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.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You’ve Got AIDS!

You've Got AIDS!You can only imagine how hard it is to be told "You have AIDS". I don't think you'll know how you would react just until it happens to you. I myself couldn't imagine it... at least until it happened. Well, sort of. I wasn't told that I had AIDS, just that I had HIV. I don’t know if that's a big diff, though.

But okay, that’s settled. It is hard to be on the receiving end of a positive result. But how hard is it to tell someone he or she’s got AIDS? Is it easier? Is it harder? Hmmm.

Personally, I’d rather be on the receiving end of tragic news. I just don’t think I’m nurturing or sane enough to handle someone else’s depression, drama, regret, fury, fear, paranoia, and whatever else they may have. Not on a regular basis at least.

So I applaud the people who get to do the loathsome job of telling someone, “Hey, you’ve got AIDS!”

Only heaven knows if there’s any particularly good or effective way to break that kind of news. But I got one idea from The Family Guy animated series to do it. Take a look.



Dr. Hartman: I don't know how to tell you this, Mr. Devanney, so I'll let these guys do it.

Enter, Peter Griffin and the Barbershop Quartet

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

You have AIDS! (Yes, you have AIDS)
I hate to tell you, boy
that you have AIDS! (You got the AIDS)

You may have caught it
When you stuck that filthy needle in here
Or maybe all that unprotected sex put you here
It isn't clear...

But what we're certain of is...
You have AIDS! (Yes, you have AIDS)
Not HIV, but full-blown AIDS!

Be sure that you see...
That this is not HIV

But full-blown AIDS!
Not HIV, but really...
full-blown AIDS!

I'm sorry, I wish it was something less serious
But it's AIDS
You've got the AIDS!


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Okay, fine, so maybe that wasn’t the best idea. But you gotta admit, it would’ve been one hell of a show! But for now, when it comes to telling someone he’s got AIDS... I’ll just leave that to the experts.


Post-Script:
On a more serious note, of course, these days, AIDS and HIV aren't that much different. Not everyone who's been put under the AIDS list is on his or her deathbed. They can always recover and do better than the HIV-and-not-AIDS ones, and sometimes be even healthier than people who don't even have HIV! Yep, life can go on... for everyone! :-)

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Much

Too MuchNow, work is no question. I do need to make a living. So around half the hours of five days of every week is dedicated to work, inclusive of lunch breaks and daily commutes. That leaves 12 hours each from Mondays to Fridays, plus entire weekends to do everything else.

It may sound like enough time, but I’ve come to realize it’s not. Right now, I’ll be humble enough to say that I'm taking on... too much.

This entire week has been heavy. It started Sunday night, when I had to go out late to meet a pozzie friend. He was to hand over pasalubongs for BFF and myself, as he had gone abroad recently. It sounded simple enough. I left the house around 9:30 pm, unusual, because I’d usually already be in bed or at least in my room by that time.

But considering it wasn’t often that he was in the Metro, I gave the proposal a nod. We met at a little coffee shop, and he treated me to some coffee. And we went on, and on, and on. Before we knew it, it was almost midnight. The load of a busy weekend, the going past my bedtime, my Efavirenz, and thoughts of the coming Monday were heavily creeping in.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I seriously had a great time hanging out, dishing out the dirt, catching up, and getting cruised by the late night boys, but my body clock could not tick for much long. So he headed off, as I battled my way back home. Not even the boys in the dark who were checking me out could stop me, seriously. It was that bad. So with that, it was going to be a sleepy start to the week.

Monday. Work as usual. Usual, until I was reminded that one of my poz kiddos, ImNotDyingImLiving, was scheduled to leave the next day. So BFF and I got planning to at least take him out to dinner one last time before he left. It was going to be another long day. But I wasn’t going to let the last chance to see him pass.

BFF and I showed up at his place, where my favorite doctor-advocate showed up with our Yoga for Life yogi followed. It was a perfectly tight little group. We had dinner, after which we strolled around cruising the local hot boys. Hmm, I seem to be doing a lot of cruising lately. Must be the weather. And with that, sans any boohoo moments, we hugged ImNotDyingImLiving goodbye one last time and wished him care and luck on his trip. Sigh. One less pozzie in the Philippines? Sort of.

Hehe. BFF and I headed home together, to my place actually, so he could get his pasalubong. More catching up, plus a bit of cruising, and I took him out to the highway where he could catch a cab. A big hug, and I was off, home and into bed.

