As the story has it, one day I headed to the opposite side of the globe – the Flipside. I arrived in Korea February 16th, 2005 and thought I’d do a year, then leave. I was wrong. I stayed, launched my first company, Flipside Fitness, and then opened Korea's largest boxing club, Hulk's Boxing (now called Hulk's Club).

After 11.5yrs in Korea, I then picked up one day and returned to Toronto, Canada. But then I left again.

Now I live in the Philippines where I am the CEO and head coach of Empowered Clubhouse, the Philippines' first and only boxing clubhouse exclusively just for women. I also am the founder of the Lil' Sistas Project, CEO and designer of Slay Gear and Baa Baa Black Sheep .Ph.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

More Lil' Sistas... Saturday, October 20

A room full of beautiful young ladies made me cry today, it's true. 

I had traveled out to see them today for what was suppose to be a simple meet and greet.  They were victims of human trafficking living at the Center of Hope.  A month ago I had given a speech in a human trafficking social awareness event at The Refined and that's how I originally learned about them.  I met their bold and fearless leader, Ms. Cecilia.  She was this older lady who smiled big and was quite the freedom fighter, making it her mission to help rescue these girls.  I caught some of her energy and I too wanted to join her fight for them.

When I arrived out in Antipolo, I was greeted by some of their staff and a young girl sat down and smiled at me, Angie.  I don't think she spoke English well but next thing I knew it she was sitting beside me and holding my hand.  I was then told that the girls had a presentation they had prepared for me.  I was so pleasantly surprised and very eager to see it.  They started it off with this cute name game, by which I was put on the spot but managed to succeed.  Next they had some girls give their testimony.

It's one thing to have heard about these girls and some of their cases during the event at The Refined, but to be sitting there amongst them, seeing their faces and having such stories be told, it was so unreal.  I looked at them, all smiling at me, and I felt a wave of emotion.  Here were these beautiful girls who really just looked like ordinary Filipino girls but the ordeal they've been through to where they're now here, at the Center of Hope, you can't make that stuff up.  It's real.  They're real and their struggles and situations are very much real... but they're just little girls.  

As they continued with their testimonies, I struggled to not cry.  I wanted nothing more than to hug each girl and tell them that I'm so sorry they've gone through what they have.  I wanted to tell them that the worst is over and the best is to come, that they're so brave for telling me their stories and I have nothing but love and admiration for them.

Three girls told their testimonies.  

They then sang a song and did a few dance numbers.

Then I was asked to give some words to them.  I didn't know what to say so I started off by telling them I thought they're all so beautiful and brave, that I was honoured to be there and so inspired by what they've gone through.  I told them they're so strong and that they're not alone.  I really was choked up for what to say and I joked about trying to be the tough boxer but they're making me cry.

After the presentation, some of the girls gave me a tour of the place and I was so impressed.  It was set up like this big safe haven for them, with a therapy room where they see a therapist twice a week, a swing set and lounging area in the front, and rooms with bunkbeds.  The place just had this awesome energy about it and I felt that there was so much warmth and support there.  

I was only there about an hour but for the next several hours, I remained choked up about it all.  I felt as if every heart string had been pulled and a piece of my heart broke off.  I tried several times to do a Vlog about it but it wasn't till much later in the day that I was successful in doing it without having to turn the camera off and wash my face.  

I think what Cecilia and the ladies of Voice of the Free and Center of Hope are doing is nothing short of admirable and inspirational.  I'm convinced they have the biggest hearts and that they are just flat out miracle workers.  The stories that come to them must break their heart but somehow they turn it around and empower these girls.  They make them strong and help them heal, it's amazing.  That little girl that first greeted me, Angie, she couldn't be any older than maybe 13 and I was told that she was pregnant.  These are the realities these girls are facing because of the ordeal they experiences, situations that were well beyond their control but instead forced upon them.  They're changing lives, it's incredible, and I definitely want to help if I can.  I told them that despite it being so far from BGC, that I really want to extend my Lil' Sistas Project to include these girls.  I mean, you can't meet them and not want to do everything in your power to help them.  At the end of the day, these are people, these are children, and they deserve all the love and help in the world.  I want to help them.

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