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어린이날: Children’s Day

IMG_0210Since last week, my students have been bugging me to give them free time for the whole period as a gift for them on Children’s Day. Of course, I would not let them waste forty minutes in the classroom just chattering or playing on their smart phones. It would be total chaos! I wasn’t going to give in to their whim, but I decided to spare 10 minutes of our class for a game. I even let one of my upper school classes watch a magic show in my tab. Thank God, the games and the magic show were enough to pacify them.

Most of the kids were excited about Children’s Day that all they could talk about during our conversation was what they were going to do on Monday. Some of the kids said that they would go to the amusement park or go shopping with Mom and Dad; some would spend the holiday with friends. Others only wanted to play games in the PC방 (internet cafe); then there was D, a new student, who said he doesn’t care about Children’s Day. I thought that he was just being sarcastic, but when I asked him why, I realized what he meant. “I’m (I can) not go anywhere,” he exclaimed, exasperated, “I have many (much) homework.”

“Well, you can do your homework first, then do what you want,” I told him.

“Mom say(s) study study study…”

“I’m sure she will give you some time to have fun on Children’s Day.”

D shrugged his shoulders and sighed hopelessly. He reminded me of a girl from my class who got Math workbooks for Christmas and was told by her Mom to finish them in a month.

Not all Korean parents are like D’s mom. In fact, many Korean parents give a great thought to what can make their kids happy on Children’s Day.


1May 5th is 어린이날 or Children’s Day in South Korea. In other countries, it is celebrated on November 20th, according to the United Nations official recommendation. Children’s Day is more like Christmas for Korean kids. When this day falls on a weekday, children don’t go to school or academies. Most of the parents are given a day off, so they can spend time with their little ones. Parents take their children to amusements parks, zoos, museums or picnic grounds, sometimes out-of-town. Shopping for toys or clothes is also a common activity. For busy families, simple lunch or dinner will suffice. On Children’s Day, my husband’s nieces come to our house to visit their grandparents. My parents-in-law prepare expensive presents for them. Parents and grandparents usually buy gifts for the children or give them money.

I used to give candies or chocolates to my students, but this time, the occasion slipped out of my mind, so instead of treats, I offered them a better gift…

I often give homework to my students, but last Thursday, I didn’t give them any. I thought about D and other students who were already bombarded with a lot of assignments from school and hagwons (academies). I didn’t want to add to their stress and take up most of their time accomplishing homework when they could be outside enjoying their special day. Even kids need a break, too, especially on the day dedicated to them.




Before there was K-drama…

Before K-dramas (Korean dramas) became popular in the Philippines, Mexican telenovelas reigned supreme. I remember being glued to the idiot box with the rest of my family when it was time for “Marimar“, sometimes not minding dinner at all. Even my uncles got so hooked into watching Mexican telenovelas that all they could talk about was the beautiful Thalia, the queen of Mexicanovelas in the Philippines.

We had barely gotten over the Mexinovela wave when Chinese/Taiwanese soap operas were introduced to Filipino televiewers. It wasn’t as if we had not seen Chinese soaps before. Chinese action dramas have been appearing on different TV networks in my country since I was a little girl, maybe before I was even born, but not many Filipinos watched them. You know those Chinese dramas where the actors, garbed in traditional costumes, do kungfu and fly a lot during the fighting scenes? I guess they didn’t strike our fancy, because their stories are far from reality. Besides, they weren’t dubbed in Filipino. There were subtitles, though, but who likes to read subtitles when you are watching soap operas?

In 2002, IBC 13 aired the very first dubbed Asianovela (Asian-produced telenovela), “Amazing Twins”. The setting is also Ancient China, but the characters are more realistic than those from old Chinese soap operas. I watched it, because there is more love story in it than action. ^^ It wasn’t as famous as “Marimar” or other Mexicanovelas that Filipinos got addicted to, but it was appreciated by some Filipino viewers.

1In 2003, the phenomenal Taiwanese series “Meteor Garden”, which is based on the Japanese shojo manga “Hana Yori Dango”, debutted on ABS-CBN. Who would forget “Meteor Garden”? It was such a big thing in the Philippines that other TV networks in the country began airing dubbed chinovelas (Chinese telenovelas), most of which were Taiwanese-produced romantic-comedy series. Still, no other Chinovelas could match the fame of “Meteor Garden”. Filipinos, young and old, knew about Shan Cai and the F4 . You could hear “Meteor Garden’s” intro playing on the radio almost everywhere you go and people singing “Oh baby, baby, my baby, baby…”

CD’s and casette tapes of “Meteor Garden’s” soundtrack and songs recorded by the F4 band sold like hotcakes. Many Filipino fans were trying to master the art of singing Taiwanese songs sung by the F4, though they barely understood the lyrics. I was a “Meteor Garden” fan, too. I must have bought all the CD’s and casette tapes of MG. I even got the minus-one, so I could sing “Ni Yao De Ai”. ^^

My bedroom was filled with F4 posters. There was a huge “Meteor Garden” towel hanging on the wall. It was actually my sister’s, who was also a fan. We didn’t want to get Dao Ming Si’s face wet, so we never used that towel. ㅋㅋㅋ

I’m sure that my sister and I weren’t the only Filipinas who went gaga over Dao Ming Si and his gang. The gorgeous guys of F4 suddenly became most Filipinas’ ideal men. (I wanted to marry Dao Ming Si or have him cloned!) Women weren’t the only ones who got into the F4 fever, but men as well. Many young Filipino males imitated the F4’s hairstyles, even Dao Ming Si’s hideous “pineapple” hairstyle which we thought was cool back then. The cast of MG were invited to the Philippines. They even had a concert that was tightly guarded by 500 policemen! Too bad I couldn’t watch it. T.T

Now that I recall my MG days, I become nostalgic. My Mom told me that the series is being shown again in the Philippines. I really want to watch it!!!

There is a Korean version of MG, “Boys over Flowers”, that was televised in my country. They started showing it when I was busy preparing for my wedding. I’ve seen some of the episodes, but I didn’t bother to finish the whole series. I think there’s too much 애교 (aegyo) in it that I totally dislike. Anyway, the Koreanized “Hana Yori Dango” was also a hit in the Philippines, not as much as MG, though.