove me to the corner of Commonwealth where I waited for a taxi to drive me to the international airport for my flite to New York.

My Mommy’s and sister’s May passing away were quite close to one another- almost two years apart. This was in 2004 and 2006.

This year, I decided not to come home to the Philippines for Christmas. I coordinated a project that allowed me to come home four times since July 2008 and attend big events like the wedding of my eldest niece and stand as one of the ninangs.Then there was the “Todos Los Santos” which aside from my older brother Titos fixing props and chairs,tables at the memorial garden, I had to organize everything from flowers, to food, to drinks and desserts together with my sister in law and the househelp and import from the farm for that day, Violy. Usually, my younger brother would be making “abala”.

This year, it was only me and older brother who made abala, as my younger brother was still recovering fro a mild stroke and wasn’t feeling very strong still. Still, I was very happy to have been in those events. I missed watching the flicker of hundreds of glowing candles in the dusk, with Filipino families huddled around the candles watching over the graves of their beloved who had passed away. I had to travel to manila with my sister in law and we left before the dusk came .

This Christmas eve, I will still have dinner with a few friends, including one Filipina with her Indian boyfriend.. I will prepare chicken macaroni salad and the embotido I bought from the hewah pinoy flea market last Sunday.The rest of the menu,I don’t know yet.: maybe, some pasta and salad etc.. let us see. My Korean host, Rev. Kim, a Presbyterian pastor, invited me to his church, for the liturgy, dinner and children’s performance.

Last nite, I attended the Korean Coalition for Housing Rights fund raising annual dinner and it looked very much a success. The hall was filled to the rafters, as the saying goes.I enjoyed the salmon shashimi, and tuna eaten with raw pieces of garlic(Korean style) and then dipped in soy sauce. I also helped myself to the hot rice noodles soup with crushed seaweeds, tiny pieces of kimchi, something that I usually eat when I go to the supermarket in my neighborhood in samyang-sageori, in the northern part of seoul.Then, there was the delicious chapchae, Korean version of glass noodles pansit . I didn’t miss kimchi ether,even if thai friends said, I should avoid that to prevent attacks of gout. I washed down the food with cider ( Korean version of sprite ) and small dose of soju, the local alcohol.

I was fortunate that Fr. Frank, an American Catholic Jesuit priest who has lived in Korea for more than thirty years , came and sat with me during dinner and I got to converse with someone in English. Our conversation would be continuously interrupted by numerous people coming to greet Fr. Frank and I got introduced to most of them, so I had to stand and shake hands or bow while shaking hands to say anhyeong haseo (how are you)or kumapsamhida(pleased to meet you) :. there were a poet, a female parishioner, one of the community leaders, so on and so forth. Fr. Frank said he just came from the scouting event of their community and he narrated about that early morning up in the mountains, they enjoyed the snow fall.Okay, I thought that sounded really pretty but in my mind, I still chose being under warm blankets on an early morning…hehehe.

Many Korean friends,mostly from the communities and also NGOs, came and hugged, greeted me and invited me to their table. After the dinner, guests sat and listened to an arirang song (each region or district had their respective tune and lyrics) and a pansori(sung in Korean traditional performance) which made the guests started swaying in their seats with their arms on each other’s backs…the drums and the strange sounding chant copped the evening ‘s highlights.Earlier, a group of little girls dressed in santa sang a song but the noisy chatter of the guests drowned out their little voices.

I was very surprised to find the little girl , a daughter of one of the CONET trainors, had grown very tall and so cute. I said goodbye to her while she was playing with her friends. I was deeply touched to see her come suddenly to see me off as I waited for the elevator to bring me and other guests to the ground floor when I left later.

What is my plan for Christmas even and Christmas day 2008. I will be spending Christmas day with the families who got evicted recently here in Wangshimi in seoul. The catholic mass will be held at 11am ,most likely in the middle of the streets (the road will be shut off to traffic. I am not sure how I can survive being out in the cold for mor than an hour..iBut the thought of attending a catholic mass for a community who got evicted in the past few days, seemed to be the quiet but dramatic alternative for me to spend Christmas away from home. Away from kainan, gift –giving, reunions, holiday lull..

I feel secure and happy, totally at home in the thought that I will share Christmas day with homeless elderly Korean men and women,halmonis(grandmas) and arabojis(grandpas), little Korean children all bundled up in their winter clothes, and recalling the same event thousands of years ago, when the Holy family had nowhere to go and the Infant Jesus had to be born in a lowly”sabsaban”, a cave or a shed” just with animals and shepherds guarding their sheep on a cold night.

I look forward to that “spirit” of humility and inclusivity that marked that moment: animals, shepherds and wise men ,angels rejoicing in the birth of the Baby Jesus. More than two thousand years ago, no Christmas trees,green or white, ture or fake,,blinking lights or red and golden balls or ribbons or parties. Just a cold, quiet night, a family without a home, a lone bright star that brought the three magi from the east as well as the shepherds.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel afraid anymore that I will get homesick on Christmas day or Christmas eve. Spending Christmas day with the Korean families, grandpas and grandmas, and kids and their parents whose homes were demolished few days ago and currently struggling to get a new place to stay, made me feel I had come home for Christmas.

