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.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Spark Plug in the Ring but a Dud at the Fit Festival

 Pictures from today's sparring at Elorde with Coach Arman.
 After training, I headed out to BGC for the Fit Street Festival.
With the exception of the massage company I talked to and was impressed by,
the festival was pretty much a bust.
 So this is all I got out of attending the Fit Street Festival, a cheat on my clean eating.
An iced cap with a peanut butter deep dish cookie.  Don't worry about the calories and fat, I'm sure today's sparring mixed with today's high temperature and tonight's weight training has me covered.

Best Uber Drive E.V.E.R... Saturday, April 22

After sparring six rounds with Coach Arman at Elorde, I then stepped out into the sunshine and then into my Uber.  I was drenched under my sweater and baseball cap hence the reason why I had put them on, to not totally soak the Uber car seat.

Saturday traffic is always brutal but today it was exceptionally brutal and the Uber driver noted this to me within the first few minutes of sitting down.  The driver's GPS suggested a better route, a route packed with backstreet roads and narrow streets, so he took it.  I've lived in the Philippines now for almost 2 months now so I've taken the Uber home from Elorde more times than any where else but I've never ever seen the streets we took today.  

Most Uber drivers don't really talk to me, beyond simple questions like asking me if the air conditioner is okay and if I want them to change the radio station, but today's Uber driver and I got into quite the conversation.  It started off relatively simple, consisting of small talk chattering, like different places I should visit here and what Filipino dishes I should try, but then it got rather deep.  We talked about Korea, about Canada, and even about relationships and my Second Dream.

Two hours, that's how long he and I talked, that's how long the drive home was.

What is actually only a 1.7km route home but usually takes 15-20 minutes ended up taking 2 hours long.  And when he dropped me off in front of my condo, I opened the door and lingered a bit because our talk was just that good.

He ended the conversation with me by telling me, "I hope you make your business here in the Philippines.  You will love it here and we will love you."

I do love the Philippines and I do love the Filipinos and all their fierce Filipinas here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Catching Some Cage Fight Action with Manny

I watched the fights with Manny Pacquiao!!!
Okay, so maybe I didn't sit with him and discuss the awesomeness of the sport and how there's a four-legged little boy in Korea, my dog, named after him, but he was there and I was there too. 
The main fight of the night was a title belt one and the crowd was pumped for it!

Having the home-grown fighter win only made the crowd fall more in love with him and the celebration with the fireworks and whatnot was awesome.
It was a wicked fight, he gave it his all, both fighters gave it their all, and the whole show with all the other shows was really quite the sight to see and experience to feel.
I used to claim that Korea was the Land of Opportunity with Cheonan being the perfect platform for my first dream, for Hulk's Boxing.  On route home from the fight tonight I passed by this sign.  "The City of Dreams"... is this more than just a sign or is it "a sign"?!

Excitement in the Cage... Friday, April 21

My schedule was to wake up extra early so I could go to boxing.  Grab lunch after training and then get my hair done before heading out of town for the One Championship live fights.

Getting up early went as planned.
Boxing went as planned.
Lunch was quick but it went as planned.
My hair appointment... That's where it all went wrong.

I had gone in on Tuesday to make an appointment, they told me to come back on Friday, today, so that's what I did.  I showed up exhausted from training but fed from lunch and eager to get my hair done by their leading senior stylist.  What should have been a five minute wait turned into me being pushed aside for 30 minutes and other clients being tended to instead.

So I got up and left.

I got up, left, and then made a public review of their salon on Facebook.

One lengthy review on my behalf turned into quite the stream of messages, both Facebook messages and cell phone text messages, all from their manager wanting to clear up the situation.  This started in the early afternoon and lasted way into the evening.

But that wasn't the highlight of my day, nor is that situation even over as the text messages then continued into the next day.

The highlight of my day was being invited to attend the One Championship live fights -- a tournament that had much hype regarding.  There were nine of us going to the fights together.  

