As the story has it, I woke up and found myself on the very opposite side of the globe – the flipside. I arrived February 16th, 2005 and thought I’d simply do a year, then leave. Years later and I’m still here. I went from being some random foreign girl to taking on labels I never imagined – university professor, film extra, professional boxer, CEO of my own girls-only fitness company, Flipside Fitness, and CEO of my own boxing club, Korea's largest -- Hulk's Club, formerly known as Hulk's Boxing.

But now I'm back; back in Toronto, Canada. It's not a new chapter in the book of my life though, it's a whole new book I've started!!! I'm a whole new woman and I left Korea with Flipside Fitness on my brain, boxing in my bag, and my four-legged friend Balboa Button by my side.

Life is an adventure and this is my story of yesterday.



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

With My Nose Deep in the Pages

The sporty me took a rest today and instead the lover of books came out to play.
 Today I kicked up my heels and geeked out on a book.

More Mom in My Life... Tuesday, March 21

I did absolutely nothing today.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I ate, slept, breathed, took a few bathroom breaks... You get the point.  I did "nothing" in that I didn't do any training.

No boxing.
No running.
No swimming
No weight training.

Instead, with the condo curtains closed shut, my feet up on the coffee table, and Balboa sleeping beside me, I curled up to a good book and read almost the entire thing.

...not before I got in a good massage that is.  I'm pretty sure that tiny little Filipino masseuse dislocated my left index finger, seriously.

"The Five Languages of Love", a book that I had spotted on my mom's shelf back at my old house, a book I've heard much talk about, and a book that had found its way into my carry on bag.  Opened it up and read it today, almost from cover to cover.  It was an interesting book, it seemed to definitely clear up and make sense of some previous "relationship mishaps" of past but I must admit I got a bit distracted and overly focused on all the highlighted passages within the pages.  This was originally my mom's book; she had highlighted the passages.  On one hand it was super interesting to focus in on what particular passages spoke to my mom, which ones she had labelled as more important, but on the other hand it made me feel a bit uneasy and a tad bit uncomfortable when it discussed more intimate "stuff" because I was reading what my mom had read.  My mom, a person that up until her laying on her death bed she had always been "mom" and not my the love of my father's life, a women who had fallen in love with my dad.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Back to Boxing

With the weekend over, thank God, I resumed training hard at the boxing club.
Back to killing it at training and being killed at training.
 ...but happily doing so.
Returned home to this beautiful little boy, who loves me regardless of just how gym nasty sweaty I get.

Executive Decisions... Monday, March 20

The bank doesn't seem to agree with my bank card so I had to make some executive decisions based on what limited cash I had on hand.

I had just come from boxing so I was already slipping into hangry mode.

Soap or coffee... Picked the cheapest soap so I could get both.
But then I saw peanut butter.
[enter a 10 minute inner debate between the sweaty, boxed-till-exhaustion me]
Peanut butter or soap and coffee.... soap and coffee.

I needed a shower.  I had just returned from boxing so that need for soap was big.

My wifi was MIA today, it tends to do this a lot because going to Global for wifi was the BEST DECISION E.V.E.R... [note that's me being totally sarcastic here.  If Global was a person I'd punch them in the crotch, seriously!]. So with my wifi MIA, thanks Global, I headed out to Starbucks to milk their wifi.  One problem though, I only had 20Php on me and a coffee there is at least 120Php.  Scanned the condo, checked under all the couch cushions and then checked all pants pockets.  Resorted to robbing the coin dish in the bedroom.  

Bought an Americano, 120Php, with only 5Php coins.  Nice.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

In the Middle of No Where Ville

Headed to the countryside for yet another birthday.
 This younging at the table turned an impressive 92 today, congrats.
My attention span towards the food offered and staying in the house didn't last too long though and off I went venturing down the random neighbouring streets.  That's when I found this.
It's a random Crossfit gym tucked away on the back corner random lot of a random street.
It wasn't open though, they're closed on Sundays apparently, so I didn't get to actually check it out.
 My interest back at the house were all the four-legged friends.
It was a nice drive out there and I liked venturing the streets but it was nice to return to Eastwood. 

Country Bound... Sunday, March 19

Headed out of town for yet another birthday -- Grandpa No turned 92.  The Filipinos have it right, apparently.  The secret to living a long life is living in the Philippines.  It's a land of short people but of super friendly, ultra hardworking people.  Everyone works in this country, even many of the little kids.  Ok, so some of those little kids are running into traffic and begging at car windows, a sad fact I wish they didn't have to do.  Despite this though, I feel like the Philippines is a poor country but a happy one, perhaps the secret to their long life is appreciating that which they have, and they're a country of people who don't expect easy handouts.  