I hope you too, find that spirit and joy of Christmas this year with or without your family, at home or elsewhere-that truly, Christmas is welcoming not only our own beloved families and friends , but also those who have none or who have lost a lot in the recent days.

Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat!!



Seoul, South Korea
Dec. 22, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

LP -Mahalagang Regalo: Mata

Kagabi nanood ako ng concert para sa selebrasyon ng 60th Anniversary ng Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Humanga ako sa mga bulag na nag-perform ng drums. Bagamat hindi sila nakakakita matalas naman ang kanilang kakayahan tumugtog ng drums. Subalit gawa ng kanilang kapansanan hindi nila nararanasan na tumangkilik ng ibang bagay tulad ng ganda ng isang larawan o kaya malasin at danasin ang kapayapaan dulot ng magandang tanawin.

Kung kaya't malaking pasalamat nating mga litratista na kaya nating tangkilikin ang magagandang bagay o kaya i-capture ang mga larawan na nagdudulot sa atin ng kasiyahan.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

UDHR at 60 - Messages of Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Awardee

Below are the video messages on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights taken from the website of The May 18 Memorial Foundation. The message came from Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2008 winner Mr. Muneer Malik of Pakistan and 2007 winner Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi of India.

Good day ladies and gentlemen!

While commemorating the Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we must at the same time ask ourselves whether up to the passage of 60 years since the declaration; distinction of color, creed, sex, religious or social origin still impede the realization of the rights and freedom enshrined in the declaration? The answer unfortunately yes they do.

The gap between the rich and the poor and the developed and underdeveloped has only grown larger. Half of humanity comprising of women remain the victim of gender bias. They are by and large stereotyped to subordinate roles that deny them the right to realize their full potential in the world as human beings.

Equal pay for equal work is the exception not the rule. Torture and degrading punishments are yet to be banished. The right of a fair and impartial trial does not extend to every inhabitants of the world. The rights under articles 22 to 27 remain only on paper, much remains to be done.

On this day, let us recommit ourselves to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and pledge to work together for human rights, peace and democracy.

Every Human Has Rights

My name is Lenin. On the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most important thing for Asia – we have no equality and equity and no equal opportunity for women especially in the region in Asia.

What is provided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948; in our area there’s a lot of exploitation and attack on the Dalit women, domestic violence, killing of girl-children in the fetus.

The girl children has less educational opportunity they are not going to school but involved in siblings care. There’s child sexual abuse, rapes, assault on them. There’s lot of discrimination in the family, society, school and the workplace.

This is high time and right time on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we take pledge and vote especially the men of the South Asia and the Asian Region. We will implement and make a reality the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the ground level for the women also who compose 50% of the population of the world. Then we will ensure rule of law and democracy especially participatory democracy in Asia.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dream Match Victory for Manny Pacquiao

"He's too fast. Stop the fight... that's it? . . .

The foregoing 30 second decision making/exchange between Nacho Beristain and 10-times world champion Oscar de La Hoya translated from Spanish to English sealed the victory of Manny Pacquiao on their "Dream Match".

Just on the first round of the fight you can see the agility, speed, and preparedness of Manny Pacquiao, debunking the opinion that he will lose the match against de la Hoya (weight/height/breadth/reach, etc). On to the 2nd and 3rd round saw some good exchange of punches, but the succeeding round you would wonder if de La Hoya was in for the fight. It seems he made himself a punching bag. He never threw his fist and arms. None of his signature boxing style was ever put to display. So with a left eye closing his coach and trainers decided to end the fight. That was at the 8 round of the supposed to be 12-round fight.

For this Manny is likened by the announcer to a revered boxing figure - Henry Armstrong (

Although this it was a not so pleasant milestone on the career of de la Hoya it would be nice that he continue his charity and philanthropic work, that will make him a real champion not necessarily in the ring but in the heart of the people he serves.

Which in the case of Manny Pacquiao being courted to become politician bodes distaste to many of his fans, they encourage him to remain their boxing champ. Very visible was the presence of VP Noli de Castro hugging and sharing the moment of Pacquiao's glory. Indeed Philippine politics conquers even the boxing ring for their publicity.

Thanks to the internet that even without an HBO-PPV access I was able to see the fight from this site:
(fotos used here were taken from the online vid).I learned of Manny's victory at church today from other Filipino boxing afficionados.

Dream Match Fight Stats

Punch Stats: Total Punches:
De La Hoya - 83 of 402 (21%)
Pacquiao - 224 of 585 (38%)

Total Power Punches:
De La Hoya - 51 of 164 (31%)
Pacquiao - 195 of 333 (59%)

Scoring: After eight one-sided rounds, all three judges had Pacquiao way ahead in the fight: 80-71, 80-71 and 79-72.

moment of celebration - Manny praying on the ring side corner that happened to be the same place where George Foreman said his victory prayer 13 years ago.

