By JONATHAN HICAP, Manila Bulletin
Seoul, South Korea – Since March last year, Filipino-Korean DJ Maria Genevie “Gennie” Kim has been giving valuable advice, news and information to Filipinos in South Korea through her radio program, ”Philippine Language Multicultural Family Music Radio,” also known as the “Multicultural Family Broadcast for Filipinos,” which streams via the internet.
|DJ Gennie Kim at the radio station (Photos: Gennie Kim and Jonathan Hicap)|
Produced by Woongjin Foundation, in cooperation with Digital Radio KISS, the program is aimed towards Filipino women married to Koreans and Filipino workers in South Korea. It offers information about the Philippines, South Korea and its culture, while playing Filipino and Korean songs.
“I call my Monday episode my Multicultural Information Day while Wednesday is my EPS [Employment Permit System] Corner. Friday is for general issues,” DJ Gennie told Bulletin Entertainment in her first interview with a Philippine media outlet.
The multicultural radio program aims to ease loneliness for foreigners in South Korea and improve their quality of life.
“Nakakatulong ang aking radio program hindi lang sa mga Pinoy dito sa Korea pati na rin sa mga nais pumunta dito. Magkakaroon na sila ng kaalaman sa Korea at yung mga bagong dating na nasa malayong lugar, nawawala ang kanilang homesickness dahil sa maliban sa Tagalog ang programa, ang mga pinapatugtog kong music ay purong Pinoy,” she said.
They also air segments in Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Russian, Mongolian, Japanese and Arabic.
The Filipino segment is aired everyday at 3 a.m., 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. New episodes are aired on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. These are replayed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Aside from being a radio DJ, Gennie counsels Filipinos who are victims of domestic violence and human trafficking at the Women’s Human Rights Commission of Korea.
DJ Gennie’s venture into broadcasting was an offshoot of her 2011 guest appearance on the same radio program, which, at the time, was being hosted by Filipina DJ Regina Arquiza.
“After that, the director gave me a calling card and told me that I had a good voice and that he would call me if they needed part-timers,” Gennie said.
She trained for three weeks starting on March 1, 2013 and her first radio broadcast was on March 18 last year.
As a DJ, Gennie is responsible for making all the scripts, songs list, news and information that she uses on the program.
“Masaya ako sa trabaho ko. Iniwan ko dati ang malaking sahod na trabaho dahil mas ninais ko ang social work, at nais kong makilalang lubos ang kultura ng Korea at maibabahagi ito sa aking nga kababayan,” she said.
Gennie is also the vice president of the Filipino Korean Spouses Association, adviser of the Filipino EPS Workers Association (FEWA), global business manager at the United Filipino Welfare Community Development, panel member of the HRD Korea Global, board member of Sulyap Pinoy, and counselor and translator at the Korea Incheon Port Institute’s HRD Korea EPS Vocational Skills Training.
She said she’s helping fellow Filipinos living in South Korea because she can relate to their experiences.
“Mahirap manirahan sa lugar na hindj natin bansa at mahirap makipag-komunikasyon. Alam ko ang pakiramdam nila dahil naranasan ko po iyon. Lagi kong inilalagay ang sarili ko nung ako’y unang dumating dito. Hindi ko nakakalimutan,” she said.
From the Philippines to South Korea
DJ Gennie has come a long way since flying to South Korea with her son in October 2003.
She met her Korean husband in 1996 in Cebu, where she had a boutique business. She also worked as a tour guide. They got married in 2000 and soon had a son. She decided to bring him to Korea.
“We flew here but my husband decided to stay in the Philippines,” she said.
They stayed with her parents-in-law since they didn’t know anyone in South Korea. Her husband promised that he would join them but he never did.
“My situation was really hard. I couldn’t speak Korean. I was living with my mother-in-law and my great mother-in-law,” she said.
After several years, she lost contact with her husband and they eventually divorced.
“Hindi na siya tumatawag sa bahay namin at hindi ko na makontak yung numbers n’ya. Instead of becoming depressed, I tried to see what I could do in South Korea,” she said.
After she got her spouse visa, she started working as part of an assembly group for a motor brake shoe factory, which proved to be very difficult.
After eight months, she met a Filipino who told her about a job at a cell phone assembly plant where 23 Filipinos were working.
In just one year, Gennie was promoted as a leader at the cell phone factory. The president of the factory told a manager to train her in Korean language so she could be familiar with the machines. Gennie made sample products of the company that were sent to clients.
“I was inspired because the company noticed my abilities,” she said, adding that she also became the mouthpiece of Filipino workers in the company.
Because of the economic crisis in 2006, the factory suffered. Gennie resigned in October that year and worked part-time at a Japanese factory for plastic injections for two years until the company closed in 2009.
She also tried to work as an English tutor but Koreans preferred
native English speakers.
native English speakers.
She decided to volunteer as an English teacher at a Korean government community center. The students at the center referred her to their friends for private English tutorials, which proved difficult as she would travel from one place to the other to teach about 15 students per day.
In 2010, the Philippine Embassy in Korea held a Philippine Independence Day celebration in Incheon and she became one of the emcees. There the Human Resources Development Service of Korea opened a training program for Employment Permit System (EPS) workers.
She accompanied her church mates from the Friends of All Nations (FAN) organization to enroll in the program. Many Filipinos went there and she eventually helped the Korean in charge of the enrollment. She ended up working for the Korean every Sunday as a translator, but continued tutoring on weekdays.
The people at HRD Korea introduced her to Chungwoon University where she was given the chance to teach English to third year students. Her stint at HRD Korea in Incheon brought her closer to Filipinos, who would tell her their problems and stories.
After 11 of struggle and beating the odds, DJ Gennie said she will stay in Korea and work hard for the future of her son, who is now 12 years old.
“Nag-eenjoy ako dito. Kaya ako nagtiis ng ganito katagal ay para sa anak ko. Gusto ko sya maging independent, confident at mabait,” she said.
To contact the author, send email to sangchusan(at)gmail.com