Monday, May 28, 2007

Mission Impossible

Since i became an expat-wife, i've been in constant search for significance. Without my career, i needed to have a new mission, a new goal. Alas, i had an awakening last week! I realized it after an unpleasant encounter with a crass Korean lady in her 50s who had no sense of diplomacy.

It happened last Wednesday during my Korean painting class. My session was almost over when this Korean lady came. Apparently, she was also a student. She was talking with my teacher in korean but i knew she was asking him where i was from. I heard my teacher say that i was from the Philippines so i turned and gave her a smile. With every bit of english she could string together, she said very matter-of-factly "manila very poor". I was thrown aback by her comment and didn't know how to react!

My very first thought was, "how could this woman be so rude?" Yeah, there's no denying that the Philippines is not a first world country but anyone with good breeding would know you never point out the negative in the person you just met. Next thought was it's humiliating that "poor" is the general perception of the Philippines. I was so mad at the so-called leaders of our country for not doing anything to change this perception. In fact, they are the main contributors to poverty in our country! Then i tried to think of something good about our country that i could say in it's defense. Unfortunately, the only response i could think of at the time was "not all filipinos are poor".

I felt so disappointed at myself for not defending and upholding the Filipino pride. I should've told her that like in any other country, there are poor people in the Philippines but there are also a lot of highly educated and sophisticated people. I should have told her that the Manila is just as cosmopolitan as Seoul.

After that incident it became clear to me that my new mission is to "represent" the Filipinos. I need to make sure that with every new person i meet and every conversation i have, i will be able to make an impression that Filipinos are smart, articulate and sophisticated. I am now a self-appointed Filipino ambassador! I just wish i had more support from our government. Some positive news maybe or at the very least, i hope they won't do any further damage to the Filipino reputation.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Vintage or poor taste?

I’ve always wondered where I could find shoes that were within my humble Pinoy budget. Alas, a neighbor of mine told me that there is shoe arcade in Dongdaemun Market which she described is as an alley lined with (affordable) shoes as far as your eyes can see! My eyes brightened and I started to salivate at the thought of SHOES, SHOES, SHOES. I felt like Charlie about to enter Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory!

The next day I went on a little shoe hunting expedition in famous shoe arcade in Dongdaemun Market. Indeed, it was an alley filled with shoes! But to my dismay, the shoes were not exactly my style. They were a bit too Korean for my taste. Still, I walked to the end of the market. Then on my walk back, a pair of flats caught my eye. It was made of woven fabric with wooden accent rings in front. I asked for the price and what a delight, it was only W14,000 or roughly P750. What a bargain! I hesitated for a second and asked myself if I really needed a new pair of shoes. But what the heck, I bought it anyway. Shoes are like pieces of art, you need to appreciate them. This pair needed an owner who would appreciate it for its creative value.

Upon returning home from my bargain hunt, I tried on the pair to check if I could wear it with any of my clothes. I decided that it would go well with the plain shirts that I have. I was so pleased with my new art piece until P came home and teased if the housekeeper left her old shoes in our apartment! It made me wonder…did he not appreciate the vintage design of the shoes or did I just have poor taste? Hmph…

Friday, May 18, 2007

A twist to our favorite Nilaga

P and I have been trying out a healthier dinner diet since Monday. Instead of having the usual ulam with rice, we have been topping our ulam on a bed of greens and chopped veggies. Why? Well, partly because veggies feel so much lighter in the stomach, specially since we just sit around and watch tv after dinner. But for the most part, it's because we had too much to eat the previous week and we're still carrying the extra weight around.

Last night i felt ready for rice and ulam so i cooked Nilagang Baboy with loads of veggies. But P had a better idea... he went out and bought a fresh baguette. What a fab idea! With a dash of imagination, our humble nilaga was suddenly transformed into an English Pork Stew! If you think about it, the concept of nilaga is just the same as stewing which is cooking meat/poultry and vegetables in broth.

We enjoyed our stew with a side of baguette which we dipped in a lovely mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. Wicked!

Of course, i can't take credit for the idea but i do take credit for the delicious stew. Here's the recipe for the Pork Stew aka Nilagang Baboy:


3/4 kl pork ribs
1/2 (big) onion thinly slided
1pc potato cut into 1" cubes
1pc carrot cut into 1" cubes
1/4 squash cut into 1" cubes
1/4 cabbage (chopped)
1pc pork broth cube
fish sauce (optional)
1.5 liters water

Chop the pork into 1" pieces and wash thoroughly. Cook the pork in a stew pot with 1.5 liters of water until it boils. Once the water boils, set aside the pork and throw away the water with all the scum (this will give you a clearer broth). Fill the pot again with 1.5 liters of water then add the pork, salt, onions and broth cube.

Once the pork is fork-tender, add the carrots and potatoes. After 5 minutes, add the squash (this adds a bit of sweetness to the stew). When the veggies are tender, add the cabbage and cook for another 2 minutes. Add fish sauce for taste if you like.

Tip: if you want to make the broth thicker (and more stew like), just let it simmer in low fire until you are ready to eat. The starch from the potato and squash will thicken the broth and make it more tasty.

(recipe is good for 2 servings)

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Prelude to a never-ending story

For the last 8 months my husband had been encouraging me to create a blog to document my adventures and experiences being a new wife living in a foreign country. It took me sometime to embrace the idea. Why would anyone bother to read my thoughts? Then it occurred to me that i have favorite blogs which i read on a regular basis. Maybe those authors didn't think anyone would bother to read their entries either. So, here i am, composing my first ever blog entry.

I would say that the last 8 months have been a period of discovery for me and it still continues to be so. I got married to the love of my life last October 6, 2006 and soon after we moved to Seoul, Korea where my husband works as an expat IT consultant/designer. Being married to P and living abroad were the top two things i wanted to put a check mark on before turning 30 and i did! But with every change comes new challenges. And boy, was i challenged!

It was a major adjustment on my part. I had to give up my highly rewarding career and move out of my comfort zone. I had to learn to manage the household, do house chores and cook. On top of that i had to find my way around the new city, learn the language and make new friends. It may sound overwhelming (and it was) but it's all worth it.

The ongoing journey to discovery has made me realize my potential. Little by little i'm able to overcome my insecurities and know myself better. Everyday is a new opportunity for me to become a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.

I guess you can expect to read about my life as a closet woman of leisure, my misadventures and musings in my future entries.


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