Culture

9 Ways I Felt At Home In South Korea

During a recent trip to Seoul, South Korea, I was astonished by how much Koreans love Mexican culture. I must admit that I was a little bit nervous about going to Seoul. With more than 24 million people living there, Seoul is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Would I fit in, or would I have a big “tourist” stamp on my forehead? I didn’t speak the language and never learned to use chopsticks (don’t judge!). But when I heard that one of the most highly rated restaurants in the city was a taco place, I knew I would love it there.

For starters, if you Google “best place to eat in Seoul,” Vatos is high on the list.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

If the name didn’t give it away, it’s a Mexican restaurant. I had fish tacos and carne asada fries and they were so good – and I should know, I’m from Cali. Their classic margarita was also legit.

So how much do Koreans love Mexican food? Check it out — these eateries are everywhere!

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

This is something like the El Pollo Loco of Seoul. You can’t go wrong with Mexican chicken.

And these taco joints are also sprinkled all throughout Seoul.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I spotted them everywhere. It was hard to eat local Korean food when so many awesome Mexican restaurants were around!

They also have incredible street food. This is a quesadilla/empanada with an egg.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Lettuce, pork, cheese, and cream. It’s insanely good.

I didn’t see any eloteros, but I found these packaged elotes.

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CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I found these treats at a convenient store. They’re perfectly packaged, too.

Churros are also a big thing in Seoul.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

They have a huge variety of sizes, different shapes and chocolate dips too!

Not only are Koreans into Mexican food, they also appreciate Mexican-American pop culture. If this Speedy Gonzalez doesn’t prove that, I don’t know what will.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Koreans are famously known to be fashion trendsetters, and I saw this jacket a cute boutique in the Gangnam District. If you’re not familiar with this uber-cool area, perhaps this pop hit song will make you want to visit.

And I almost died when I caught “La Bamba” on TV.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

This was a great way to learn a few words in Korean.

They have really great open markets, known to us as swap meets or mercados.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

There are three major open markets in Seoul, which are Namdaemun market, Gwangjang market, and Garak Market. With tons of food, clothing, and products, these swap meets are a great way to get a real taste of local culture. Each one is very different but they all have one thing in common: you can get anything you could ever want at a very good price.

Thanks, Seoul, for making me feel at home. It’s like I never left L.A.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Visiting Seoul made me realize that I shouldn’t be intimidated about experiencing new cultures because surprisingly enough, our commonalities are immense!


READ: 9 Stressful Moments Every Latino Experiences When Traveling With Their Family

Have you traveled lately? Share this story and let us know about your latest adventures abroad in the comment section below. 

Jessica Marie Garcia Talks Big Hoop Energy And Why She Screenshots Fans’ Messages

Entertainment

Jessica Marie Garcia Talks Big Hoop Energy And Why She Screenshots Fans’ Messages

onmyblock / Instagra,

There’s no denying Jessica Marie Garcia’s vibrant, go-getter personality. She makes it known to audiences and fans both on and off-screen in her role as Jasmine in Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy, “On My Block.”

You know when Garcia walks into a room. She’s just as bold, daring and warm-hearted as she appears around Freeridge, the fictional Los Angeles neighborhood OMB is set in. 

Before season 3 started streaming, mitú caught up with Garcia in between breaks while filming on location in Burbank, California. She discussed big hoop energy, how she connected on a personal level with some of Jasmine’s most emotional scenes, and how she unearthed more of her Mexican roots after moving to Los Angeles. 

What audiences can be excited to see in season 3 is more dialogue between Jasmine and the ‘core four,’ especially with Jason Genao’s character Ruby Martinez in a will-they-or-won’t-they? crush dance throughout the current season. 

A character with as much wise advice and heart as Jasmine needed to be given more lines and fans appreciate it.

Dare we say Jasmine’s energy is big hoop energy?

Garcia talked about how Jasmine’s personalized earrings helped her step into some added fierceness before the camera started rolling.

“I was the one that had their ears pierced at three months old, ok. That’s just like a given. Especially for Jasmine, hoops hold a lot of power. And even as an actor, her ‘Jasmine’ earrings that say Jasmine in them, I put a lot of that in Jasmine,” Garcia says. “I put a lot of love and power on those hoop earrings. I always had hoops growing up. You had to be able to put your fists in them or they’re not realistic. That’s a thing. I want different sizes, different shapes. They’re important for anyone really.”

One of Jasmine’s most relatable qualities was her ability to always see the positive in the direst of situations.

