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.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Different Christmas

ParolYeah, yeah, everyone’s talking about it being Christmas. Technically, this isn’t the first Christmas I’m spending as someone living with HIV. It’s actually the second. Just the second. Although it’s still like before – glazed ham as our toka for Christmas dinner, Christmas eve with my mom’s side of the family, and no real plans Christmas day. But breaking it down, my Christmas this year has been... uhm, different. Quite, quite different.

Honestly, the Christmas spirit didn’t hit me this year. Being busy with work and the Power of You campaign of DepEd up to a week before Christmas, it wasn’t like before that we’d be buying gifts and checking off our Christmas list as early as November. One factor to that might be that all of us cousins are all grown up now, and Christmas no longer revolves too much around the gifts. This was also our first Christmas without my Ninang, who was there in ashes and in spirit, but I’m sure everyone felt the void she left.

While before, I used to really take time to send holiday greetings to my fuck buddies, this year, the only fubus I greeted didn’t even reach a handful. Granted, these were people who I used to play with and hadn’t gotten to the point of disclosing my status personally, but they were the ones who I felt were friends as well.

Aside from those few former fubus, Christmas greetings this year have revolved more around those who I took into my “positive” side of life. My ex-bf who I disclosed to. Shola, of course. The guy from the Think Positive documentary of GMA. My “kids”, those who I had helped either get tested or brought to RITM. Fellow bloggers, both pozzie and poz-friendly. My “kumare” who I haven’t seen in a long time. A new friend in leather. A guy who caressed my calves from Alabang to Ortigas. Some of my alphabet friends, L, O, E and My RITM angel, U. Jinjin and Odin. Kuya DepEd.

Of course, Papi had special privileges. I called him shortly past midnight just to greet him and get the scoop on how his Christmas was going. We were both at our respective family gatherings, so we made the most of whatever short conversation we could manage.

Before, especially during the times I was single and not yet HIV-positive, I would’ve honestly taken the time off from work to schedule meet ups, sex EBs and all those raunchy things. You know how we all need to warm up those cold December nights... and days. Or is it just me? Anyhoo, I honestly did get a couple of indecent proposals this year from some old buddies, but I had every excuse in the book. Busy, out of town, sick, tired. Of course, knowing Papi is there is the biggest thing that keeps me on the right track. I know... schmuck.

But you know what, I wasn’t exactly staying home and sulking. On Christmas day, I took a trip to visit my sister at her new place. She didn’t show up at our family thing Christmas eve, which really wasn’t a surprise. So I went to her instead to bring all her gifts. I hung out with her for several hours, watching a marathon of Will and Grace, wrestling with her dog, and feasting on the macaroni and cheese she prepared. I actually thought I could tell her about my HIV thing, but decided against complicating her new life minus her husband... long story.

Yesterday, the 26th, wasn’t dull either. Noting that most of the pozzie get-togethers happen in the south, some of us RITM pozzies from the north thought of organizing something of our own.

With others not being able to make it, there were technically just three of us from the north. GreenFrog, who I met for the first time during the RITM Christmas party, one of my “kids” who I actually introduced to the RITM on the day of the Christmas party, and myself. The three of us, and another newbie who I’ll be taking to the RITM this week, met up early in the afternoon to catch a screening of Avatar. I finally, finally, finally got to watch it, and in 3D at that. Allow it to be a big deal for me because I think the last movie I watched was Kimmy Dora. Argh.

After the movie, we had some coffee while waiting for some guests from the south. I know, right? One word: kaladkarin. Hehehe. Two of them showed up, both bloggers, LuckyTrese and Positive’sStory. LuckyTrese, I’d met before, but it was my first time meeting Positive’sStory. So the six of us went for dinner, in the midst of which GreenFrog got a text message that one other guy was going to show up. And show up he did.

And then there were seven. Not exactly seven dwarves. Having seven people sharing such different HIV stories is a big thing. I think it helped my newbie to be exposed to others like him as he was about to embark on his own HIV journey. I don’t think there was any drama at all, more laughing actually, laughing at everything from rashes and Avatar characters, to McDonalds, Manuela and Marcella. Oi.

After dinner, the last guy who made it needed to leave for work. The six of us left decided to hang out some more, as one by one our ARV schedules elapsed. Most of us had a few drinks... okay fine I had more than the others... it ain’t called a bottomless margarita for nothing! By around 1 in the morning – I know! – it was time to go. Actually, I didn’t think I could drink another drop, so it was really time to go.