Okay, it was a Monday and I already owed two fractions-of-a-day’s worth of sleep. So Tuesday night, I made sure I slept early. Or earlier rather. Still only got seven hours of sleep.

Wednesday, of course, was Yoga for Life day. I was running late, literally running, so I was heaving to begin with. Add to that an extremely intense yoga session. Hell, almost every inch of my shirt was dripping wet. It was a good workout, but a real “work” out. Whew. Five of us had dinner after, which meant another late night out. I think I got home just before 11:00 pm, and with a cool down and a cold shower, I must’ve been asleep by midnight. Again, I got less than my forty winks.

Thursday, I made sure I went straight home. I was in bed by 10:00 pm. Ugh, my first complete 8 hours of sleep for the week. I swear, I was sleeping till the very last minute before my alarm woke me up. It was gooooooooood. But I could use more rest.

And throughout the week, tiring as it already was, the pending weekend was already haunting me. Saturday was to be saturated day. Running buddy was calling for an early run. Grocery with mom mid-morning. Yoga for Life in the afternoon. A foursome bloggers birthday bash of ToiletThoughts, OdinHood, WanderingCommuter and ClosetGeek in the evening. And another dinner invite to be one half of a pair of dates of my favorite doctor-advocate. Oh, and a last minute addition, a family lunch thing. Hoooooo-kay.

I could actually do everything. Really, I could. But geez, this was just not a good week to be dumped with so much. There is actually such a thing as too much. And this... this was just too much.

So I decided to let some things go. I begged off from running... I’d be too drained too early in the morning. Grocery can wait. The rest, I either want or need to do. The family lunch would be the last chance I’ll get to see my uncle and his family for a while. Of course, I want to Yoga for Life... I’m getting used to having it twice a week already.

The evening is surely booked. I want to do the birthday bash, because they’re all my friends, and it’s not often that ClosetGeek is in town. I want to do the dinner, too, because I’m sure I’ll get a hug there. Haha. Though I still have to figure out how I’ll be in both places at once. Geez!

So there. It was just too much. It ain’t the HIV. Not at all. It’s just me managing my priorities. It’s just me making sure of what exactly I can do, I want to do and I need to do. It’s just me being human. It’s just me knowing when to say it’s too much.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Trust

Despite my early morning jog being called off last minute, I still had a full Saturday planned out. It was really a mishmash of stuff that got thrown into a 24-hour period, so I really wasn’t sure how it could all get sewn together into a sensible story.

But I can always try. Bear with me.

I needed to convince myself to do another morning run. I had all the excuses. I was lazy, I was sore, I’d be tired so early, I wanted to save energy for yoga, etcetera, etcetera. But fine, I’ll do it. Up at 4:30 am Saturday, I awoke to a text from running buddy calling the run off. I was neither happy, nor bummed. Deadma lang. So I had breakfast, and back to bed I went. Thus, I worked in 9 hours of sleep. Ah loved et!

Next on the menu was family bonding. Needed to go to the grocery with mom and run some errands. No biggie, nothing unusual. Was back home within just an hour. Had lunch, and had a few minutes of food coma, and then needed to get back on my feet and prepare to leave again. It was yoga time.

I couldn’t miss yoga. I had a Yoga for Life virgin coming in to join us. Plus Basyang already got in the way of our Wednesday yoga, and I was already craving for it. So off I went, bussing to Makati in the noon traffic and heat. I got there half an hour early, but just a few minutes after my guest, so it was perfect.

It was again a tight group, all familiar faces. It started out with the usual. Maybe what was most unusual was that it was a noticeably light, less strenuous and lower impact yoga session. But then two words threw my complacency into the air. Two words simple enough on their own, but when put together made my jaw drop. Head... Stand... Headstand.

Headstand?! Oh my gosh… We were going to do a headstand today?! I’ve never done a headstand before. I don’t even think they teach that in Kamasutra! I’ll be honest, I was scared. But we were assured that we were to be guided and assisted one at a time. But still... gulp.

So one by one, starting with the most yoga-experienced, our yogi got us into headstands. I was getting more nervous as my turn approached. Four others did it before me, and did it successfully at that. So I had the chance to be the pooper… but I felt dared and challenged. Fine. Let’s do this.