Manny Pacquiao's Title

Reigning WBC Lightweight Champion
Reigning WBC Super Featherweight Champion
Reigning RING Super Featherweight Champion
People's Featherweight Champion, 2003 - 2005
IBF Super Bantamweight Champion, 2001 - 2004
WBC Flyweight Champion, 1998 - 1999
53 Fights
48 Wins (36 knockouts), 3 Loses, 2 Draws


Friday, December 05, 2008

Pinay swept to sea during marriage proposal

My attention was caught with the headline among others in the list at yahoo. Reading through it I found that the woman is Filipina who went to the States on a visa to meet her future husband whom she met on the net. But it ended very tragically...

Woman swept to sea during proposal on Oregon coast

NESKOWIN, Ore. – A romantic marriage proposal on the Oregon coast turned deadly for the bride-to-be when a wave swept her out to sea. Scott Napper had taken 22-year-old Leafil Alforque to Proposal Rock near Neskowin Beach to pop the question at a place that got its name from couples ready to marry. Napper and Alforque had been dating since they met on the Internet in 2005.

But Alforque had arrived in Oregon on a visa from the Philippines just three days before the fateful trip to the coast.

Napper said the tide had receded around Proposal Rock on Saturday when the couple began to walk to it. He planned to propose and give her the ring he carried in his pocket.

About 10 feet from the rock, a wave about 3 feet high suddenly came toward them.

"I turned into it to keep from getting pulled under it," Napper said.

By the time he turned to find Alforque, only 4-foot-11 and 93 pounds, she had been caught by the receding waters.

"She was about 30 feet away, getting swept away," Napper said.

The 45-year-old Silverton man tore off his jacket to get rid of any extra weight, and when he looked up again she was gone.

"That's the last I saw of her," he said in an interview Wednesday, breaking into tears.

Emergency personnel called by a someone on the beach arrived within minutes. His own phone no longer worked after being exposed to the water.

Along with rescuers, he searched for any sign of Alforque.

"I yelled for her," he said. "I was praying to God."

At one point, he saw someone wearing red — the color of her jacket — on the shore signaling for him. But he quickly realized it was a rescuer.

Thick fog and dangerous water conditions hampered the rescue efforts before the search was suspended on Monday.

Her 25-year-old sister, Nova Alforque, said the family hopes the body can be recovered.

"My mother is always crying, day and night," Nova Alforque said by telephone from the Philippines. "She wants my sister back. Even if she is dead, she wants her body to bury."

The Tillamook County Sheriff's Office is routinely checking the beach and looking for possible witnesses, said Sheriff Todd Anderson.

Police don't suspect foul play, he said.


Information from: The Oregonian,


Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I've seen nuffnang among bloggers with entrecard from Malaysia and some pinoys too. And the internet ad company is now in the Philippines. I've came to know this months back but am really very slow at picking up on ads. I have signed up with several ad schemes only to neglect and give up on them.

So this is another attempt. So dear readers, bear with me please. Let's see if I can really earn from blogging like other bloggers. Considering myself more of a blog romantic more than a blog pragmatic, I try again to be pragmatic this time. Good thing I got a nice job that brings food to the table.

What I like with these ad though - it forces and excites me to write but what I don't like is their requirements of writing with their feed sentences and titles. It is fine with me to mention their required phrases but: let me compose and create my own sentences, please.

Anyway am not sure for how long I will be able to sustain, but, well... give it a try.

There's an ongoing promotion of the Sony Expo 2008 in Manila.

It will be held at the Hall 3 of SMX Convention Center, beside Mall of Asia. It will run from December 5 to 7, 2008. Sony will be presenting their eight products with world breakthrough technologies that they launched just this year. At the same time, people can avail of the discounts and special deals that Sony is offering at the expo for their various products.

Bloggers are encouraged to write about the event for a chance to win a brand new Sony Cyber-shot T700 camera and Sony VAIO C laptop! They will also shortlist 50 bloggers with the best contest entries and will be given VIP invitations to the Sony Expo 2008 Christmas Treasures event on December 6, 2008. But it is only open for all Nuffnangers but the shortlisted 50 will get VIP invites. And the winner of the blog entry contest will win the brand new Sony Cyber-shot T700. Check this out if interested:

But the deadline is soon - 4th December 2008... hurry up !

I am not joining the contest, but an invite would be nice... so I can buy a nice pouch for my laptop.


I already own a Sony Cybershot DSC-W200, my second digital camera and laptop. I think the prize is the same with the one I am using now blogging. Well, I don't expect to win since I have it already, I let others get the chance to win, so I am less to the competition. Good luck folks...

My new notebook is a Sony Vaio(VGN-CS13L), I was eyeing for a Dell but my good friend Dony suggested that I get a Sony, so I did.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Fight HIV!


Bloggers Unite

Bloggers Unite

Bloggers Unite


Postcrossing - post cards for the world

From Shelfari, I was lead to bookmooch where I  came to learn about postcrossing. Definitely postcard is something that I would want to collect and receive. Tatay (father) as a seaman would send us those beautiful postcards of countries where they dock, an admiration that keeps me dreaming and aiming to visit those cities where he had been. Especially Greece, since the owners of the ships he work were mostly Greek shipping magnates.  I also liked so much those postcards he purchased from Japan, which we still keep up to now, those pagodas and other landmarks where very interesting, well flickr and CNN were  not in existence then.