The poor and homeless here definitely contrast with those in Toronto, Canada... Wow.   

Even the street cats don't beg here.  But the seagulls and squirrels in Canada... Oh gosh.

But anyways... Am getting off topic here.

I was taken to Angeles City today, a city that to me felt like a corner of the Philippines where no other foreigner has yet to venture.  It was super rural but I loved it.  Grandpa No's house is set on a property that's pretty big, big enough for three houses... and SEVEN dogs!!!  

Seven dogs and a whack of family, that's what my day consisted of.

I anticipated a lot of meat, noodles and cola being served up but I didn't expect the seven dogs, that was great, nor did I expect to meet probably the tallest Filipino I'll ever meet, that was pretty cool too.  He's a volleyball player with a beautiful dog named Blue.  I think the guy was something like 6ft 6".  

I didn't eat much of the meat nor the noddles but I did pretty much hoard the watermelon and eat my weight in it and the fresh mini bananas.  We had stopped at Starbucks beforehand, I thought I'd grab some food there to hold me over and a coffee.  Starbucks in Canada and Starbucks in the Philippines, it was the same thing until I went to this particular Starbucks and was left choking on what tasted like powder milk and a cappuccino that was missing caffeine.   

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Loading Up and Killing the Calories

Felt like such a local today, walking to the end of town where the street vendors are.
See that massive pile of questionable food, those are bananas.  
Bananas wrapped in a kind of fried bread casing.  Not exactly healthy but yummy.
 I've been told I'll be trying a particular street food, on a later day.  
It's basically an unhatched chick... oh fun.
Me with my fried banana.  
I thought my shirt was ironically appropriate here though I never did get any BBQ food.
After indulging in street food like that it was only appropriate I kill those added calories with training.

Street Food and Added Looks... Saturday, March 18

Hmmm.... What did I do today?!....

I did fasted cardio before breakfast.
Got treated to a foot massage at my condo... Yeah for that.  My left foot is throbbing!
Nap time.
Went and searched out some Filipino street food.
Went for a swim in the pool -- 20 laps with my new swimming goggles.
Weight training at the gym -- upper body and abs.
Worked on my homepage and responded to business/fan mail over coffee.

Filipinos are pretty small and by small I mean short.  Most are small too, as in petite and compact. You don't really see many big sized Filipinos, both tall or wide, but then again I haven't really seen too many buff or toned ones either.  There's skinny and then there's muscular lean.  Skinny Filipinos, yes, but the muscular lean are really only at the gym.  Today I was commented to after someone noted I was working the same weight as another gym goer, a male gym goer that is.  I'm kind of used to it now, lifting the same weight as the dudes here, but I'm starting to feel a bit too muscular for the Philippines.  

When Filipinos look at me I feel they don't see me as ugly because of my look -- the half shaved head, tattoos and athletic body -- but they don't also see me as really pretty either.  I don't think I'm pretty either, for argument's sake, I think I'm cute but I think my look confuses them a bit.  Some are confused where as others look at me and ponder if I'm a celebrity, because of my unique look.  I asked my Filipino buddy the other day what Filipinos thought of my look and he admitted that he's a bit confused but thinks I'm "still a very pretty girl".  In Korea my look made me feel ugly whenever Koreans looked at me and it wasn't so much because of the hair but instead because I was more muscular than the average women.  Korean women tend to want super lean arms and equally lean legs... Long, lean legs.  My legs are short and stocky because I weight train and only stand in at 5ft 2".  But here in the Philippines, I'm pretty much the average height here so that's pretty awesome.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sea Side for Boxing

The sea,... I see the sea!!!
Headed sea side today for a night of live, action-packed boxing bouts.
The bouts took place at the Mall of Asia.
 It's a massive mall that looks out on to the sea, sweet.
 And talking about sweet, my friend showed up!!!
And to add more sweetness to the sweet, he got us down on the ground floor of the fights.
 Tonight's fights were rough and tough, filled with lots of hard hits and lots of blood.
 I was particularly impressed with this fierce female fighter so afterward I scored a pic with her.
In the first minute of the first round she totally dominated and destroyed her opponent, leaving her opponent to the mercy of the ref's stoppage to save her.  
Beside me sat the current number one ranked Filipino super lightweight, Jheritz Chavez.
He looked pretty calm, cool and collected so I had my doubts about him fighting 
because he didn't exactly warm up so much.
Regardless, he gave a wicked fight, put on a huge show, and the crowd absolutely loved it.
He came in dominating his opponent and then his opponent came back, but in the 
end it was Chavez who proved to be the better fighter.
Ended the eventful evening, the boxing-packed day, with some Korean food.
I've been holding off on eating Korean food since I left Korea, over a year and a half ago now, but tonight I decided to introduce a special someone to the wonderful world of Korean food. 