Propped on my hands and elbows, ass up in the air and seeing the rest of the room upside down, I was given three counts to boost my feet off the floor and up onto the wall. One… two… three… and caution was thrown into the air. Next thing I felt was our yogi catching and assisting my legs till they were straight on the wall. I did it! I did it! I would’ve given myself a round of applause if I could!

I was only there less than a minute, but already I could feel all the blood rushing to my head. I was then told to roll out of the headstand when I was ready. What?! I’m here already! I’m not budging! It would be a challenge anew to get out of the headstand. But fine, I would have gravity on my side this time, right? So down I went. It was less of an effort than getting into it, and easier than I expected.

I needed to ask myself. Did I really do it? I sat stunned for a few minutes, until someone from across the room gave me a thumbs-up, asking if I was okay. I smiled back and nodded. I did it. I really did it. Next thing I knew, I was picturing my room in my head, thinking against which wall I could do headstands. Whoa! And I wanted to do more of it?! Hahaha!

That was a yoga session to be remembered. And that headstand was worth more than the minute I was in it. It was empowering. It was liberating. I cannot thank our yogi enough.

It was almost 4pm when I left Makati. Where to? Another date. Same guy I was with at the movies last weekend, so it wasn’t just any eyeball. I headed home to dump my stuff and freshen up. Within a few minutes of getting home, rain started to pour. Was I lucky to get home in time? Or have I jinxed my night out? Argh.

Really, it was raining enough to activate the laze in anyone. But I had made a promise. I promised we’d hang out at his place. It was a promise that I was set on keeping. So I just sent a text message asking for some leeway to wait for the rain to hold up slightly. He was fine with it. After a good fifteen minutes or so, I charged out. In a cab and armed with some instructions with which to direct the driver on where to go, I crossed my fingers hoping that we don’t get lost.

I was lucky enough to get a good driver, who was slightly familiar with the area and didn’t take advantage of my not knowing. I let my don’t-look-lost fa├žade down, and we worked together to find the place. Success. At least I’ll know how to get there next time.

My date led me in, and plopped me down onto his bed. We watched TV and talked, wrapped in a blanket and each other’s arms the whole time. After four hours, I was tired, sleepy, and drugged, and said I had to go... Okay fine, rewinding, we did get a bit frisky within some of those four hours. It was not anything we both weren’t into.

So from there, we freshened up and left. We drove-thru on the way for a light midnight snack. He dropped me off where I could get a ride. I bid goodbye... without a hug or a kiss because of his stand against PDA... hahaha.

As much as I’d like to say that my trip home was uneventful, it wasn’t. It’s not every day that someone makes a pass at me and strikes up a conversation on my walk home. Argh. Small talk is hard enough for me, let alone with a stranger. Good thing he was a pretty decent guy… decent enough to say I didn’t really have to tell him my real age when I could pass for someone in his mid-20s. Hehehe. Talk about a last minute ego boost.

So, as you can see, I had another packed Saturday. It seemed like I was just all over the place, until I watched Nim’s Island on cable today. It was my first time watching it, and I enjoyed the story. Very feel good. But there was one particular line that caught my attention...

Trust is the secret to adventure.

Indeed, trust was huge for me this weekend. Trust in fate. Trust in my instinct. Trust in our yogi. Trust in my body. Trust in gravity. Trust in the weather. Trust in the understanding of others. Trust in a cab driver. Trust in unknown paths. Trust in a date. Trust in a stranger. And over all, trust in what the heavens had in store. A whole lot of trust... and not even counting the condoms I always have on hand just in case. Hehehe.

For a pretty juvenile movie, Nim’s Island hit the nail on the head. Trust is the secret to adventure. It is, at least, the secret to mine. And my adventure just happens to be this little thing I call life.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Unreproductively Productive

I was supposed to be in Tagaytay last weekend. An uncle of mine arrived from the US and had planned an out of town trip for the family. I was hesitant. Even in family situations, I’m still aloof. At 32, I’m caught in the middle of the generations. Too young and shallow to mingle with the grownups. Too old and out of fad to hang with the kids. The one person I could have related with would be my sister, but she’s been able to evolve and dodge most of our family gatherings. Which left me with a huge decision. To go or not to go?

Not to go. My reason? I had other plans.

It was the truth, I did have other plans. There were so many things I could do instead of being stuck in Tagaytay, succumbing to heaven-knows-what plans the family had for the weekend. Don’t get me wrong Tagaytay is a nice place to be, but I would rather be there with the freedom to do what and go where I’d want. So I decided to stay home alone and get my own stuff done for the weekend.