So I signed up for postcrossing. 

“send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person somewhere in the world!”
About the project 
The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive at least one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.
Why? Because, like the author, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail.

The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises - and who wouldn't like that?

How does it work?

First, the short version:

  1. request an address from the website
  2. mail the postcard to the address
  3. wait to receive a postcard
  4. register the received postcard in the system

The first step is to request to send a postcard. The website will display (and send you an e-mail) with the address of another member and a Postcard ID (e.g.: US-786). You then mail a postcard to that member.

The member receives the postcard and registers it using the Postcard ID that is on the postcard. At this point, you are eligible to receive a postcard from another user. You are now in line for the next person that requests to send a postcard. Where the postcard comes from is a surprise!

You can have up to 5 postcards traveling at any single time. Every time one of the postcards you send is registered, you can request another address. The number of postcards allowed to travel at any single time goes up the more postcards you send!

Still have questions? Check out the help section, or the forum.


Below are the assigned folks that I am to send postcard:

Username: smurfy
Country: United States of America
Gender: Male
Request date:1 Dec, 2008
Distance:11358 Kms

hi love creative arts, so feel free to be creative and express yourself anyway you like. write me a letter or a postcard, whatever you like.

i do love creative stamps though, so it's great to have the stamps on the card itself. otherwise share with me whatever makes you happy :) thanks!

website link is not mine but a friend's site who collects and scans his stamps so i just wanted to give him a boost!

Username: Acatmiu
Name: Minna Lehtinen (female)
Country: Finland
Speaks: english; some swedish, german, russian and italian
Distance: 7,296 Kms (4,534 miles)

Hi, (or meow)! I`m 39 years old; living and working in Helsinki. I have two cats, called Olga and Nelli.

In the freetime I like very much of travelling, and seeing different places and meeting new people.

My interests are like;
- museums, art galleries, architecture, art history,
- secondhand shops, flea markets, market squares, handicraft, auctions; an any old object which goes with story on, specially old furnitures.
- also trekking, tenting, cycling and kayaking in the summertime
- dancelessons. I have been enjoying different kind`s of, but now I´m hooked in flamenco. Olé!

No matter what your postcard would be, I`m pleased with any postcard your`ll send to me.

Happy Postcrossing;9)

Username: luciasafi
Name: Lúcia Safi
Country: BrazilBrazil
Speaks: Portuguese, English, German
Distance: 19,406 Kms (12,058 miles)

Hello, I'm Lúcia, and I'm a biologist and a photographer.
I like ANY kind of postcards, but I really love pictures from different parts of the globe and handmade cards. I like to receive cards written all over about any subject.

You can also write your msn or email on the postcard so we can have a chat.

Username: xaxas
Name: Susanne (female)
Country: Germany
Speaks: german, english, french, spanish
Distance: 8,445 Kms (5,247 miles)


i would be interested to learn something about people, who live in other countries.
How old are you, what are your hobbies, what are you doing on a "normal" day ... something like that.

In exchange:

- 27 years old
- like to draw and am terrible at it :)
- like to read (SF, Fantasy, History, Economy, Statistics)
- like to travel without a plan, just take a small bag and drive where-ever (Spring of 2009, I plan on Denmark - or perhaps Sweden)
- have a Diploma in economy and work as Controller

And if you don't want to write much: tell me a quote/ slogan you like or a secret :)

Username: Cenda
Name: Zdenek Sima (male)
Country: Czech RepublicCzech Republic
Speaks: Czech, English, Russian
Distance: 8,499 Kms (5,281 miles)

About Cenda

Cenda, Czech Republic

Mail Art, Postcards collecting, rock music listening, LPs and SPs collecting etc.

I prefer pure geographical postcards, like towns, lakes, mountains etc. But in fact, I like to get any postcard :-)

Well it is an alternative way of receiving Christmas card, so for you readers who would want to receive postcard from Korea, just email me your snail address and I will do my best to send you one, promise...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cyber-paparazzi: Blogger vs Politician

I first saw the issue blogged at Entrecard and was lead to the link of TechCrunch. I went through the comment section of TechCrunch blog and found a very interesting exchange.

So are bloggers becoming cyber-paparazzi, with the photo caption below?

I believe in the freedom of speech and I do subscribe with responsible writing. But the case here is that the blogger as differentiated with the the mainstream media is writing about her personal opinion and experience. But it is so happen t hat she blogged about a public figure so she suffered from what she blogged and got kicked-out from her job.

Well I think if mainstream media or even tabloid (as opposed to social media) was on the scene he could have landed in the papers. But it was a blogger who got the scoop.

I am definitely biased for the rights of the bloggers. The internet should be kept as an open space, a space for free speech, a democratic space.

Bloggers should know the consequence of their actions but they should not be persecuted just because they tarnish a politician's image. Who uses his powers to unreasonably get back on a blogger.

Keep the internet free! Free speech on the internet!

Respect Bloggers Rights!

