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Tacloban native wins Korean Speech Contest

Grand prize winner Angeli Marie Baclea-an (2nd from right) is awarded by Lee Jong Min (3rd from right), wife of Korean Ambassador Kim Jae Shin, and KCC Philippines Director Oh Choong-suk (extreme right). (Photo courtesy of KCC Philippines)

Grand prize winner Angeli Marie Baclea-an (2nd from right) is awarded by Lee Jong Min (3rd from right), wife of Korean Ambassador Kim Jae Shin, and KCC Philippines Director Oh Choong-suk (extreme right). (Photo courtesy of KCC Philippines)

A 26-year-old restaurant manager in Tacloban City, Leyte, and a long-time fan of Korean dramas and K-pop emerged as grand prize winner in the 2016 Korean Speech Contest finals held a few days ago at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Angeli Marie Baclea-an told Bulletin Entertainment she started learning Korean in 2011 after graduating from college.

“I have been a fan of K-pop and Korean dramas for more than a decade now and I started learning Korean to escape from depression because after graduating from college, I couldn’t get a job due to my health condition,” Baclea-an said.

She was born with a congenital heart disease that hindered her ability to have a normal life, which she talked about in her winning Korean speech under the theme “growth.”

Amid her struggle with her health, she said Korean dramas and music brought her comfort. She’s a fan of many Korean stars including actor Song Joong-ki, Big Bang, BTS, Infinite, BAP, Epik High, Kim Dong Ryul , Lee Hi, 2NE1, SISTAR and Girl’s Day.

Baclea-an bested five other finalists, who were also regional winners, to win a six-day Fun Korean Language Trip to South Korea courtesy of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Manila and P30,000.

The Korean Speech Contest was organized by the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) in the Philippines headed by Director Oh Choong-suk and sponsored by KTO Manila along with partners United Korean Community Association in the Philippines, Ateneo Initiative for Korean Studies and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Placing second is Christine Dizon of the Philippine International College followed by Janine Laddaran of Ateneo de Manila University, who placed third.

The judges were Lee Jong Min, wife of Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Jae Shin; Kim Jong Ho, principal of the Korean International School; Lee Jong Hwa, professor at the University of the Philippines (UP); Park In Shik, director of KTO Manila; and KCC Director Oh.

After Tacloban was devastated by Typhoon “Yolanda” in November 2013, the Korean government through the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (ROKAF) sent a 300-member humanitarian mission, known as “Araw” Contingent, to the Philippines to assist in the rehabilitation of Leyte.

Baclea-an used her Korean language skill to work as an interpreter for the “Araw” Contingent in Leyte and as a Korean language teacher at a Korean language school the mission established near the base camp.

She currently works as a manager at the Yerang Korean Cup Rice restaurant in Tacloban City, and as a volunteer Korean language teacher at the Tacloban Korean Methodist Church.

Her trip to Korea includes a five-day language class at Kyung Hee University. She’s also planning to meet Korean soldiers who were part of the “Araw” Contingent.