Bringing the Kids of Kumkang School to the KOICA Global Village

north korea, pinoys in korea, The 601 Habit

Four Saturdays ago, we, at “The 601 Habit”, had the opportunity to bring the kids of Kumkang School to the KOICA Global Village at Seongnam-si, Gyeonggido.

The KOICA Global Village is located in a sprawling area which also houses various KOICA buildings including dormitories for visiting KOICA volunteers and staff from other countries and training centers.


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KOICA at Seongnam-si


Together with our volunteers, the ladies of “The 601 Habit”, the Principal and kids of Kumkang School were welcomed by Mr. Joonsung Park, Director of the Legislative & Public Affairs Team of KOICA. Representative Jasmine Lee, the Philippine-born Member of National Assembly was also present to attend the lecture and tour especially scheduled for the kids of Kumkang School.


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The 601 Habit with KOICA’s Director for Legislative & Public Affairs Team, National Assembly Member Jasmine Lee and Kumkang Principal 주명화 Ju Myung-hwa.


KOICA or Korea International Cooperation Agency is Korea’s government agency that grants aid and technical assistance to developing countries through the implementation of its ODA (Official Development Assistance) programs. The KOICA Global Village offers tours and exhibits to visitors most of which are free. You can check current exhibits in KOICA’s website. Last June 28, we brought the Kumkang kids for a lecture and exhibit of the Republic of Congo. A KOICA Global Village staff first lectured about the role of KOICA and the kind of assistance it provides. She then went on to lecture about the life in Congo.


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lecture about KOICA and the Republic of Congo


The kids were eager listeners and willing participants during the guided tour.


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guided tour



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trying on a musical instrument


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trying on traditional dress


Kids had the chance to play in the KOICA grounds after lunch.


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play at the KOICA grounds


More than the grateful kids, we are more thankful for the accommodation extended by the KOICA Global Village. A KOICA bus was also provided to safely transport us all.


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And as always, the CJ Welfare Foundation provided for the packed lunch and the snacks of the volunteers and the kids.


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lunch provided by CJ Welfare Foundation


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pizza snack provided by CJ Welfare Foundation


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pizza snack provided by CJ Welfare Foundation

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pizza snack provided by CJ Welfare Foundation


This “Give-Back Project” is increasingly getting to be a collaborative effort and there are more and more people and groups willing to help out. May we continue to have the resources and the time to give to these kids who have traveled far to get to a safe place as where they are now.

Bless them and bless our partners, sponsors and volunteers.


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Changing of the Royal Guards at Gyeongbukgong Palace

life in korea

One of the must-see places in Seoul is the Gyeongbukgong Palace. One of its main attraction is the changing of the Royal Guards. This reenactment is fashioned after the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace.




The changing of the Royal Guards happen everyday except Tuesdays and they do it 3 times a day at 10am, 1pm and 3pm.


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The Transformation

skin care products, women

I first saw this picture on Facebook:


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The caption on the Facebook post was something like “reason why swimming should be the first date”. I kinda future-reminded myself to give the same advice to my boys when their dating age comes:-).

Back to the picture above, many were skeptical in the original post whether the two girls are one and the same. Oh well, here it is:


Great skill, right! And let’s admit it, ladies, we want to be as skillful as her.


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Inspired by a Cup of Hot Choco

Firstborn, poetry

One thing I told LeRuof was, you can write about anything and everything around you. Be observant. Be inspired.

One day he was drinking a hot choco. Write about it, I urged him.

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A hot choco!


With the hot choco in front of him, he came up with these:

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Have a little hot choco

You may have it

If you please

a warm tasty hot cocoa

may take a way your chills.


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Would you like to have some coco(a)

maybe you would like it

Oh the splendid taste and warmth of it

perfectly white and brown

take it

try it

what do you think?


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A tasty warm cocoa

can take away that chilly breeze

Just take

if you please

a brown warm choco

can do the trick.


That’s it for today’s output.

It’s a happy Monday.


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And Germany Won!


Germany and Argentina maximized the entertainment value of the Finals game of the World Cup with Germany’s Gotze only scoring less than 7  minutes before the end of the second extra time.

The tension-filled game ended up with this:


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Contrasting faces of World Cup 2014


22-year old Gotze must be overwhelmed by the speed of how he came to get Germany’s only goal.

Messi maintains his individual glory. But, well, he is not Team Argentina.

And so, Germany got the championship!


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The Champions

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The Boy is Getting More and More Interested

activities for kids, Firstborn
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aiming on the earthworms

After several days of going around for some simple introduction to photography, I began to realize my 7-year old LeRuof is internalizing every word I utter and every new learning he gets from me. This is what he got to say about his new interest:


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LeRuof likes to see what I have to say


I am amused by his usage of “frame” and “angle” in the context of photography. It just goes to show that he actually tries to absorb the things I blabber about:-).

Even when we are just walking around, he would just suddenly blurt out “Frame! The 2 buildings are the frame and the middle is the focus”.

This is turning out to be a good summer of fun learning for him! From me!

Huh, the mediocre me is the mentor of my son. Isn’t that great?


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Confession of a Sorority “Quitter”

current issues

I was a freshman. I was honored to be invited by a group of “cool” girls to be one of them. I was flattered, yes. But I can’t remember saying my final “yes” nor remember setting a date to start our initiation rites. But they never failed to emphasize that if one quits and never finishes the initiation, one would be tagged a “Quitter” for the rest of her college days in UP, if not for the rest of her life. And being tagged a “quitter” is an embarrassment.