Four of them shared a cab to their destinations, while GreenFrog and I got left behind, mostly because we didn’t live very far away from where we were. I was honestly a bit tipsy, thanks to both the ARVs and those margaritas. GreenFrog is actually my new Papi-approved BFF, so he thought he owed it to Papi to take me home. Argh. Sweet.

You all know I’m a big boy and have never gotten drunk enough not to be able to handle myself, so I compromised, had him take me halfway home, at which point I assured him I was okay. So we ended up turning around as I took him back out to the main road and saw him off. Bwehehe.

It was hilariously a lot of unnecessary walking, but it was nice as we evaluated the evening that just passed. Seven pusits. Four bloggers. North, east and south represented. We were happy with how it turned out. Positive in all senses of the word. This is one night that will not be the last. Hopefully, there’ll be even more of us next time. Until then.

Christmas 2009 is over. It’s different. It’s positively different. And it’s all good.


Friday, December 25, 2009


It's not easy getting up in the chilly mornings.

There are so many things to do.

My back just hurts.

I have a cold.

I'm tired.

Hehehe, okay fine. I'm gonna stop ranting. Chika lang! Drama lang yun.

Although all of the above are true, I know there is much to be thankful for. I'm alive, I'm healthy (well sort of, hehe), I'm happy, I love and am loved. And maybe the only thing I could wish for is for everyone out there to realize the things in their lives they can be thankful for.

Personally, I'm thankful for everyone who has become a gift to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And Merry Christmas to everyone as well. :-D


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beating Monday Blues

MondayBluesYesterday was a Monday. We all know how Mondays are. The first day of the week. A battle to recover from the weekend that just passed. An attempt to jumpstart the week ahead. This Monday didn’t seem any different. The cold December air made things worse. Morning showers are much harder to get into these days, aren’t they? I left the house realizing too late that I’d forgotten the bracelet and the ring that I wear every single day. The first time it’s ever happened since I got them. That was just not a good sign of things to come.

Morning rush hour was worse than usual. Must be a Christmas thing. Of course, since I’ve been daring to ride buses to work for some time now, I experienced every minute and inch of that traffic. My only consolation would’ve been the cool weather. But midway during the trip, I started cursing the cool weather when I felt the need to pee and had to hold it in until I got to the office. Good thing I made it. I got to work half an hour later than usual.

Work was not any better. It was a slow day, and everyone seemed like they were in vacation mode already. And sniffing and snorting my way through the day didn’t help either. The sniffles that I brought back from Cebu still haven’t gone away totally yet. Argh.

At about 5:00 pm, I got a text from a friend in the neighboring office asking if we could leave together. He’s not exactly a new friend, but an unexpected one. He actually heard that I was HIV-positive and approached me one day with much curiosity, and we’ve been close ever since. Everyone else seems to think that we clicked because something romantic is going on between us, which just isn’t the case. And today, since I’d been wanting to go check out a mall that was on his route home, I agreed to his proposition.

We were chatting in the jeep the whole way to the mall. There, we leafed through the huge collection of bootlegged DVDs – shh, don’t tell the OMB – and we ended up buying a couple of movies each. From there we headed out ready to go our separate ways. We were walking to where we were going to get separate rides, when he asked me if I was in a hurry. He wanted to buy something at the grocery and asked me to go with him for another few minutes.

We were walking to the entrance of the grocery when I spotted someone I thought I knew. This guy happened to be walking beside me to the door. I actually wasn’t 100% sure it was him, but I don’t know what got into me. I put my hand around his shoulder, which prompted him to look at me. He smiled, not because he recognized me, but because of the gesture. Seeing his face, I was a bit more convinced he was the guy, but I was quiet, trying to recall his name. It came to me quickly, just as the guard was about to inspect my bag, “Ikaw si _____, diba?” Silence.

Yes,” was the next thing I heard. It was clear he was wondering why I knew him. “Ako si _____,” I said, reminding him who I was, and offering a handshake with it. A sigh of relief. We’d finally met. We’d finally, finally met.

This guy is actually a fellow pozzie who I’ve been chatting with for over a year already I think. We’re linked on Facebook and other places, so we did have some idea of what the other looked like. Oh I’ve even seen him on webcam... nope I just watched him sleep when he forgot to turn his cam off.

We’ve probably talked about everything under the sun already, from family to poz life, and from love to sex. He mostly likes to tease me about my YM id. And I tease back. Sexually, we would be a match. But I see him more as a little brother. He’s a couple of years older than I am, but looks-wise, he could pass as someone a decade younger. Amazing, right?