The fights were awesome and it was great to sit there and really take it all in.  With the exception of being the corner coach for Snickers' one cage fight, I have never attended a professional cage fight nor one at this magnitude.  There were fans screaming, lights flashing, music pumping the crowd up, ring side girls throwing shirts into the crowd, dancers doing backflips during the main fight intro, fireworks and streamers showering down.  

It was a sensory overload.

I ended up running into one of my buddies from Elorde at the fights and I can't even begin to tell you how that felt, to be spotted in the crowd and approached by a friend.  All my buddies here are at the boxing club, I don't really know anyone from my fitness gym, but I only see them there, at training.  It felt so nice to see a friend outside of the club.

The biggest highlight of today's highlights though was when I looked up on at the big screen TV hanging above the ring and noticed who was on the screen.  It was Manny Pacquiao.  He was there, in the crowd, and when the rest of the crowd present caught glimpse of him on the TV they too started screaming.  Pacquiao is like a God in the Philippines, he's such a hero, and to be there in the presence of him was pretty fabulous.  To see just how much he is respected, adored and idolized was very cool and I felt it all when they cheered for him.  It was amazing.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Truths

This week I'm hoping to make a big decision, to situate my business in Canada or here in the Philippines.  To tell you the truth though, they both make me feel uncomfortable and scared but for totally different reasons.
I know I can do it though; I already did it once... twice actually, in Korea.
What's the worst that can happen, really.  I fail?!  I fail and have to move back in my dad's house for a bit while I save up money... to do it again.  Oh darn, have to live rent free and have my meals with my adorable little Polish dad.  That's the worst?!  Seriously?  Doesn't sound so bad after all.
 This was a harsh truth I was told today.  I knew it but to hear it come out of a face-to-face conversation with someone I respect and admire as an entrepreneur and fellow fierce female, wow.  It was a bit hard to swallow but it was a truth I really needed to hear.  Thank you.

A VIP Kind of Meeting... Thursday, April 20

I met up with a particular lady in Fort Bonifacio who has become somewhat of a business mentor to me.  She's very much a modern day gal, a life coach who is as fierce as she is fabulous.  In many ways, she is the Filipino version of Kris from Clancy's back in Toronto, and I think that's why I'm so drawn to her and her opinion on things.

I met with her today to discus my second decision I need to make -- open up my business in Canada or here in the Philippines. 

We met at a posh little corner coffee shop and chatted for quite a while about the decision I need to make.  In talking with her, I opened up about Korea and how I had got into a situation there with Snickers and my business that left me so completely lonely.  No one knew what I was going through and I didn't care to tell anyone because I didn't think they'd ever understand.  I was all alone in a country busting at the seems, a country invested with people.  In telling her this, I told her that I wasn't sure about opening up a business here in the Philippines because I didn't want a repeat of what happened in Korea.  She then looked at me and said something that was both so incredibly blunt and true but also shockingly sad.  She said "every thing that happened you let happen.  It didn't have to be that way; it was your choice."  I didn't know whether to be mad, sad or happy but she was right.  She was 100% right.

"Philippines doesn't have to be a repeat of Korea if you choose it not to be."

So now... What is my choice?!  I won't let the Philippines be a repeat of Korea, that's a clear choice, but I don't know if I'm really any closer to choosing the Philippines or Canada.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My Four-Legged Beauties

I miss my days of training when I had my 3 four-legged friends by my side. 
I use to hope that they missed me too but I think it's fair to say I miss them enough for all of us.
Awww Pacy... I miss Pacquiao!!! 
He use to just stand there and watch me hit the heavy bag.
 Now it's just Balboa that's here with me.  He's not allowed to go to my gym and my boxing club is way too hot and too loud for him.  Soon enough though, he'll be joining me at my own place, my Second Dream, and he'll be joined with Olga Ali.

