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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Song

You came at a time when I wasn’t expecting anyone, nor looking for that matter. But you came. You were there. You appreciated who I was. You showed me my strength. You gave me a high. You helped me take flight. You made me soar. You were my lift.

But what happened?

Just when I got so used to having your arms around me, and my hand in yours... just when I needed you... I lost you. And without your lift, I went from a gentle glide to a steep dive. And the harsh reality is, the higher one flies, the harder one falls... and the worse it hurts.

I never learned my lesson. I’ve soared several times before. I’ve plummeted several times as well. And been hurt even more. But still, I’ve always wanted to fly. Everyone deserves to fly.

I opened myself up to you. I broke down my walls for you. But what happened? I was left standing there, bare of the walls that used to protect and comfort me. I shuddered with every gust of wind against my nakedness.

And these walls, they would have been as easy to build as they were to break down. But walls, they’re only as strong as the foundation upon which they stand. And with every ray of self-doubt and every drop of insecurity you brought me, the elements eroded my foundation.

Was that it? Was that all you needed from me? It hurt to have to second guess myself. Paranoid? Yes, I am. And with hundreds of questions without answers, I had no choice but to be.

What changed? What happened? Why did you seem so distant? Why did you disappear? Was it something about me?

Now, I’ve been slowly trying to pick up the pieces. Trying to convince myself that I wasn’t broken. Trying to forget. Trying to move on.

And now, you choose to make your presence felt... again. Why now? Why just now?

Has anyone else had a song written for and dedicated to them? It would be the most wonderful and flattering thing, right? It should be. But right now, it’s not. Not yet. It just reminds me of all my weaknesses you exposed... all my insecurities that I’ve been trying so hard to forget.

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. And I won’t. If there’s one thing you taught me, it’s that I am strong. I will be strong.

I’ve been playing it over and over and over for the past five hours now. I’m going to keep on playing it until I’m numb. Until all the questions stop. Until it no longer hurts. It’s my fault. Just give me time.

But regardless, the song is beautiful. Thank you. Thank you.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One Fine Day... Part 2

One Fine DayGetting to his hotel which was a short walk from the MRT station, I walked up to the elevators. I stepped in and pressed 6. I remember looking at myself in the mirrored elevator walls, nodding my head and saying to myself What am I doing here? But there was no turning back now. I walked down to the end of the corridor and went straight to door number 645. I took a deep breath, and knocked.

As the door swung open, there he was – the total hotness of him – in the flesh and smiling at me. And a lot of flesh it was, as he stood half-naked in just a pair of shorts. He led me in, shut the door and grabbed me in a tight hug, saying how he couldn’t believe I was there with him. Am I dreaming?

We sat down on the bed, he took my hand in his and we began talking, during which he never broke eye contact. I felt like I was melting in the light of his hard stare. What was he seeing? He interrupted me in the middle of one of my sentences and asked permission to kiss me. I felt faint as he leaned forward and took me in his arms, passionately engulfing my mouth in his.

He stood up and dropped his shorts and his underwear. I took his cue, stripping myself down to my skivvies. And soon, like a panther, he pounced, resting me on my back and laying his hard body on top of me. “Is this okay?” he asked. “Of course,” I answered. From then on, we just did what came naturally.

I’m sure no one would be interested in hearing all the sordid details. I will not go TMI. All you need to know is that, for a brief moment – well, half an hour to be exact – I felt like the me I was before, prior to HIV. Wild... raw... carefree... uninhibited. At the end of it all, we were left with a lubey mess on the floor and a condom full of passion.

From there, we showered and got dressed, as the driver was due any minute to pick him up. He asked that I run his errands with him if I had no other plans for the day. Sure. We reached the lobby just as the van drove up. As we hopped in, he took my hand in his, weaving his fingers into mine. I stared at him smirking with disbelief as he discussed our itinerary to the driver, to pick up some colleagues, have lunch and drop them off. Noticing me looking at him, he snuck in a peck on my lips, not even caring if the driver would notice.

During the whole trip, he hardly let go of my hand as I sat beside him. He told of how his close pal had AIDS and died some years ago and I understood where he was coming from, causing me to hold his hand even tighter. Even in the company of his colleagues, he made sure we sat at the rearmost seat of the van just so they wouldn’t notice our mischief. Finally, after lunch, we dropped his colleagues off at their hotel. With my hand still in his, he told the driver to head to Makati, where he needed to pick up some stuff at the mall.

Getting there, he just told me to wait at the lobby of the mall while he went to run his errand. I was wondering if this was his way of losing me or something... I would not be me if I wasn’t paranoid. But of course, he proved me wrong, as I spotted him strolling back towards me after about fifteen minutes.

As we waited in front of the mall for the van to pick us up, I opted to make my gracious exit, saying I should head home so we could both get some rest for the week ahead. I thought, quit while you’re ahead. I just needed to grab my bag from the van so we could go our separate ways.

The van took a while to pass by, which gave me time to thank him for the wonderful day. L expressed his delight as well, and said that he wanted to kiss me right there and then if he could. Don’t dare me, I half-joked. Not to be beaten, he called his own bluff. And amid all the passing vehicles and crossing pedestrians, we leaned in for a quick smack on the lips. It was like a movie scene. Dreamy.

As the van stopped before us shortly, L hopped in and reached me my bag. We said our goodbyes – for now, at least – but not before kissing each other on the lips again, something I’m sure the driver noticed this time. And with that I shut the door of the van and waved goodbye.

Walking away, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, which suddenly turned into a grin when I realized that we scandalized the guard at the door of mall with that last kiss, as he looked at me from head to toe and conferred with the lady guard beside him. I’m pretty shy, but oddly enough, I’m not the type to get conscious of things like that. Not at this point, at least. Kissing a guy on the lips would just pale next to the other shameless things I’ve done in my lifetime.

So with that, the day came to an end. More than the sex, I enjoyed every minute we spent together. All 300+ minutes of it. The time with L left me with the thought that this is the kind of guy I want. This is the kind of guy I deserve. Simple, sweet, sexy and smart. Someone who will respect and accept me completely – HIV and all. And this is the kind of relationship I want. This is the kind of relationship I deserve. Something effortlessly fun and happy. Where HIV is a non-issue.

For now, L is back in Mindanao, and though we have not made any commitments to each other, we’ve been in touch. We’re apart, but I’m happy. He’s been making more than enough effort to stay in touch. Personally, I look forward to seeing him again sometime and spending more time getting to know him. But if at least, I was honored to have met a guy like him, and appreciate how he made me realize my self-worth... something I’ve been needing for sometime now.

Thank you, L. Thank you for that one fine day. May it not be our last.


Monday, April 27, 2009

One Fine Day... Part 1

I sort of met someone last week. Yes, last week. I apologize for the delay. It took me a week before telling you about him, mostly because I needed a week for that unbelievable day to sink in. I needed to make sure it really happened, that he was for real, that I wasn’t hallucinating, and that I wasn’t dreaming. Let’s call him L.

