Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tabloided baka-mahawa-ako-dyan issue as really been dragging on. A GMA executive has already responded on my entry, Up Yours, and in my latest findings, I’ve just been tabloided.

In an editorial piece entitled Baby HIV by Arnold Clavio in his column Hirit na! in Abante, he’s been able to air his side. Clavio, a.k.a. Igan, was apparently the partner of radio host Lala Roque during the interview.
With regards to this article by Igan, in as much as you’ve accused me of wrong information, and sans the baka-mahawa-ako-dyan incident, which is just becoming a your-word-against-mine thing, and which the family and I still stand by, let’s just see what you have. No, this is not an eye for an eye, nor a tooth for a tooth. As you’ve said, we’re in this fight together, and let’s educate the readers... correctly.

If you’ll allow me, I’ll take the statements in huge chunks, so I don’t take things out of context.

Pero as the main host ng ‘Emergency’, pinaninindigan ko ang lahat ng nasabi ko sa segment tungkol sa iba’t ibang paraan nang pagkalat ng nakakamatay na sakit na Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Very, very contrary to what we have in Positivism. AIDS is no longer a killer disease, Igan. AIDS is not what will kill you. It’s the opportunistic infections that will.

… Igan, kailanman ay hindi naging polisiya ko sa programang ‘Emergency’ at panuntunan din ng buong pamunuan ng GMA Network, Inc. ang magbayad ng ‘case study’ o ‘resource person’.
Hmm, well that’s noble. Maybe chivalry is not dead? I’ll let things speak for themselves.

Alam ni Nanay at ng kanyang asawa na puputahan (sic) nila ako sa radio station DZBB. At bago kami umere, ako mismo ang nagtanong kung ‘okey’ lang sila na makakuwentuhan sa interes ng mga nakikinig. Nandoon si Tatay pero hindi ko siya tinanong on air.
Well, was it just my eyes, or did I not see the Dad come out on TV? Or don’t you watch your own show?

Sa pamamagitan ng kolum na ito I hope mabasa niya at maunawaan, pati na ang kanyang thread na walang magandang sinabi kay inosenteng Baby Nathan si Lala Roque.
Oopsy! Okay, this just made me giggle. That just better be a typo.

After the interview she was so concerned doon kay Baby Nathan dahil may ubo’t sipon ito nang araw na iyon. So hindi rin totoo, ayon kay Nanay, na bumubuti na ang lagay ni Baby Nathan katulad nang sinabi mo sa blog.
Well, you sort of failed to take into consideration that you didn’t see his condition when he was confined at the RITM. Hmm, if Baby wasn’t getting better, why exactly was he discharged from the hospital? Naku, these doctors talaga... yes I’m being sarcastic.

I doubt kung mayroong lalaki sa kanila na tatanggapin ang pagkakamali at hihingi ng paumanhin kay Lala Roque, na labis na naapektuhan sa mga ipinukol ninyong maling paratang.
O, wait, you don’t know my readers either, so since you don’t want me judging Lala Roque for her alleged actions, why should you theirs? Besides, being a “man” about things is so overrated, not to mention sexist.

Yung pamasahe nila Nanay para madala sa Research Institute for Tropical Medicine sa Parañaque si Baby Nathan, makakatulong ka ba?
First of all, the last time I checked, the RITM is in Muntinlupa. Have they moved? And second, I don’t even need to acknowledge your question. It’s none of your business, thank you. But wait, is it just me, or was I judged solely based on the fact that I am HIV-positive? Oh dear me...

With all that said, thank you for giving some media mileage to the issue of HIV and AIDS. Hopefully, in the future, more care will be taken in putting together these documentaries. More care, at least, than what’s been taken in this tabloid editorial.

And lastly, Lord Kayo na po ang bahala.
Amen, Igan. Amen.

Read the whole article here on Abante Online.
Hirit na!


Monday, January 26, 2009


EmergencyI know I said I wasn’t excited to watch what they came up with, and I maintain that I was not. But I just needed to watch how GMA7’s television show, Emergency, treated the story on Baby Nathan and his family, mostly to critique it. I was hoping that maybe somehow it was a case of the end not justifying the means.