(photo linked from TechCrunch blog)

Visit TechCrunch and read the discussions here:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sobin Park - Woman and Dragon in Love

Last night (27 November), before proceeding to our English conversation session, Sobin and I had dinner at a vegetarian buffet resto, one of her fave places to keep herself healthy. She was introduced to me by my beautiful "Korean agent" Eunyoung.

Then we learned that it was a year ago when she made her first exhibition in NY. Below are some of the reviews of her works.

So for that historic occasion I asked her to sign for me a postcard of her art exhibit last year. The photo link as of writing still unavailable... (still waiting for twitxr to post it - or my mobile phone company is lazy enough to send it again... ughhh,,,).

Sobin is hoping to go back to NY for a year of art residency. I wish her all the luck. Indeed her art works need to be noticed by the art community and seen by a global audience.

Watch the lady-dragon! her lady and dragon painting conquers the world...

Here is a video-animation of her works found from her website:

Sobin Park: Beauty & The Beast
November 27 ~ December 23
Opening Reception: November 30 (Fri.) 6~8pm
Link -

Although Sobin Park has exhibited widely and globally, this show marks the first solo exhibition in the United States. Park’s imagery offsets the beautiful against the beastly into a symphony or perhaps a dissonance upon the two extremes. She juxtaposes the scaly darkness of a dragon against the delicate translucent skin of the female beauty embraced by his roughness. The resulting differences in color, texture, content, density, sparseness and the nuanced shades in-between them makes for a very sensuous yet complex oeuvre. Park plays with and engages in a dialogue about beauty and its beholder, or beauty and its perceived opposite; ugliness. Nevertheless, cultural notions of beauty may be relevant in the case of Park who earned her BA and MFA from South Korean universities and has been working there all her life although exhibiting globally. Beauty is after all in the eyes of the beholder and may have been a matter of taste for Kant but in Hegel’s theories of aesthetics taste is not an issue. Perhaps in enumerating the criteria of standard discussions on beauty we need take note that our cultural notion of beauty is a cluster concept including the elements of order and flawlessness.

Sobin Park at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York
by D. Dominick Lombardi
Link -

Earlier I mentioned Freud, and I even see references to Freudian era artists in Park’s art. In Essence III, 2007, the woman’s right hand is straight out of an Egon Schiele work, while her left hand, which cradles a crescent moon, is Gustav Klimt-like in its symbolism. Even some of the poses in the various drawings, especially in their freeness of form, are Schiele and Klimt-like. Love and sex are psychological warfare. Like love and sex, these images are executed with a deep, dark, overpowering, and omnipotent pleasure.

You could even place Park’s work in the company of some pretty wild pre-Surrealists. Park’s power as an artist is not unlike the effect that Arnold Bocklin’s The Maiden, Merman, and Sea Monster, Carlos Schwabe’s Depression an Ideal, 1907, Mikhail Vrubel’s The Demon 1902, or Jean Delville’s The Treasure of Satan, 1895. It’s a visceral thing, churning up emotion and thought right from the gut.

By Changing My Body I Eagerly Wish to Become a Big Yong,
A Fantastic World Based on a Tale
Yoon Jin-sup(Art critic/Prof. of Honam University)
Link -

Her works show marked improvement with Seonmyo becoming more abstract. She seems to put her heart in the creation of natural atmosphere rather than mere description of scenes. Concrete forms were illustrated through countless repetition and overlap of pencil drawings. And such forms seem to be buried under this natural atmosphere. It is dangerous when there's a loss of balance because the artist's consciousness is sucked into the work, but she seems to do her best in maintaining a proper distance with her artistic out put with that of the tale's unfolding.

Park Sobin's presents her own touching tale of love between the Yong and the woman. With the light coloring added on her drawings she create dramatic scenes. And with her adroit technique and use of pencil, a fire-like saturation on both the whole and part of her drawings are created. Now her large-size works on canvas are all set for the gaze of its spectators.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Typealyzer: INTP - The Thinkers

I visited Collin Campbell blog for his comments and found this thingy so I checked it out for myself. Very interesting though.

So, Typealyzer says my blog is INTP - The Thinkers:

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

About is developed by the happy people @

How does it work?
For a long period of time, we have been training our system to recognize texts that characterize the different types. The system, typealyzer, can now by itself find features that distinguishes one type from another. When all features, words and sentences, are combined typealyzer is able to guess which type its is most likely to be written by using statistical analysis.

How can a computer know who I am?

It doesn´t. But with a good amount of text it can make a pretty good guess. In addition, we all have different roles in different situations. By studying how people write, we can get an glimpse of what is on the mind of the person and what is characteristic of the person - or, as in the case of a blog - what is typical of the role/persona used when writing that blog. A person can have several blogs - and often have different roles for the various blogs - perhaps as a way to live out more sides of themselves.

What’s the technology you use?
We are using a classifier hosted at

Why do I get different results on different blogs?
That means that you are not ABSOLUTELY stuck in a mall (blink-blink)! Most people are, and therefore the majority of blogs are affected by how we are feeling at the moment in which period we are in. This text analysis gives a snapshot by looking at the communication style of the text. Looking on the results over a period of time will give more confident results.

