Saturday, February 7, 2015

Korean Gem in BGC's Urban Setting

"Korean Gem" you ask? Well, it's none other than SEOUL EXPRESS located at The Fort Strip, BGC!

A food-haven for me and my friends (classmates) after our Korean language class at the Korean Cultural Center (Elem1-A). This is where we retrieve our energy back after our tiring but fun-filled and fulfilling Korean lessons!!

I love the simple and authentic feel of the place. It reminds me of the restaurants we went to when we were in Seoul. I have to account 50% of my nostalgia to the wooden box with a lid which contains the utensils! Oh hello Spoon (숟가락) and Chopsticks (젓가락).

We've visited this place twice already (and counting~✌️). To our delight, we would always leave with BIG SMILES on our faces and of course, HAPPY TUMMIES!

On our first visit, I went for their Hot Pot Bibimbap (돌솥비빔밥). What can I say? I'm a fan of Bibimbap! ❤️ My favorite Korean cuisine by the way. I usually calibrate a Korean restaurant based on their Bibimbap (I'm serious~ from its presentation to taste!).

Seoul Express' Hot Pot Bibimbap (돌솥비빔밥)

As soon as the server placed it in front of me.. Oh my, the aroma~ ☺️ I already knew that I'm in for a treat! I immediately mixed it while its hot. As they say, strike while the iron is hot! Now I'll use all my might (plus spoon & chopsticks) in mixing the Bibimbap well Haha! Oh and of course, don't forget to mix the gochujang (고추장). I like spicy food so IN GOES EVERYTHING, LOL! Though it would be best to put in adequate amounts gradually till it matches your own preference on spiciness. TASTE? Definitely rich in flavor, I fell in love with it. You can individually appreciate the ingredients as they compliment one another (my taste buds are having a party!). A must-try for Bibimbap lovers like me! Price? P250~ worth it and not that expensive.

My friends ordered Jjajangmyeon (짜장면), the black bean noodles! Judging from their facial reactions and comments made while having a mouth full of noodles, YEP~ they pretty much enjoyed it. One of my friends even ordered another batch! WOAH~ Haha! Can't blame him though. ❤️

On our second visit, I ordered their Kimchi Tofu Stew (김치 찌개) and availed the sort of Bibimbap-ish meal with it (added P60 for that). It complimented the cold breeze that night as it was quite spicy - a perfect match! It was a big meal for one but for me it ain't. We were really REALLY hungry that night (from work then class!) TASTE? Delicious (진짜 맛있어요!). The stew had a rich spicy flavor, the tofu was silky and soft, and everything else was just yummy! PRICE? Costed me around P290.

Behold! A meal for one hungry Korean cuisine craving customer! 김치 찌개!

I want to highlight also the adorable Korean owner of the restaurant who would always greet us with a warm smile! I think it started when we complimented the dishes on our first visit, in Korean language! We managed to converse with her with our limited vocabulary and phrases! Hahaha.

I always believe that the success and popularity of a restaurant can be accounted for the delicious dish they make and how they treat their customers. In Seoul Express, we've felt that we were guests in a warm and cozy home of a Korean big sister who would make delicious food for us! ❤️❤️❤️

감사합니다 누나!!! 반갑습니다~

I encourage everyone especially Korean cuisine lovers like me and my friends to visit this place! It's definitely worth it. It's perfect for eating hearty meals with your friends, believe me. I love the satisfied feeling I get after eating their healthy and delicious dishes.

Follow me on Instagram to see more of my food posts and basically anything under the sun! Happy eating guys! Till next time!

Instagram: @galenpark

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Experiencing the 6th Philippine K-pop Convention (MY FIRST BUT MOST DEFINITELY NOT THE LAST!)

AWESOME! (대박! As Koreans would say~) – the first word that pops into my mind whenever I recall my first ever experience to attend a KPOP event. It ain’t no regular KPOP event, it’s the annual Philippine KPOP Convention! I mean, in one day people, ONE WHOLE DAY! I was able to watch up close Bernard Park (버나드박), GOT7 (갓세븐), and YES!!! The one and only SISTAR (씨스타) <insert wild screaming fans here>. It was a dream come true (dream talaga? LOL~ XD). I was like three cartwheels (ganito ako mag-measure~) away from the stage they were performing at.