So I stayed up Friday night waiting for it after their late evening newscast Saksi. My wait stretched till past midnight, which is when the newscast ended. The hosts of Saksi let out a teaser for the following show, mentioning a one-year old kid who was HIV positive. This is it.

Emergency started with a run down of their stories. The first would be a feature on the feast of Santo Niño in Tondo, and the second was actually a feature on transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases through modes other than sex. Bingo! That’s the story I was waiting for.

While the Santo Niño story was running, I was actually switching back and forth between that and Project Runway on ETC. I was really at a point where I was fighting my ARVs to stay up, until finally, at around 1:00 am, my semi-consciousness and half-shut eyes managed to catch the end of the Santo Niño thing. A commercial break later, the segment started.

The first part involved a guy who claimed he got an STD from borrowing a friend’s pair of briefs. A doctor checked him and diagnosed it to be gonorrhea. Upon further investigation, the doctor was able to figure out the source. I apologize, but I just found it funny how the guy failed to take into consideration that he had unprotected sex with a number of girls prior to his tulo incident.

A couple of doctors were interviewed explaining the possible routes of transmission of STDs. And one of them was our doctor at the RITM, Dra. Ditangco herself!

The next part showed Paulo, the one-year old kid, who had HIV. Of course it was our Baby Nathan! I was pleased to see that they were able to protect the identities of Baby Nathan and his family for the whole segment, showing just body shots and half faces. And, oh my! He’s really improved even more since I last saw him. It was also wonderful to see Baby Nathan squirming in his Mom’s lap during one shot, which tells me he’s doing well.

The Mom told the story about choosing to go on with her pregnancy despite being told that the Baby could be born with HIV. The Dad also relayed how the Baby got breastfed, not knowing that it was another possible route for infection.

The worst part about the segment was when the voiceover said that HIV was destroying the Baby’s body and that the virus was causing his body to deteriorate. It wasn’t so badly said, but would’ve been more proper if explained that HIV was not doing the damage itself, but only leaving the body more susceptible to infections that cause conditions such as diarrhea, which was what actually caused the loss of body mass. Again, the Baby’s condition was made to look tragic, when the reality is that he’s actually now recovering, and can eventually get his old strength back, or maybe get even better than before.

The last part of the segment just drove their misleading point across. Here, Jun, a nurse, contracted HIV from an accidental needle prick while in his occupational environment. They went on to say that he is now unable to work, and instead is now on medication with ARVs.

Hmm, looking at the footage, he wasn’t bedridden, weak or anything near that, not to be able to work. Maybe they should’ve pointed out that working in hospitals, in particular, would be a bad idea for people with HIV, because of the infections we are more susceptible to. Maybe that’s the real reason he had to stop working as a nurse. But otherwise, he could find a job in another field. I believe it should’ve been mentioned that he is still capable of working, despite the ARVs and despite the HIV. Take me for example, right?

Anyways, with all that said, the segment was over in less than 10 minutes. Again, a bit pitiful, but sadly expected.

I turned the television off and headed for bed, left with the thought that maybe the Health Department or some authority should take on the task of monitoring, looking through and verifying all documentaries and stories about HIV and AIDS, so as to prevent random discharges of wrongly-worded and misleading information such as this. Anyways, it was just my last ditch effort of a brilliant idea before fading off and meeting the sandman. Zzz.

Again, awareness is the key, but it would be much better if the public is armed with the truthful and proper information. Now that, I believe, is the real Emergency.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Up Yours

Up YoursI think my CD4 count dropped a couple of points again.

It was Wednesday. And in a bit of an unexpected lapse in judgment, I passed the number of Baby Nathan’s Dad to someone who I assumed I did not need to ask what it was for. I was seriously thinking that maybe someone was going to send some support or something. Boy, was I wrong.