Are you logging urls?

We save the address of your blog along with the results. We are not logging any other personal information.

What type is best to be?
No specific. Psychological type is about talent. And all people have a mixture of different talents, in itself, but it might not always aware of it. The best course, is that the need to use their own talents in life - whether it’s at school, at work, in their relationship, etc. If you have a talent for analysis and reasoning, it will thrive in environments and situations where it is estimated, and if you have a talent for relationships and to understand other people in order to best thrive when it is estimated that, simply. In real life you need to adapt to situatiuationen and we do everyone, whatever the type, but the fact remains that we still have a disposition to be in a certain way.

Can I have any advantage of this?
Definitely, but don´t take it too seriously. Seeing oneself from the outside and to start thinking about your psychological type can be really interesting and rewarding! It´s all about balance. If you always behave in exactly the same way regardless of the situation at hand you will soon have problems in your daily life. If you should cook a fantastic dinner to your friends, you have to keep an eye on the details, the time it takes for the various dishes, that you have prepared all the ingredients and if someone is an allergic. Keeping track of the details is a innate talent for The Practicals and The Relaters. Thinkers and Idealists on the other hand most often have a hard time focusing on the details, but will easily come up with a theme for the party using their innate talent for imagining and visualisation.

The same is true when you write a text. A text is more readable if it is balanced between abstract thoughts and concrete descriptions of people and situations. If you want to attract a wide range of readers it´s a good idéa to balance the text, thus using more sides of yourself while doing so.

What does BETA mean?
It means that we are not finished, we still have some polish to do, but we have decided to let people try it out. This will ensure us that we are doing the right things.

- We are improving the texts that describe the types.
- We are aware of a couple of problems with the training data which is being refined as I write this.
- We are trying to shorten the time it takes for the computer to figure out what type a text is.

Do you think we should do something else? Or have any feedback or request? Please let us know. Send an e-mail to info AT typealyzer DOT com.

If you want some more check this out and so you can identify the gender of your blog as well:


Welcome to! Our dream is to share hardcore classifier technology with everyone. We recognized that classifiers are mostly present at universities research departments and expensive commercial companies. We want to change that. We want everyone to have the possibility to use a top notch classifier - completely free. We find it enormously exciting to see what happens when a tool for creativity is given to the community. We hope to see all kinds of beyond-our-imagination classifiers and incredible web applications being built around the API.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gerald Celente: Modern day "Nostradamus"?

Another from my email box forwarded with subject: AMERICA in CRISIS:

Another modern day "Nostradamus" . Hope this will not happen. Nostradamus predicted ages ago that "the great and poerful nation from the west will fall not from without (military invasion), but rather from within (financially) .

Celente Predicts Revolution, Food Riots, Tax Rebellions By 2012

Trend forecaster, renowned for being accurate in the past, says that America will cease to be a developed nation within 4 years, crisis will be "worse than the great depression"

The man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash and the fall of the Soviet Union is now forecasting revolution in America, food riots and tax rebellions - all within four years, while cautioning that putting food on the table will be a more pressing concern than buying Christmas gifts by 2012.

Gerald Celente, the CEO of Trends Research Institute, is renowned for his accuracy in predicting future world and economic events, which will send a chill down your spine considering what he told Fox News this week.

Celente says that by 2012 America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts.

"We're going to see the end of the retail Christmas... .we're going to see a fundamental shift take place....putting food on the table is going to be more important that putting gifts under the Christmas tree," said Celente, adding that the situation would be "worse than the great depression".

"America's going to go through a transition the likes of which no one is prepared for," said Celente, noting that people's refusal to acknowledge that America was even in a recession highlights how big a problem denial is in being ready for the true scale of the crisis.

Watch the clip: com/watch? v=46MEqEgdLTg

Celente, who successfully predicted the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis, the subprime mortgage collapse and the massive devaluation of the U.S. dollar,told UPI in November last year that the following year would be known as "The Panic of 2008," adding that "giants (would) tumble to their deaths," which is exactly what we have witnessed with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and others. He also said that the dollar would eventually be devalued by as much as 90 per cent.

The consequence of what we have seen unfold this year would lead to a lowering in living standards, Celente predicted a year ago, which is also being borne out by plummeting retail sales figures.

The prospect of revolution was a concept echoed by a British Ministry of Defence report last year, which predicted that within 30 years, the growing gap between the super rich and the middle class, along with an urban underclass threatening social order would mean, "The world's middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest," and that, "The middle classes could become a revolutionary class."
In a separate recent interview, Celente went further on the subject of revolution in America.

"There will be a revolution in this country," he said. "It's not going to come yet, but it's going to come down the line and we're going to see a third party and this was the catalyst for it: the takeover of Washington, D. C., in broad daylight by Wall Street in this bloodless coup. And it will happen as conditions continue to worsen."

"The first thing to do is organize with tax revolts. That's going to be the big one because people can't afford to pay more school tax, property tax, any kind of tax. You're going to start seeing those kinds of protests start to develop."