What really prompts me to see him as a little brother is his stature. He’s a petite guy. Petite, but all man. He’s always said he’s a shy and quiet guy, but talking with him, his maturity shows and his huge heart shines through his mysterious exterior. I always knew we would get along well.

We had actually just been chatting earlier in the day, talking about how we should finally meet for the first time, before he left the country end of the month. Of course he didn’t let the chance pas to tease me again about my YM id. He dared me to meet up. No reason why we shouldn’t meet. We just never thought it would happen so quickly and so unexpectedly.

It was a really quick meet mostly because it wasn’t really planned. But the quickie was enough to keep me smiling all the way home. I found it hilarious how the heavens work sometimes. What if my friend from the office didn’t suggest we leave together? What if we got there a minute earlier or a minute later? What if I didn’t accompany him to the grocery? What if I brushed the guy off as just a look-alike? What if I didn’t muster up the guts to put my arm around him? What if I chickened out of talking to the guy? What if the world wasn’t that small? What if, what if, what if?

The right time, the right place. It was all really just fate. Destiny. Serendipity. A hell of a stroke of luck. I’ve mushed myself all over him already yesterday via text messages, telling him how happy I was that we’d finally met, and how everything was meant to be, and how absolutely adorable he really is. I know, right? I’m a schmuck. But really, if you saw my face the whole ride home, you’d know it really made my day. Hay... ain’t Mondays and life just grand?


Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Power of Cebu

It’s over.

The Cebu leg of the Power of You campaign organized by DepEd, commenced last week. I just got back to Manila Thursday afternoon, and I’m honestly a bit pooped. But it was all worth it. The fulfillment I got supporting the advocacy was just amazing.

Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Actually, I almost didn’t make it to Cebu. Work wouldn’t allow me to take a leave for it. But I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass. Honestly, I was willing to go AWOL if I needed to. I thought the cause would merit it. Luckily, a compromise was struck, and I was off to Cebu as planned Monday morning, and in exchange, I’d fly back earlier than expected and report to work before the week ended. Better than nothing, right?

So as early as 7:00 am Monday, E and I had met at the airport, my first time at the NAIA Centennial Terminal 2. I sat with E through breakfast at the canteen, after which we met up with the DepEd guys and gals to check-in together, so they could use our available check-in luggage weight for the other equipment and supplies for the seminar. After a couple of hours of feigning elitism surfing on our laptops, it was boarding time.

We were taking the 9:35 am Philippine Airlines flight to Cebu. I was a bit bummed to be seated at the aisle, and worse, next to strangers. But hey, who am I to be choosy? The three DepEd ladies were seated in the row in front of me, while E and the two DepEd guys were in the row behind. E had warned that he was a nervous wreck when it came to heights and flying, so I couldn’t help but turn to see his reaction during takeoff and landing, as well as every time we hit some turbulence on the flight. It was refreshing to see someone with a worse fear of heights than I do. Hehe.

But of course, we got to Cebu safe and sound. It was the first time in Cebu for both E and I. The trip from the airport to the hotel left us both realizing that Cebu was a lot like Metro Manila. There were rotondas like the one in Tomas Morato, rows of shops like those in Manila, streetscapes like those in Marikina, overpasses like those in San Juan, and of course traffic that is characteristically Metro Manila. Cebu was very much like Metro Manila, but a tad cleaner.

The hotel was a quaint little building along the country’s oldest street in downtown Cebu, which would serve as both lodging and conference venue for us and the participants. We checked in, and this early, a day before the conference itself started, E made it clear that the stay in Cebu would be unlike that in Subic. Subic was more of my style, where we retired to our room early and spent a great part of our spare time in the hotel. Cebu was to be more of his style, late nights out and all... but that’s a whole other story. More about that another time.

The next day, Tuesday, was the official start of the conference. And the afternoon was ours, for the sensitization exercise and our testimonials in front of the assembly. Kuya DepEd was super apologetic upon reading my Subic entry about how his introduction pre-empted our disclosure. Hehehe. But of course, we were really okay with how it went in Subic. But this time, in Cebu, he did heed my request to keep the suspense of our HIV statuses until the appropriate chapters of our stories.

Although I told my story the same way and used the same visual cues to accompany it, my spiel honestly went smoother two weeks ago in Subic. In Cebu, I was panicking, sweating bullets, and stuttering like it was no one’s business. That’s my normal, actually. The confidence I had in Subic was the fluke. But nevertheless, I got through it.