L and I had been communicating via the web since last year, when he found one of my profiles on one of the personals sites. He had made clear his interest to meet up with me, calling me “idol” as his term of endearment, and even texting and calling me regularly on my mobile phone. Honestly, sex was on his mind, and mine, too. He wasn’t exactly a stalker, as he was the type of guy anyone would be honored to be stalked by. It was not hard to fantasize about this guy with all his profile pictures online. He was hot, hot, and hot. And he wasn’t even naked in most of them. He didn’t think I was so bad either.

Of course, my HIV secret would complicate things, but my first line of defense was that L was based in Mindanao, so our meet up was not to be simple to begin with. This was one case where the distance between us worked to my advantage, as I could keep my secret safe – that is, until he said he’d be coming to Manila for business. I panicked, and was suddenly hit by the need to tell him I had HIV. I sent him a text message saying I was HIV-positive. I meant to give him time to rethink everything, and honestly expected him to lose interest. But... he surprised me.

It seemed he became more eager to meet me in person. I remember thinking Is this guy for real? He called me after a couple of replies, and indeed, it was evident in his voice that he was somehow thrilled that I was HIV-positive. Weird. It turned out, HIV and AIDS were not foreign to him, as someone close to him had it and died of complications some years ago. I was amazed at the coincidence, and even more at his excitement that I had it, too. Not the reaction I was expecting.

After my disclosure, L was able to make a couple of business trips to Manila, but we never met. Mostly we ended up with botched plans mostly because of schedules and circumstances, but also in part because of my skepticism, which left me uneager to make the effort to meet him. Until last week, April 19th, when the inevitable happened.

L made sure I knew he was coming to Manila, so I had no excuses and had made no other plans. It was a Sunday and we were scheduled to meet at 3:00 pm. He called me that morning, though, and asked how soon I could get to his hotel. Eager beaver? I’m not a big fan of sudden changes in plans, but I don’t know what got into me. I found myself on my way to meet him at 9:30 that same morning.

I remember being on the MRT and receiving a text from him requesting me to send him a message if I was already nearby. Another text message followed, asking me to go straight up to Room 645. And another message after that, saying I hope you brought a rubber. I forgot mine. Hehe. That made me laugh. But of course, I was prepared, as always. I have to be.

I’m honestly the type of person who has no qualms about having sex on a first date. I’ve always been like that. And I find that having HIV doesn’t change that point of view of mine. I won’t say whether it’s right or wrong, just to each his own, I guess. I'm single, after all.

Getting to his hotel which was a short walk from the MRT station, I walked up to the elevators. I stepped in and pressed 6. I remember looking at myself in the mirrored elevator walls, nodding my head and saying to myself What am I doing here? But there was no turning back now. I walked down to the end of the corridor and went straight to door number 645. I took a deep breath, and knocked.

To be continued...


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saké? Hai! Arigato!

Sakura!I had TGIF on my mind from the time I got out of bed yesterday. Another end to a work week, and another weekend to look forward to. A routine day at work ensued. At the end of it all, I punched out at exactly 5:30 pm and left the office... but I wasn’t heading home.

The day just wasn’t over. Not just yet.

The team had a dinner meeting scheduled last night in Makati. The agenda of the meeting? Well, the second issue of Positivism is currently in production, so we needed to updates as to how it was going and what else was missing or needed. It’s been a while since the last issue, released last December, mostly because we needed to act upon the feedback we got regarding our maiden issue.

So leaving work on the dot, I had two hours to spare before the meeting. I opted to take a bus to Makati, purposely meaning to get stuck in some traffic to eat up some of that time. I find bus rides much more relaxing, too, rather than having to walk all the way to and up the MRT stations, and squeeze into jam-packed commuter trains. So a long bus ride and a short jeepney ride later, I got there... still with thirty minutes to spare. Good enough. I pride myself with being almost never late for meetings.

I headed to the resto immediately, aiming to relax a bit and warm up to the unfamiliar place while waiting. I found the quaint restaurant, was greeted at the door in Japanese and led by the kimono-clad waitress to the reserved room. And in keeping with its authenticity, guests were to take off their shoes before entering the room, which was on a platform that opened up to a low seating table with leg-less chairs flanking it on both sides. Cute.

After about fifteen minutes, J, a fellow pozzie who wanted to meet the team behind Positivism before agreeing to be part of the coming issue, got there. And shortly after that, our Hotbox bosing and the rest of the gang arrived as well.

With some cheers of saké and lots of chika-chika all around, dinner ensued, with the raw stuff kept away from us who were immuno-compromised. Hehe. Yes, we practice what we preach. We were a noisy bunch through dinner – well, they were – but paled in comparison to the Japanese group in the adjacent room. Or maybe we were just hungrier.

After dinner, business replaced the food on the table. I don’t know how much I can give away without preempting the next issue, but what the hey... A preview of the HIV Basics sections came first, which was revamped to cater to those who had a difficult time with the previous issue’s magazine platform. I was literally speechless. It looked great. I was guilty, too, as our Hotbox bosing spotted a single missing word which made a world of difference.

Fine, I’ll admit it. I was tasked to act as editor for this coming issue. I write, yes, but I had never edited before. And I never expected that the hardest part of the job would be editing the parts I wrote myself. There’s just something about having extra sets of eyes comb through a piece of written work to spot mistakes and correct them. Sigh. I just must do better next time.

Next came the Features sections, which will remain in the magazine platform. The cover story? Wanggo Gallaga. Several new sections were born for this second issue: Affected Uninfected, stories of and by people surrounding those infected with HIV; Shout Outs, a venue for those living with HIV who want to come out to the world; and Say What?!, the poll now accompanied by a couple of blogs that readers can interact with... ahem-ahem. Hai!

This second issue will also see the initial offerings of Q for 2, where Dra. Ditangco and Shola Luna answer questions sent in by readers of the previous issue, Readers' Letters, which features e-mail and feedback we got after the launch of our maiden issue, and the Archives, where you still can visit the first issue of Positivism, themed CHANGE and featuring Shola Luna on the cover.

Old staples will still be there, such as It’s A Positive World, composed of news and stories on HIV in the world context, and Good Vibes, which is a collage of videos, articles, games and music, all related to the coming issue’s theme, which is RISK.

It was amazing how much had been done since our deadline for written content back in March. I can safely say that I am equally excited for this coming issue, as I was for the first. And damn proud, too. Ngarrr. The launch of Positivism’s second issue is slated for the second week of May, so watch out for it.

Considering it was past my bedtime and I was waiting for my ARVs to kick in, it was evident that I was left with still a bit of residual excitement for the night. Not as hyper as J, though, who was still full of life as he gave some of us a ride back to Quezon City. I made it home before midnight, by which time, of course, I was off to ARV high.

So allow me to plug shamelessly: Visit, the first e-magazine on HIV and AIDS for Filipinos worldwide. And watch out for our second issue, come May. Arigato!


Friday, April 24, 2009


This will be an emo post. Consider yourself warned.