Filipino Fight Night... Friday, March 17

Fight night, I love it.

Took an Uber an hour away from Eastwood and arrived at the Mall of Asia, a mall that was insanely big.   It had a children's ferris wheel in it, enough said right there.  

The pool of boxers here in the Philippines is massive, everyone wants to be the next Pacquiao, so it was no surprise at just how good the fights were tonight.  They were intense, packed with crazy combos and mad hard hits.  How they go about showcasing their fighters and presenting their pro fights though is exactly how Korea does it and that's where they need to change things.

Pro fights showcased in the centre of a mall?!  Sounds so Korean.

Why buy a ticket and help fund the sport when you can just lean over the mall railing and catch a free show? Exactly.  Korea often does the exact same thing and it drives me bonkers.  There is an interest in boxing, both in Korea and the Philippines, but I feel like posing these "free shows" doesn't help the sport and it only helps further support and enforce the whole "starving athlete" norm.  It costs a lot to put on a boxing tournament -- the equipment rental, space rental, paying of those involved like the ringside doctor, judges and refs, etc.  I feel like the actual boxer fighting always gets the bottom of the pot, the leftover money, and it's usually nothing much.  I don't know how these promotors hosted these tournaments making money.  Perhaps it's just a promo thing, an expected cost of doing business. 

In Canada I'm in a pool of female mini flyweights consisting of not even double digit numbers yet here in the Philippines I feel like one in a million.  Today I teased this one female fighter for being so small.  I joked and told her my arms were the size of her legs.  The female fighters here may be small but I feel like the numbers here are so much higher than in Canada because boxing is such a big part of their culture.  I still find myself in shock at how many female fighters I see coming out for training at Elorde.  Today us females outnumbered the guys.  However one thing I've noticed though is there is a lack of female coaches.  There are no female coaches at my club, a club that has an estimated 300 members.  

As for the fights, like I mentioned above, they were impressive.  There were 14 fights on the fight card so it was a long night of fighting action.  It started at 5pm and ended at roughly 9:30pm.  

My Filipino buddy showed up at the fights, many of his teammates from his boxing club were fighting, so he got me down closer to the ring to enjoy the fights.  There was one female bout on the fight card and it ended in the first minute of the first round.  These two female fighters stepped into the ring.  One was tall, lean, and looking focused.  The other was cute and smiley, sporting a sports bra while her opponent wore a full tank top.  At the sound of the round bell ringing, the fight started and that cute little boxer with the sports bra instantly turned into this focused warrior.  She unleashed a series of combos on her opponent, working the body and head, and just like that the ref called the fight.  TKO in the first round. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fuel and Friends

In the morning today I did fasted cardio -- running on an empty tummy -- and I returned super sweaty.  My little four-legged buddy Balboa can vouch for just how gym nasty sweaty I got.
Training is always joined by fueling up on food... got to get in my protein!
Eggs and whole wheat toast with fresh avocado from the Farmer's Market, awesome and super delish!
Met up with a friend today for coffee and that totally shifted the Philippines from feeling like a 
place I'm visiting to having a chunk of "home" in it, sweet.

A Familar Face in the Philippines... Thursday, March 16

Today was suppose to be a slower day; a kind of "recovery day" for all the pain and suffering my body got pushed through at training the day before.  For training, I did fasted cardio in the morning, which meant treadmill at Fitness First, and then I had weight training later in the evening.

Today's focus was a meeting -- I was meeting up with a friend I know from Korea but who has since moved back home, home as in the Philippines.  He's in the Philippines and I'm in the Philippines but the chances of him being any where close to my city would be rare, or so I thought.  Turns out he lives in the same city as me and, if that wasn't crazy enough, he also works for the same boxing club that I train at.  He doesn't work at the particular one I'm at but still, it's pretty cool.  

So I met up with my friend, in between training and, well, more training. 

We had coffee together.

Coffee and talks about training, Korea and the Philippines.  

