“Dancing With The Fireflies” by Denise Hunter


 photo imagejpg1_zps576e375e.jpgThis book is a de-stressor for me. It’s a love story. It’s not a simple, feel-good love story, though. It tackles a sensitive topic. Pregnancy out of wedlock is quite common these days but pregnancy out of wedlock caused by an unfortunate incident takes this to another level. It would have been quite a read if this issue was given more focus and handled very well. But no, this is supposed to be a feel-good story that will make the reader dream of her own Daniel.

Yes, every lady would want to have her own Daniel. That man who would love you no matter what and no matter how long he has endured and suppressed his emotion. Plus, it doesn’t matter when you have fallen deeply in love with another man years ago and you come home pregnant, broke and beautiful. But Jade is not all that bad. She is actually adorable, why else would Daniel remain in love with her after all these years and still continue on loving her despite her pregnancy? On a personal level (which is very, very subjective on my part), Jade just seemed not capable of doing anything wrong in the eyes of her family and of Daniel. She remains a damsel in distress that should be taken cared for by people around her. Denise Hunter did try to put on some strength in Jade’s character. She tried to carry on her predicament secretly (but always relying on Daniel) and there’s that perennial reference to a major heartbreak that happened years ago.

Despite all this, I breezed through the novel and didn’t try to put it down. It’s entertaining. It’s a good read when you’re in the subway waiting for your your train to arrive. I am sure every woman who has finished reading this would wish to have her own Daniel.


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South Korea’s Halmonis

life in korea

I saw this old South Korean woman gathering edible plants in Namsangol Hanok Village last Sunday.

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an old woman gathering edible plant inside the Namsangol Hanok Village


This was a random shot… but it immediately brought back to mind what I have always thought about South Korea’s older generation. This is the generation that drove South Korea to its economic progress. This is the generation that endured poverty, rose above it and pushed their young ones to work even harder. This is the generation that knew what it was to struggle between communism (courtesy of the North) and military rule which gradually turned into a liberal democracy (South). This is the generation whose families are divided by the 38th parallel – that military demarcation line disallowing unity of families (never mind the nation).

My respect goes to this generation.


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random shot taken at Namsangol Hanok Village

The current generation is enjoying the fruits of this older generation’s labor. Their women settled with whatever was available and made something out of it – may it be food, clothing, infrastructure. This is not an isolated picture. There are times I still see old people gathering plants around, may it be in the park or along the Han River. Admirable.

I loved looking at these two. I discreetly stole a moment from them.

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What kind of strength and discipline and willpower does this generation possess to be able to have achieved the status that South Korea is now enjoying?

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My Kite Flyers

activities for kids, life in korea

It was windy. It was a perfect day for flying kites.

And so, hubbydoo and kiddos took the lead from the wind.

The kite from Iloilo from 2 years ago gladly soared the sky over Yoido.


My kids love it. They love it even more because they were playing with their Daddy. They alternated in flying the kite. My First son seemed to have grown a lot since the first time he flew this very same kite more than a year ago.


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Ahhhh… Picture perfect!


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Letter from Repellex: The Best Deer Repellent

guest post

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Dear Deer,

It is time you took the time to explore someone else’s yard. You have freely explored our property for many months now. We thought it was cute at first; in fact, we would even point at your lovely and numerous family when spotted in our front yard. The kids would yell, “Deer!” and we would all race to see you scamper. However, that time has since passed.

We have tried time and time again to ask you to leave peacefully, but nothing seems to get through in that head of yours. Grandpa thought a shotgun would be a lovely reminder, but, fortunately for you, we do not like venison hamburgers. Thus, we settled for a few warning shots to keep everyone satisfied. Yet, this did not keep you from returning the very next day.

In all conclusiveness, we would have gladly kept this as a simple matter, but you have forced us to consider third party options. A highly esteemed friend told us about a little product that will make you wish you never stepped foot on our property. There is a can of Repellex with your name on it, and we hope you enjoy it.

This is a fair warning to keep your growing family off our yard. We do not want to cause them harm. Repellex is known as being the best best deer repellent around. It does not harm you, but we are sure the experience will not be pleasant. It might take you a few attempts to access our property before you understand that we do not want you as our house guests. Deer need to stick with their own kind. A love like this could not last.