I always pride myself with being a natural loner, not needing anyone to complete me. I guess it’s still true. But, man, I can’t deny I’d love to have five fingers to weave into my own, along with the hand and the arm and the rest of the person of course.

Okay, I admit, I’m miserably single right now.

Initially, when I decided to get tested for HIV, other than the fact that I just wanted to know, it was supposed to be my turning point – my turning point towards getting back on the righteous path again. Relatively righteous, that is.

You see, ever since, I was a serial relationship-guy. Note that I didn’t say “serial monogamist”, because I’d be a hypocrite to claim that. I mean to say that I’d been getting into relationship after relationship since my first boyfriend back when I was 21. I don’t really know if I fall easily or just can’t pass up the chance to get to know a guy better, but I preferred to be in relationships rather that make the rounds and sleep around. As such, I felt I never gave myself time to just hook up as hooking up is meant to be.

So after my last relationship back in 2007, I decided I’d give myself a break. I made the conscious decision not to jump into the next possible relationship right away. It was a commitment in itself... to myself. I meant it so badly that I got myself a ring – a symbol of my commitment to myself – an ode to singlehood.

Between that time and the time I got tested, I was literally slutting around. I had regular fuck buddies who kept me busy, more that I’d ever been. I admit, there were times that the potential for a relationship came up, but I treated those as mere temptation, and brushed past them soon enough.

It was in 2008 that I met one guy who caused me to consider getting back into relationship mode again. And based on mere potential, I decided that enough was enough. I felt I’d exhausted the meat market more than I needed to.

And so, to mark a turning point in my life, I got tested. I dreamt of offering myself completely and purely to the guy, and living happily ever after. Indeed, a turning point it was. But not in the way I’d imagined, as I tested positive for HIV. I needed to tell this guy, in order for him to get tested, but that was practically the end of it, as all he could give was support, and his interest in me died down.

Of course testing positive threw me off a bit, I admit. But I never strayed too far from the desire to get back into a relationship again. And there have been a lot of guys who I thought I got along well with... well enough to imagine having a relationship with them.

Of course, at this point, one primary requirement would be that they know my status. It’s part of me now. Package deal. I can’t say that it’s been the deal-breaker in all cases. But at times when it’s not, I can’t help but think it’s just pity that’s taking these guys over. All the more when they eventually fade away. Am I lucky that I have HIV to blame?

There are a few, though, who I have perfect chemistry with, and who have absolutely no problem with my HIV status. But sadly, we seem to always be... uhm, geographically-challenged. Sigh.

So with all that, I’m still miserably single. Okay, maybe not miserably single. Just single. Inggit lang ako, bakit ba?

So now, my dilemma. Now I’m not speaking of anyone in particular, okay, mostly because there is no one in particular to speak of. Consider this an open letter.

Considering that you love someone, you’d like to see him or her happy. Seeing him or her happy makes you happy. You want the best for that person you care for. But what if you don’t feel that you’re the best one? What if you know that person will be happier with someone else? Can you be truly, truly happy for him or her?

Tang inang pag-ibig yan, o.

Okay, emo ends here. Hehehe.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Buscapade

BuscapadeI rode the same old bus, from the same old stop, at the same old time, along the same old route. This morning was supposed to be just another regular commute to work. But no, no, no. I would just not be that lucky.

What is it with me, buses and sexual tension?

The bus had reached Cubao in a record-breaking time, thanks to less traffic probably due to students being on their summer break. We got in queue at the foot of the MRT station again, reminiscent of my Superman experience not so long ago. Hmmm, come to think of it, I never saw that guy again.

A handful of people got onto the bus as we screeched to a stop. I was focused intently on watching all the people who seemed to be scurrying about that part of Cubao. I just love to watch people, and the view from the vantage point of a bus window is always perfect for that. And then it started. I felt someone, one of those who had just gotten on, looking straight at me. Oh, boy, here we go again.

With just my peripheral vision to work with, all I noticed were his long-sleeved layered outfit, his oasis-style hairdo, and his bug-eye shades. Sigh. My gaydar went off the scale. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against their type. I admire their tenacity to layer clothes without a single drop of sweat amid this Manila summer heat. I envy them. But that’s as far as my admiration goes.

Sensing him make his way towards me, I tried to occupy as much as my two-seater as I could. But it was not enough. I guess his own gaydar went off as well. He stopped adjacent to my seat, and I had no choice but to move over. I just stuck myself as close to the window as possible, and went on with my people-watching.

Of course, the story didn’t end there. He made sure we were close. Very close. Hip to hip would’ve been normal. Thigh to thigh, understandable. But the way slouched and moved further forward in his seat just so our calves would touch was... outrageous! And his elbow, which began poked into my side, was actually resting on my belt – no, resting on my hip bone! You can get beaten up if you happened to do that to the wrong person.

It wasn’t like this bus was one of those whose seats were tailored for humans without arms and shoulders. It was one of those more comfortable ones actually. So he was really pushing his luck and making every effort for his intent to be known.

I could’ve easily felt violated and acted on my paranoia, but that would just get me into trouble. I hate making a scene. Plus it was all harmless flirting. It wasn’t like I was losing my virginity or something. Nor was it my first time to experience such things in public transport. Been there, done that.

Better yet, I thought to myself, act nonchalant about everything and hopefully turn him off. So that was exactly what I did. And thanks again to the smooth flow of traffic, the bus reached my stop – and in turn, the torture was over – in a short while. I knew he was getting down as well at my stop, so once I got moving, I never looked back.

I knew instantly that this adventure would hit the pages of this blog soon enough – in a matter of hours actually – so I just thought it funny if this guy would happen to read this entry and figure himself out as the subject.

What would he think? Would he realize what a close encounter he had with HIV? Would it make him sweat in his seat? Would it occur to him that I did him a huge favor? Would he think twice next time about letting his hormones take control so early in the morning?

In the very words of Bayani Fernando, Urbanidad.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'm A Twit

Twit, twit, twit. I’ve heard it so many times, I wouldn’t be surprised if I start dreaming about it. Twitter – a seemingly more persistent version of a blog, where you’re supposed to update people regularly by answering the question What are you doing? in 140 characters or less. Sounds complicated.

Some of my BFFs – Blogger Friends Forever – are on it. Both JohnStanley and RubyPurple have been badgering me to start twitting. I’ve been reluctant. But I’ve been giving it some consideration. Twitter and twitting... or is it twittering? Geesh. Should I? Or shouldn’t I?

I was watching the Tyra Banks’ show a couple of weeks back, when her episode was all about Facebook and Twitter. I’ll have to be honest, I have heard of these things before. But being the type of person who, as of today, is still relatively new to Friendster, I still am intimidated by these newer online trends. I just tell myself that they’re beyond my mental capacity.

I saw on Tyra how one woman was complaining that her husband twitted too much... or is it twittered too much? Geesh. I think he said he was bothered if he wasn’t able to twit every hour. When on dates, he’d twit what restaurant they were at, what they ordered, how the food tasted, and so on. I can’t do that. I just can’t do that.