A couple of hours of chatting with him, a posted picture of us on Facebook and then I received a most unexpected phone from a very influential pro boxer and fellow boxing club owner in Korea.  

Possible fight in Thailand?!  Maybe.  

Snickers is trying to high tail it out of Korea as fast as he can though he doesn't seem to know which country in particular he's interested in.  I do need to get myself to Korea before I head back to Toronto, Canada though.  I was initially anticipating a fight in Korea but now I'm leaning towards Thailand or in the Philippines.  I got asked by one of the coaches at my boxing club here in the Philippines, Elorde, if I wanted to fight in an upcoming tournament but it's for amateur fighters.  

Tomorrow I'm heading out of the city to watch some live pro fights and I fully anticipate getting the itch to step into the ring.  Definitely expect it.

..perhaps I already have that itch. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A First Time Experience and I Loved It!

Trained through sore feet and bloody knuckles at the boxing club today.
Note, I am well aware that it looks like I peed my pants here, it looks like that every single day I train, but everyone here knows what I'm doing... I'm training.  
Looking pretty isn't my focus, killing it at training is.
Had my first ride in a jeepney today... loved it!!!
I insisted on sitting right at the door, right at the end.
It was pretty cool watching all the traffic behind us.
A small child jumped on the jeepney by himself.  He put a little brown envelop on my knee. Apparently it was for me to put any loose change in it if I wanted to.  He had no shoes on and his feet were super dirty consequently.  I watched him as he fell asleep on the seat across me and then woke up to jump off the jeepney and join his friend begging in the street.
Arrived at my destination, the Farmer's Market, 
feeling a bit heartbroken over the little boy on the jeepney.
 Loaded up on fresh veggies and fruit... delish!!!

One Inch to a Punch... Wednesday, March 15

I came an inch from losing it on a girl at the gym tonight, seriously.  I don't consider myself an exceptionally nice person but being that I'm a visitor here in the Philippines I've been trying to be on my extra good behaviour so when I saw this girl tonight, at the gym, I tried my hardest not to snap.  

Here's the scene:
I had just unraveled the battle ropes at the gym and had them stretched out, with my hands grasping the ends.  I was ready to train.  But then along came this particular girl.  The battle ropes are way too long for the spot the gym has designated for them so I thought I'd be nice and wait for her to pass by me before I started.  She took her pretty time.  I let that roll but then when she grabbed her friend and insisted they take selfies by the mirror, intruding on the space for the battle ropes, that's when I turned and looked away.  There they stood, posing and readjusting their clothes right where I was training.  I had two choices, either continue training and risk smacking those girls with the ropes or not train (and risk me smacking those girls with my fists).

I wear earphones at the gym because I don't particularly like being interrupted and when I get in the zone and am working up a sweat, trust me, you don't want to interrupt me.  It's like dealing with hangry me but on a whole other level.  

I dropped the ropes and turned to roll my eyes but there behind me was a particular Filipino cutie.  He had seen the whole thing go down and stood there laughing because he knew my frustration.  He suggested I just continue training, snap those ropes hard and let those girls know what they're doing isn't cool, but I couldn't bring myself to do so.

But then I could and with that I grabbed the two ends of the rope and snapped them hard repetively. At one point the girls went to step over my rope.  They looked at me as if to say I should stop or at least calm down but that only fuelled me more.  I went even harder.

I ended my training today by going up to that Filipino cutie and telling him, "I hope to never become one of those girls".  He giggled and added "I wouldn't like you if you did!"

I'm all for taking gym photos and being proud of your progress, having fun with training hard, but none of that should inconvience others training.  That's just rude.  Tonight that girl and her friend were just rude.  They knew it, the gym cutie knew it, I knew it, and I'm sure all others watching knew it too. 

But enough of that.  My day was pretty awesome and although this is how it ended it's not how I want to remember my day.

How do I want to remember my day? Good question.

I'll remember it as the day my business mentor showed up at Elorde Boxing Club to talk to my coach and watch me train.  It was a bit intimidating but I was flattered he wanted to come see me box.  I joked with him after and asked if he wanted to join me in boxing one day and he said it'd kill him.  "But you're a professional athlete" was his comeback when I told him that I could handle it.  It seems to be his continual go-to answer these days for whenever I mention about the use and abuse my body is getting at training and the hours I'm putting in the gym and at the boxing club.