Life-Changing Decisions Needed... Wednesday, April 19

Decision #1:  Take this fight in the Philippines or visit Korea.
Aiming to make this decision by this Wednesday.

Decision #2:  Open my business here in the Philippines or in Canada.
Aiming to make this decision by the end of this week, Sunday.

Today I decided to take the fight.  Decision #1 check, done.

Reasons why:
This is what I came for, what I wanted -- a fight.
Snickers' hasn't replied to me for several days so I can't even plan a visit even if I wanted to.
I risk showing up in Korea and Snickers and my stuff being MIA (because he's socially MIA).
I'm not really prepared to deal with Korea and it's not ready for me.
I had promised certain friends I wouldn't visit Korea unaccompanied.
I rather go to Korea legally prepared to deal with things then just swing by.
I can go to Korea on a different date but I may not get another chance to fight here.

I'll be fighting at the tournament at the end of May that my coaches had asked me to fight in despite it being an amateur tournament.  Yes, I t's an amateur tournament but they're adding our pro fight to the card.  Consequently, it's a rare situation and the details are a bit fuzzy

The details of it all aren't yet figured out, I had a meeting with several of the coaches at Elorde regarding it.  No sooner had Coach Garry approach me about it he made it known that he knows my opponent.

Turns out I also know my opponent.

"How do you feel then?", he asked.
"Nervous now... Wow", was my response.

About a month ago I went to the Mall of Asia to watch some live boxing matches.  At the tournament I met a particular female boxer who I then watched and cheered on as she took on and took down her opponent in the first minute of the first round.

She's my opponent.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Late Night with Family

Arrived at the cemetery and was instantly lost for words at how elaborate and pretty it was.
Even the sun setting over the property was super pretty.
Outside of the chapel room where the wake was to be held, they were setting up for a late night dinner and there were these large gorgeous flower arrangements that had been sent to the family.
Filipinos and food, it isn't a conincidence the two start with the same letter of the alphabet.  
The two go together and after the wake there was a late dinner served.
It gave every one the chance to catch up with each other and share memories.
It was a late night of family and food but it was a very sweet one considering why we were all there.  We were there to mourn the passing of who I was told was a sweet, gentle man, but it was so great to see and meet the great family he and his wife had created. 

The Celebration of Life... Tuesday, April 18

Attended a wake out of town.  Definitely not an event I was expecting when I signed up to "just visit" the Philippines.  The wake was held at quite a prestige chapel set on a gorgeous cemetery where elaborate tombs lined the property; tombs like I've never ever seen in my life!!!  They were like mini one room houses.  Some had rooftop patios but the one that caught my attention was an all-white tomb that had large glass windows and a chandelier shining for all to see.

Attending another family event meant meeting another zillion billion people, or so it always feels like.  It's hard to keep track of all their names, they know that, but I'm very familiar with the faces of many so I greet them with kisses to their cheeks and smiles. 

The wake I was attending was that of an aunt and uncle's father.  

The chapel filled up with family and I noticed that the service still hadn't started; it was an hour late.  I left the chapel to venture around a bit, to check out the gorgeous entry way and ask for wifi, and that's when the wife of the deceased arrived.  She was being escorted up the stairs by some family members and several hired help, and when she looked up at us she was totally at lost at what to say.  Her eyes said it all -- she was devastated at the lost of her husband, the love of her life who she had been married to for something like 40+ years and who had greater a large, healthy, happy family with.  Her children have since grown up, had their own children and have become very successful.

And to think, the lives and success of so many all started with her and her husband.
  
Instantly, at the sight of her eyes I saw my dad in her.

At that moment I wanted nothing to do but call my dad up and see how he was.  Instead, I followed her and returned to the chapel. 

Of course it was sad to watch her sitting there in the chapel, attending her husband's wake, but it was also very inspiring and so beautiful.  Family kept on pouring in.  Even after the ceremony, family was still arriving.  I've been told the wake will continue for a week and then next weekend the actual funeral service will be held so friends and family will be coming in and out.

