I dove into the mass of pillows, blankets, rilakkuma plushies that made up my bed and was thinking about the lazy morning I would have that coming Saturday, when my cellphone rang. It was a friend and organizer of very popular KPop events in Manila. “Hey Niaw! The emcee won’t make it until the afternoon tomorrow! Can you take over as host in the morning of KPOP and Culture Fest?” Despite the short notice, I love hosting events, so I agreed.
Arriving at the event the next morning, I met Jinsoo Choi, my co-host for the morning session. After finding out he’s Korean and wasn’t born in the Philippines, I was shocked by the ease with which he used colloquial Manila-flavored Tagalog, with slang expressions like “SABAW” interspersed into the fluid mix of Tagalog and English that is so characteristic of Manila’s inhabitants. Were it not for his name and distinctive appearance, you would not have known that he isn’t your typical native Manila student.