First of all, I don’t think my mobile phone is capable of twitting. The most my phone is, is colored. No cam, no connectivity, nothing. It just calls and texts. So I’d be confined to twitting at home or at work, which just might, in turn, confine my twits to I’m home or I’m at work or I’m twitting. Boring...

Secondly, even outside the realms of home and work, I don’t really live a very interesting nor exciting life. Who’d be interested in that?

And thirdly, it’s just so against my linguistic logic to have to pronounce TWIT as ‘TWEET’. Argh!

Okay fine, so I don’t really have any compelling reason not to try it. And besides, I did promise JohnStanley and RubyPurple that I’d give it a try. And true to my word, I did. Ang lakas lakas nyo sa akin ha! Friday night, I began checking it out.

I was asked to enter my full name. Uhm... I won’t put my real name, of course. Bitch? It says I need a first and a last name. Bitch Cumeater? Too scandalous. Back In The Closet... Good enough.

Username. BITCH? That username is already taken. B_I_T_C_H? Taken. THEBITCH? Taken. IMABITCH? Taken. BITCHBITCHBITCH? Ok, but geesh. BITCHYPUSIT? Ok, pero ayoko. BackInTheCloset? Ok, but a mouthful. _BITCH_... Pwede na.

With that and all the requisites over and done with, it’s now official. I’ll be feeling my way through the rest of its intricacies in the days to come. Lord, help me. I am now a twit.

So please, please, please... argh, pathetic... please don’t let my effort go to waste. Follow if you feel like it. Indulge me. Please.

I am BITCH. Hear me TWIT.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Am Me

I Am MeI apologize for that last outburst. I never planned on revealing who the person is, even though this person volunteered that information in a subsequent comment. It just didn’t matter. To make the long story short, we’ve been able to patch things up and move on. Let’s just all pretend that the Left Behind entry is a prequel to the bigger issue, the Right Behind. But hey, don’t get me wrong, my ass is well-proportioned, okay?

So with all that prior ruckus, was there anything to learn and share? Hmmm.

When I was chatting with this person and writing that entry Sunday night, I’ll be honest, I was really in a bad mood. It was a bad end to a great weekend, as well as a bad start to the week ahead. So I was pissed. And though I am usually a very patient and subdued person, I chose to go the other route with this. I was harsh. I was sarcastic. I was a bitch. I didn’t need this person to tell me how bad I was. I heard myself, and just shook my head and said I’m such a bitch. I AM SUCH A BITCH.

I was just being myself. I’m not sure how accurate I am, but I imagine people reading what I wrote and saying, geesh, this person is sick with an incurable virus, maybe he should consider being a kinder person. Should I?

I remember sometime last year, when E and I encountered a new pozzie. This new pozzie was in a pretty good place to start with, as his family and his friends knew about, supported and accepted his condition. But for some reason, he still fell into a mode of self-pity and depression. E and I were there to support him. Yes, support. *evil laugh*

Being the B.I.T.C.H. and E we were known to be, we employed the method of cariño-brutal, or tough love. Less cariño and more brutal, actually. Even as this new pozzie was giving up, swearing off getting treatment and wanting to wait for the virus to just run its course, we bashed him. We got tired of showing him the good side of things, and stopped trying to convince him, and just chose to mock him. Isn’t it just fate that B.I.T.C.H. and E, when put together, make B.I.T.C.H.-E?

New pozzie was pissed to say the least. I think he went as far as hating us for not being more supportive. He said, as fellow pozzies, we should have been kinder. But geesh, E and I just knew patronizing him could do nothing if he didn’t help himself. So fast-forward to today, I think it worked. This now not-so-new pozzie is now a friend, and is in an extremely positive mindset, moving on with life, and even sharing his story.

Lesson learned? Suddenly being HIV-positive does not necessarily make us suddenly kinder, just because we’re supposedly in a tough chapter of our lives. Not even with fellow pozzies. Neither is it the case that we are bitchy at times because we have HIV. We are bitchy at times, because that’s the way we always were – even before the virus.

Maybe it’s part of the Life-Goes-On philosophy I encourage with HIV. HIV does not change who I am. I am not HIV. I am still me. And as with life, everything else – yes, even bitchiness – goes on.

But it’s not one-sided, okay. The world around us goes on as well. So don’t treat us like we are HIV. Love us not because of the virus, but because of who we are. In the same way, you are also entitled to hate us. But hate us not because of the virus, but because of who we are.

I am not HIV. I am me. I am B.I.T.C.H.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Left Behind

LeftBehindSomehow, someway, my last entry apparently made someone I’ve regarded as a friend sad. I reread my entry and reread this person’s comment over and over again, but couldn’t quite understand. It was a happy entry. What happened? Did this person prefer me to be miserable?

At this point, I just need to get things off my chest, and so I opt to whip out my negativity card.

I confronted this person, and it basically boiled down to unmet expectations. Geesh, of course, that’s just like me, not to be able to live up to expectations. Of course I needed to be reminded yet again. I guess I’m just not too good at this friend thing.

Friends. I don’t seem to have very much of such thing. No barkada to speak of. I seem to have left everyone behind. You maybe be wondering why that is, and trust me, I wonder that too. So, let’s wonder together.

Back in primary school, I do recall having one best friend, who became such, mostly because our moms were best friends. He lived just a hop, a skip and a jump away from my grandmother’s place before, and so, on weekends we’d play with toy cars and robots, which he had a lot of.

I think our fallout came when my elder brother started joining us on our play dates, and I’d get ganged up on by my brother and my supposed best friend. I guess I was just too much of a sissy. And though just part of being kids, I remember being pissed off when I found out we were still going to be schoolmates up till secondary school. I was just ready to leave him behind.

In high school, I was just usually with whomever I happened to be with in a class at the time. Year in and year out, new sections were formed, which meant new sets of friends. Maybe I just panicked too much. So again, left with little time to build bonds, I easily left people behind in my motions of moving on.

In college, though I did carry over some familiar faces from high school to the university and the course that I chose, it was my academic organization that was the key. I became extremely active with the group, and it became the outlet that I was looking for – where I think I was really able to find myself and be appreciated for who I was, even down to the imperfect, silly, and crazy parts.

I was the thorn among of a barkada of roses, who called themselves the Powerpuff Girls, but I didn’t mind having to wonder whether I was the Professor, the Mayor or the Mojo Jojo of the group. Apparently, that didn’t strike anyone as such a gay thing, as there was even a point where people just thought I was so chickboy of me to be so comfortable hanging out with females.

It was also at that time that I was discovering my sexuality as well, and I found myself building a friendship – a platonic one – with one of my org-mates, a guy who openly and flamboyantly declared himself as silahis. I found such comfort in him that, one evening over dinner, I admitted to him that I was venturing into dating someone of the same gender. His reaction to that disclosure of mine was pretty vague, so I just brushed it off as shock. But the next couple of days of him avoiding me told me otherwise.

