The Korean Speech Contest was organized by the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) 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).
Baclea-an said she spent days with her Korean friends Ji Mi Kim and Paul Hwang who helped her in preparing her speech that centers on the topic “growth”.
“All I wanted was to be able to set foot in Ateneo and maybe grab the second or third place, but God gave me way more than what I had asked for. I am still in shock because I really wasn't expecting this at all,” said Baclea-an.
Baclea-an added she thought that she was going home empty-handed. This was the toughest competition, she said.
Her fellow contestants have coaches while she went there alone and with only one friend to support her.
“I could already hear my dad's voice in my head saying it’s okay. But when they announced that the winner came all the way from Tacloban, I had a Pia-Wurtzbach moment. I didn't know what to do because I couldn't believe it,” she added.
Before competing at the Ateneo de Manila campus, she first joined the regional Korean Speech Contest in Cebu where was declared the winner.
After hearing her name and receiving her award, Baclea-an said all that she did was to cry for the unexpected blessing.
“Judges were telling that it is my chance to get medical treatment in Korea,” she said.
Baclea-an was born with congenital heart problem that hampers her to live a normal life. After graduating in college, she was forbidden by her father to work because of the illness.
Then super typhoon Yolanda happened and it opened an opportunity for her to show her skills.
The Korean government sends military troops to help the Leyte province in the rehabilitation work where she applied and was hired to become one of the interpreters of Araw Force. She was the only Filipino among those who were hired who can fluently speak Korean.
After the Korean military left, Baclea-an works a manager of Korean restaurant in the city then later on at Yerang Korean Cup Rice, located at Robinsons Place Tacloban.
She also works as volunteer Korean language teacher of Korean Methodist Church in Fatima village.
Baclean-an said she is planning to go to Korea by September of October. He six-day visit in Korea will include a five-day language class at Kyung Hee University. (PNA)