Despite our growing problems, we do not wish you any true harm. We hope that you find the food you are looking for without crossing through our yard. Our plants are tasty, but they are nicer to look at than eat. Thus, we know Repellex will do its job and keep you out of our lives forever.

We hope you keep this for future reference for your ever growing population. We wish you well in your future endeavors ruining someone else’s yard who does not yet know our secret.



The next time you need a lesson in how to keep deer away then, you should consider our letter. Who knows? You might need use Repellex to mark your own territory in the future.


Guest post from Summit Media

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Jasmine Lee: An Inspiration

life in korea, pinoys in korea

This article originally appeared in SulyaPinoy’s February 2014 issue. SulyaPinoy is a newsletter published by FEWA (Filipino EPS Workers Association).

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as published in SulyaPinoy February issue

Jasmine Lee. Her name is an icon. Her presence is an inspiration.

She is a living example of total cultural immersion to a culture she wasn’t born in while remaining updated and retaining some of the cultural traits she was born with.

She arrived here in South Korea just months after her 18th birthday. In less than a year, she was confidently speaking Hangeul. She perfected her Hangeul grammar  by studying with her son – and making sure that she’s studying her son’s lessons ahead of him so she can give the impression of subject mastery to her son. For a person who didn’t have formal education in Hangeul, she has become the epitome of  excellence. She started with translation works and television appearances. These are minor feats considering her other achievements. She became very conversant of the Korean way of life through her interaction with her husband’s family. Her openness to embrace the Korean culture has gained her wisdom beyond her years.

From television, she moved on to become part of the blockbuster movie “Wandeugi”. As if the sophisticated world of the entertainment industry was not a far cry from her first years here in Korea as a stay-at-home mom, she took the challenge of stepping into a completely different milieu of politics. She engaged in a number of lectures but her most prominent one was her slot in the 2010 G-20 Summit held here in Seoul as a Lecturer on “Multiculturalism is the New Power of Korea”. And then, she was asked by the Saenuri Party to enter as a Proportional Representative during the 2012 national elections. She didn’t back out from the challenge. As is her wont, she welcomed it and gracefully withstood criticisms and the subsequent controversies that followed her win.

At 36 years old, she spent the first half of her life in the Philippines. It was enough for her to retain her love and fondness for the Philippines and the Filipinos. She was a Filipino first before she became a naturalized-Korean, after all. She understands Filipino sentiments and wears Philippine accessories. She fluently speaks Tagalog and Cebuano. She can easily make Filipinos at ease in her presence. Her latest concern for the Philippines and the Filipinos manifested in the big help she extended during the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. She immediately passed a resolution in the National Assembly to provide humanitarian assistance and long-term recovery aid to the Philippines. She bravely took the flak from some Korean citizens but she got more endeared to the big Philippine population here in Korea. And unknown to many, she helped the ladies of “The 601 Habit” in their donation drive to provide fishing boats to affected fishermen in the Philippines.

Her life story isn’t a secret. She was widowed at an early age. But, as every one familiar with her story knows, this did not deter her from making waves and radical changes in the conservative Korean society. Her story had been subject of a lot of academic studies – most of those she doesn’t even know exist. She had been written about in almost all major newspapers, both here and abroad. It seems like everything you want to know about her are in the papers and in the internet. And all these will make you see the woman with the greater strength than most, that’s why hers is a story of inspiration and her existence is meant to inspire.

And it is not just her inner strength that is admirable. She is gifted with a beautiful face and good sense of fashion. And this was recognized by Korea’s fashion industry last year when she was awarded as Best-dressed Korean lawmaker.

Representative Jasmine Lee had done so much for foreigners here in Korea but the impact is much greater on Filipinos. On a personal level, there is that Filipino association that’s why she has really touched and inspired them. Most women, especially Filipino spouses of Koreans, have become more empowered. Her story makes them realize that they are capable of more, much more than they have ever imagined. Like her, all they need to do is to warmly embrace the culture of their new country and open themselves to changes.

She knew how to adapt and take chances.

And so can you.