After, I passed the microphone on to E for his story, after which we sat up front with the doctor for the open forum. I found the questions in Cebu to be actually quite tame compared to those in Subic. More of them actually were addressed to the doctor. But the one thing I noticed was that I could not dodge the bullet of being asked how my family took the news of my being HIV positive. It’s inevitable to be one of the first things one would wonder about. So again, I explained how it’s still a sensitive issue for me, and how Cebu is finding out my HIV status even before my family.

The DepEd people have been getting the flak from the Catholic Church for discussing contraception, so E and I censored ourselves a bit in that field. We barely mentioned “condoms”, and just grazed through with “protection” and “safe sex” instead, focusing more on abstinence for prevention. Very unlike in Subic, where I proudly proclaimed that I always have condoms in tow just in case. So sue me, I was just being honest.

Fortunately, there weren’t any Nazis in the crowd this time. The worst reactions probably included suggestions to do devotions to Father Pio and Father Suarez, getting asked whether we knew if we were going to heaven if we died right that moment, and being told how HIV made my achievements seem like such a waste. Hmm. Granted, they were all said in a nice way and in good faith I believe, but there was no proper way to answer comments like that. So we just ended up smiling and thanking them for the prayovers.

The kids meanwhile were extremely open-minded and receptive. Just after our testimonials, we had already gotten hugs from a couple of the girls before the session wrapped up. We also spent time with them during the socials one evening, where I dared dance Nobody as a consequence to their game. Argh. And more than a handful of them even visited us in our room Wednesday night to chat with us and Kuya DepEd, where it was once again apparent that E had charmed his way into the hearts of some of the kids. Two words: puppy love. Hehe. Three more words: menor de edad. Hehehe.

Really, Cebu was a great experience and a great opportunity. I mean the teams from DepEd and UNICEF could’ve well gone with the usual pusits from the usual NGOs, but our Kuya in DepEd took a chance on E and I just based on what they knew about us from our blogs. Granted, ours were not the usual pusit stories and dispositions, but that didn’t mean we would not try to get our intended message across.

I know the effort seems like such a small drop in the ocean, but knowing that these are kids – the future – and that they will be sharing their experiences with their peers, we do believe the advocacy will make bigger and farther waves and ripples. If I die now, no matter where I end up, I can confidently say I’ve done some good for future generations. Just allow me to be proud of that.

Right now, the trainings are over, but after just two weeks spent with them, everyone from DepEd has become like a family to us... Oi, you won’t believe how protective they’ve been of us. Miss Thelma, Miss Mel, Miss Salie, Miss Flora, Sir Junel, Sir Joseph, Sir Noli, and of course, Sir Edward, who was the man behind our being a part of the Power of You training. Again, we thank you for the huge opportunity, and whether you like it or not, we’ll see you again soon. Hehehe.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Nasty Nazi

Nasty NaziIt’s been days since getting home from Subic after the Training of Implementers on the Power of You Campaign for HIV/STI Prevention. But still I’m reeling.

Although the whole thing was better than what E and I expected and overall, a very successful event and a positive experience for both E and I, it was far from perfect. There still are some things that I need to get off my chest.

During the first day of the seminar, December 1st, we were able to witness as one school official claimed quotes from the Holy Bible saying how Adam and Eve were punished by God because they engaged in premarital sex and how HIV came about because Cain was a bad son who copulated with different animals. Hmm.

I know I’m no Bible fanatic, but think about it. Was it not something about an apple that led Adam and Eve into temptation? And who exactly was supposed to wed Adam to Eve if they were the only two people around? And Cain sexing it up with animals... hmm, that’s a new one. Thankfully, neither E nor I needed to speak up, for it was the other school officials who refuted her claims, saying nowhere in the Bible is any of that said.

But the little old lady wasn’t done. She proudly expressed her disgust at the immorality of society today, leading her to prohibit holding of hands in her school, be it between opposite or same sexes, as well as campaign against homosexuality among students and faculty. Hmm. E seemed to think it’s a classic case of an old dog and new tricks. Okay, from this point on we shall call her Nazi lady.

Luckily, we hardly heard a peep from Nazi lady after her outburst that first day. She didn’t even interrogate us about our immorality or stone us, even after E and I told our life stories. I was surprised actually. She was reduced to giving us mean looks and sneers that might be her way of telling us, “You got what you deserved”. Deadma na lang. So was this the end of the Nazi lady chapter? Hell, hell, hell no.

