Raymond Varilla (left purple) & Toffy Ilagan (brown center)

Q: Please introduce yourself to the readers and share your history/involvement with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
I’m Toffy Ilagan, I’m a brownbelt under Professor Arthur Alvin Aguilar. I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu late 2004. My friends were into the UFC and I fell in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu along the way. I didn’t have the physical capabilities back then but I love how BJJ adapts to your body type or vice versa. You don’t have to be strong, fast or be tall. You just have to choose/adjust the technique that will work for you and trust the technique.
I’m Raymond Varilla, a purple belt under prof. Alvin Aguilar. I started doing BJJ in the summer of 2004 but I wasn't really that serious. I would only train during the break.because back then, the only available schedule was late in the evening. My parents didn't allow me to train because it would interfere with my studies. So I only took BJJ seriously in june of 2008, when I was about to graduate from college. Since then, I never stopped training. The longest time I was away from the mats was 2 weeks I think. Doing BJJ is like post graduate studies. The things that i learn in class are applicable in real life and im not referring to the techniques alone but the life lessons as well. 

Q: What was the inspiration for Project Manila Lifestyle?Toffy and I owe a lot of things to the art of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. It showed us the right path and it taught us life lessons that we would carry around until the rest of our lives. We want others to experience it too. Making the public aware of its benefits is the first step. Aside from our academy, we built a blog that would help us connect with the people. Basically, our message is to promote the healthy lifestyle and we're using BJJ as our medium.

Q: Healthy change appears to be the major theme with PML. Could you elaborate on how you or the team have helped bring about changes for others? Through BJJ? other activities?
When we first opened our academy, we had students who were obese and overweight. We would like to share the story of JB Batac. He weighed 225 pounds in january of 2012. Back then, he could hardly keep up with the other guys because he had poor cardio and he wasn't that agile. The sport challenged him and he was motivated to be more active and eat healthily. Now, he weighs 175 pounds. In the span of 8 months, he earned his blue belt after winning the gold medal in his division. His lifestyle change rewarded him with tv commercials and print ads for various products that promote the same cause. JB inspired a lot of guys in the gym especially the older guys who were too preoccupied with work. Our students have no excuse to train because we offer a variety training schedules. It is up to them to choose which one fits best.
Q: From the PML blog, "...more and more people choose to neglect fitness because they are too preoccupied. A large chunk of the world’s population has very little time to exercise." How do you suggest we manage the two given that sites like facebook or blogs have done so much to help spread the word about BJJ but may also be the source or our preoccupation.
BJJ is a sport that gives you a full body workout. The movements are dynamic and it allows the practitioner to get a quality workout in a short period of time. On the average, it burns 750 calories in an hour. That's not bad especially for the workaholics who have really hectic schedules. Also, although it is a sport that requires 2 people, there are a number of exercises and drills that can be done alone. There are a lot of blogs and facebook pages that address this issue of being really busy. That is the reason why the concept of online training was born. The internet has made things easier for us. The concept of online training and finding an online training partner minimizes space and time which brings us back to our point.that preoccupation is no longer an excuse. Moving on, if bjj is the source of our preoccupation, your exercise problems are solved.
Q: Besides modern preoccupations, what else do you see as a major challenge to healthy change and growth?
Healthy foods are more expensive than unhealthy ones. In addition, they are not readily available well at least for our country. There are only a number of restaurants and groceries that offer healthier alternatives. Not everyone can afford to eat clean and npt everyone has access to it. With a country like ours, poverty is one major hindrance to the healthy way of life.
Q: Where can readers find out more about Project Manila Lifestyle and is there anything else you'd like to share with the BJJ community at large?
They can visit our website : www.projectlifestylemanila.com; our fanpage where we post interesting stories :facebook.com/projectlifestylemanila ; Our youtube channel :project lifestyle tv ;also we have our personal blogs :www.toffyilgan.comwww.jiujitsumatrat.com. Be sure to follow us. We have a lot of things lined up for the BJJ community and for the non-bjj health advocates as well.

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