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Hello, Spring!

hobbies, photography

Before everyone else flocks to Yoido for the cherry blossoms, I spent my Tuesday afternoon peacefully with these beauties…

so, let me officially welcome Spring!


“April has put a spirit of youth in everything. (Sonnet XCVIII)”

- William Shakespeare

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“I suppose the best kind of spring morning is the best weather God has to offer”

- Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

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“The deep roots never doubt spring will come.”

- Marty Rubin

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“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!”

- Robin Williams, Weapons of Self-Destruction

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“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

- Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

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“An optimist is the human personification of spring.”

- Susan J. Bissonette

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“If Spring crawls out of mouth of wild flowers, then surely, Winter crawls out of min.”

- Cecilia Llompart, The Wingless

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“The promise of Spring’s arrival is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter.”

- Jen Selinsky

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“Winter is the reason for the spring; he who loves spring must also love its reason!”

- Mehmet Murat ildan

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“But only a person in the depths of despair neglected t look beyond winter to the spring that inevitably followed, bringing back color and life and hope.”

- Mary Balogh, A Matter of Class

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“The sun just touched the morning;

The morning, happy thing,

Supposed that he had come to dwell,

And life would be all spring.”

- Emily Dickinson

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“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.”

- John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga

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“Spring drew on… and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”

- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

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“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?”

- Neltje Blanchan

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“Winter is already a lost shape, forgotten in the ground.

Instead, here is Spring with all the grace f a woman smoothing out her apron.”

- Cecilia Llompart, The Wingless

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“Came the spring with all its splendor. All its birds and all its blossoms. All its flowers and leaves and grasses”

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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“And Spring arose on the garden fair,

Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;

And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast

rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

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“Spring shows what God can d with a drab and dirty world.”

- Virgil Kraft

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“She turned to the sunlight

And shook her head,

And whispered to her neighbor:

‘Winter is dead’”.

- A.A. Milne, When We Were Young

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The Avengers 2: Shooting in Mapo Bridge, Seoul


The movie shoot for The Avengers 2 at the Mapo Bridge in Seoul last Sunday, March 30, was vey well-guarded. Just how well-guarded it was?

Police were all over.


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Police buses lined up one side of Yoido Park

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Seoul police




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Isn’t she the nicest? She gamely posed for me:-)

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This was what I was after


Barricades secured the place.


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Colorful intimidators


Taking pictures of the bridge and the crew and the set-up was nit allowed. I was told 2 times by 2 different guards…lol. Asking spectators not to take pictures must have been tiring… You can’t beat DSLRs and there’s no way you can monitor camera phones.

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This lady saw me taking pictures of the bridge and asked me not to… I wonder how many she asked that day…


Media was all over, of course!


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While the movie shooting was on-going, the people of Seoul enjoyed what they have always enjoyed doing… Being under the sun on a good, warm spring day… and, maybe with a secret wish to have a glimpse of the Hollywood actors:-)…


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‘Twas a warm spring day! Perfect to be out!

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This is the entrance of bridge coming from Yoido Park:


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See? There’s no way you can see what’s going on in there.


At 5:30pm, the bridge was open again to traffic… And reporters from our side of the bridge – began reporting right away!


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“Mapo Bridge is open to traffic now”, this reporter might have been saying

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Mapo Bridge

Just how much screen time it’s going to have in the movie remains to be seen:-)…

We are so looking forward to “The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron”… It would be nice watching familiar places in the big screen.

In the meantime, this is the would-be famous bridge courtesy of “The Avengers 2″.


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The whole stretch of the Mapo Bridge

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How A Bag of Donuts and Inexpensive Books Bring out Brotherly Love


Firstborn and I had a lunch date with his Dad today. Before going back home, he asked for donuts for dessert and a trip to the bookstore.

We ended up bringing donuts for his li’l bro…. and inexpensive superhero books that they could share at home.

We welcomed the little one with donuts… and he happily ran towards his brother and hugged him and kissed him…. there were lots of thank you’s. He was simply genuinely happy!


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And his thoughtfulness was reciprocated. When he was on a one-week vacation, he asked me to buy a book for him and said he was going to share it with his Kuya…. And he really did!

Today, Firstborn chose superhero books which he wanted to share with his little brother! And we spent an hour reading those plus more!