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I was reading a text message from the Mom saying that GMA7 had contacted them, telling them they’d be picked up the following day for an interview for a television show, Emergency, and adding that they were scared and didn’t know what to do.

I confronted the person I gave the number to via instant messaging asking what happened. But initially he was virtually laughing, not seeing why they wouldn’t want to get interviewed, and apparently not understanding why I was panicking. I know I was making a huge fuss about it, but it just made more sense to me if he asked the family directly if they wanted to get interviewed, rather than give the media a direct link to the family from the get go.

Yeah, they’d get paid, and yeah, they need the money, but things aren’t about money all of the time. And not everyone is equipped to defend themselves, and it’s usually the little people like them who get exploited. That’s what I was afraid of. And I felt responsible.

So upon confirming with the family that they were not willing to get interviewed, I tasked the guy who gave the number to call the media mob off. He did, I think. So by the time I was heading home from work, I was just left with some residual irritation at how carelessly the information was handled.

Fast forward to midnight, I got a text message from the Mom, saying they had finally agreed to get interviewed. I felt it was out of my hands at that point, since they’d agreed to it themselves. I just reminded them to make sure they state their limitations clearly, and to make sure they don’t get exploited.

Thursday started off with a message from them that they were on the road already. And maybe their mobile phones were turned off or something, but I didn’t get any replies from them for the rest of the day when I checked how they were doing.

Evening came, and they said they were just waiting to be brought home and were doing okay. That was music to my ears. I was hoping this episode was over. But of course, it was not.

The Mom sent me a couple of messages this morning, giving feedback on the previous day’s events. And just as I thought, things were not handled well.

Apparently GMA7 assured them that only two people would know about the interview, the person who was doing the interview and some GMA7 staff named Joy. That apparently didn’t happen. It went so far that, aside from the interview for television they agreed to, they got dragged into a radio interview as well, something that was not part of the agreement. And though only the Mom and Baby Nathan were supposed to be part of the interview, even the Dad was pulled in. But that was nothing compared to what was next.

Apparently, GMA7’s radio host Lala Roque says Baka mahawa ako dyan, which loosely translates to I might catch what they have, to which a staff member answers, Ano yun nakakahawa ba? or What is it? Is it infectious?

Up Yours
Well, well, well, Miss Lala Roque, you and your staff were ignorant, unethical, irresponsible, and rude. You didn’t even have enough decency to make sure they didn’t hear you talking your crap.

You better be thankful I wasn’t the victim in all of this. I would’ve freakin’ fucked you silly just to make sure you really caught it. Or maybe not. You’re not that lucky. I wouldn’t touch you if you were the last woman on Earth. I’d just jerk off into your eye drops, you freak.

Oh, and you could’ve paid them what they at least deserved to get. Somehow, the milk, diapers, sardines, instant noodles and egg drop cookies you gave them don’t add up to what damage you caused.

Anyway, I thought I’d seen enough when Maki Pulido did Reporters’ Notebook last December. But GMA7 has managed to do it again. I’m not too excited to watch what they did this time. What exactly are we to you?! A story?! Money to be made?! A circus act?!

The sad part is that Baby Nathan and his family have now absolutely sworn off being interviewed. What a waste, since people would’ve really learned a lot about living with HIV from them.

I’m hoping this was just a unique case of exploitation, but GMA7 has really struck out at this point. We can only hope and pray that other networks and journalists have more brains, etiquette and heart than what GMA7 and its people have been demonstrating.

Who was it that said they’re proud to be Kapuso?! Ulol. Up yours.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Prospectus Interruptus

Okay, maybe I went too far with the sex thing in my last entry. I managed to leave BlackPool speechless, didn’t I? That’s extreme. But you seemed to like it so much, and the fates were in on it so much that, there just happened to be 69 visitors on that day! I swear, I was laughing my ass off!

While we’re on the subject of sex, let’s delve a bit more. You ready?

It was one issue how much sex I’ve been getting, or how little for that matter, depending on how you see things. But it’s a whole other story how HIV affects the entire prospect of having sex.

