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It baffles, no saddens me, that 40 some odd years after the ‘Thrilla in Manilla’, Joe Frazier still lives with a dark cloud of defeat over his head.  Poor dude.  A few weeks ago, flipping through channels, I stopped on a doc about the fight.  It was clear that Ali was being favored, the referee, a Filipino B-movie actor with no experience in the ring, was playing God that night in the clash of the titans. 



Before I go off on a tangent, my point is that throughout the fight, it was a sticky, humid 100 degrees inside the arena.  Some of the scenic shots of Manila were beautiful – very dated, but none the less, gorgeous.


Upon my arrival to Manila, there’s a sense that not much has changed since the fight.  Drab and dull, stifling humidity.  Neon lights that once burst with life, now flicker like an EKG with bad news.  Rust covers much of the metal exterior of buildings.  Almost as if time stopped after Ali threw his fists up in victory.


I’m here in Manila to meet a young man named Alex.  Alex is the youth leader of the Paranaque city based group, called BALUTI.  BALUTI teaches young kids about the dangers of unsafe sex, using a technique called ‘Gimme 5’.  Gimme 5 breaks things down into 5 categories using the alphabet & acronyms:


A: Abstinence

B: Be Faithful

C: Condoms

D: Don’t use drugs

E: Educate yourself


I sat in on a session of Gimme 5 and was amazed at the attentiveness of the young kids, especially since their ages ranged from 11 – 19 years.  And BALUTI doesn’t hold back either, showing photos of what STI’s can do to your private parts.  Not a flinch, a giggle, or an “eeeew” in the room.  I stepped in and did the proper condom application demonstration… they did laugh at me!


Alex showed me around his community in Paranaque City, a small slum called Himlayang Palanyag, which literally means ‘resting place for the dead’ – fitting, since it’s a graveyard.




Before Himlayang Palanyag was built, it was a landfill.  The Government moved the garbage to god knows where

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