A choir sang through out the service and they sang so beautifully.

So much family, so much love for this man, so much love for the woman and children he left behind. That's exactly what I felt when my mother died.  I hope my father felt that too and I hope he continues to feel it.

Today I really missed my dad.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Back to Hustlin' It with My Training

Thank God it's Monday so that I can get back to training hard and staying focused.
As if I didn't get sweaty enough, today at boxing I added getting filthy dirty to my hot mess
when I decided to do ab crunches with a weight on my chest that was far from being clean.
 Let it be known the perk of training at my gym is all the free water I can carry out.
I go through about 2.5 litres of water at boxing alone but I still have more than half a day of battling this Filipino heat and then staying hydrated through my second workout, my weight training.
Those water bottles each hold 2 litres of water and every single day I go through them, no problem.
Me ending my day with some late night weight training and a short run.  
I filled a short Instagram Story and ended up getting all giddy of the possible good 
news I have to share with all my friends, family and fans.

Be Careful for What You Wish For.... Monday, April 17

Sundays are sad for me in the Philippines but Mondays always balance me out.  Mondays always get me on back track, back to focusing on what and why it is I'm here.

T.G.I.M.  Thank God it's Monday!!!

Walking into the boxing club, into Elorde, I was instantly refreshed.

There were 7 of us female fighters training.
One of the females who had cheered me on during my sparring on Saturday greeted me with cheers for a solid training session today and had smiles to spare for me.
I met a new female friend -- a super sweet girl Greece.
I was told I was spotted in Eastwood on the weekend by a female fighter and her husband.  She apologized for not saying hi; they were in a restaurant and unable to.
My fist-bumping buddy greeted me with a fist bump, of course.
The two young boxers I'm most impressed with were there training hard.
An older gentleman that I often joke with was there, full of jokes to share with me.
The music was pumping loud and it was feeding the place with great energy.

No sooner had I put my bag of gear down on the back table I was then approached by Coach Garry, Coach Rocky, Coach Arman, and another coach.

They have a fight for me.

Turns out they made some calls and, you know that amateur tournament I mentioned earlier, well, they contacted some key people and arranged for a pro fight to be on the card.

Four rounds at 115lbs.

Only one problem, it's for May 27th.  My plane leaves May 28th.

I was aiming to head up to Korea for a few days, to gather my stuff and deal with things regarding my club and Snickers, but if I take this fight I won't go.  I won't go because I can't go.  I can't have him get into my head.  I can't have Korea pull at my heart and make me feel guilty for leaving.  I miss my club and my Hulkies but I am so much safer, healthier, and happier with where I am with my life.

Taking this fight means I won't be and can't go to Korea.

Korea or this fight, that is the decision I now have till Wednesday to make.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Different Kind of Sweet Easter

I can't remember the last Easter Sunday I woke up to a put on a brand new white dress and then was treated to a beautiful Easter Sunday service... and a basket full of Easter eggs.  I mentioned this to a certain someone today and he ended up showing up at Starbucks with his rendition of a sugar-coated Easter Sunday.  Awwww.... thank you! 
And then I was treated to an amazingly delish Easter Sunday dinner -- an overdose of carbs and protein.  Pasta in a garlic zesty sauce with beef.

The Architect in Me... Sunday, April 17

Was going to hit the pool for some swimming.
Was going to attend the Easter Sunday church service down the street.
Was going to head to the gym and do a lower body weight training session.

Would have, could have... Should have?! But didn't.

I hit the pool but only to linger in the one end and then get out.  Pool was too cold.
Decided not to go to church after I ate a donut, yes that's my excuse, and I ended up crashing off that sugar rush in the Starbucks bathroom.  Holy upset tummy.
Didn't go to the gym because I wanted to work on my business proposal and ponder my next big step concerning it.