Garcia was an advocate for her character to showcase this multidimensionality. She didn’t want to have a character like Jasmine relegated to being a tag-along character on the outer orbit.

Representation on TV is better for it, especially when it comes to showing love and curves.

“Being a love interest, being a thicker girl and not having to be like the ‘thing’ they always talk about means everything to me because I don’t think that we see that a lot on TV,” Garcia says. “You know I just don’t talk about being a thicker girl 24 hours a day, it’s such a strange idea that that’s all we can talk about, so I appreciated it, and I also felt a responsibility for all those girls watching, like ‘OK, you gotta do it for me.’ I’m just honored that it’s me.”

Ruby starts catching feelings for her in the show for who Jasmine is as a person and who she makes him feel when she’s around him. And isn’t that just the kind of amor bonito you want to wish upon some of TV’s best breakout characters?

Audiences can also tell throughout the course of the show’s three seasons that Jasmine is there for Ruby in a deeper sense than some of his fellow friends. As much as Ruby’s friends try to support him after his PTSD, Jasmine truly gets what he is going through because of her dad’s disability coming back from war.

Garcia knows as Jasmine that Ruby’s PTSD will always affect him.

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“I don’t think that that is something Ruby as a character is ever not going to think about. You see even in these beautiful moments when we won that dance competition, and he was put in that place,” Garcia says. “[It’s good] for kids to know that these situations don’t get cleaned up in 30 minutes. This is a lifetime of pain that he has to deal with and that’s going to affect him as an adult. That’s going to affect the choices he makes. And again, that loss of innocence, it’s a huge part of him. He’s never going to be season 1 Ruby. It was a near-death experience that will affect him—and the core four.”

Garcia was able to tap into that emotion for such a pivotal scene like bringing Ruby around her family because she experienced that moment. 

“I’ve lived with my grandparents my whole life and my grandmother had dementia when I was, I want to say 13 years old, she got a stroke and got dementia,” Garcia says. “She moved out here and I was taking care of her out here with my mom. And it was something strange to have friends over, because I had to tell them she might scream or she might try to leave. It’s never something that as a teenager, you want to feel more different, so having to explain that is always something that was scary to me. Because I was always like, are my friends going to be able to understand that?”

“So when I played that with Jasmine and I was introducing Ruby to her father, that was nerve-wracking because I wanted it to be something that I could be able to accept but a lot of people don’t understand what that’s like,” Garcia recalls. “It was definitely a scene that I cared about a lot and I freaked out so much filming it. Just because as an actor we’re neurotic and I always want another take, and I never think something is good enough,” she continued. 

It turned out to be one of the most-loved scenes by audiences of the show. 

Fans connected to it as they saw Ruby and Jasmine’s friendship blossomed. 

Garcia enjoys going through her fans’ messages and is known to reply back personally and even screenshot them. 

“I’m lucky enough to say I get them a lot [fan messages], and it’s really just the message of being able to see that they see themselves in me. That is something that I will never get over because growing up, I didn’t,” Garcia admits. “I had to look onto other people in order to see any kind of representation. I say this all the time—Khadijah in Living Single is the reason why I’m here today. Seeing a thick, beautiful woman not be apologetic for any of that is what I wanted to see—but thinking like oh, I’ll be that token person, you know? And I think if it’s a White show, you have a Black friend or a Brown friend, but you never have both. And that’s just not life. So the fact that we have a cast of people of color and not having to completely talk about that the whole time, just being real, is amazing. Those kinds of messages mean everything to me. I save all of them, I screenshot them. I love responding to fans. I love responding to beautiful people, yes!”

She loves to encourage her fans to learn more about filmmaking and writing in order to be the next generation of content creators.

“You can’t decide that we’re going to write for a certain demographic and then not have that demographic writing, it just doesn’t make sense. That’s why we have the same stories. It’s exhausting,” Garcia says. “I think we also have to encourage our youth to go into screenwriting and take film school and just write. That’s the biggest thing is write down everything, because you’ll learn that acting may be something you saw and saw yourself in and you’ll find this love of this other craft because there are so many departments that make this a real thing.”

Garcia has been able to explore more of her roots now that she is living in Los Angeles thanks to the show.

