On Day 3, we attended Holy Mass at the Catholic Church in Hyehwa-dong. It’s a Filipino Mass, so naturally the attendees are all Filipino (I think).
Here’s the thing: In the Philippines, we are always cautioned to be mindful of our belongings all the time. Even in Church, if you just leave your stuff unattended, someone else will take it. I know it’s an ugly thing but it’s the reality that we must accept.
I had a real crisis attending Mass in Korea. That crisis being, should I just leave my bag on my seat or not? You see, when we entered the Church, me and my friends had to separate because the seats are mostly taken and there’s no room for six people to be seated together in one pew. I sat in the company of total strangers. When I sat down, I was clutching my bag on my lap when I noticed that my seatmates were not holding theirs. Either it’s on the floor or placed on top of the still-tucked kneelers (thank you, Wikipedia, for the term). I’m not comfortable seeing this because we’re all Pinoys and we’re not used to just leaving our stuff alone. But just to be “in”, so to speak, I placed my bag on the floor in front of me. During Consecration, we had to kneel so we had to put the kneelers down. The pews are lined up close to each other so the space was so cramped and there’s no room for bags on the floor. I saw my seatmates placing their bags at their seats behind them. In the Philippines, that is a definite no-no unless you wanted to part with your bag in the first place. I made do with placing my bag in between my chest and the pew in front of me, which made breathing a bit difficult but it’s just for a couple of minutes so I tried to endure it.
The real crisis came during Communion. I observed that nobody was carrying anything as they approached the priest or the lay minister to accept the Host. Which means, I have to leave my bag on my seat as I line up to take my Communion. I could carry it, but that would be like, having a big, blazing sign that says, “NEWBIE” on my forehead. It didn’t help that my bag was big, and the color is red. I’ll definitely be a center of attention (yes, I know I shouldn’t care and I know that they shouldn’t care, neither, but we’re Pinoy and Pinoys are both always self-conscious and always mindful of someone else’s business). I was not concerned about the money nor my gadgets; I was concerned that my passport is in my bag, and if I lose my bag, that means I lose all my papers, as well. Call it paranoia, but if you’re living in this country, you would understand my predicament.
Thankfully, one lay minister stood on the other end of our pew so I waited until the line was short before I stood up to take my Communion, with an urgent prayer asking the Lord to please watch my bag while I was away for about 5 seconds. It’s funny when I think about it now, but I was really having a huge crisis when it was happening.
Moral of the story: next time I go to Church in Korea, either I sit with my friends, or I don’t carry anything conspicuous. Or, I attend Mass with non-Pinoys. (Just kidding on the last part.)
For those who may want to attend the 1:30pm Filipino Sunday Mass in Hyehwa-dong, here’s how to go there:
1. Take subway Line 4 (light blue) and get off at Hyehywa station, exit 1. Go straight until you reach the Church.
2. Take our option, which is subway Line 4 and get off at Hansung University station (the next stop from Hyehwa). Go out at Exit 4 and walk straight until you reach the Church. You will enter via the rear gate.
The walking distance is nearly the same, except that if you go out at Hyehwa station, you will have to pass by the Filipino market. On one hand, walking will be a breeze from Hansung University station because it’s not crowded. On the other hand, there are so many interesting things to see while passing through the Filipino market, such as seeing so many Filipino goods that we take for granted here in our country only to find that they cost so much in Korea:
For example: one can of sardines in tomato sauce (Ligo, 555, Mega) would set you back 4000 won (php160). I heard someone buying a small piece of raw papaya for chicken tinola, and the selling price was 8000 won (php320). I remember the first time I went to Korea way back in 2006, half a pound of kamote (sweet potato) cost 5000 won (about php250 at the time), and one whole watermelon is 90,000won (about php4,500). No wonder Rain and his crew are always salivating over watermelons. I saw a lot of stalls peddling boxed Tropicana buko (coconut) juice. I should’ve asked for the price, just to confirm that coconut and coconut products are suuuuuper-expensive in Korea.
It is in Hyehwa where we had a chance to sample what seems to be the latest craze in Korea’s street food stalls: spicy chicken BBQ.
Spicy chicken BBQ is our new odeng. At 3500 won (php140) it seems to be a bit steep (it could be cheaper in other stalls), but one of these plus rice (microwaveable rice is 1000 won or less in convenience stores) already makes for a very satisfying meal. Too bad we only got to eat this once in our entire stay.