And one night, two other girls and I found ourselves in a dinner party by the beach. Before we even realized what was happening, the slapping began. I can’t remember everything. Too psychologically scarred to have remembered everything, maybe. But we must have finished our dinner before the “rites” began. For the first time in my life, I was slapped in the face. Repeatedly. By different would-be “sisters”. Every question and every answer was paired with a slap in the face.

I cried easily. For each slap, tears uncontrollably rolled down my cheeks. One of us showed strength. She never cried the whole duration of the first stage of that initiation. But while I was sleeping from exhaustion that night, she remained awake and cried and cried.

The thought of being called a “quitter” individually haunted the three of us. We were freshmen. We can’t go on for the rest of our days in the university labeled as a “quitter”. Or can we?

It didn’t take 24 hours for the three of us to talk about our inhibitions. Despite the doubts and the fears, we knew we can’t go on. We just had to endure the “quitter” label. And we made our decision known.

Did I ever feel that I had the “quitter” label plastered on me while I was walking around the university campus and the UP dormitory grounds? Nah. Was I too dense that I didn’t feel it? I don’t think so. The fact that that night happened may even just have been known to a limited number of people until now. The girls and I never talked about it after we made our decision known. I didn’t talk about it to my friends. I did talk about it to my former professor recently, more than 20 years after it happened.

Did the sorority girls talk about it? Among them, absolutely! Outside of their sorority? Maybe. Who cared? I don’t know of anyone who did.

But I did go on with my life in UP. I got friends, some of them temporary, some of them became friends for life. I went on with my academic struggles in a degree known to have produced no graduates who have graduated on time (B.A. Political Science is a 4-year course but had students graduate 5, 6 or more years the reason largely attributed to professors, a view I didn’t share). I broke the curse, so to speak. I graduated on time. I made it in 4 years. Alone among my batch. The last person to have graduated on time was 7 full years before I did and became an esteemed lawyer in the city. Some of my batch mates graduated a semester, some years, after I did. And most of them are practicing lawyers these days. I am proud of them. And despite the ambitious and driven persona that I used to exude, I am pretty sure they would be happy if they know where I currently stand.

Belonging to a sorority or a fraternity may be valuable for others but that doesn’t make it good for everyone. To each his own, that much I have learned after what I went through.

But to this day, I cannot fathom the logic behind the humiliation of initiation rites to gain the “honor” of becoming a “brod” or a “sis”.

When my little boys enter the university, I hope to share my story so they won’t feel the need to be part of a “brotherhood”. I take care of them and I would be proud to see them dignified men someday. It will break my heart for them to go through the physical and psychological humiliation just so they will be declared by a group of boys “worthy to join their brotherhood”.

“Let not a man guard his dignity, but let his dignity guard him.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

(my condolences to the parents and relatives of all hazing victims)



“Mom is the Best Photographer”

activities for kids, photography

Oh yeah, I am the best photographer in my 7-year old’s eyes. I am the best in every way that I present myself to my kids… now. Well, one is 7 years old, the other is 4!

So, I make use of this current admiration while I still can. And since he is on school vacation, we take time to learn the basics of photography. I am finally letting my 7-year old use and explore my DSLR! And I try to explain to him the little things I know.


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Shhhh! He is too young to question what I say and what I know (wink).


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Outdoors. Yoido Park.


The important thing is, I allow him to use my DSLR. He feels the trust and security that Mommy allows him to explore and use Mommy’s camera. There’s a long-term benefit in confidence-building, that I am sure of! If he takes interest in it, great! He has a lot of avenues to learn more about photography when the time comes. He will learn from the good ones, way beyond the basics that his Mommy knows. If he doesn’t take interest, it’s all right. Learning is about exploring and finding one’s own interest.

Summer may not be easy for Moms like me, but yeah, it has its own perks. I’m bonding with my son!

Have a good weekend!


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Penchant for Packaging

random things

Korean food products are always packaged beautifully. Packaging is everything!

Look at this Peppero’s long packaging. My 4-year old son had always been amazed by this “long peppero” every time we go to a supermarket. He got his chance when he went to the mart with his Dad.

And boy, was he excited! And who wouldn’t be with this?


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Unfortunately, this is what he got:


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My usually voracious 4-year old didn’t even finish the three sticks.

What was it they say about appearances? Oh well, that’s packaging for you:-).


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Summer Home Study (again)

activities for kids, education, parenting

Summer break has started since last Friday for LeRuof!

It’s Mommy-time again. He’s stuck with me from the time his little brother goes to school at 9am until 2pm when friends who go to Korean schools start to come home.

And, (un)fortunately for him, I believe that learning is not limited to the four walls of the classroom, we have started a daily schedule of study-time again. He has too much time in his hands to be watching television and videos… and, nah, he wouldn’t want me to be nagging him all the time:-).

But, I think I have tickled his interest this time. My tool?


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my secret tool to keep my 7-year old glued to our study time. As they say, “if you can’t beat them, join them”.

Today, we talked about musical instruments and orchestra. And since I’m no musician, my best tool is the i-pad! and you tube! Oh, you tube! it’s a one-stop shop for everything you want to know and see (sorry google).

And the best orchestra performance to show how the different musical instruments work together is Peter and the Wolf by Serge Prokofiev. Just watch this and you’ll see:

My son enjoyed it. And I did, too!

Shhhh… he also watched the trailer of Gladiators after we read about the Roman Empire.

Huh, whoever did say learning is boring?

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