“When I was in Florida, it’s a pretty mixed bag. But as far as Latinos, you’re in Orlando, you’re Puerto Rican. If you’re in Miami, you’re Cuban. And like that’s it,” Garcia recalls of Florida. “They used to call me ‘Mexico’ all the time in Orlando because it was so weird that I was Mexican (I don’t know how it is now). Coming here, I was surrounded by people that looked like me, but I didn’t know their traditions or anything, and then I just felt like I was missing out this whole time. So it’s been a beautiful discovery actually. I don’t speak Spanish, which is probably the bane of my existence, but I also think I speak for a lot of first-generation Latinos who understand it all, but when I speak it it’s a little sad. I say a little prayer and a wish, but you know I’m learning, and that’s part of it too.”

Perhaps in season 4 Jasmine will get to practice her Spanish on the show in some phrases.

READ: Jason Genao Of ‘On My Block’ Talks Growing Up On His Block And His Secret To Making Bomb Empanadas

20 Remarkable Mementos You’ll See at the Selena Museum

Fierce

20 Remarkable Mementos You’ll See at the Selena Museum

The Selena Museum

In 1995, the world lost the Queen of Tejano music, Selena Quintanilla Perez. Immediately following her death, mass vigils were held around the Latinidad to honor our lost reina. After her death, fans turned to her music for consolation and relief as they mourned the musician. Even after 24 years, the superstar is still grieved and celebrated by her fans.

Festivals are held around the world each year in honor of Selena’s birthday, life and death. Murals of the Queen of Tejano still grace neighborhoods from Texas to California to Mexico. Even international brands like MAC Cosmetics, Forever 21 and Target still collaborate with Selena’s estate to bring fans new merchandise.

While these all immortalize Selena’s legacy, there’s only one museum in the world dedicated to the Queen of Tejano.

In Selena’s hometown of Corpus Christi Texas — only a few miles from her final resting place — is Q Productions. Founded in 1993, Q Productions is the actual studio Selena recorded in with her father, Abraham, and Los Dinos. While it’s still an operating studio, the big draw of the location is the Selena Museum. Featuring mementos, collectables and memories from the iconic Latina’s life and career, it’s a visit that every Selena fan should make.

Here are some of the remarkable artifacts you will find at the Selena Museum.

1. Selena’s red convertible

The Selena Museum

It’s now over 30 years old, but this racy red convertible was Selena’s favorite car. In fact, before she bought the 1986 Porsche, she purchased a new black Porsche hatchback instead. However, something just didn’t vibe for the Queen of Tejano and she traded that one in for this older model. It could be because it’s paint job matches the Latina’s signature red lip but this ride just says, “Selena.”

2. The entire Selena MAC makeup line

The Selena Museum

In 2016, international makeup company MAC Cosmetics launched a line inspired by Selena. The Selena MAC collection was so well received that it sold out online within HOURS. The full line is on display at the Selena Museum — sporting products with names like “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Missing My Baby” and “No Me Queda Mas.”

3. Selena’s fashion sketches

The Selena Museum

Anyone who has seen Selena knows that the musician had an incredible sense of style. She had first-hand input in her styling because she designed many of her most iconic looks. Had she not become a musician, Selena wanted to become a fashion designer. In fact, before her death, Selena had opened two boutiques — one in Corpus Christi and one in San Antonio. Another was planned for Monterrey, Mexico however it was never built. Following her death, both locations closed but you can still see the sketches that started it all.

4. Selena’s childhood dolls

The Selena Museum

It’s easy to forget that the legendary Queen of Tejano started off as a little girl, singing songs to her father’s guitar. These sweet reminders of her childhood give us a glimpse into the Selena that only her family know. The baby doll and old Raggedy Anne are toys saved by Selena’s parents and immortalized in the museum. To them, she will always be their little girl.

5. Fan mail from around the world

The Selena Museum

Selena got her start in South Texas but soon achieved stardom that reached around the world. At the Selena Museum, you’ll find devoted fan mail from places like Japan, Uruguay, Peru, Hungary and New Zealand. You can still send fan mail to Q Productions and share your own love and appreciation for Selena.

6. An original manuscript for “Selena”

The Selena Museum

Soon after Selena’s death in 1995, studios began vying for the rights to Selena’s life. The Quintanilla Family wanted to make sure Selena’s spirit was especially respected in any depiction of the departed musician. With this in mind, they became very involved in the film of her life. In 1997, “Selena” debuted to critical acclaim and would arguably be the role that made Jennifer Lopez’s career. At the Selena Museum, you’ll find an original manuscript for the screenplay that would become “Selena.”