I’ll be honest. With my mom’s early retirement, I don’t get much time home alone. The times she goes out are usually the same times I’m at work. When I’m home, she’s always there. So I treasure every bit of home alone time I get. I know it sounds harsh to talk about my mom like that. But it’s the truth.

So I woke up early Saturday, and hit the road at around 5:00 am, even before my mom got picked up by the Tagaytay-bound carpool. Why so early? I had a date… a running date. I was trying out being a running buddy to one of my Yoga for Life friends. I’m not new to running. I spent a whole semester with Running for Fitness as my P.E. course in college. But I never got to do it regularly after that.

I got to Ultra shortly before our 6:00 am call time. Running buddy was already there. And so our legs got moving. Warming up walking a couple of times around the oval, we nodded ourselves into a gallop. Alternating rounds between running and walking, chatting with almost every step, entertained by the sight of all the yummy boys and hot men there, and at the same time distracted by all the females, we had gotten into a good rhythm.

Before we knew it, we had been at it for over an hour, without even taking time to sit and rest. We actually lost count of the number of rounds we did. I guessed 10, he guessed 16. So it must’ve been somewhere in between. And if the track was a standard size of 400 meters, that gives us some 4 to 6 kilometers maybe. Good enough for a short distance marathon. Not bad for a first time.

From there, we headed off to get some brunch. Pasta for me, and a huge sandwich for him. My favorite advocate-doctor-yogi caught up with us in a bit, pouncing on some eggs benedict. And then we got chatting away. Before we knew it, it was past 10:00 am. We all needed to go. What I really needed was to rest, but I needed to go home and start preparing for what was next on my itinerary... yoga.

I was falling asleep on the bus ride home, which was refreshing. I got home, but didn’t have enough time to nap. So I just got on the net a bit to check mail, unloaded my bag, packed new stuff, showered and changed, and I was off to Yoga for Life. Sadly, I was unsuccessful at trying to nap on the bus ride to Makati.

Again, I got there almost on the dot. And again, my favorite advocate-doctor-yogi was there. It was a tight group this time, just 6 of us there. And I have a feeling Murphy was there, too. The day’s yoga routine just happened to focus on the lower body. Great. Torture for me. But I endured. And it actually felt good. Like a delayed cool down from the morning run.

A run and yoga on the same day?! I actually surprised myself. Coming from me who has been passing off on working out with the excuse that I don’t have time nor the energy for it, doing yoga as much as twice a week and even squeezing a run in between makes me give myself the evil eye and say, “Well, well, well!”

After an hour of yoga, some of us took a dip in the pool. I couldn’t because I had to be somewhere by 4:00 pm. And it was almost 4:00 pm, I was surely going to be late. I left with our yogi, and was finally introduced to PozzieBoy, one of the newer poz bloggers. We walked together a bit, before PozzieBoy bade goodbye and went his own way. Yogi and I rode the MRT, he to his next yoga class, and me to Quezon City for what was literally my next booking... E’s booklaunch.

I got to there late as expected. And I believe I didn’t have enough energy to even worry about the crowd there. You know how I am in groups of people, right? Luckily, though, E was outside and spotted me right away, waving and calling me towards him. Shortly we went in. The program was about to start, which meant I was late but perfectly timed. Hehe. Fashionably late, if I may say so.

There were some familiar faces there. The first of who was one of the publishers, who just happened to be my highschool classmate. Geesh. Just don’t ask why I’m here, please. I currently do not have a ready alibi. A bit small talk with him, and I was off. A lot of pozzie friends were there to support E. My eldest kid, my grandson, some empowerment batchmates, and others. Some fellow bloggers were there as well, JohnStan, WanderingPolarBear, and of course, McVie and ManilaGayGuy... it was their night, of course!

A word from the publisher, an excerpt from each book, some words from the authors, and it was time for the book signing. We headed out because the place was hot and stuffy, obviously not equipped to handle that many people. BruskoBoi and BFF arrived while we were outside. We waited for the lines to disperse before having our own books signed. To what name? B.I.T.C.H., of course! Both McVie and ManilaGayGuy needed to ask me whether I was sure about that. Naman!

From there, we left E who was still signing books. The posse was going for dinner. And I was off to what was next on my agenda... a movie date.