Instead, I had a refuel day -- I ate my body weight in carbs.  Okay, so I didn't exactly eat that many carbs but I did have two servings of homemade pasta with beef.  It was pure delish.

Sundays are always sad for me here in the Philippines.  They are suppose to be my one rest day, one day off training, but they end up often more than not being a light training day.

Definition of "light training day" in my world means only one training session as suppose to two training sessions -- no boxing.

They're usually sad for me because I wake up with the instant realization, sudden reality check, that I don't have to get up and rush off to church.  I don't go to church in the Philippines and that only makes me miss my church in Canada all that more -- Grant African Church.  Anyways, Sunday's use to be the day I'd go to church, head out for a beautiful lunch with beautiful company and then I'd often meet up with a friend either for that lunch or for coffee afterward.  I use to love my Sundays, now I spend them in lazy mode, waiting for them to be finished.  Today was a prime example.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Unscheduled Sparring

This was my plan when I woke up today.  It's basically the same thing every day
with "kill it at training" being the plan of attack.
This however wasn't a part of the plan -- sparring with Coach Waldo.
I may have just found my new favourite sparring partner.  I don't really care for the mean, mean body
shot he sent me to the ground with in the third round but boy do I love the challenge he gave me!

Almost Didn't Happen... Saturday, April 15

I can't say I'm comfortable with training in this weather and I doubt I ever will be but beyond the weather being uncomfortable I'm always trying to train outside of my comfort zone at boxing.  The weather definitely challenges my mental focus.  There's always the desire to want to take a break longer than the round bell appoints and God knows I still struggle with limiting my water intake to small sips as oppose to big gulps of water that leave me with a tummy full of water slushing around and possible cramps during training.

"The magic happens outside of your comfort zone", I was told.
"Comfort is a nicely paved path but no flowers grow on it," is another one I've heard.

I had arrived at boxing today, an hour earlier than usual.  Coach Garry wasn't there.  Coach Arman wasn't there.  Coach Rocky, the coach they're thinking about shifting me to so that I can kick my training up a notch, wasn't even there.

Coach Waldo noticed me and said hi.  I went over to the bench I usually place my stuff on and started gearing up for training.  That's when Coach Waldo approached me.

"Do you want to spar today with me?"

I'll admit it, at first I didn't know if I wanted to.  There was that moment of hesitation when I contemplating telling him I didn't have my sparring gear on me -- my mouth guard and head gear, but I knew full well that I hadn't taken it out of my bag from Thursday's sparring with Coach Garry.

"Sure," was my reply.

And just like that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, entered the uncomfortable zone face first, and then had to gear up and warm up for sparring.

Best sparring e.v.e.r!!!  And to think, I almost said no.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Walking with All the Saints

With an expected hour and a half car ride out to the countryside, I entertained myself by watching the other vehicles on the road.  This was the most interesting to me -- a father and his small daughter on the scooter behind me.  I didn't even know they made helmets that small.  Super cute! 
 Destination: Guagua, a small town out in the province.
Life here feels so much slower than that of Eastwood, wow.
But the house hidden behind the old gates I passed through was definitely not what I was expecting.
 I shot this picture in the front building on the property.  I was told it use to be a school and at one point it use to be an engineering building of some sort.  Regardless of what it use to be, the place was jam packed with people and food!!!
 In the kitchen area, there were some helpers making the most delish of desserts.
 Leave it to me to search out a new four-legged friend.  
Behind her are the two floats we'll be pulling in today's Good Friday parade.
Whaaaat?!  That's a wicked kid's tree house!
I ventured on the property and then headed out the property gates to explore the streets.
 My Filipina twin, Aimee!!!
 It was hard to take a good picture of the parade at night but no picture would have done it justice.
 The parade was pretty cool, I can't downplay it.  
There were so many people participating and about 26-28 floats in it.
This was my favourite shot of the parade -- me walking behind the float with family, 
underneath the stars in the sky and all those red and yellow flags.