by Kristine Joie Valencia
Ma-bu-hay! (Long live!) Greetings from the Philippines. I have always been missing my home ever since I came to Jeonju Cty in 2013. As one saying goes, “there’s no place like home”, I am pretty sure you can agree with me on this. Missing home means missing families, friends, culture and of course, delicious food! So how do I survive without these things? Wondering what’s the secret? It’s simply looking for that place that can be like home away from home. Once you get settled and that excitement of your new country wears off a bit, you could absolutely find yourself moving through the stages of homesickness. For me, the first thing I did was to search for the nearest Filipino store.
With the help of one senior Filipino friend who has also stayed here in Jeonju for quite some time, I got to know the place called “Foreigners Mart”. This is a place where I can feel like I am home, and I can taste home even though I am miles away.
According to the owners of the store, one major reason why they decided to open the business is because of that homesickness, coming to a foreign country to live, work or study and start a new life. They thought that “Foreigners Mart” will somehow fill the air with a taste of home, Pi-nas! (Philippines).
Wallah, and they did it! “Foreigners Mart” has been in the business for the past eight years and still going strong in the market. The first branch was built in the Palbokdong area during the summer in 2008 and was later moved to its recent location downtown in Gaeksa area.
As Ku-ya (older brother) said, back then he just wanted a place like tam-ba-yan(hangout) where Filipinos can gather and make friends with others here in Jeonju.
One of the many familiar traditions in the Philippines is the so-called, Ka-pa-ti-ran or Sa-ma-han which mean brotherhood or organization. Known to many ka-ba-ba-yan(countrymen), gathering among families or close friends in one place has been one of the many interesting things most Filipinos do during their free time, holidays, special occasions, festivals, etc. So that tradition has travelled here in South Korea. Now, they can enjoy the sa-ma-han as “Foreigners Mart” is built making it a tam-ba-yan then inviting more and more Filipinos to come over.
Filipinos usually gather at “Foreigners Mart” to have meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner as the store serves authentic lu-tong ba-hay or homecooked Filipino dishes, such as a-do-bo (Pork or chicken sautéed in garlic and soy sauce), pan-cit (stir-fried noodles), pak-siw(fish simmered in vinegar), si-ni-gang (pork/beef/chicken/fish stew with tamarind), barbecued pork, and more. When I came to the store, a birthday party just ended, and there was some leftover food cooked for the celebration. Luckily, I got to taste the pan-cit (stir-fried noodles) and me-cha-do (pork in soy and tomato sauce with vegetables). Ma-sa-rap! (Yummy!) A real taste of home indeed. That time my cravings were satisfied. Bu-sog! (I’m full)
Aside from the home cooked meals which you can taste depending on the day you will visit the store, there are also various products fresh from the Philippines like bread, cookies, biscuits, vegetables, dried fish, fish sauce, noodles, sardines, condiments, flavoring, seasonings, coconut oil, cosmetics, and more. All these are available at reasonable prices ranging from 1,000 KRW- 10,000 KRW and above. Some of the products such as bread, vegetables and dried fish come every once in a while, since they need to be ordered from local stores in the Philippines.
The store also offers other services such as Express Cargo in which you can send gifts to your families and love ones who love Korean pa-sa-lu-bong (souvenirs) to any parts of the Philippines. For the express cargo, they also do pick up delivery every week from your own place here in Jeonju. The store is open from weekdays, Mondays- Fridays at 10:00am to 9:00pm and during weekends, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00am and the closing time depends on the number of customers.
I am sure Foreigners Mart will be my taste of home while I am here in Jeonju. And you? What are you waiting for? I hope some of you who are curious about Filipino food or snacks can visit the place too. Koreans, foreigners and fellow Filipinos are all welcomed to Foreigners Mart! Why not treat yourself with a very interesting and unique experience of Filipino food. Who knows, maybe you might want to visit the Philippines anytime soon and you’ll feel how lucky I am to feel a taste of home even I am here in Korea.
For more information and inquiries about the store, you can add them on Facebook.