Of course I couldn’t leave without getting teased that I was just having an eyeball. But this was someone who I encountered through a personals site, way back, before my Papi episodes. Even before we met, I told him of my status. He was okay with it. We went out a couple of times before. And then just kept in touch while I was “with” Papi. And so recently, when we were both available, we got back to going out.

We’re somewhat dating, but with no strings attached. Everything’s clear to us both, no pressure, no expectations. Just fun. And I’m still thankful about how the HIV thing is a non-issue for him. He does ask questions sometimes, and he does get reminded of it every time I take my ARVs when we’re together. But still, he doesn’t care much about it. I got lucky.

So I walked to a nearby Starbucks to meet with my guy. He picked me up and we headed for the mall. We window shopped, had dinner, got some juice, and watched the last full show of Karate Kid. Not bad. It was just nice having a hand to hold while watching... and a head resting on your shoulder, too. It’s been a while since I had that. Argh! Cheesy alert!

Anyways, the movie finished past midnight, I think. I was really nearing the end of my wick after a long, packed and tiring day. And my Efavirenz taking effect didn’t help either. So he brought me home, ending the night with a hug and a kiss in the car. I had to convince him... and dare him even... he’s a pretty shy guy with public displays of affection. Hehehe.

And so my day came to a close. Thinking about it, I could’ve taken advantage of having the house all to myself, and invited some fuck buddy – or buddies – to come over and bang the hell outta me. Honestly, I thought about it. But I had a full day planned out, and not much energy left for any banging. My mind was kept off those kinds of things. No regrets.

Run, brunch, yoga, booklaunch, dinner, movie... Whew! I had a great Saturday… eventful, fun, busy, and most of all, unreproductively productive.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

The Threesome

There's a threesome happening this weekend.

A threesome of book launches, that is... tsk, tsk, tsk, you and your dirty mind.

From the (dirty?) minds of three renowned bloggers, come three tremendous titles of particularly pink prose.

Now these are the books to break the rules.


From McVie of The McVie Show fame comes The Wetbook: Stories from the Bathhouse, an informative but rather funny take on an otherwise raunchy topic: the subculture of subcultures of gay sex in the bathhouse setting.

From the one and only homo hero, Manila Gay Guy comes Dear Migs: Letters to Manila Gay Guy, a compilation of the most notable letters he received through his blog, which becomes an overwhelming picture of the diverse experiences and emotions of Filipino gay guys, and the people around them.

And last but not least, there’s E's The Chronicles of E, the personal story of a handsome young Pinoy (naks!) who discovers one day that he is infected with HIV, revealing first hand what experiences led him to such life-changing event, and how he currently lives as an HIV-positive gay guy in the Philippines.

Being in the blogging circle, I have met Manila Gay Guy once before, and McVie a couple of times. And then of course, E is practically my BFF. That should be enough reason to get me there.

What would keep me away? Of course, there’s that one little complication about this being another social event... where anti-social me should not really belong. But aside from that, the reality is that seeing the list of people comprising the publishing team, I suddenly realized that one name stood out. It stood out because it was familiar. Lo and behold, it was one of my classmates from high school. Ngarrrr.

So at this point, I’m being brave and saying Bahala na! It’s not like E is gonna be shouting Hoy pusit! as soon as I walk into the room. Or will he? Hahaha. But fine, I still plan on going. Will I be recognized? Will I be asked why I’m there? Will he wonder how I got to know E? BAHALA NA.

As readers of this blog, you are officially part of the blogging community, so you are invited to this momentous event. You’ll get to meet the three bloggers in person... and if you’re smart enough to pick me out of the crowd... hahaha... oh noooo!

The book launch will be tomorrow, July 10th, Saturday, from 4:00 - 7:00pm, at theROOM, Ground Floor, Unit 8802 Crowne 88 Condominium, 88 Panay Avenue, Quezon City. The launch will feature performances, cocktails, and a chance to meet the authors and have the books signed. The threesome of books will be available at the launch in a limited edition box set at PhP450. The books will also be sold individually.

The threesome of books is published by Grey Matter Publishing, and the launch is being held in partnership with The Safety Series, an HIV advocacy campaign.

See you there!

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

After the Glow

light bulbCondoms. I'll be honest. It's only lately that I've gotten a liking for condoms. Only lately, when I've really needed them.