The next thing I knew, one of my Powerpuff Girls approached me and asked me if the news about me was true. News? What news? Complete, with the name, the date, the location, and a word for word account, news of my coming out was apparently going around. I neither confirmed nor denied, and just told her I’d need to find out where the news was coming from first.

After vehemently denying, but with no other possible source but him, he finally admitted to telling others about it, apparently for the reason that “he could not handle the news himself”. I was dumbfounded. You’re a homo yourself, how could you not understand? Maybe I was just too gay. He never apologized for what he did. Needless to say, that was the end of our friendship. He made all the effort himself to avoid me after that.

As for the rest of the world at that time, I just distanced myself from everyone, no longer interested in knowing who thought what about me. I needed to leave everyone behind and start anew – alone again. Up to this day, I see from afar that my Powerpuff Girls are still together, still complete, even without me. Might this be what I’ve summed up to for them? Something negligible? It honestly breaks my heart a bit that they seem to have hardly noticed that I used to be walking alongside them.

Even now as I walk with a new group again, mostly the people who I’ve been working with for the past years. But facing this new secret that I keep scares me. Will I be too HIV-positive? Will I inevitably be forced to leave them behind again? Or have I been fooling myself? Have I been the one being left behind? And am I going to be left behind again?

And then of course there are those of you who’ve known me to be the HIV-positive bitch. Let this serve as a warning to you. That’s what kind of a friend I am. Don't set expectations of me too high, because I will fail... miserably. I know nothing more than to be myself. I will eventually turn out to be too much of a sissy, too panicky, too gay, too HIV-positive, too insensitive, too stupid, too bitchy, or whatever other flaw you might see in me. So if you bank on me being something which I am incapable of being, then take caution now. Go ahead and walk away. I’m nothing more than a glass half-empty.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ordinary Miracle

Ordinary MiracleIt was the evening of Good Friday that I received a text message from a blogger friend, asking how my Holy Week was going. But after a few exchanges, it was agreed, I’d tag along with him and some friends to Tagaytay the following day, Black Saturday.

This might have just been the first time I went out of town during Holy Week.

My blogger friend and I met up at our usual meeting place the next morning, within a few minutes of each other. He had a quick cup of coffee, asking me an nth time between sips if I was comfortable having two other guys with us for the trip. His concern, I’m guessing, was that we were all to have blogging in common, but with my particular blog having the least... uhm, favorable... or conventional topic of the bunch. Was I to feel awkward about that? Maybe, but hey, I’m awkward by nature. So not a problem.

After a short drive to their agreed meeting place, we walked around the corner, and there were the two guys. Oh, boy. One step at a time. Socialize, socialize, socialize. One deep breath. Okay here goes nothing. Introductions all around, initially by blog titles, and eventually by names, and the trip was on.

The drive down south wasn’t bad, and we agreed to have brunch as Josephine’s. I was just my usual quiet self the whole time, but I felt that was weighing them down. They probably thought my silence was just some depressed state expected from someone who was HIV-positive. Awkwardness! Several hours and several plates each later, we’d beaten the buffet table. We took a sleepy drive to Caleruega in Nasugbu, a house of prayer and renewal, very befitting of Holy Week. Argh.

We settled down at the lower garden of the compound to allow some of the food to go down, where we, in turn, lowered our guards. Contrary to expected, we seemed anything but prayerful – doing everything from school bashing to spacing out, watching everything from chickens to boys, and talking about everything from twitter to sex. Yes, everything. Including HIV.

My two new friends broke the ice finally, and started off with the usual questions... where I got it, when I found out, why I got tested, how I reacted and so on... questions I had no problems answering. Eventually, one of them said that I seemed to be calm about my whole situation, which I really was. I appreciated them noticing that. Although I may have scared them into looking at the risks they took in their own sex lives, I think the best part of my lecture, was them seeing the value of getting tested. Score!

And with that out of the way, I was now, like them, just any other blogger, and we went back to what was important... watching the hot boys, hehehe. I’m half-kidding of course. We trekked up to the church and spent some silent moments inside, and left seeming recharged for the rest of the posing, picture-taking, chattering, laughing and boywatching.

Our energy seemed to increase exponentially during the ride home, as we attempted a Tougher-Ten-slash-Miss-Universe-slash-I-Love-Chowking-slash-I-believe-in-the-saying portion, which kept us rolling with laughter almost the whole way back. That was a great day.

Looking back as Holy Week came to a close, I was so far from being holy the whole week. I was just lazing around. I was having fun. I never heard mass the whole week. Even during my short stay inside the church at Caleruega, I didn’t know what to pray for. Should I have prayed to be cured by some sort of miracle? But I didn’t feel that I needed that. I was bothered a bit about not wanting it, to be honest.

Until, while still lazing around on Easter morning, I caught the tail end of Charlotte’s Web on cable TV... a beautiful and touching ending it was... and then it hit me. Although it’d be nice to be Wilbur the pig, I’d much rather be Charlotte the spider for someone... for everyone. Believe me, I cried. And even looking past the pig and the spider of it all, it made sense. We always complain about not seeing any miraculous things, but maybe we do... we just don’t know where to look.

The theme song Ordinary Miracle by Sarah Mclachlan was perfect.
It seems so exceptional
That things just work out after all
It’s just another ordinary miracle today

I realized that rest, peace, friendship, laughter, contentment, and life itself... all in spite of HIV... it’s just another ordinary miracle today... everyday. Find your ordinary miracle today.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Positiversary!

Happy Positiversary!How time flies. Today is my 1st Positiversary! Three hundred sixty five days since I was told I was HIV-positive. Would you believe that it’s been a year? A year since finding out I’m HIV-positive. A year since my life was thrown into a frenzy. A year since I wondered if I’d even be alive for another year. Almost a year since I started broadcasting my new positive life through my blog.

Thinking back to that very day that I got my test results telling me I was HIV-positive, I remember not being able to do much at work. I was at my desk, but was really more preoccupied with learning what I could about HIV. I’d already heard about HIV since back in high school, but more than the scientific blur that I already knew, I needed to know how it was to actually live with HIV.

I’d gotten to a number of sites that had the information I needed, but none were in the context that I was looking for. They were all sites on living with HIV in other countries – useful somehow, of course. But nothing about the Philippines, where conditions might be different, resources might be different, acceptance might be different, and support might be different. Not knowing anyone personally who was living with HIV in the Philippines, I needed to know if there were any. I needed to read their story. I needed to know how difficult the road ahead of me was going to be. I needed to know how they were living, if there were any living at all.

And so I searched, and searched, and searched, and came up with hardly anything. There were just loads of statistics, and a couple of blogs written by HIV-positive Filipinos who were residing in other countries. Still not what I was looking for. It was then that I decided that I may as well be the first.

Considering that I was choosing to go through my HIV journey without the support of my family and friends, more than half my purpose was that I needed an outlet for sanity’s sake. I needed to speak my mind, regardless of who was listening, but at the same time stay anonymous to keep the paranoia at bay. The rest of me wanted to do it thinking that someday, someone like me might want to know the story of someone living in the Philippines with HIV.