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After all the excitement had died down, my little one whispered:

“Mommy, on my vacation I will also buy books and donuts for my Kuya, ok?

That was enough to make me smile… and now they’re off to Taekwondo class arguing about something… Ahhh, brothers!


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Keep Deers Off Your Lawn

guest post


Keep Deers Off Your Lawn

If you are in need of a deer deterrent for your garden, then you should check out Repellex. This one of a kind solution is a natural formula that safeguards your garden and lawn from pests and other wildlife. It is not harmful towards the animals, but it does keep them away. Therefore, it is ideal for avid gardeners who want to keep their lawn looking beautiful and lush.

Deers can be very destructive when it comes to big yards. They trample young plants and eat away flowers. Nothing ever good comes from a crowded deer population because they have nowhere else to go. They breed like rabbits and infest the woods around your house. Unfortunately, you do not live in a hunting zone because you would be eating venison every night. In lieu of this precarious position, you need something that will keep the deer out. Repellex is exactly what you need to make a difference in the way your garden looks. Plus, it also keeps the deer humanely away from your lawn.

Repellex: Safe and Easy to Use

Many people are scared to use a deterrent like Repellex because they think it might hurt the animals. However, they are then left without any solution to keeping stray cats and pooping dogs off their grass. There is no winning situation unless they decide to use Repellex. This formula has been tested thoroughly to prove safe enough for both plants and animals. There is no reason for you to worry that your plants might die from Repellex. That would be quite silly considering that this product is meant to protect it!

As you can see, there is nothing to fear when it comes to using an agent like this. Humans are also safe when it comes to spraying it across the garden. Just keep curious kids away who might want to ingest it. Otherwise, you have nothing to fear, and your garden will continue to grow beautifully.

Why Should You Use Repellex?

In short, Repellex is an inexpensive way to keep your garden looking great. It is one of the cheapest formulas out there, and it is a humane solution. Therefore, you would be daft to try anything else. Of course, if it is deer season and you like hunting, nobody is going to stop you from claiming dinner!


Guest post from Summit Digital.

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“The Life Boat Project” Beneficiaries

The 601 Habit

At last, we have concluded our “The Life Boat Project with our final turn-over last Tuesday, March 18, 2014.

It had been a good 4 months since we launched our project, gathered donations, implemented it and delivered the boats to the intended recipients.

Our very first turn-over was on December 17, 2013 at San Dionisio and Bayas Island, Estancia. I am so grateful for all the help extended by friends of The 601 Habit particularly, Ms. Frietzie Roquios.

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Bayas, Estancia. December 17, 2013.


This was followed by our second turn-over on December 28, 2013 at Bayas Island, Estancia, San Dionisio, mainland Concepcion and Malangabang Island. This time, Ms. Laarni Oh, another “The 601 Habit” lady also joined the turn-over. Miss Frietzie Roquios and Ms. Pamela Ng-Yoo, both helped us a lot were with us. Representative Jasmine Lee, who also serves as our Adviser, graced the simple ceremonies in each location.


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Malangabang Island, Concepcion, Iloilo. December 28, 2013.


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Bayas, Estancia. December 28, 2013.


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Mainland, Concepcion. December 28, 2013.


Bacolod fishermen in Banago had theirs turned-over on January 11, 2014. Ms. Laarni Oh led the turn-over and she got the chance to show this to her teen-age daughters who were on winter vacation.


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Banago, Bacolod. January 11, 2014.


Fishermen from Mararison Island, Antique received their own life boats on February 8, 2014. Mr. Pong Marcelino, who takes the official photos of “The Life Boat Project”, led the turn-over.


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Mararison Island, Antique. February 8, 2014.


Finally, “The Life Boat Project” went back to the Island of Malangabang in Concepcion, Iloilo last Tuesday. Again, Mr. Pong Marcelino turned-over the boats on behalf of the ladies of “The 601 Habit”.


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Malangabang Island, Concepcion. March 18, 2014.


This is our first-ever project as a group and we are forever grateful to all who supported and donated to the project. We are inspired to do more.

For our complete list and pictures of beneficiaries, check out “The Life Boat Project Beneficiaries” from The 601 habit’s facebook page.



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