By the way, YES DEFINITELY! I am indeed a fan and take deep interest in the Korean culture. From their business perspectives, way of living, language, advancements, K-pop, and a lot more. Hallyu (한류) has integrated itself in my veins. Proof? Hmmm... I have watched dozens..... NOPE, definitely MORE than a dozen of Korean TV Dramas and Variety Shows... My hairstylist is a Korean, working for Park Jun's Beauty Lab, whom I've been good friends with for about 6 years (Hyeong~ Chicken and Beer treat please~ LOL XD)... I've already traveled (and have plans to do so again in the near future) to South Korea with my friends... and many many more evidences~ XD (ano pang kailangan?! sapat na ito para hindi ako pagdudahan! haha).

But before going into details of how I screamed my heart, lungs, and other internal organs out when the artists went up the stage, I’d like to recognize and commend the Philippine K-pop Convention, Inc. and PULP Live World for making this amazing event possible. Everything was organized. Your efforts really paid off guys.

When I arrived at the venue, I immediately saw the other fans gathering and lining up. I came in late, around 1:00 P.M. (had a prior appointment earlier that day ~ sorry T_T). Despite the large volume of people entering and going around SMX, event organizers, ushers, and friendly staff were there to offer assistance. I approached Grace from PULP (she’s super nice & close na kami kaka-kulit ko sakanya~ haha!) at their booth to properly claim my rights (claim talaga? Akala mo lupa at ari-arian lang XD).

After getting my VIP wrist tag plus two cute SISTAR stamps (for the meet & greet and photo-op), the search is on for my beloved E8 seat at the VVIP area. Yung totoo, jungle or conference? LOL O_O. Thank you bouncers (big guys in red) for guiding me from the halls’ entrance to the VVIP section. I must say, it was indeed a hassle-free walk. Thank you cheerful Ate in heavy dark lipstick for showing me my seat! Oh and HELLO E8! At last we meet! Oh~ and hello seatmates! What’s up? (kala mo 1st day of classes LOL XD).

Groupie w/ the friendly bunch I've met at the KCON event!

The 6th PH K-pop Conference Stage

Overall, the venue was properly organized. The designated areas (booths, GA, VIP, VVIP, Performer’s Area, etc.) were all properly managed and ALL the people in charge are well-versed on how everything should proceed.

After an hour of settling down, meeting new friends (take note! some of them even flew from Ilo-ilo for this event! now that’s DEDICATION), watching local performances, and observing the place, I’m all set!!! Yes, LET’S GET IT ON!!!

Time-check: 2:00 P.M. – thus, the artists shall soon grace the stage. Anticipation is rising and excitement bars are puffing smoke!

Hello KCON People! (sorry blurred~)

The anticipating and awesome fans!

The wonderful hosts were none other than Kring Elenzano and Jimmy Kim. The KRIMMY Couple! They both look really adorable (sorry naman sa silver-ganap pants ni Kring~ haha!). They’re the Filipino-Korean couple who won the grand prize in ABS-CBN’s reality show “I Do”.

I like Kring and Jimmy’s way of hosting. Kring’s really funny and witty. Jimmy’s doing his best to speak Tagalog (A for effort dude! Well done!). I wanted to take a picture with them after the event but I guess they’re too busy <insert 4 teardrops here~ haha>. Maybe (and hopefully) next time.

Finally the hosts introduced the first artist! Bernard Park (버나드박)! He’s the winner of SBS’s K-pop Star Season 3. I’ve read and heard about him in some Korean entertainment news portals, I’ve even watched some of his performances during K-pop Star S3 in YouTube wherein I really liked his renditions of “End of The Road” and “Right Here Waiting” (I got goose bumps man, seriously~).

To everyone’s delight, he sang three songs (three undeniably soulful and beautiful renditions) – “Before the Rain”, “Still With You”, and “Right Here Waiting”. YES!!! Included in his song line-up is his rendition of “Right Here Waiting” – total eargasm for this one! Can I please take Bernard Park home? Please? He really does have a very nice voice (nag-duda pa talaga ako noh? Haha~). His vocals are remarkable and clear, good enunciation of words, and his soulful manner of singing will really take your mind, ears, and heart to a soothing place (pwedeng-pwede ka mag-drama habang kumakanta siya~ XD). He deserved to win K-pop Star Season 3.

My favorite song (to this date) of his is “Before the Rain”. It sounded really fantastic and soulful when he sang it live at the event. The deep emotions he gave while singing that song will truly move anyone. I felt very lucky to hear him sing live his debut song. I mean, how often do you hear K-pop artists sing their debut song live? Not so frequent. Ears, you have been blessed!

Bernard Park also took part in experiencing a bit of the Filipino culture. The Krimmy Couple asked him to wear “Barong Tagalog”, Philippines’ traditional formal dress, in which he looked pretty good. Might as well have him attend a wedding!