Initially, realizing that I was being read was humbling enough. I don’t know how they stumbled onto my blog, but most of those who started following my story were actually people of other nationalities – some of whom hadn’t even heard of the Philippines before. I acknowledge I’m not exactly the perfect poster boy to put the Philippines on the map. But I think that support was what I needed, coming from people who were already relatively open-minded about HIV. I believe they were the ones who gave me the initial inertia to keep blogging, and keep living.

Eventually, evidenced by the comments being left, more Filipino readers came plopping onto my blog, and some, I think, have been following it religiously. The positive to the negative, male to female, gay to straight, local to those abroad, and from those who were making themselves known to those who chose to remain anonymous. It was then that I realized that everyone was affected by HIV. As in everyone.

Of course, things haven’t all been peachy with blogging. I’ve been criticized before, by the very HIV advocacy groups that should have been making the HIV journey less of a mystery, for being too open about my plight with HIV, as it was allegedly threatening the discretion of others who were living with it. Being told that I was just too new at it to understand the consequences of my actions just went against my natural logic altogether. I never understood why keeping the names of doctors, nurses and treatment hubs secret was helpful to anyone.

By now, I think they’ve realized they won’t scare me away that easily. I can only hope that the passion with which I tell my story has proved to those skeptical HIV-positives that I am no fly-by-night blogger, and that I mean no harm in telling my story. Did they want me to show a more kawawa image of a pusit? I don’t know, and I hope not. By now, their protests have died down, and maybe they’re even wondering why they didn’t think of doing this themselves in the first place.

Almost a year and over a hundred blog entries since I started, Back In The Closet will spin off onto a parallel course, as adopts this B.I.T.C.H. as one of its resident bloggers. It shouldn’t be any different, just like putting my blog on steroids. Roarrr!

And so a year since it started, my HIV story goes on. It goes on for those who live with HIV. It goes on for those who await their own results. It goes on for those who are thinking of getting tested. It goes on, even for those who are just thinking about taking the risk. It goes on for those who are affected by HIV, which, in reality, is everyone. I remain... Back In The Closet.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Think Positive - Part 1

Finally, GMA has uploaded Think Positive onto the GMA News website. Although it's just the first part, of which I am not a part, it's a start, right? Thanks to ManilaGayGuy for pointing me towards this...

And now, for the nth time, World View presents Think Positive.

Click here for the direct link to the video.

And watch out for Part 2... I will.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Think Positive!

The day had come. I was in front of the telly as early as 9:00 pm, switching channels to and from Miss Congeniality 2, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Top Design, and GMA 7, of course. I’m sorry, I just could not stand seeing Yaya Patani on Ful Haus, which finally ended around 11:00 pm. This is it. This is really is it.

At around 11:05, as my ARVs kicked in, the show started with a definition of HIV, moving into vignettes of Vicky Morales showing common myths regarding transmission. Wanggo Gallaga’s story then followed – his risks, acceptance, and disclosure. His dad, Peque Gallaga then frowned on how people connect conditions like HIV to being punishments from God. I had to nod my head to that. I was amazed to realize that all this was just the introduction to the program, as the title sequence swept in: Think Positive.

Earlier meant to focus on 18 to 25 year olds, I noticed they shifted the at-risk group to span up to the age of 29, and realized I did barely fit into this category, having been diagnosed just weeks before my 30th birthday. Should I feel proud? Not exactly. Hehe.

Following the first gap, they went into HIV testing. Vince, a seafarer, was to get a mandatory HIV test for employment – lo and behold – at the Social Hygiene Clinic in Manila! My very own! Kiko, a freelance writer, was also to get tested because he had been engaging in risky behavior. They showed a clip of the pre-test counseling, followed by a gut-wrenching shot of blood extraction. The thing that makes me go eeew.

As Vince and Kiko began the agonizing wait for their test results, the story transitioned to Echo, a counselor, who then discloses his HIV-positive status. He told his story towards the realization that life still has meaning, in spite of HIV.

Going back, we followed Vince and Kiko’s blood samples to the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory, or SACCL, where they gave us an idea of how the tests are done. Vicky Morales then stated how opportunistic infections, and not AIDS, are the killers. Perfecto. A Dr. Avelino of the Philippine National AIDS Council, or PNAC, then discussed the modes of transmission of the virus, and how it may take years after infection for symptoms to arise.

Finally, Vince’s test results were handed to him by my own Dr. Diana Mendoza of the SHC. I was stunned when, as the doctor told him he’s negative, he actually needed to cry on her shoulder. Considering he wasn’t blurred out, I just thought to myself, hmm, this is disclosure of a different kind. Hehe. Okay I’m an ass, sorry. Kiko was negative as well, but still within the window period. He did however speak about realizing the need to protect himself from then on. Truly, positive or negative, HIV tests are life changing.

DOH statistics were next, where, as of 2008 records, there are 3,589 Filipinos with HIV. Estimated true value? Almost double that. A total of 528 were diagnosed in 2008 alone, of which I am just one. Highest prevalence was among age groups 25-29 and 30-34, and 70% were male. One shocking number was that 42% of those diagnosed in December of 2008 were aged from 15 to 24 years, and mostly MSM, or men who have sex with men. Fifteen years old?! Geez.

Several vignettes of Filipinos living with HIV followed. Greg was diagnosed in Dubai prior to the start of his employment. Though he ended with a life-must-go-on attitude, he ushered in the internet as a potential risk factor for the spread of the virus, via personals sites, sex eyeballs and the like. Me? Guilty.

Segueing from the HIV and AIDS situation around the world, a couple of Filipinos living with HIV in the United States were shown. With Charles’ story, came the fact that 31% of HIV-infections in San Francisco are Filipino-Americans, attributing to the apparent ease with which Filipinos blend with western cultures. Henry came next, telling of his current partner of 10 years who is HIV-negative. Indeed, there is hope! Hehe.

Before taking the story back to local soils, I need to point out how doctors in the US have a “cleaning” method for HIV-positive sperm, in order to keep an HIV-negative woman safe when attempting pregnancy. Very interesting.

Back to ‘Pinas, Elvira was next, who I recognized to be my S. I encountered her before at the RITM, remember? She was the female face in this HIV documentary, as she told of the time when medical personnel in Bicol refused to treat her ailing child because they were both HIV-positive, even threatening to have them thrown in jail. Sadly, this caused the eventual demise of her child. But bouncing back, she is proud to be the not-so-stereotypical HIV-positive person, and is now a project coordinator with one of the NGOs.

A short description of Republic Act 8504, the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, made way for John, who worked for a call center, and was diagnosed in February of 2008 during a pre-employment medical exam for a job opportunity abroad. He was monogamous with his partner at the time – ergo, not my promiscuous type – but still was exposed to the virus.

And there it was. A guy sitting in front of a computer, surfing and typing. Ngarrr, okay, it was me. The B.I.T.C.H. was on TV. I think I spaced out recognizing myself on the screen. I was cold. I was feverish. I don’t know if it was because I was self-conscious, or it was just the meds. I don’t remember much, other than seeing how bad my posture was and hearing myself explain why I decided to start blogging and describing HIV as nandito na and napapag-usapan. You be the judge.