We were eating a late breakfast on the third day when we saw Nazi lady come out of the conference hall. Honestly, I kept my head down, not wanting to show any interest in her, nor daring to make eye contact with such an omnipotent being. We just were not worthy.

Of course, if anything can go against the plan, it will. E was whimpering beside me, as he noticed her approaching us from across the room. I thought he was kidding, but when I looked up, there she was, asking if she could join us. Like we had a choice, right? Hail, your highness. So, fine. We let her.

If I remember right, she started off telling us that she had allegedly been speaking with the student leaders from her school, and their reactions were that they were pleased to realize that we were okay in spite of the virus. Too pleased, in fact, that she was concerned that it would create complacency around the risk of contracting HIV. As in, “Why should we (her students) be so concerned about HIV if they (E and I) are doing alright with it?” Hmm.

We tried hard to be nice. First of all, I seriously doubt the veracity of her allegations. I really think she once again misinterpreted what her students were expressing to her. It pissed us off that she obviously wasn’t paying attention to the synthesis of that first day, which explained the objective of our telling our stories.

My story was an extreme polar opposite to E’s plight with drugs, dropping out of school, vices and prostitution. I was the typical kid who studied in a Catholic primary school, an enviable science high school and a prestigious university. The objective was to show that whatever background one comes from one can still be put at risk of HIV. Just like it doesn’t know gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and social status, HIV has no respect for educational attainment. A risk is a risk.

We explained that to her... again... and really, my thoughts were that she really underestimated the intelligence of her students. These are student leaders, mind you. They aren't stupid. And kids these days deal with more things that we or she did in our time.

Then she wanted to know whether we still were living the same lifestyle even after HIV. For my case, I knew what she was referring to. Homosexuality. But E was smart to ask what she meant by “lifestyle”. She elaborated. Homosexuality, drugs and prostitution. The drugs and prostitution part, I never dealt with, and I know E has passed that phase. But the homosexuality part, I chose to speak for myself. Yes, of course, I still practice homosexuality.

She countered, “Then what’s the purpose of this seminar if you still go on with that lifestyle?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I think I had DUH! written on my forehead. I explained that I am a homosexual, and having HIV doesn’t mean that I should go straight or stop having sex. E added how HIV is not a homosexual thing, and even straight sero-discordant couples we know can still have sex with the proper precautions.

Was she done? Hell no. She clearly was not digesting what we were saying. As she started to leave, she gave us the consolation of hearing that she did think that it was admirable how positive we still were despite our conditions, but she made clear that she hoped we had repented, and that “she did not consider us heroes”. Wow. And E and I were supposed to be the judgmental and self-righteous ones respectively?

Was I offended? Hell, no. We were not there to be patronized or made heroes. Ours was, after all, according to the programme, a “testimonial”. And that’s just what we did. What bothers us is how this Nazi lady is going to teach students about HIV. And hearing her repeat later on at the assembly that she would still campaign against homosexuality in her campus told us exactly how she was going to. Nazi style.

With all that had been said, E and I kept as cool as could be. We did tell the organizers about what happened, and they decided against letting us speak for ourselves to make sure things didn’t get personal. Instead, they took it upon themselves to reiterate that it was an HIV prevention seminar, and not an issue about homosexuality. I hope Nazi ears were listening, and Nazi minds understanding.

HIV is a disease that can affect everyone. Campaigning against homosexuality won’t help. Even if all her students were straight, HIV would still be a threat. Campaigning against pre-marital sex won’t help. Even if all her students were already married to one another, HIV would still be a threat. Banning holding hands won’t help either. Even if you cut off everyone’s hands on campus, HIV would still be a threat.

This type of martial rule does nothing but encourage rebellion. Risks do not only exist within the four walls of a school and do not end with the ringing of the school bell at the end of the day. They abound everywhere and every minute. Nazi lady is really not that omnipotent to be lurking behind each student their whole life, is she?

The title of the course is The Power of You. It is not the power of Nazi lady. It is not the power of B.I.T.C.H. and E. It is the power each one has over his or her life. It is the power in every one of us. And that explains the objective precisely. We are not here to make absolute rules to do this and not do that. We are here to empower the youth of today with the knowledge and skills to enable them to make the right decisions for themselves – about the risks of HIV and life in general – and live by whatever decisions they make. And that is The Power of You.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Our Power of You

Subic. It’s December 2, the crack of dawn right now. We travelled three hours by bus from Manila Monday night to be here in time for yesterday, the first day of an HIV Awareness campaign training thing for school officials and student leaders, organized by the Department of Education with the support of UNICEF. E is sound asleep in the bed next to mine, while I’m sitting up in bed right now... blogging. Freaky, huh? Yes, E, gising na si lola. Hahaha.