They also made him play “Trumpo” (Whipping Top). He succeeded in making it spin (good job Bernard Park!) however it was on reverse LOL XD. Afterwards, he sang “Nasayo Na Ang Lahat” (a local song popularized by Daniel Padilla) in which he sounded fantastic! Well, except for the last part though, he got the lyrics wrong (괜찮아 버나드박~). Instead of “pati ang puso ko” (even my heart), he said “patay and puso ko” (my heart is dead) in which he responded “My heart is not dead!” (indeed it is not! Haha~). Nonetheless, he sang it really well. There was also a game wherein lucky fans would take selfies with him and then the audience will vote as to who did the best selfie with him. Some dude in red checked shirt won, the selfie pose he showed Barnard Park was really funny!

Overall, he’s a great artist, very promising! I think he’d be able to show his fans more. He’s definitely someone to look out for in the K-pop music industry. I’m now a fan (YES I AM~). Who wouldn’t be?

After the Bernard Park pyrexia (kalma~ it means fever!), comes GOT7 (갓세븐). The crowd WENT WILD (as in WILD~ no joke!) when they went up the stage (it was a jungle out there~).

I couldn’t blame them though! These guys did have the K-factor to really set the mood for an awesome show. The bouncers were all at their full force in maintaining the barricades! Malapit-lapit na silang mag-super saiyan mode~ haha XD. The hosts also kept on reminding everyone, especially to those who are at the mercy of the barricades, to calm down, stop pushing, and step back a little.

Quick background! GOT7 is a seven member boy group who debuted last January 2014. They are indeed great performers – from the looks (can we discuss about their porcelain like complexion???), their dance moves, and their cool and groovy songs, they are sure to set the stage on fire.

From the soulful environment Bernard Park created, GOT7 turned the mood into a groovy, upbeat, and fun filled one. They gave everyone pure entertainment and joy by performing five songs – “하지하지마(Stop Stop it), “Gimme”, “Forever Young”, “A”, and “Girls Girls Girls”.

Their song “A” is my personal favorite. I’m very familiar with this as I’ve watched them perform it often on Mnet’s M! Countdown. I like the groovy feel in it, the danceable rhythm, and how they sing “Aaaaaaaaaaaaa~” like it’s the only letter in the alphabet (parang laro lang sa mga Birthday party LOL XD~).

Their song “Forever Young” is also really cool. I got LSS from it~ “Forever Young Baby oh, oh, Baby~ Coz I wanna be~”. This song has that authentic boy band feel in it that will make any fan love them more. Oh wait, I think I’m a fan now~ hahaha! But who wouldn’t be? They have really good songs and they are very fun to watch during the event.

Their fans also gave GOT7 a surprise. Two reasons (aside from the fact they are REALLY there~), one of the members will be celebrating his birthday on January 06 and January 2015 marks their first anniversary as a group. The fans gave them a very cute cake! The expression on their faces – PRICELESS! (well~ aside from the fact that their faces are priceless! Haha XD).

GOT7 also took part in a classic guessing game wherein they have to guess the thing inside a box wherein the front part is open so the audience can see (no coaching people~). They have to do it by sliding their hand inside the box, touch and feel the thing inside, and guess it. This is psychological warfare people! Their reactions were priceless! LOL XD (tawang-tawa ako, mga 8,764 times HAHA!). They keep on saying “이게 뭐야?!” (What’s this?!) while having really funny and confused expressions. I like how the members were all really trying their best to guess what’s inside the box.

In one word, I’d describe GOT7 as cool. They are indeed awe-inspiring performers. Anyone can see that they gave their best during the show, they did not give in to sweat and the Philippine’s hot weather. They performed in full energy and they are all smiles to their fans. I‘m excited to hear more great music from them and hopefully see them perform live again.

P.S. I’m running out of adjectives~ may matira pa sana sa SISTAR! Ilabas ang dictionary! hahaha!!! XD

After that wild and memorable experience from watching Bernard Park and GOT7 bring the KCON stage down, the one and only “foreignaydance diva, Dasuri Choi, graced the stage. She’s really gorgeous and cute! Even the way she speaks Tagalog is cute! She went on teaching Hyuna’s “Red” dance steps to everyone at the event and then performed it as well (ang sexy niyaaaaa~).

She then gave everyone an approximately intense 7-minute sing and dance performance. Together with two other amazing Filipino dancers, they wowed everyone at the venue. I hope Dasuri would be able to have more projects this 2015!