Positivism wasn’t part of the story, other than a few screen shots that I saw and some videos which were reminiscent of those we have on the e-mag. Darn. Maybe next time.

The plot thickened as they featured statement from the CBCP putting the kontra into contraception again, but thankfully ending with the proposed Reproductive Health Bill which is going through its legislative paces.

A little past midnight, the documentary ended with a reminder of the ABCDEs that can help keep one safe from the virus. Eeeehh memorize ko na yan! Hehe.

Was it just me, or did anyone notice how heavy a commercial load the show had for a late Sunday evening? Were companies actually willing to support this once taboo topic? That’s a good sign, right?

Anyways, other than the fact that it went way past my bedtime, and not because I was part of it, and not even because it seemed to give so much mileage to this blog, I gave the documentary four thumbs up. Yes, four thumbs, because I was cross-eyed with my drowsiness and medicinal high combined. Hehehe.

But seriously, although I would have really wanted it to really take the “positive” angle of HIV to its happiest maximum... and although I thought it was still too huge an issue to cramp into an hour... I thought it was PERFECTO!

Again, kudos to the people who worked on this. "World View Presents Think Positive!" was produced by GMA News and Public Affairs. Executive producer and writer, Jay Orense. Writer and researcher, Glenn Ala. Director and segment producer, Maey Bautista. Researcher, Marie Ann Saballegue. Uhm, is there any way we can get a copy of this? :-D

What did you think about it?


Thursday, April 09, 2009

World View: HIV

World View: Think PositiveReplacing the show Pinoy Meets World, GMA News and Public Affairs show World View premiered last March 1st, on the Sunday Night Box Office or SNBO time slot. This new monthly special documentary focuses on different global issues affecting Filipinos here and abroad. Last month’s pilot episode, entitled Si Barrack at Si Juan, examined how an administration under the first African-American US President may affect Filipinos worldwide.

For April, World View tackles a topic extremely close to my heart - HIV and AIDS - as World View presents Think Positive.

I’ve sort of been a part of it since late February, when I first met up with one of the episode’s researchers just to discuss the project and the possibilities. Not instantly open to being interviewed for the subject at hand, I was only there giving my insights. I had aired my concerns regarding previous documentaries done on the topic, and was reassured that this particular one would aim to be more informative, more comprehensive, and more accurate.

Eventually, I did end up giving an interview. I needed to put aside the timid and socially-inept me, and opted that the host of the episode herself, Vicky Morales, do my interview, based solely on my desire for her to be more than just a talking head and understand the issue better.

I think one thing that pushed me to get more involved was hearing that they had already gotten in touch with the so-called HIV support groups, which left me fearful that another one of their boohoo HIV life stories would just end up making headlines. I felt challenged to represent the rest of us who live, rather than suffer, with HIV.

During the course of the episode’s development, more people from my side of the fence came forward to get interviewed. I just helped establish the trust between the research group and us positive pozzies, while E took charge of wrangling up those of our pozzie friends to agree to get filmed.

As of latest, I’ve heard they also have Wanggo Gallaga on their roster, currently the most perfect poster boy for a more positive campaign against HIV. They were also trying to get in contact with the team, although I’m not sure how much they touched on it exactly.

As I’d last seen the research team back in mid-March, but still keeping in touch through mobile, e-mail and instant messaging, I honestly still have no clue as to how the episode will go in its final form.

A couple of friends of mine have seen primers about the show already on GMA, and one ushered me towards ManilaGayGuy who wrote a blog entry on the upcoming episode based on what he calls PR from a GMA contact.

So, in support of what I’ve done and in doing my own part, I might as well get you guys and gals on track to watching out for the documentary. I myself will be stocking up on sleep during these coming holidays as well, so I’ll be wide awake in time to watch it.

So this Easter Sunday, save some of that egg-hunting energy. Learn more about HIV and AIDS in the Philippines. Watch out as World View presents Think Positive on April 12th, Sunday night after Ful Haus, hosted by Vicky Morales.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tough Ten

ToughTenI’m not exactly sure how I got dragged into this, but John Stanley just tagged me to answer ten of their hottest and nakaka-kablog questions that a blogger can be asked. So, not being one with hands ever left speechless, here are my Tough Ten answers to their Tough Ten questions... in a The Buzz exclusive...

Tough Ten Question Number 10
Who is your least favorite blogger and why?

Hmm. The blogging world is extremely small, so I think it would be better for me not to say exactly who it is. As for why, that I can answer.

First, the way he blogs so highly of himself brings pagbubuhat-ng-sariling-bangko to a whole new level. As in ang habaaaaa ng hair. As in pwede na siyang kunin ni Lord. Fine, so maybe he is possibly just really that perfect, but I always believed perfection should be anything but self-professed.

Second, he is anything but true to himself. I know that by the way he contradicts himself, saying one thing about himself in one entry, and saying the exact opposite in the next. Things just don’t add up. It defeats the purpose of blogging as a medium of expressing one’s true self.

Third, reading him makes me want to whip out my red ballpen and edit him on the spot. Janina San Miguel level ito. I appreciate the attempt... pero di naman bawal mag-blog in Tagalog, diba?

I’m sorry for rambling on like it’s Tough Ten question number 1 already. I’ve ranted against this person to some of my online pals at one time or another, so they should know who and what I’m talking about. I confess, I do still visit this extremely irritating blog, but only because it reminds me that, like his blog, there are worse things in life. Teehee, bad me. I’m not called B.I.T.C.H. for nothing.

Tough Ten Question Number 9
If you can only read one blog, which one will it be?

Blog ni Inday? Hahaha. No, I’m kidding... Of course, my BFF’s blog... As in Blogger Friend Forever! Yessss, ikaw yun!

Tough Ten Question Number 8
Who do you think tells fabricated stories?

Are you really trying to piss me off? Or can you just reread my answer to number 10?

Tough Ten Question Number 7
If there's one blogger whom you haven't met and would like to meet, who would it be and why?

Hmm. Probably the blogger formerly known as Misterhubs. I’d just like to get an idea of what kind of person comes up with the stuff he does in his blog. Hehehe.

Tough Ten Question Number 6
What is one thing that you'd like to write about but cannot (due to real or perceived complications)?

This is such an easy question. The one thing I can’t write about as of the moment is who I am exactly. I’m talking about disclosure. For obvious reasons. But maybe eventually, it can and will happen. But then I’d have to change the title of this blog when that time comes, wouldn’t I? Geesh.

For now, I walk the very fine line between transparency and anonymity.

Tough Ten Question Number 5
Have you had sex with a fellow-blogger?

Hell no! I have not had sex with “a” fellow-blogger. Bwahaha.

Okay, fine. Yeses. Take note of the plurality.

Tough Ten Question Number 4
Have you had sex with your blog reader?

