One of the K-event I’ve been looking forward to this year is celebrating Seollal at Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines (KCC). Seollal is the Lunar New Year for Koreans and it is one of the most celebrated events in their culture, similar to Chinese New Year and our January 1st New Year celebration. My idea of this event is based mainly on what our Korean textbook described it; families get together usually wearing hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), they perform their ancestral rites, the children pay respect to their elders by doing sebae (deep traditional bow), and the rest of the day is celebrated by eating traditional food and playing traditional folk games.
I missed this event when KCC hosted it last year so I was really determined to attend it this year. When KCC announced it in their Facebook page that there will be an early registration for this event, my friend reserved a slot for me. On January 30, 2014, my friends and I went to KCC, confirmed our slots, got our name tags, and enrolled in painting class for Korean traditional embroidery pattern. The other class was for traditional games but since I have tried them when I had Korean language classes last year, we opted for the painting class as it seems more appealing to us since my friends and I were really eager to wear and own a hanbok.
Since we have one hour left before the painting class begins, we queued in front of the language classroom to wear hanbok and had our pictures taken. We also went to the wave hall to watch the participants of traditional Korean folk games. They played yutnori (board game which involves throwing four wooden sticks), tuho (arrow toss), and jegi-chagi (similar to our Filipino traditional game, sipa).
When it was time for our painting class to begin, we proceeded to the culture classroom where we were greeted by our shy and soft-spoken teacher who briefed us with the meaning of the different symbols used in designing hanbok . She also showed us some scenes in the K-Drama, Jang Ok Jeong, which is Kim Tae Hee’s first historic drama as a Hanbok designer.
After the brief introduction to hanbok designs, we were provided with the patterns which we painted according to our preferred colors. There were only two patterns available and I chose the one with lotus flower which symbolizes birth, reincarnation, and prosperity. There were also limited colors available for the paint brushes, so I am not really satisfied with the outcome of my design.
After the activities, they served us free tteokguk (soup with sliced rice cakes, beef, and vegetables), variety of colorful tteok (rice cakes), and sikhye (sweet rice punch). Though I did not get much, the rice cakes and rice soup were very heavy that my friends and I who originally wanted to eat at a Korean restaurant after the event changed our mind since we felt full already.
I was beaming with gladness as my friends and I went back to Ayala. Finally, I got to wear hanbok and visit KCC (my happy place ^_^) after not being able to enroll in any of the classes for almost a year due to my busy schedule. Korean culture is indeed very rich and I want to learn and experience more of it. The Philippine culture is very rich as well and if the government will take the initiative to share it by providing cultural classes and continuously inform the public as well as the tourists about it, then even other nations might be able to appreciate it the way we do.