And FINALLY (drumroll please!!!), the moment everyone has been waiting for has arrived! It’s exactly 6:00 P.M. on my watch then and I can see everyone building eagerness. My hands went cold and hindi ako mapakali. I recognize this feeling, I felt it nung titignan ko na yung result ng board exam! HAHAHA! (OAsis much~).

When the Krimmy couple went on stage again (ops~ wardrobe change!), everyone knew that in a matter of minutes, SISTAR will perform LIVE!!! Yes, LIVE!!! <insert screaming and jumping people everywhere here!>

After some introduction, the hosts then blurted out “Siiissttaaaaaaaarrrrrr!!!!” from the top of their lungs with feelings. It was like a battle cry of some sort. It felt the same as a General of an army screaming “chaaaarrrgggeeee” before commencing a bloody battle. The people went insane!

When SISTAR went on stage, oh my~ I think the venue almost collapsed because of all the screaming, cheering, and everything with –ing. The bouncers needed to use 101% (Dalmatian lang ang peg~) of their powers to support the barricades and to control the crowd. Oh wait~ I’m one of them! Hahahaha XD Sorry po. I’m proud to say I belted out as much as I can and went on cheering for SISTAR. Everyone in front of me suddenly stood up so I stood up as well (di ako papatalo~ alanganaman kayo lang~ haha XD).

Their first song is none other than “Touch My Body”!!!! OMG! The feels~ XD. Everyone is going crazy! Actually the guys are screaming more (yes there were a lot of guys seated at the forefront of the VVIP section~). They were screaming from the top of their lungs! (bukas wala kayong boses~). I really (repeat 100x) like this song! The beat is really amusing and the dance moves were awesome. The song is very catchy! I actually had LSS for about a month when SISTAR released this song last July 2014. And still until now, I manage to sing or hum it out of the blue. I even sometimes dance the chorus part~ LOL XD. I think it’s a great exercise for the upper body, the butt, and the legs!

P.S. If you’re wondering about pictures of them in action, well I have only a few. Why? Well, I was (1) busy watching them do their thing with my own two blessed and lucky eyes, and (2) I was capturing the entire length of each of their performance! (ang sakit sa braso~ but it’s soooo worth it!)

After that dumbfounding performance, everyone needed to calm down. The venue had to be sprayed with tranquilizer in my opinion LOL! Kidding! XD. But seriously, after that performance, I was like WOW. I will never forget the feels, the performance kept flashing into my mind. I was indeed one of the happiest and luckiest person to watch SISTAR perform “Touch My Body” live! The fact that I was only three cartwheels away from them, I was really in heaven that day.

So much for that (sorry couldn’t control myself~ LOL). SISTAR then introduced themselves and the Krimmy couple had a short Q&A with them. One of the things that got stuck in my mind was Bora’s (보라) response when asked the first thing she wants to eat or experience in the Philippines, she immediately and cheerfully said “Jollibee!” It’s actually quite great to know that even K-pop stars take interest into Jollibee (made me feel proud as a Filipino! Good job Jollibee~). SISTAR really answered enthusiastically despite the language barrier (thank you Ms. Interpreter). Dasom (다솜) can also speak English really well. Hyolyn (효린) and Soyou (소유) were gorgeous and funny also while doing the Q&A.

After that, the group went on performing “Ma Boy”. It was originally sang by their sub-unit “SISTAR19” but they performed it as a group. This is the song that made me like them the first time way back in 2011. From the catchy lyrics to the sexy and cute choreography, who would not have liked SISTAR back then?

Then came the “SISTAR Talent Show”. SISTAR was all geared up to do the challenges in this segment. Everyone had to vote by clapping (hanggang sa mamula mga kamay) or screaming their inner organs out to the member who they think did it the best.

The first one was to have them dance a very popular local novelty dance song “Cha-Cha Dabarkads”. OMG~ SISTAR was really (repeat 56x!!!) breath-taking while dancing to this song! They got the facial expression to give justice to the song (the wacky face that could launch a thousand ship~ a thousand ship of fans! LOL XD). Dasom won the first challenge.

The second one was to have them speak in gay language – “Beks! Gutom na akis. Lafang na tayo, para maka-rampa na. Push!” which means “Girl, I’m hungry. Let’s eat so that we can go out already. Go!” SISTAR did it very sexy and funny, seriously! Hahaha~ Soyou won this part.