As you noticed in my previous entry, of the 20 guys I’ve managed to have sex with after finding out I was HIV positive, only one guy knew I was. One of twenty? That’s like what? A measly 5%? And that one person just happened to be HIV positive, too. So that’s such a unique case. So does letting guys know I have HIV really devastate my prospects of having sex? Or have I just been too selfish or too good at keeping my little secret?

Let’s look at the numbers. There are around 20 guys I’ve known since before my HIV thing who have heard the news straight from me. And allow me the chance to be confident enough to say that, if I wasn’t HIV positive, all these guys would still be getting their freak on with me.

Of these 20, only 7 of them have expressed interest in still having sex with me after finding out I was poz. And of these 7 pledges of sex, I only choose to believe 2 of them. The 5 others, I feel, resorted to telling this little white lie, out of pity probably, so as not to hurt an already sick guy’s feelings. Yeah, their statements were I’d still like to do it with you or We can still do it safely anyways, but heaven knows those were their last words and I haven’t heard from them since.

So where does that leave me? A success rate of 0%, which seems hardly a success, to a maximum of 10%. And I could only wish that’s because I was being choosy. And considering these are guys who have known me before, there should be this for-old-times’-sake factor at my advantage, but still, barely anything. How much smaller will my chances be with those guys who I haven’t met before if I told them?

I guess the only consolation is that I manage to do these guys good by encouraging them to get tested and to really consider safer sex from now on. Hell, some of them have sworn off sex entirely! But I’m not completely convinced that I should be flattered.

I know some of you are flabbergasted by how sex is such an important issue to me. I admit. It is. Like I said before, sex was my vice. Sex was my therapy. It was my niche. It was the one thing I finally found I was good at. And now, it just feels like it’s being taken away from me, because of something new that has become part of me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming anyone for all this. It’s just how the cards have been dealt. But I’d just like to put some sense into the reality of the fear and stigma attached to HIV. Now you know why it’s not entirely easy for me to tell just anyone that I am HIV positive.

But I’m not losing hope. Maybe when people become more properly informed about HIV, I’ll be able to definitively say that sex and HIV can indeed go hand in hand. Someday. Someway.

But for now, I’m just thankful for the little opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to get. At least I haven’t been forced to quit cold turkey, in spite of HIV.

To finish off, let me just say to these guys, It’s your loss, not mine. Hahaha. C’mon! Just give me this chance to sour grape... Please? Thanks!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Sex After HIV

It's OKHow time flies. I’ve been officially HIV positive for the past nine months now. It’s still quite overwhelming how so many people are interested in how it is to be living with HIV. Overwhelming, but reassuring. I usually get asked questions like How are you coping?, What were your symptoms?, Why did you get tested?, Where did you get it?, and so on, and so forth. But so far, the most intriguing question for most seems to be How is your sex life now?

So once and for all, let’s tackle that question. So how is my sex life now? My usual answer, which is the most concise and honest I can give, is Surprisingly, not zero. I know! Gasps all around, right? But that’s the truth.

When I found out I was HIV positive back in April, I was still certainly having sex for the next couple of weeks. Let’s just say I needed to fulfill my prior commitments. But certainly, everything was kept safe.

I did eventually need to get out of meeting those guys who had gotten used to having unprotected sex with me. My alibis included reasons like I wasn’t feeling well, I needed to be home early, I needed to work overtime, or at some point even claiming to be seeing someone exclusively. Yes, that many different alibis, and more.

Meeting new guys was kept to a minimum, mostly because I was still dealing with the HIV thing internally. For the new guys I’d meet, one requirement would be that they adhered strictly to having safe sex. That way, I didn’t need to convince them once we met. I never liked using condoms, so for the first time in history, I knew I was keeping the condom industry alive.

I had mellowed down so much that, upon finding out that a poz friend of mine was part of an orgy one night, I became so disappointed that I went out looking for some action of my own that same night. It was an If-you-can-do-it-so-can-I thing. I know, I was acting like I was such an angel when I really wasn’t. But it was just an outburst of emotion at the time.

