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UPKAA Pays Courtesy Call to Philippine Envoy
By Rowena dela Rosa Yoon
Associate Editor & Australian Correspondent
Ambassador Susan O. Castrence (3rd from left) of the Philippine Embassy in Seoul poses with UPKAA members.

The UP Alumni in Korea Association (UPKAA), a network of Koreans who have studied and achieved academic degrees from the state-owned University of the Philippines, paid a courtesy call to the newly appointed Philippine Ambassador, Her Excellency Susan O. Castrence at the Philippine Embassy in Hannam-dong recently.

Represented by the association's Honorary President, Dr. Kim Tae-myung from Hannam University, incumbent President Park Nak-jeong from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Dr. Park In-oh, UPKAA met with Amb. Castrence, a UP alumni herself, at the embassy located in Hannam-dong. Discussions were held to brief the new ambassador on the activities and prospective programs of the alumni association.

As a gesture of appreciation to their alma mater, the visit was also aimed at exploring possibilities that will allow the UPKAA to help in boosting Philippine-Korea friendship and bilateral ties in any way they can. Noting the strong blood ties the two countries have exhibited all these years, the ambassador and alumni agreed that UPKAA can help even more. She said on the sideline that friendship between the two countries is rooted in the Korean War — which prompted the Philippines to send troops to stand side by side with the United Nations in its battle to repel the Communist-backed North Korean invasion.

Recently, Koreans have topped the second slot of foreign arrivals in the Philippines, slightly competing with the Japanese and lagging behind Americans which remain the number one guests in the nation. Korean arrivals totaled 500,000 as of the end of 2005 — comprised mainly of English-language students, university students, pleasure travelers, and businessmen. With the trend towards overseas retirement, the Philippines has also been cornering Koreans to retire there. The Korean population in the Philippines has already reached an aggregate total of 40,000, more or less.

Meanwhile, Filipino industrial trainees and migrant workers have also been a major force in helping to pump a Korean export-driven economy. Many Filipinos have also cemented their ties with Koreans in marriage, the ambassador quipped. Dr. Kim and the ambassador also affirmed how strong the two nations' ties are.

During the visit, UPKAA also made a cash donation to help aid the victims of the recent mudslide tragedy in Leyte Province. Using the embassy as a conduit to channel some financial help, the small donation is hoped to help in the recovery efforts. The lady ambassador obtained her bachelor's degree in Foreign Service and graduate studies in Public Administration from the said university.

The ambassador was eventually invited as a special guest during an UPKAA meeting in Sinchon on April 19.

UPKAA was created about seven years ago to provide network of UP alumni in Korea. Currently, there about a hundred members, most of whom are university professors, businessmen, and government bureaucrats coming from Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, and other major cities all over Korea. Filipino UP alumni in Korea are also invited to join in. Regular quarterly meetings are held to update members on the association's plans and activities. For more information, visit website: or e-mail:

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Rowena dela Rosa Yoon serves as an Associate Editor & Australian Correspondent for the Seoul Times. She is a communications specialist with extensive professional experience in journalism, public relations, and corporate communications. She wrote for Manila Bulletin and Korea Herald. She has a MA degree in Communications and Media Studies from Monash University (Australia), a postgraduate degree in Comparative Literature from University of the Philippines, a BS degree in Journalism from Lyceum of the Philippines, and a Diploma of Information Technology from Victoria University (Australia). She is a current member of the Melbourne Press Club.






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