Yesterday was just the first of three days, but it was so overwhelming... so much so that I was too speechless to blog last night, but at this break of dawn everything’s coming back to me and I don’t even know where to start telling you about it.

Basically this all started way back in April when they aired the interview I granted to GMA’s World View on HIV. Yep, the one where some of you watched the back of my head talking. Mr. DepEd just happened to be watching, and contacted my through the blog after that. Little did he know that he’d be having a project like this dealing with HIV.

The DepEd and UNICEF came up with Power Of You, a youth-targeted interactive video about HIV and STIs. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure thing, where users are immersed in the lives of fellow youths and asked to make choices in life surrounding the risk of HIV. And they gathered school officials and student leaders from Luzon here in Subic this week to train them in the usage of the video and how to get the messages across to other kids. Enter E and I.

Mainly, our role was to be resource persons for the sensitization and testimonial part of the program. We were to give a tangible face to HIV. And knowing what kind of a face needed to be given to HIV, we were up to the challenge.

Okay fine, we were up to the challenge until just before our part. But after a morning filled with the prospect of a hundred unfamiliar faces staring at me and judging me, not knowing how things will turn out, my innate stage fright kicking in, and one hell of a biblical debate that crucified us sinners which left E brimming with feist... well, needless to say, I was shaking in my boots and preparing to sweat bullets.

Kuya DepEd Introduced E and I, and actually prematurely gave away that we were indeed HIV positive. I had had it worked into my presentation to give as much shock value as possible, but hell, it’d be too late to back down now.

Basically, E and I were on the opposite ends of the spectrum. He was pasaway boy, who lived a pasaway life that led to HIV. I was geeky boy who lived an almost ideal life that still led to HIV. So we were opposite ends of the spectrum that met in the middle. Point be told, HIV is everyone’s concern.

I breezed through my life story unexpectedly easily actually. I’m the type of person who is terrified to stand before a crowd, but once I get going, I take on a whole new tougher me. I was lucky to have gotten to that phase. I stood there proudly sharing my wares of where I studied and what I accomplished, but hopefully showed how I humbly accepted and coped with being HIV positive.

E followed with his life story. And though his life story involved such shocking times as smoking at age 10, drugs and prostitution, he just had to flash his pearly whites – his teeth, not his briefs – to win the crowd over.

Really, I think the biggest shocker for the audience was that for most of them, they would not have fathomed ever meeting anyone who had HIV in person, let alone two in a day, or in their lifetimes. And with an open forum to follow, we were prepared – or more like we needed to be prepared – to handle these curious young ones and young once.

The questions thrown to us were a spectrum in themselves, from everything from treatment, discrimination, life changes to love lives and sex lives. As usual, I think we painted the kind of HIV positive picture we wanted... a positive one. The liberty at which the students and even the school officials expressed how they “commended”, “congratulated”, “admired” and were “inspired by” us was every bit of flattering, touching and overwhelming. If I’m not mistaken, someone actually shed a tear listening to our unexpectedly happy stories.

People came up to us after to shake our hands, ask for contact details, and even have pictures taken with us... I know, right?! Good luck to us with how far those pictures will go, hahaha. I mean we weren’t celebrities or anything. But neither was this the venue to show how paranoid someone with HIV could be. We were here to empower the positives and enlighten the negatives. Roar!

But it was still just all so overwhelming. This is technically my first major “coming out” experience to date, and believe me, I was prepared for the worst. I was surprised some biblical lady didn’t take a stone from her bag to have a swing at us with. So as a first, this was the best it could ever get. And I’m surprised to hear myself saying... coming out ain’t so bad after all.

So is the title “Back In The Closet” nearing the end of its useful life? Well not quite. Not until I muster up the guts to tell my family. But this is a good step forward, right?

So on behalf of E, I thank the participants for opening their ears and minds to our stories. We hope we got our message across. Yep, even we have and need our “Power Of You”. To the guys and gals of DepEd and UNICEF, thank you, thank you, thank you for this opportunity... and see you again later for more. Hehehe.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day

It's December 1, 2009. Today is World AIDS Day. No real celebration for me. I'm here with E in Subic. Nope, it's not a vacay. We're here for a seminar organized by the Department of Education that will work towards the integration of an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign into school curricula. We're here to share our stories with some students and school officials... I know... Yikes. Wish us luck!

For now, happy World AIDS Day!