I got my COMET GETPass already!

I got my COMET GETPass already. I figured I might as well get one since I found myself near the COMET loading station, anyway. For 20 pesos (or around 45 cents), this card will get me from Katipunan to SM North/ Trinoma for free until October 9. After that, I will have to top-up this card so I can pay for my fare.

COMET GETPass

The tap-in, tap-out system reminds me of the transport card I used in Seoul when I lived there. I used it for bus rides and for subway rides. Although this COMET GETPass can only be used on the e-shuttle, it’s a gentle reminder for me that public transportation in Manila is gradually improving.

I’m quite excited to use this card! I will support this because this is the kind of public transportation we deserve.

COMETs are coming! (E-jeepneys now in Quezon City)

Just when I was starting to live like a total hermit (with occasional trips to the nearest shopping mall, the nearest supermarket, and church), hope sprung again when I saw this article online. There are many reasons to love Quezon City in the Philippines. There’s the city’s laid-back vibe as seen in areas like the Maginhawa Street food strip, Tomas Morato, UP Town Center, and the Trinoma and SM North Edsa mall area. The country’s two best universities are housed here. And then this: eco-friendly and rider-friendly e-jeepneys called COMETs (City Optimized Managed Electric Transport) now ply the LRT Katipunan – Trinoma route!

But wait, there’s more. Thirty e-jeepneys are just the beginning. Soon, we will see more routes and more jeepneys, which will bring us an overload of good vibes:

  • An eco-friendly upgrade to the iconic Philippine jeepneys. Sure, it’s not as colorful and crazily decorated as the jeepneys we’d come to love, but that can be fixed. What’s important is that they now use lithium ion batteries which lessens too much dependence on oil. This also means (hopefully!) less transport strikes which cripple our movements around the city!
  • Safer jeepney design.  We passengers don’t have to worry about getting accidentally hit by upcoming cars on the road because the door is now located at the side of the jeepney, allowing us to board safely from sidewalks. And whenever the rains relentlessly beat the pavement and floods ensue, these jeepneys can still brave the roads, thanks to hydraulic wheels that can rise by one foot.
  • More orderly boarding and alighting, plus some creature comforts for the tech-savvy commuter. We all know that the way jeepneys (and other forms of public transportation) randomly stop at various parts of the road causes traffic. This behavior also reinforces lack of discipline among people, both drivers and passengers. It seems that a more orderly way of commuting is about to be institutionalized through the COMET. The COMET has designated stops which are actually followed from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma and vice versa. Passengers conveniently pay for the fare via a card that they tap-in when boarding and tap-out when alighting.  What’s more, this e-jeepney also housess some creature comforts for the tech-savvy: GPS and Wifi connection, flat screen TV that displays news and ads, CCTV camera for monitoring the safety of passengers, and continuous communication between the COMET command center and e-jeepney to effectively forsee and manage congestion to and from the destination. I like this a lot because it resembles my bus adventures while I was studying in Seoul. Very convenient!
  •  Better compensation for drivers. Gone are the days when jeepney drivers are unsure of how much they will bring home to their family – or if they will bring anything substantial at all. By being a COMET driver, they are given monthly salaries plus benefits. Here, drivers, passengers, and the environment wins. What’s good for one sector is also good for the others. A dream come true.

According to the aforementioned Rappler article, this is the COMET’s route. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m excited!

COMET e-jeepney route from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma, and vice versa. Taken from http://www.rappler.com/nation/69948-quezon-city-electric-shuttles-operational.

COMET e-jeepney route from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma, and vice versa. Taken from http://www.rappler.com/nation/69948-quezon-city-electric-shuttles-operational.

This morning’s interesting articles @ Environmental News Network

environmental news network logoEnvironmental News Network is a website that posts a comprehensive selection of environment-related news everyday. I’ve been a newsletter subscriber since 2010 or thereabouts, so I’ve always had interesting news to read in my inbox everyday since then.

Today I want to share two of the most interesting news items I found. Well, interesting for me, at least.

First is an article titled “Why It’s Important to Rinse Recyclables. It’s interesting for me because  it’s common sense to rinse recyclables for sanitary and health reasons, but it’s not always done. An article like this is a great reminder why it’s important. Among the reasons cited here are efficiency (it makes sorting recyclables at the recycling plant easier and faster), health and sanitation (you wouldn’t want to attract yucky molds and pests anywhere near your recyclables, right?), and higher income (the cleaner the recyclable, the higher the grade and consequently, the price).

But for me, the most important reason for rinsing recyclables is the health and sanitation aspect of it. We recycle to limit waste and unnecessary consumption, but more often than not, the health and sanitation aspect is forgotten. It shouldn’t be. It should go hand in hand. A healthy environment means having healthy people around, as well.

This is also the reason why I believe that reusable eating utensils (spoons, forks, plates) is better than disposable plastic utensils–to a certain extent. That is, reusable eating utensils is better as long as these are rinsed and kept well. After all, what’s good about using earth-friendly things if they are not clean and sanitary enough for human usage, right? Who wants disease with their burger and fries, right?