7. Selena’s famous bustiers

The Selena Museum

Before pop stars’ became more open with baring a little skin, Selena made the bustier a staple for her wardrobe. Much to her dad Abraham’s dismay, Selena came up with design herself. The fashionista would sow sequins onto regular bras for a show-stopping look. It’s a good thing that Abe eased his anti-bustier stance. They’re further proof that Selena was a star ahead of her time.

8. Selena’s egg collection

The Selena Museum

If you’ve seen “Selena,” you know the Queen of Tejano had an odd little collection. She liked to collect eggs; specifically, Faberge eggs. The Russian treasures are a luxury that Selena adored and the singer had plenty in her collection. In case you’re curious, the collection DOES NOT include that egg ring from She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named.

9. Selena’s Grammy dress

The Selena Museum

Since fashion is such an essential part of who she was, the Selena Museum has several of the late star’s iconic outfits. One that’s exceptionally gorgeous is the Lillie Rubin white sequin dress she wore to the Grammys. You might remember that legendary scene in “Selena” with the rude boutique clerk and swarm of fans. That scene was inspired by a memorable shopping trip in Houston to buy that dress.

10. Collectable Selena dolls

The Selena Museum

Raise your hand if you had one of these babies as a kid. Selena has been memorialized in several different ways but the different collectable dolls made in her image may be the most awesome. At the Selena Museum, there is a collection of six Selena dolls — all sporting one of her signature looks.

11. The studio Selena used to record her final album

The Selena Museum

Q Productions has been a working studio since it’s opening in the 90s. To this day, it still accommodates musicians but Selena was their first ever recording artist. Infact, Selena recorded her final album — “Dreaming of You” — at Q Productions.

12. And the very microphone she used, too

The Selena Museum

Including Suzette’s first drum kit and Abraham’s prized piano, Q Productions has many treasures on display. One you’ll be able to see is the very mic Selena used to record “Dreaming of You.” The album debuted number 1 on the Billboard 200; the first ever predominantly Spanish-language album to do so.

13. The outfit from the cover of “Amor Prohibido”

The Selena Museum

One of Selena’s most iconic looks is the fierce leather and lace outfit featured on the album cover for “Amor Prohibido.” This album proved to be one of Selena’s biggest. Besides being a solid listen from start to finish, it also features hits “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Yo Me Queda Más” and “Techno Cumbia.” The popularity of this album ensured that Selena will forever be remembered for this look.

14. Selena’s Grammy

The Selena Museum

For all of Selena’s talent and popularity, she was honored with many awards in her career. The prize of that collection is the 1994 Grammy she won for Best Mexican/American Album. This Grammy made history for the first win by a female Tejano singer. There’s no telling how many more of these she would have won had her life not been cut tragically short.

15. The plaque honoring Selena’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Selena Museum

In 2017, Selena was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The ceremony drew 4,500 fans — the largest gathering to ever attend an unveiling. This plaque was presented to the Quintanilla family to commemorate the historic event and moreover recognize Selena’s legacy.

16. Buckles celebrating Selena’s Houston Rodeo preformances

The Selena Museum

Selena played the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo a total of three times. While all three concerts drew huge crowds, her 1995 appearance broke attendance records for the Houston Astrodome. Following the concerts, these commemorative belt buckles were presented to Selena to celebrate her successful shows.

17. A custom Selena guitar from the Fiesta de la Flor

The Selena Museum

Every year, celebrations of Selena’s life happen all over the world. One such event happens in Corpus Christi. Since 2014, Fiesta de la Flor — an event with music, food, a mercado and all things Chicano — has been held for Selena’s memory. At the Selena Museum, you can see a custom guitar that bares the Queen of Tejano’s face from the event.

18. Selena’s jewelry collection

As someone who lived for fashion, it’s only natural that Selena would love a good accessory. The Selena Museum has on display a large collection of jewelry owned and worn by the musician herself. Some items were gifts from loved ones like husband Chris, while others were gifted by fans.

19. Condolence letters from world figures

The Selena Museum

When Selena passed away, the whole world mourned. The loss of such a vibrant, beautiful and kind young woman was such a tragedy that even world leaders took notice. On display at the Selena Museum are several noted condolence letters from the likes of Larry King, President Bill Clinton, and then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.

20. Selena’s famous purple jumpsuit

Remember that record-breaking performance at the Houston Rodeo? Even if you’ve never seen footage of the big event, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen Selena’s look from that night. The famous purple jumpsuit she wore to the 1995 Houston Rodeo has become the most recognizable outfit from Selena’s memorable wardrobe. At the Selena Museum, you can take a selfie with it and immortalize your love for the Queen of Tejano.