"It's going to be very bleak. Very sad. And there is going to be a lot of homeless, the likes of which we have never seen before. Tent cities are already sprouting up around the country and we're going to see many more."

"We're going to start seeing huge areas of vacant real estate and squatters living in them as well. It's going to be a picture the likes of which Americans are not going to be used to. It's going to come as a shock and with it, there's going to be a lot of crime. And the crime is going to be a lot worse than it was before because in the last 1929 Depression, people's minds weren't wrecked on all these modern drugs – over-the-counter drugs, or crystal meth or whatever it might be. So, you have a huge underclass of very desperate people with their minds chemically blown beyond anybody's comprehension. "
The George Washington blog has compiled a list of quotes attesting to Celente's accuracy as a trend forecaster.

"When CNN wants to know about the Top Trends, we ask Gerald Celente."
— CNN Headline News

"If Nostradamus were alive today, he'd have a hard time keeping up with Gerald Celente."
— New York Post

Whether his a Nostradamus or nuts - what will be the impact of such trend to the whole world when America finally categorized as "undevelop" country. So what's your guess?

Link to their website:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Taean Oil Spill Clean-up

From wikipedia:

At about 7:30 local time on December 7, 2007 (2230 UTC on 6 December 2007), a crane barge owned by Samsung Heavy Industries being towed by a tug collided with the anchored Hong Kong registered crude carrier Hebei Spirit (Chinese: 河北精神號), carrying 260,000 tonnes (290,000 short tons) of crude oil. The incident occurred near the Port of Daesan on the Yellow Sea coast of Taean County. The barge was floating free after the cable linking it to the tug snapped in the rough seas.

Although no casualties were reported, the collision punctured three of the five tanks aboard the Hebei Spirit and resulted in the leaking of some 10,800 tonnes (11,900 short tons) of oil.[4][5] The remaining oil from the damaged tanks was pumped into the undamaged tanks and the holes were sealed.[6][7]

The spill occurred near Mallipo Beach (in Taean County), considered one of South Korea's most beautiful and popular beaches.[8] The region affected by the spill is home to one of Asia's largest wetland areas, used by migratory birds, and also contains a national maritime park and 445 sea farms.[5]

Muling napatampok ang pagkakaisa ng mga Koreano at pagkalinga sa kalikasan ng muling malinis ang baybayin ng Taean na naapektuhan ng oil spill. Subalit may ilan din mangingisda ang nagkitil ng kanilang buhay ng mapinsala ang kanilang hanap-buhay at hindi nabigyan ng kaukulang kumpensasyon ng pamahalaan.

Mga volunteer ng The May 18 Memorial Foundation bitbit ang sako na may basahan para punasan ang mga bato sa pampang ng Taean. (26-27 December 2007)

Mga batong madumi ang kulay gawa ng oil spill.

Mga volunteers kuskos dito, punas doon.

Bato na may lagkit at dumi ng alkitran.
Mga basura ng mga naglinis - over-all, basahan at kung anu-ano pang basura at sari-saring dumi.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Snow of 2008 in Gwangju

Yesterday it rained, a harbinger of season's change. In some parts of Korea it was already snowing. Then at 10 PM when I opened the window to check, lo and behold white soft little cottons where falling from the sky. Finally Ria's (intern from Indonesia) wish is now fulfilled, to experience snow...

Well am not sure if this will be the first and the last. Climate Change - like last year the precipitation was very little compared to that of 2005 heavy snow storm and snowing.

Below are the photos I took in our district Sangmu and the 518 Park:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Flower: butterfly, bee and ant

Last summer I chance upon this interaction of nature. A nurturing flower giving all its essence to the butterfly, bee and ant. And so I watched them with pleasure, amazed with their wonderful co-existence. If only more humans could be like the flower - selfless, egoless and viceless... such is the beauty of a flower worthy of adoration...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gwangju Autumn 2008

Autumn is my favorite season here in Korea, since I came from the Tropics, summer is the best season in that part of the world especially it is time for fiestas or celebrations and trip to beaches.

Here's the link to my opera foto album documenting Autumn for two years. Although I have not taken good shots for this year though compared to last year. The fotos though have lower pixel quality compared to the original.

Enjoy Autumn while it lasts... winter is coming...

So I enjoy listening to this Autumn Leaves rendition of Eva Cassidy.

Give Us Your Best Shot!: Immunizers Travel Shots Photo Contest

I don't have an entry again for Litratong Pinoy so I will be posting this advert that I received from my mail box, message sent from my Flickr acount. I created a group at Flickr Manila, Aking Manila but have not updated or contributed to the group lately.

I hope litratista at LP can join this. Please check their rules at:

You've been sent a Flickr Mail from jandentonchua:


:: Immunizers Travel Shots Photo Contest

Hi! I saw that you are one of the administrators of the
Manila, Aking Manila group and I would like to invite you
and your members to join a digital photography competition!

