|Donnalyn Bartoome, second from left, one of the hosts of the reality show "Aja Aja Tayo" of the Philippines, speaks during a recent Korea Times interview at its newsroom in Seoul. Other hosts, second from left, Alwin Uytingco, Julian Trono, and Fabio Ide, also joined the interview. They arrived in the country last week to film an episode on Korea. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
Korea Times intern Lee Han-na gave a guided tour of Seoul for the hosts of a Philippines reality show during their recent trip to Korea. This article is based on her first-hand experience of the celebrities and their Seoul visit ―E.D.
Aja Aja Tayo team visits Seoul to shoot episode about Korea
By Lee Han-na, video by Lee Min-young
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and the Philippines.
As a student who spent her whole adolescence ― from six grade to university ― in the Philippines, any news or updates on the Southeast Asian country interest me as if I were a Filipina. When I heard that some of my teen idols were coming to Korea to shoot an episode of a reality show, I could not hide my excitement.
On March 11, four celebrities from the Philippines, including a Japanese-Brazilian, and 2 Koreans hosting "Aja Aja Tayo - Season 2" arrived in the newsroom of The Korea Times for an interview.
The celebrities were Donnalyn Bartolome, Alwin Uytingco, Fabio Ide, and Julian Trono.
Aja Aja .Tayo is the first ever reality show combining Korean and Filipino culture. Every Sunday morning (10:30 to noon) on TV5, the four stars with two Korean hosts ― Hong Ganda and Jean Kim ― invite K-pop Idols and Filipino guests to play Korean games.
I greeted them with "Mabuhay" ― a Tagalog word for welcome. They were surprised to hear their mother tongue in the foreign land. Then we moved to a quieter place to share insights on the two countries.
They are from multiple fields, including music, film, dance and blogging. Donnalyn is a singer, actress and YouTuber who covers different music genres and dance styles. Alwin is an actor who debuted when he was only 6 years old. He is also a writer, director, comedian and producer. Julian is an artist, performer and film director while Fabio is a Japanese-Brazilian model, actor and entrepreneur who has been in the Philippines for about 10 years.
To my surprise, they took the weather well. Fabio, his third time in Korea, suggested others to try samgyetang or Korean ginseng chicken soup which he enjoyed on his previous visits here.
They were looking forward to tasting authentic Korean cuisine, especially Donnalyn who wanted to taste kimchi. Alwin wanted to try out street foods which I recommended in the shopping street in Myeongdong.
Alwin says Korean and Filipino cuisine have one thing in common ― grilled food. Filipinos love barbecue, and inasal, a roast chicken (especially from Bacolod).
Likewise, Korean barbequed pork (also known as samgyeopsal) is trending. Along with samgyeopsal, the celebrities chose galbi describing it as the Korean version of bulalo which is beef in the Philippines.
They also suggested Korean viewers try Filipino dishes! Fabio suggested beef kaldereta (a tomato-based tender boiled beef stew) and Julian suggested sinigang which is also one of my favorite dishes especially when I have a cold.
Aside from food, the Filipinos craved for hallyu or the Korean Wave. Donnalyn is a fan of actress Song Hye-kyo who starred in "Full House" while Julian as a dancer covered several dances of Korean bands.
Julian said, "I am a huge fan of hallyu. … I was able to get to know about the creative process of them [Koreans] making music and dance. If there's a specific group that I like, it's got to be the young one. BigBang, BTS, EXO….They are great performers."
Young Filipinos also hoped to discover Seoul. Alwin wanted to go to museums and temples to understand Korean culture better. "I want to experience. Every time I go outside of the Philippines I want to see their culture through museums and their temples."
Following the tourism tagline "It's More Fun in the Philippines," they suggested, Koreans visit Siquijor Island, a very peaceful and friendly island with a lot of activities that is only a boat ride away from Dumaguete, not to mention, Palawan which is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines.
About the program they host
When asked what led them to host the program about Korea, Julian answered, "You know the Philippines are a huge fan of K-pop. That's not a reason but I consider that as a good opportunity to share our passions."
Meanwhile, Fabio said, "I don't have any Filipino or Korean blood. But hosting this program is such a privilege because I am learning so much from both countries about their culture, music and values. It's still nice for me for being a part, even without having their blood."
Donnalyn said that Filipinos love "Aja Aja Tayo." Not only Filipinos, but the guests also enjoy the Korean games that are made to fit into Filipino culture; but she added that Koreans catch up fast like with the tongue twister game they had in episode 1 of Season 2.
As cultural ambassadors of two countries and influencers on social media, they wished to play roles in facilitating cultural exchanges between the two countries throughout the program.
Alwin says the first objective of "Aja Aja Tayo" is to connect people with culture through playing games. "Those basic things actually make you feel and experience the culture. I hope in this Korean-Filipino show, people will have a perspective of what is it like to live in Korea and to experience the cultures."
He also said that there are common cultural links between the two countries. "There is this new game that we are trying but I was surprised because we have the same game called Pepsi Seven-up. It's basically the same principles."
They say this collaboration strengthens the friendship. "Every episode, we have guests and Korean hosts to guide us and teach us more about Korean culture. We also want to share our own way of culture by sharing stories or what foods to try."
Meanwhile, Donnalyn said, "I am planning to post a lot of pictures of my visit here to Korea. That is also one thing we, the influencers, actually do" showing her excitement to share her experiences and to invite people to Korea.
For four days, the hosts will tour Seoul and experience the traditions of Korea. Throughout the program, the hosts will have missions and play games of the country.