He used to complain to me that my standards and expectations I have for myself, as a professional athlete and boxing club owner, were too high and yet here he is in the Philippines reinforcing only what I proclaimed before.  I'm not the average person so my standards and expectations should be higher.  This IS my job but this is also who I am.  I am an athlete. 

Training at boxing was then accompanied with a jump in the pool when I returned to the condo.  That jump was also accompanied by me yelling.  It was so cold in the pool!!!  I did maybe a few laps and then I was out.  

"No matter how cold this pool is it's not as cold as Canada so I'm happy", I said.

In the afternoon I was thrilled to be jumping on the back of a jeepney and heading off to the Farmer's Market -- a massive open market on the other side of town where you can buy and bargain for any and every fruit and veggie known to mankind.  I bought pretty much my weight in fruits and veggies for roughly $17.  

As for what a jeepney is, it's a cheaper version of a bus.  It's kind of like a truck that you jump in via the opening in the back and then you sit on one of two long benches that line the truck.  It only costs 8Php which is about twenty-two cents Canadian.  The jeepneys have their designated routes, a loop that they travel, and you can tell where each jeepney is going because it's written on the side of their bus and plus they have a sign in their front window.  Jeepneys are pretty awesome, definitely a cool way to experience the Philippines, and for less than a dollar Canadian the two of us traveled to the market and back, a 20min commute one way.  Beat that Uber... Never mind Uber, beat that TTC!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Out of Town for the Day

I'm currently living in Eastwood, a pretty posh part of the Philippines.
Today I headed out of my hood and entered a "more real" part of the Philippines. 
Traveling around the Philippines, even if it's just a short distance outside of Eastwood, always serves as a reality check.  People here have real issues.  The struggle is real but they work hard and they're trying.
Saw this sign today.  Had to snap a pic of it.  Too funny.
Enjoyed tacos at a little bar and grill.  I love, love, LOVE the tiger on their wall.  Very cool.
Bread has always been my kryptonite and being introduced to these little bread goodies was too delish.  For 5Php ($0.14Cdn) I got this amazing little bun filled with coconut shavings in the middle.
Checked out a tiny little barbershop that had quite the waiting list of faithful customers.
 And I instantly became a record breaker today with being their first ever female to sit down and get their hair cut here, very cool.  Unlike women in Canada, women here aren't so daring with their hair.  I mean, getting half your head shaved here as a woman just really isn't a thing or a trend.  My look definitely gets looks here but not like the looks I used to get in Korea.  In Korea they were just confused by my style and so I felt ugly.  But here in the Philippines people stare at me but I don't feel ugly.  I think they like my so-called "daring" look, perhaps not enough to venture into getting the same style but I think they see it as me being uniquely confident.
 Walking in the mall today, I saw this massive sign at the bottom of the escalator.
Apparently March is Women's month, cool.
They had this ultra girly pop-up shop for women to come and take pictures with friends.

The Best Hair Shave E.V.E.R... Tuesday, March 14

As I sat there waiting for my business mentor to get his hair cut, he turned to his barber and asked if they'd cut my hair.  I got my hair cut and head shaved right before I left for the Philippines, about two weeks ago, but considering my shaved part is high maintenance it's due for a trimming. 

The barber said sure and then asked one of the free barbers if they'd do it.

I sat down in the barber chair and smiled.  I had just watched this particular barber cut a young guy's hair and it looked so sharp so I was confident he'd do a good job.  I think I was more confident than the barber though; he was so nervous.  

Turns out they've never cut a girl's hair here.

Beads of sweat formed on the forehead of my barber's head so I did my best at not making him more nervous by looking down and just relaxing in the chair.  I'm not so hyper about my hair though.  I'm not girly like that.  But I do love a good shave.  I love it when they do the thick part and clean up the lines so it's crisp and super clean. 

I had only asked the barber to shave the one side, not to touch the other side, but I think today's shave was one of the longest ones I've ever had.  Having said this though, I also think it was one of the sickest shaves I've ever had.  The attention to detail this barber gave was incredible and I loved it how he pulled out the straight blade to clean up my lines.  

Broke barriers here in the Philippines getting the best head shave ever and it only cost me 280Php, $7.57 Canadian.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Fitness First's Newest Official Member

You're looking at me... sweaty, gym nasty happy me.  Fitness First's newest member... finally.
They slapped down the paperwork today after all of this back-and-forth nonscense so it's official. 
I do like Fitness First, it's a fantastic gym, but their membership deals (and the lack there of them) isn't so cool.  If only they could get their stuff together and make it more new-member friendly, seriously.