Since that time, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can still have sex. My libido is still alive. I actually think it’s gotten worse, and I’m not sure if it’s just a side effect of the ARVs. In truth, since finding out I had HIV, I’ve already managed to have sex with 20 different guys. What?! Twenty?! Sound like a lot? Not really, compared to the almost 100 different guys I had sex with during the same period a year before. That should put things into perspective.

Of those 20 different guys, only one of them knew I was HIV positive before we had sex. Deny as we all may, the stigma attached to HIV is still there, which makes it such a mood killer. And I was able to tell that one person, only because he was also HIV positive. And just to make things clear, NO, IT WAS NOT E!

And one more admission, I’ve had bareback sex with one of those 20 guys. What?! Unprotected sex?! Gasps again. Fortunately, it was with that one poz guy as well. I know, I know, poz on poz action is still not safe when done unprotected. But we both knew that. And we still did it, and had no regrets. Not even when we did it a second time. C’mon, give us a break! Anyway, I think we agreed that we’d use protection next time. Still can’t wait!

Okay, one last confession, I think I've completely lost the New Virginity of it all. I sort of started the year out with a bang. A gang bang. Four versus one, just after New Year. What?! OMG! It was at that time that I was reminded that I treat sex as my form of addiction. The vice I run to when I get depressed. And if you recall, New Years Day did leave me down in the dumps. So I drowned my sorrows away with sex. I know it’s not an excuse. But rest assured, it was surely, purely safe.

So there. That’s what my sex life has been like since finding out I was HIV positive. Relatively decent, but still far from being dead. I know some of you are still picking your jaws up off the floor. But hey, go ahead, cast your stones. It wouldn’t be the Human Immunodeficiency Virus if I wasn’t human. And that’s exactly what I am. Just human.


Friday, January 16, 2009


I took another day off today from work, intending to go for this month’s med reload. To beat a deadline, I spent the morning going to and from Pampanga to submit some reports for work. After having lunch at home, I was on my way to RITM in Alabang. I got there at about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Walking to the building, I saw Ate going towards the other office with a bilao of pansit. She didn’t notice me and I wasn’t exactly there for the food, so I still headed for the clinic, expecting someone else was there while Ate was gone. But it was locked. So I reluctantly headed for the back office in the other building, dreading that I might walk into a celebration of some sort. I got to the door of the office, but the shy boy in me took over and I chickened out. I turned and walked back to the clinic and stood out on the corridor waiting for someone to show up.

After about 10 minutes, Ate passed by and I lurked closely behind. She welcomed me and asked how I was doing, and relayed to me how thankful Baby Nathan’s Dad was when they last came in for a check-up. I just laughed and smiled, not knowing exactly how to accept credit that wasn’t completely mine to take.

She took my Regimen Card from a pile, and told me to wait while she got my ARVs from the pharmacy. I was enjoying the time alone, when a familiar face showed up. It was Y. He seemed to recognize me and after a few minutes of awkwardness, I reminded him that we’d first met at San Lazaro back in April. Apparently he’d been confused whether he really met me there or it was just his imagination. He laughed finally realizing we went way back.

A while later, Ate came back with my ARVs, and a couple of more guys I’d met before came in to hang out. Together we trekked to the other office, and I was comfortable to be going with someone I knew. Stepping in, there were around 10 of us there. And after introductions all around, it was time to chow.

I honestly didn’t get to eat much, just like at the Christmas party, and I think I get that way when there’s a lot going on. And with everyone breaking up into pairs or little groups talking about everything under the sun, the observer in me was trying to take all the information in.

At one point, Ate walked into the office with a bunch of ARV supplies, where I noticed some big green boxes that I could not compare to the ARVs I’m getting now. My eagle eye didn’t fail me, and I read the label which said Protease Inhibitor, another type of ARV which was not part of my own regimen. I’m not really sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. But seeing how the container was comparable in size with a can of Pringles made me think twice about being envious.