The third one is that they have to do 귀요미 gwiyomi” or basically be ultimately cute. Hyolyn and Bora was super cute in this part, making all those cute poses and movements, however Bora really gave it all here. She raised the bar of being cute! If she’s not cute then no one is. Thus, she won this part.

The last part was indeed memorable! Hyolyn sang “Let it Go” (Korean version) LIVE! Her vocals were really powerful! I think I am (again) a very lucky person. It’s not every day you get to hear Hyolyn sing “Let it Go” live like a few feet away from you! The feels again~

Then after that very tiring (yes napagod din ako, kaka-picture, kaka-video, kaka-smile, and kaka-galaw sa totoo lang naman! XD haha~), SISTAR’s official fan club here in the Philippines gave a surprise tribute for them. They prepared a very nice video of how much they love and support SISTAR, gave them a very cute cake saying “Welcome to  the Philippines”, and a bouquet of flowers each. Soyou cried and I can’t blame her, the warmth their Filipino fans (ehem~ I’m one of them) showed them is very touching indeed! Everyone was just happy to see them (who wouldn’t be? Right?).

Then they went on performing “Give it To Me” followed by “Lead Me”. Was it just me? Or SISTAR became more energetic in performing? Probably they got their added energy from the love of their fans. Again, two amazing catchy songs. The crowd just keeps getting insane every time SISTAR performs. <insert screaming and cheering fans here!>

After this, a game segment was done again. Here, they need to create a clothing fit for a K-pop idol given red and black crepe papers. Each SISTAR member had to have two accompanying fans (one assistant and one model). In which the selection stage was I think very barbaric! LOL XD. You need to catch the small ball to be thrown by each member. At one point I saw the ball Dasom threw going towards me. Assuming we were all in place, the ball would have been mine. About 98% chance based on its projectile motion (physics please~). However, I think the people surrounding me were legit Spartans because the next thing I saw were a lot of hands hovering over me and then there was darkness! (medjo nakakatakot~ Haha!). Anyway, I wasn’t able to join the game (hindi ako kasali, kainis~ haha! Oo bitter ako!). Hyolyn won this segment, though everyone really gave an effort to this (even the fans joining the game – lucky people~).

SISTAR then performed their last two songs for that night! "Alone (나혼자)" and their hot new single “I Swear”. They’ve brought the house down with these two performances especially the latter one. Everyone was up on their toes again and basically just dancing and having fun to SISTAR’s amazing songs. Oh wait~ I forgot about the confetti part! Such a classic and dramatic way to end a performance! (aamin na ako, nagtago ako nung confetti, mga 2 pieces hahaha~ XD).

Wait it ain’t over!!!

It’s now time for the photo-op and meet & greet! Oh my gosh, I was probably one of the happiest specie (oo specie level na~ sama mo na mga langgam) on Earth that time! I was able to (along with 8+ other people I think) have our photos taken with SISTAR! My spot?? Well, SISTAR was just behind me, JUST BEHIND ME!!! I even got the chance to say “Hi” to all of them and shake hands with Bora and Hyolyn!!! I was all smile that moment. I can’t explain the feeling! Like how often or when in your lifetime would you be able to meet K-pop idols, watch them perform live, shake hands with them, greet them, and take a photo with them. I felt genuine and extreme happiness that day (and yes, most especially that moment).

Dasom is getting the things the fans are giving them! So cute!

Is it over? Yep.

The sad part? Well, every show has to end, and so did this. When SISTAR’s segment ended, I stayed for about 40 minutes (I think) to formally finish and complete the show. Good thing though, since after the last local performance, they have announced the date and venue of the next KCON (7th Philippine KCON). Okay, I need to save money starting NOW. I’m already excited as to who they’ll be bringing on the next event.

It was indeed a memorable day (12-28-2014). Thank you Philippine K-pop Convention, Inc., PULP Live World, sponsors, and everyone behind this event. Great job!

Hopefully I gave a chance to have others look through my eyes during the event, especially to those who didn’t have a nice spot during the event and to those who weren’t able to go there. I hope the 7th KCON will be overflowing with fans! I wish the event would be filled with exciting segments! and (of course) I hope the event organizers would bring again amazing artists!

I think the warm support the Filipinos have for K-pop artists is amazing. This event wouldn't have been successful if it weren't for the love of the fans in the first place. As they've said - "for the fans, by the fans".

Thanks for reading friends!

Till next time!

Instagram: @galenpark

*I've used my trustworthy SonyTX10 camera to capture such moments (the videos are all in HD!!!! (as if first-time kong malaman ito! haha~) I'm still thinking as to how I'd upload them though~ LOL XD)