Our company, Immunizers, is hosting “Give Us Your Best
Shot!,” our 1st Travel Shots Photo Contest which aims to
create an awareness for vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs)
relevant in traveling. There are 3 categories and each top
photo per category can win P10,000. :)

There are two easy ways to join:

1. You can go to our website, and go
to the Immunizers Travel Shots link. There you will find
the rules before you send your entries straight to

2. Now for those with Flickr accounts, you can just join
the group! and all the
rules are listed and you can drag and drop your pictures
there. :)

Deadline for entries is November 24, 2008.

Hope you could share the news with your members! Hope to
see your entries, too! :)


Anne Chua, MD

Anne Marie N. Lagman, MD
Chief Operations Manager
Immunizers, Inc.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Refugees

Altsean-Burma has released a briefer titled

“13 years is too long: Free Daw Suu now!”

On 24 October, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will mark her 13th year in detention. Yet, she remains committed to a peaceful, political solution that is needed now more than ever for the people of Burma. It is imperative that Burma’s neighbors and allies such China, India and ASEAN renew and strengthen efforts to secure the immediate and unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues. As the Burmese military junta’s gross mismanagement and oppression further entrenches Burma as a failed state, it is in the region’s interests that durable solutions are achieved.

This briefer profiles the experiences of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and some of the 178 other women prisoners of conscience known to be incarcerated in intolerable conditions in Burma’s prisons for their political activities and leadership.

The briefer is available at:

FREEDOM of Daw Suu !


END of Burmese in Asylum !

END of Burmese Refugee !

Bloggers Unite

Bloggers Unite for Refugees United

On November 10th over 10,000 bloggers from around the world will unite to raise their voices on behalf of more than 40 million voiceless refugees. To ask the world to face the atrocities so many human beings must endure and to join hearts and minds to help bring forward information, understanding and action.

Join us on November 10th to tell your story, share your thoughts and be part of the global solution to a global problem. It is in our power to bring people to act to make a change. The core cause of Bloggers Unite and Refugees United is information. Information leads to empowerment. Bloggers Unite enables ordinary folks to make an extraordinary impact.We hope you will sign up to participate. Your actions will matter. Your words can help change lives.

Together, our voices will make a difference!

About Refugees United

Refugees United is a non-profit organization that helps refugees relocate family and friends through the use of the internet.

Refugees United provides refugees with an anonymous forum to reconnect with missing family. By registering with nick- names, scars, former locations and other markers only identifiable to family and close friends, everyone can remain 'invisible' to all but relatives.

  • All refugees are welcome, regardless of conflict, place or time.
  • Refugees United is an independent, non-political, non-religious NGO.
  • No third party is involved. No official papers need to be filled in.
  • The service is free of charge, easy and safe.

The Refugees United search engine is the first of it's kind. Visit Refugees United to see how it works and to learn more about the work that Refugees United is doing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pepero Day 2008

I went to the bookstore yesterday and found a rack dedicated to pepero, nice boxes of beautiful sweets, mostly chocolate coated sticks. Every November 11 is Pepero day. It is one of Korea's many unique special day, well a bit commercialize but anyway I consider it saying thank you to female colleagues by giving them box of pepero. Check wikipedia:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Red Nectar

Butterfly sipping nectar from a red flower... (thanks to morning angel for naming the flower for me - beautiful zinnia, as she calls it)

Obama celebration in Seoul, ROK

This one another from my email box - wow celebration here in Korea, fantastic, wish I could go but it was so short notice...

Have fun Democrats of the world - in Korea specifically!


I look at this man we have just elected the next President of the United States…this visionary, this thinker, this dreamer, this community organizer, this idealist, this statesman, this diplomat, this leader…and I think to myself, Are we this lucky? Are we really this lucky? And it's finally beginning to sink in…yes we are. Because yes we did.

Thank you members of Democrats Abroad. Thank you Obama supporters. There are countless ways you have contributed to this historic campaign. You have done so with your hearts, your pocketbooks, your voices, and yes, with your votes. And so, as President Barack Hussein Obama said in his poignant acceptance speech, this victory is truly for you.

And now, it's time to celebrate! Or, continue celebrating, as the case may be. Since many of our fellow Obama supporters were sadly unable to join us for the revelry on the 5th, we are getting together this Saturday night at the Orange Tree to once again raise our glasses to our new president and to the future--because for the first time in a long time, it's looking pretty bright.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 8th

Place: Orange Tree, Haebangchon, Seoul

Time: 8:30pm ~

To get to the Orange Tree in Haebangchon, go out exit 2 of Noksapyeong Station, line 6. Walk straight down the road until you reach the first intersection where the road veers off to the left, by the kimchi pots. Walk up that road approx. 5 minutes. The Orange Tree will be on your right, on the second floor, above Indigo restaurant.

This gathering is open to Obama supporters of ALL nationalities…please bring your friends!

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."



Kirstie Bromenshenk

Chair, Democrats Abroad ROK

This email is being sent to you from the AP-South Korea list(s) on behalf of:
Democrats Abroad
430 S. Capitol Street, SE
Washington, 20003

You are receiving this mail because you are subscribed to one or more of these lists: AP-South Korea. If you wish to unsubscribe from the mailing lists, please Click Here.

If you wish to no longer receive mail from Democrats Abroad, please Click Here.