One of the things that struck me most came from one of the last persons to walk into that room. Let’s call her S. S is HIV positive, and she got it from her husband who worked overseas as a seafarer, one of the at-risk groups for HIV. If I understood right, she was single now, either because she was widowed or divorced. She mentioned she had also lost a child, but I wasn’t brave enough to ask whether the kid was also HIV positive.

I actually first encountered her back in May or June amidst the standoff I was having with the San Lazaro doctors, when an online poz friend suggested I transfer to RITM and gave me her name and contact number in case I needed assistance. I never got to contact her that time, since I met U soon thereafter, who brought me to RITM.

Apparently, S is part of one of the HIV support groups, and she discussed the issues with the ARV supplies with us who were there. Apparently, the Global Fund grant that is in motion today is meant to supply the Philippines with ARVs and support up to 2010. But the wheels are already in motion for the country to qualify for another round of grants for the years after that.

The worst case, she says, is that there is an agreement between the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Company, or PhilHealth wherein PhilHealth is to shoulder ARVs for a number of years. Although I didn’t understand completely, she kept mentioning the word cooperative, and how the cooperative would eventually become self-sufficient and self-sustaining in being able to fund the need for ARVs. I’m imagining it’s a cooperative formed by and composed of those living with HIV and AIDS. If that happens, it would be very empowering, don’t you think?

So anyways, with so many details to remember and so much to think about, I was about ready to head home. I hitched a ride with and a couple of the guys, and S and another lady from another HIV support group left with us as well. S told more stories, about how she recovered from to skin and bones, and about how she was part of the group that lobbied for the grants that now provide us free ARVs, and that back in 2002, there was none to speak of. It was humbling to be in the presence of one of our apparent heroes who paved the way for us who currently live with HIV in the Philippines to be able to do just that. To live.

I, S and her lady friend got dropped off at Shangri-la Mall, where we chatted for a good 20 minutes more right smack in the middle of the sidewalk. S and I exchanged numbers, and she said that if I needed help in disclosing to members of my family, they would be very much willing to help. She did, thankfully, acknowledge that disclosing was a difficult thing and should happen in my own right time. She was also convincing me to consider getting involved in the HIV support groups, oblivious to how much I’ve already been dabbling in the field of advocacy. She used the metaphor of stepping out of my locked box, which I took to be my HIV closet, and I wasn’t planning to brag about how far out of my closet I’ve been strolling either. She probably didn’t know that there were people from her side of the fence that actually tried to keep me in my closet.

I dunno if it was the Bikolano blood in us both, but I felt a good pure vibe in S, despite her being part of one of the now seemingly notorious HIV advocacy groups. I was elated at how she explained the issues behind the future of our ARV supplies, which she did much better than the wicked Remedios lady that I watched on TV back in December. So with that, we went our separate ways and I headed home with another day of information overload, my first for 2009.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Last Song

Elton JohnSent to me by an online poz friend, this song is a favorite of this sweet little Pinoy cookie of a guy, who requested I share it to remind everyone of the struggle of people living with HIV and AIDS.

I’m not exactly a fan of Elton John, nor did the song strike a sensitive nerve in me, mostly because I lost my dad before my plight with HIV even began, assuming we were even close, that is. But if only for the fact that Elton John always used his music to speak deep meanings in the AIDS community, let’s all hear it out. I do hope you like it.

According to Wikipedia, The Last Song is the second single by Sir Elton John from his album, The One. It is also said that the song may be a tribute to his father who died in 1992. There are also rumors of it being written in the memory of Ryan White, a young AIDS patient who died at age 18, with whom John was close. The song was apparently used during the closing montage, featuring people who died of AIDS including White himself, of the 1993 film And The Band Played On.


Yesterday you came to lift me up
As light as straw and brittle as a bird
Today I weigh less than a shadow on the wall
Just one more whisper of a voice unheard

Tomorrow leave the windows open
As fear grows please hold me in your arms
Won't you help me if you can to shake this anger
I need your gentle hands to keep me calm

`Cause I never thought I'd lose
I only thought I'd win
I never dreamed I'd feel
This fire beneath my skin
I can't believe you love me
I never thought you'd come
I guess I misjudged love
Between a father and his son

Things we never said come together
The hidden truth no longer haunting me
Tonight we touched on the things that were never spoken
That kind of understanding sets me free


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ol' Friend

It was January 5th, the first working day after the long holiday break. The day started out slow, as did the week, and though I did get some work done, I admit my mind was still in vacation mode.