Hmm, that’s a complicated question. If the reader happened to be a blogger, does he fall under this question, or the previous one? Does someone who I had sex with prior to his reading this blog count as well?

Tough Ten Question Number 3
Who is the most narcissistic/self-absorbed blogger that you know?

Why... do... you... keep... getting... on... that... nerve? *Evil eyes* Just go back to question 10. And enough about him... please.

Tough Ten Question Number 2
Which blogger would you want to have sex with?

Anyone at all. Ano ba?! Magiging choosy pa ba ako?!

Hahaha, seriously... wholesome ako.
*B.I.T.C.H. has been struck by lightning*

Tough Ten Question Number 1
Based on how you know this blogger through his (or her) blog, who would you like to be in a serious relationship with?

Ano baaa?! Walang tuksuhan!
*B.I.T.C.H. stares at RubyPurple’s gorgeous lips... and shoves a whole jumbo siopao in... with paper and all*

Basta, definitely, it will be a “his”. Hahaha.

Are you guys happy now? The more important questions though are... Which one of you is Ruffa, which one is Kris, and which one is Boy?


Sunday, April 05, 2009

My Love Bus

My Love BusWhen Australian band Bachelor Girl came up with their debut hit Buses and Trains back in the 90s, I instantly fell in love with the song. With a chorus of lyrics that went...

So I walked under a bus
I got hit by a train
Keep falling in love
Which is kinda the same
I've sunk out at sea
Crashed my car, gone insane
And it felt so good
I want to do it again

... I just thought this was the perfect ode to describe the hopeless romantic that I can be at times. Inspired, both by the song and some things that have been going on in my life in the past months, I came up with my own pathetic attempt at a love rhyme. Here goes.

My Love Bus

Down a dusty old path, baring body and soul
Like a trek with no end, it had taken its toll

I got used to walking with no one at my side
When you turned 'round the corner and offered a ride

Stared into your lights down to each shiny hub
Felt my heart skip a beat and I knew it was love

Hesitant at first to take a hitch like a whore
Now I can't help but wish there’s still room for one more

Just when I got so used to your soft comfy seat
You just left me wondering where and when we'll next meet

Are you gonna reroute or splash mud to the shin
Honestly I'd rather you stop and say "Hop in"

You said you'd be coming this way again real soon
Are you gonna slow down or fly by with a vroom?

You know where to find me, I got nowhere to go
Trying not to expect and yet can’t help but hope

It's lonely being "me", I would rather be "us"
I'll still be waiting...
Waiting for my big Love Bus

No, I'm not in love with a bus, a bus driver nor a bus conductor. There's such a thing as a metaphor, 'ya know! Don't bother asking who or what exactly triggered this... please? Whether my Love Bus picks me up or just runs me over, my biggest consolation is that I'm happy to realize I'm still capable of loving. Just take my emo-ness as you see it. Thank you. Bow.

Lecheng pag-ibig 'to...


Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Need To Be Needy

The Needy PusitFor what’s been almost a year of knowing that I’m HIV positive, I’ve managed to convince myself that I still am capable of living a productive life. And though most of the other pozzies that I know continue living productively as well, I can’t deny the glaring few who I’ve met or heard of that just seem like they’re wallowing in Needy-Ville. Thus, I tend to reassess and question myself. Should I be needier because I’m HIV-positive?

Of the first few pusits I'd encountered, a couple of them did mention about the option of applying for disability from the Social Security System, should the need arise. I was honestly a bit distressed at the suggestion, wondering if that was inevitably where all HIV-positive people would end up – needing to file for disability. In retrospect, I just don’t think it’s one of the first things someone would want to hear upon finding out he is HIV-positive. It will just tend to paint such a grim picture of things to come – a grim picture that just isn’t necessarily the case.

And then there’s the so-called HIV support group that organizes videoke sessions, supposedly to give HIV-positives opportunities to bond. As is, it seems noble. But hearing that they give each person PhP 200.00 or 300.00 as transportation allowance, I just thought it was outrageous. That would be enough to get me to and from Pampanga. And considering that most would just be coming from around the metro, PhP 200.00 or 300.00 just sounded extreme – and a tad belittling. Not to mention a waste of their funds – money provided by external funding – that could be used for more worthy and productive causes than just videoke sessions. Am I wrong?

Okay, fine, maybe there are some HIV-positives that do need the money. But I was particularly pissed off to hear that the reason why Baby Nathan’s mom was never there every time I visited them at the RITM was because she needed to attend the videoke sessions – just so they didn’t miss out on the chance to get the allowance. Hmm. If you really wanted to help this family, maybe you should’ve just given them the money, right? Or maybe you could’ve been the ones to go visit them at the RITM, rather than have her leave her child and her husband for videoke sessions with you? Just a suggestion.

And then there was the time that I was trying to get Baby Nathan’s parents jobs. It would’ve been perfect because they could both be working in the metro, convenient for check-ups and med refills at the RITM, and instantly turning them into a double income family capable of supporting themselves. But then someone from the so-called HIV support groups advised them to apply for support from social welfare instead, which required them to go back to the province. Sure, I tried my best to help them while they waited for approval of the livelihood support. Apparently, whoever advised them to apply for it failed to take into account the fact that it could take more than a month for the support to get approval, leaving them void of any income to support their daily needs.

And even when the support from social welfare came through, I was a bit surprised that they were still asking for help from me. Apparently, they didn’t want to take from the livelihood fund to support their daily needs, as this might disappoint whoever advised them to apply for the support. Disappoint who? Why was this person still part of the equation? Wasn’t this money meant to provide them livelihood precisely in order to support their daily needs? Hmm.

I’ll admit that I did need to step back from helping them out, because the ultimate goal would be for them to become self-supporting. I just figured the best way to help them is to get them to help themselves. I just pray constantly that they’re doing okay.

And then it was during one of my kwentuhans with my psychology students that one of them mentioned how thinking about their interview with the so-called HIV support group made her weak. I wondered why. Apparently, they were being charged – yes, charged – PhP 500.00 for each pusit from the HIV-support group who participated in the interview. Wow, for just a couple of hours talking, that’s higher that what minimum wage earners make in a day.

Honestly, I was shocked. It made me weak, too. I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. These were students, for heaven’s sake. Was it really necessary to charge them for an interview? Isn’t the funding you’re getting enough? Should we not be thankful that these students are coming forward, eager to listen to our story? Isn’t awareness part of your advocacy? I just thought you could’ve taken this on as part of your advocacy.

So far, it seems most of this encouraged neediness is coming from one of the so-called HIV support groups. It makes me wonder if this was the reason why they were irked by some of us poz bloggers who were telling our not-so-tragic story. Hmm. And with their observation, that it is we – the allegedly less indigent – who have not been signing up and actively participating in their so-called HIV support group, could it be they themselves who are fostering the self-impression of being needy and underprivileged? Hmm.

So to answer my question, no, I need not be needy just because I am HIV-positive. Granted, I appreciate the medical support that I am getting, but I would like to think I’m giving back by continuing to be productive, and not being a burden on society. I refuse to be a kawawang pusit.