Second is an article titled “Disc or Download: A Virtual Energy-Savings Debate”. This one talks about how carbon footprint in consuming video games is surprisingly more efficient when you buy the Blu-ray version of the game rather than downloading it online. The common way of thinking is that it’s more environment-friendly to download it, because Blu-ray entails energy consumed from the production of the disc itself plus transportation costs. But a systematic study by the Journal of Industrial Ecology proved otherwise.

So those are new stuff I learned today. Hope you also learned something new from these, too! Happy reading!

Enchanted Burger @ Enchanted Farm Cafe

enchanted burger

Here’s a delicious routine after stocking up on your Human Nature beauty essentials. Just a floor above the Human Nature flagship store along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City (Philippines) is Enchanted Farm Cafe, a social enterprise selling healthy salads, burgers, and desserts straight from (you guessed it right) Enchanted Farm.

I tried the Enchanted Burger, a yummy compromise between my love for meat and my brain’s nagging to eat more veggies. It is made from 20 percent meat and 80 percent veggies, so it is, of course, a guilt-free meal. It is also loaded with other fresh veggies like cucumbers and greens. All of this cafe’s burgers are served with side salad and sweet potato fries. So I suppose this will fill up our fiber needs for the day.

The salad was super fresh and the dressing had a sweet, tangy taste which i loved. While I’m not really a fan of sweet potato fries, the tartare-like dipping sauce made it a delight to eat. 

Next time I drop by the area, I will their pastas, salads, and desserts (sabanoffee pie, in particular!).

Geeky Stuff I’ve Been Doing In Korea Part 2: Conference-hopping

I can’t get enough of learning. Classes seem to not be enough. And neither are museums (see previous post on “Geeky Stuff I’ve Been Doing in Korea Part 2: Museum-hopping“), which of course feed my relentless interest on 사극 (historical drama), 한국전통문화 (traditional Korean culture), and 전쟁 (war).

And so, I’ve gone to a place where serious graduate students go: conferences. And here in Korea, especially Seoul National University, there are many.

The first one I went to was right in my own backyard, of course: The Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS) Symposium 2013: New Challenges for Korea in the Era of Global Changes. Two of my favorite professors in Korean Studies were here. As a graduate student, this was the equivalent of “K-pop fan-girling”.

Image

And then there was the Distinguished Lecture in SNU by Microsoft founder Bill Gates on the Voice of Innovation last April 21. According to this SNU article, over 1700 students registered, but only 300 students were chosen to attend the event. Needless to say, I was one of those lucky students.

A few days before the lecture, I got an email from GSIS saying around 25 students will be chosen for this event. Interested students must submit one or two questions to Mr. Gates. We were chosen based on the quality of our questions. I asked something about Mr. Gates’ creative process and seeming penchant for a multidisciplinary approach to creativity.

During this lecture, we were in awe at how Mr. Gates was so articulate and eloquent. He just teemed with intelligence.

Image

Last but not least is the Asan Plenum 2013, organized by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, one of Korea’s (and the world’s!) leading think tanks.

I went there as part of the Asan Plenum 2013 Young Scholars Program, where I worked as an e-reporter through Twitter.

As a Young Scholar, I was also given access to two special lectures for Young Scholars. I chose two lectures about China. I know, I know, it seems counterproductive since I’m a Korean Studies student, but believe me, I have a special reason for this. And it’s something along the line of…China is rising, and Korea’s path is inevitably intertwined with China’s, so knowledge of China as a regional and international actor is vital. Besides, I’ve had a strong interest on Chinese language and cybersecurity prior to my pursuit of Korean Studies. So these two seemingly divergent topics mesh beautifully in my mind.

Part of being a Young Scholar was being given an opportunity to attend a Networking Lunch with the world’s leading scholars and fellow students. I was assigned to the group of Middle East experts, who talked about the ongoing Syria crisis.

At first I was at a loss as to how the Middle East relates to my Korean Studies, but later on, I realized that learning about the Middle East, an unstable region, is vital and definitely connected to my Korean Studies since Korea gets its energy resource from this region. Moreover, the Middle East is also an important trade partner of Korea. Thus, Korea has a stake in this region’s stability. If I weren’t assigned to this Networking Lunch, this fact would have been under my radar. So I consider this a blessing in disguise.

Image

Aside from conferences, I’ve also been a regular viewer of Indie Plus movies in Sinsa, thanks to free tickets I’ve been lucky to win from Community Korea.  After each screening, there’s a Question-and-Answer portion with the movie director–a great way of gaining insights on the director’s creative vision and life.

Image

Geeky Stuff I’ve Been Doing in Korea Part 1: Museum Hopping

I’m currently spending the Spring semester in Seoul National University. Of course I’m studying as hard as I do in Thailand, but here, it’s a lot more fun. I read, I go to classes, and I supplement this geeky-ness with even more geeky-ness via (ta-daaah!) Seoul’s many museums on Korean history, society and culture. What’s even better is that these museums are for free!