The day went by faster than expected, and nothing unusual really happened. At least not until the last few minutes of my work day. Something just left me speechless, and in a daze.

It was my fault really, I just had to check my personal e-mail account before heading home. I found some of my usual friend requests from a personals site, but like a sore thumb, one message stood out. It was an alert that I had a message waiting at another personals site. I hadn’t been very active there lately, so I really wasn’t getting or expecting any messages at all. And curiously, and foolishly, I clicked.

Just three words. Three simple words that threw my world out of orbit. I’m single now. I remember saying to myself, Oh fuck.

It came from, let’s just say, an Ol' Friend. I met my Ol' Friend back in 2007, just after I broke up with my last boyfriend. As usual, we fucked on the first date. It was a no strings attached thing, but we ended up enjoying each other’s company, both in and out of bed. What was supposed to be a fuck and run, ended up with me hanging out at his place for the morning and reporting for work at lunch time. We clicked so much that we ended up hanging out a lot after that. I’d hang out at this Ole Friend’s place, we’d have drinks together, I’d sleep over, we’d fuck a lot, and talk about every thing under the sun for hours and hours at a time. Did I mention we fucked a lot?

We were good together. The one catch, my Ol' Friend was courting someone. It wasn’t really a problem for me, because I’d just gotten out of a relationship, and actually chose to give myself some time to stay single. And I knew I was comfortable with the set-up because I was totally okay with talking about his special someone. But not for long.

Months of being together-but-not-together passed by, and I realized I was falling for my Ol' Friend. After hearing how his special someone would treat him, I knew I could do better. But it was not to be. My Ole Friend chose to be mistress to his someone, who incidentally was mistress to someone else, than to have me all to himself. But I wasn’t planning on being a tertiary level mistress in one hell of an entangled love web. So I said, we’d be nothing more than friends.

I knew I’d fallen for him, because it hurt like hell. But I didn’t let it show. I sucked it up and kept on going. Believe me, my theme song was Kung Ako Na Lang Sana. We would still hang out together, and do everything else we used to do. But I made sure sex was a no-no. I never even knew I had that much pride in me. We’d sleep together, but nothing more. Just sleep sleep. On some nights, he’d try to make a move, but I would always say no. Gosh, it’s fucking hard to say no.

Like I said, we carried on. He just liked me sooo much. When he was lonely, all he needed to do was lay a guilt trip on me, and I’d be there in a flash. I was a stand-in, when his boyfriend wasn’t around. When they’d be fighting, I’d be there to lean on. When he’d want to go clubbing in Malate, I’d be his designated buddy. And mind you, Malate is NOT my kind of place. Hell, I became such a pushover that I even cleaned up when he puked all over his place after a long night of drinking. And even if he got mad and almost drove me out of his place from embarrassment after that, I didn’t mind. Think doormat. Think panakip-butas.

I was unappreciated, and he knew it. That was apparent when he told me I deserved more love from him than what his boyfriend was getting. But he made clear he couldn’t give it to me. That sucked. But more than that, it hurt and it made me cry. A classic case of consuelo de bobo.

I don’t remember how exactly it ended, but I think I missed sleeping in my own bed and being alone so much, and probably had enough of the partying and the drinking, that decided to fade away. I needed to take care of myself again.

I think I last saw this Ol' Friend in December of 2007, long before my plight with HIV began. He doesn’t know how much I’ve been through since that time. The only thing he’s heard from my side is an anonymous text message telling him to get tested for HIV. Yes, he’s one of the lucky ones who got it. I don’t know exactly what he did with it, but he should’ve gotten it.

