Happy Thanksgiving, Guam! As you read this column preparing for turkey dinner, I share in our collective gratitude for all that we have: life, liberty, and the pursuit of individual happiness. I want to share two recent events which have inspired me and hopefully, will inspire you as well.

First, up north in Saipan, Gov. Ralph Torres’ Fit to Lead program, which he himself launched earlier this year, is aptly named and an inspiration for good health. The COVID lockdowns inflicted immeasurable damage to our people in the Marianas. But what COVID did, if anything, is show how sickly we are as a community. We can belabor the vaccine issue all we want, but the “co-morbidities” signaled to Gov. Torres (and most of the community) that we need to get healthier. So, he embarked on his own fitness journey complete with 5 a.m. videos, beach walking, weight training, self-defense, etc. I witnessed the entire thing via his social media posts. In addition, he enlisted the assistance of well-known Frank “The Crank” Camacho to provide additional knowledge and inspiration … all free of charge to anyone who desires to improve their own lives!

On Guam, I've seen Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero participating in various walk/run events, also leading. We need more of that from our leadership. Set an example. At one time, 5Ks dominated the weekend scene pre-pandemic – let’s get back to this NOW. Keep doing this and more. Set the tone. Gov. Lou’s recent reelection extends her stage to continue leading our community to combat future pandemics proactively through examples of exercise and a healthy diet (more on diets later).

Second, a couple of weeks ago, I checked out Brawl II along with new Guam resident and MMA professional Brandon Vera and his lovely family, wife Jessica and handsome son Atreyu. Brawl II is the brainchild of Melchor Manibusan and Roque Martinez. The energy in the Dusit ballrooms was palpable, and I’m speaking primarily about the energy emanating from every single room on the sixth floor that evening. We saw the sponsor tables and heard the deep bass notes from the DJ.

We saw a ton of local young people either there to enjoy the fights or who were there to work the promotion including Jacob Guerrero and Wayne Matanane as referees in the cage. Roque Martinez fought and won and did the matchmaking himself. Another Guam boy, Joey Crisostomo Jr., fought valiantly.

In attendance were young entrepreneurs all over the place – Roman Dela Cruz of Fokai fame; Roke Alcantara of Mighty Purple; Danny Taitingfong of FloWater; Lloyd Cubacub of Brogan Walker management; Joaquin Pangelinan; Tim Shiroma – all the future of Guam, to name a few. The fight card featured fights between rival countrymen from Japan and Korea – flashbacks of the old Guam Recreation Center in Anigua where international boxing matches were once the only fight game on the island. And just about everyone in the crowd had some sort of experience in the combat martial arts – a super intense form of exercise.

I tip my hat to the Brawl II organizers and staffers who put on one hell of an event. To be sure, it was a party where MMA action was the centerpiece. And it was very clear to me that our people, after being locked down for two years, had an opportunity to don formal apparel, have some cold beverages and generate their own fight fan experience. The energy level was through the roof. We need more of these – and fast – because as Pat Lujan at GSPN reminded me: Guam loves the fights. But most importantly, it was really inspiring for me to watch younger, local boys put on an international event right here on Guam. And I understand they have set their sights on bigger promotions set for the international arena. Go get ‘em boys!

Hopefully, these two events have excited you to get off your couch, make some changes to your lifestyle to get and stay healthy so you can continue to lead the life you want to live. We can never go back to the days when we were locked down because we weren’t healthy. Get out and live your best life!


Franklin Arriola is a business owner and consultant for over 30 years and served as chief of staff to former Gov. Eddie Calvo from 2011-2015.

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