Image

National Museum of Korea. Accessible by Subway Line 4, Ichon Station. Just go to the tunnel leading to the museum. It’s super easy!

The first museum I went to was the National Museum of Korea where I studied various aspects of Korean history and culture. My favorite, of course, is the section on Joseon Dynasty, where I had my fill of looking at various norigae (those colorful ornaments hanging beautifully on a hanbok) and hair accessories of the queen.

Image

War Memorial Museum of Korea. Accessible from Samgakji Station, Exit 12.

I also went to the War Memorial Museum of Korea, where I studied not just about the Korean War in the 1950s but various wars in ancient Korea as well. I was thrilled to learn about my country’s (Philippines) participation in this war — We were one of the countries that sent troops to help Korea!

Image

National Palace Museum of Korea. Accessible through Line 3, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 5.

Then there’s also the National Palace Museum of Korea, where I had my fill of learning about Joseon palace life. It’s great for feeding my sageuk addiction!

Image

Seoul Museum of History. Accessible via Gyeongbokgung Station, Line 7.

Since Seoul is such an amazing city, I didn’t miss the opportunity to learn about its exciting history and rapid development, from the ancient period up to contemporary times at the Seoul Museum of History.

Image

Seoul Baekje Museum, near the Olympic Park.

With all the attention that the Joseon Dynasty has been garnering in Korean TV dramas, it’s a shame that we sometimes overlook the Baekjae period, which is also a glorious period in Korean history. In one word, it’s about power. Visit Seoul Baekje Museum  near the Olympic Park to learn why.

Image

Seoul National University Museum

Of course, I didn’t dare miss this museum in my own backyard — the Seoul National University Museum. It’s also an interesting museum where we can learn about ancient (well, paleolithic life) in Korea.

While it looks like I’ve visited a lot of museums in Korea, there are still a lot more I haven’t seen. And I want to see more!

Seoul is a great city for museum-hopping. There are lots to see and learn, the contents are creatively presented, and best of all, it’s ultra-accessible and mostly for free! Perfect for Korea geeks like us!

Come with me?

The best Korean buffet in Bangkok

Korean food is no doubt delicious. And in Bangkok, Korean food can also be expensive. But thanks to my newfound Thai friends (I am a foreign student here), I was given advice on where to eat the best tasting Korean food that’s also easy on the pocket for those on a student’s budget.

The place is called Special K, which offers eat-all-you-can buffet. For just 290baht, you can have your fill of different varieties of marinated pork, chicken, shrimp, squid, or any other seafood. Of course there’s also a lot of banchan (appetizers), kimbap, and soups.

This place is popular with Thai and Korean people alike because everything is very delicious and affordable. And for me and my friends, this is the best place to eat and celebrate in as our reward for a semester’s hard work.

Address:

Special K, Room A,B, 3/F, Anek Vanit Building, 155 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thong Lor), Bangkok, Thailand

Nearest Train:

BTS Thong Lo

Opening Hours:

daily 11:30am-2pm, 5-10:30pm

Coreana Cosmetics Museum: A window to Korean beauty in history

Korean beauty fans! Before you head on to Myeongdong for your Korean cosmetics fix, you might want to make a sidetrip to where Korean beauty has its place in history–the Coreana Cosmetics Museum.

As someone fascinated with how Korean women stay beautiful and elegant (as seen in our favorite sageuk and contemporary TV dramas), I made sure that my second trip to Seoul involved going  here.

coreana 6

I first read about this museum while researching related material for my ancient Korean makeup article for WKB, and have since vowed to visit once I return to Seoul. September’s participation in an academic conference gave me the opportunity to do so. And I must tell you that my sidetrip to Apjugeong, where the museum is located, was well worth the visit.

Coreana Cosmetics Museum showcases a wide array of makeup cases and vials, trinkets and costumes collected by Corean Cosmetics Company founder Dr. Sang-Ok Yu for over 40 years. The collection numbers around 5,300 pieces, so you can just imagine the sheer delight this museum will give to makeup and beauty junkies! It’s really the largest cosmetics museum in Korea! =)

The musuem has two exhibit halls at the 5th floor and 6th floor of space*c at Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu in Seoul

The museum also shows how Korean women in ancient times prettified themselves with colors that can be found nature: Chili peppers for a pretty pout, for example.

coreana 1

The museum also shows how Korean women loved beautiful things even in ancient times. From celadon makeup bottles and bowls to colorful contemporary powder cases, this museum will make you appreciate and learn about Korea’s makeup culture.

coreana 2

coreana 3

How the body looks is given importance, too, through accessories for the hair and for the clothes. Overall, Korean’s look as colorful and cheery hundreds of years ago as they are in the present time.

coreana 3

coreana 4

coreana 5

I highly recommend that you visit this place if you’re serious about beauty—the Korean way!

How to get there:

By subway, take Line 3 Apgujeong. Go out at Exit 3. Take a 3-5 minute walk to CGV Apgujeong Theater, and you’ll see a sign that says Space*c. Go in that direction until you see the building to your right.

Admission Fee:

3,000won for adults and 2,000won for students