For the past couple of months though, this Ol' Friend has been trying to make contact. Via e-mail and my guys4men account, and even through friendster. All I’ve been doing is deleting his messages. Apparently he’d lost my mobile number, which is fortunate for the hiding game I’ve been playing.

Up until that fateful day when I read those three words, I’m single now. And all I’m thinking is It’s too late. Things have changed. I’ve changed. Why me? Why now?

It took me the whole week to have the guts to face those three words again. The only reply I could manage was I’m sorry to hear that. What happened? Consider it as half being concerned, half acting unassuming and half confining it to small talk. See, even my math is fucked up.

I know I’m miles away from telling him about my HIV, but I did the least possible for old times’ sake. Let’s just say I didn’t have a choice, and couldn’t act like I didn’t care. Maybe he deserves an explanation? Maybe he doesn’t? Maybe I deserve an explanation? Maybe I don't? Who knows? I don’t know how this chapter is going to unravel.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Positivism - Voices

Don't know much about HIV and AIDS?

Get answers to questions about topics ranging from HIV 101, Transmission & Prevention, The Local Scene, Getting Tested, When Diagnosed, Medication, and Staying Healthy.

A must read, not only for those living with HIV, but for everyone affected by it. And in our world today where HIV is already a reality, that means everyone.



Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year?

Since finding out I was HIV-positive, especially earlier on when I didn’t really know what prospects there were left for the rest of my life, I had put myself in a mindset of preparing myself to live a short life. Of course, that included having to prepare the people around me, especially my family, to get used to not having me around. And take note, as of today, still no one in my family knows I have HIV.

Among us 13 cousins on my mom’s side of the family, I might not be the least talented, but I’m certainly the least appreciated. Let’s just say, if there weren’t any papers that obligated them to recognize me as a blood relative, I’d probably be an orphan by now. And the HIV thing isn’t even part of the equation yet.

Even without the HIV factor, I’ve already probably been the biggest failure, or at least the least successful, that I’ve had to make up for it in other fields. I’m the most scrappy, I’m the least ordinary, I’m the most sarcastic, I’m the least gullible, I’m the most witty, I’m the least sensitive, I’m the most goofy, I’m the least uptight, I’m the most street-smart. These are things that I won’t exactly get citations for, but have learned to be proud of nonetheless. But that’s just it. I’m the only one who is proud of myself.

I know this all makes me sound so pitiful, but since finding out I was HIV-positive, I thought this might actually work to my advantage, making it easier for my family to cope without me, in case of my early demise.

So time-space-warp to today, New Year’s Day. Just like Christmas Eve and All Saint’s Day, another obligatory occurrence for a family reunion. This year was no different.

The one thing I was definitely there for was lunch. But heaps of rice, slabs of crispy pata, chunks of fish, and mountains of salad later, I was left in limbo.

The men were playing mahjong, whereas I hate gambling. The women were Skype-ing with my brother and other relatives abroad, whereas I was still actually enjoying my first brother-less New Year. The girls were trying on dresses and blouses, whereas I was keeping my opinion to my discreet self, not planning to be Fanny Serrano for them. The boys were playing some multi-player shooting game on their laptops, whereas I am still of the Pacman, Tetris and Minesweeper generation.

I envy my sister who has been able to break free from the obligation of attending such family gatherings. It’s as if she is no longer expected to show up. Which is sad for me, because she might’ve been the one I’d be hanging out with if she was there. But I’m happy for her. And I’d like to be that way too, no longer expected to be around.

But this was ridiculous. I’m still alive, and already it’s like I didn’t exist. I had nothing to do. I was stuck in nowhere land. Not here, not there, not anywhere. I felt as though I could’ve left and no one would notice. And that was really sad. I was just lying there on the couch, feeling my heart breaking with that realization.

Although I’ve learned not to fear death itself, I have to admit my greatest fear might be dying alone and having the life I’ve lived not sum up to anything. That I would not have done anything significant in this world. That I would be forgotten.

Spending the day with my family left me with both a happy reassurance and a sad realization: They’ll be okay without me.

Happy New Year?