The condom choices out there are absolutely amazing. From different brands, to different materials, to different thicknesses, to different sizes, to different colors, to different flavors, to different textures and what not. But wait, there's more.

As is, choosing a condom is difficult enough. But then there's one other thing that can be added to the mix... anyone want a glow-in-the-dark condom?



And so I tend to wonder, why would someone be so particular about using a glow-in-the-dark condom? Here are my top 10 theories.


# 10
Because you believe that it can mesmerize your partner into giving in.

# 9
Because it makes your weiner look bigger.

# 8
Because you just don't get the idea of darkrooms.

# 7
Because you don't want your dong in places it's not supposed to be.

# 6
Because you really want to see his or her insides.

# 5
Because you really want to emphasize that it's a bulb.

# 4
Because Meralco rates have gone up insanely.

# 3
Because you've been told you're not very bright.

# 2
Because otherwise, it's not going to be easy to find.

# 1
Because you want to give your partner more than just an afterglow.


Hahaha. Okay fine, but I tried.

But other than the question of why a glow-in-the-dark condom... the bigger question would be... What were three guys doing sharing a tent and having a glow-in-the-dark condom on hand? Hahaha.

Let's think positive... at least they were prepared... for anything.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

The White Party

White PartyLast weekend? I was dreading it. It was to be a particularly not-so-usual one. This was one of the few times I would have rather not had the weekend.

A party? Am I supposed to be happy because I was going to a party? Well I wasn't.

What party was this? The White Party... in Malate.

The White Party. In Malate. Malate, I've been to before. But never really got the hang of it. It's... too pretentious. Too snooty. Too sleazy. Too gay even. Yep, that's how this twisted mind of mine works. And the White Party is like exponentiating the usual Malate weekend to the hundredth power. Gah.

Okay, I wasn't really going there for the party itself. I was going to be there to support the Take the Test booth which was going to be set up as part of the event. Note from E: Wear white and baby blue. White?! And baby blue?! Not exactly the best combination for a melanin-enhanced individual as myself. Read: MAITIM AKO. In white and baby blue? Glow in the dark!

And with that, even just preparing for that weekend was stressful too. I had to buy myself a new pair of white shorts. And without shoes to go with that, I had to get a new pair too. I was able to dig up an old light blue and white striped polo, but worried I'd be overdressed for my own sake, so I had a simple light blue shirt as back up.

So after a full day Saturday, with yoga and a quick dip in the pool in the afternoon, I was able to sneak in a couple of hours of sleep before heading off to Malate for the 10:00 pm calltime.

I got there early, as expected. And not knowing anyone there yet, I just stood out on the street waiting for word from E and our Take the Test boss. Was glad to see LuckyTrese pass by, but he was on his own romp for the night.

After a while, the boss showed up. We set up a tiny table with signs, while waiting for E who had the flyers, late as usual. Hehe. This time, no actual testing was going to commence. We were just going to give out flyers with a bit of HIV trivia, a list of testing centers, and the URL of Take the Test site for further information. E showed up after a while. And then it started... stage fright... and I wasn't even onstage.

I'm anti-social. You know that, right? So the prospect of having to face people by the droves was absolutely dreadful. The boss and E were game to do it. Good thing a lot of other friends were in the area willing to help us give out the flyers. One particular guy, a stranger actually, came over to help out, in exchange for being able to put his beer bottle down on our table. Hehehe, works for me.

I got assigned to fold the flyers. Okay fine, I volunteered to do it. I was able to give a few flyers away to passersby, but not without every ounce of anxiety I could muster.

How did people take it? Some just walked by, and some got curious wondering what we were about. Some took the flyers, some waved it off.

I think the worst was two guys who approached, extremely curious. We handed them each a flyer, but when they found out it was about HIV, they hurriedly gave it back as if they had an allergic reaction or would get infected by just having it in their possession. Oi. Sad, sad, sad.

And the best? One guy approached the table with some friends, and took a flyer telling us, "You're doing a good thing with this." That was nice.

Past 1:00 am, we closed shop. I think we gave out around two-thirds of the flyers... which, if we started with a ream of bond paper cut in half, would be somewhere over 600 pieces. Not bad.

From there, we headed over to a bar to meet some friends. Oh, I needed a drink badly... I still hadn't drank my ARVs yet. That makes me around 4 hours late. Shhh. So anyway, I finally downed them against a shot of some blue concoction which I'm not familiar with... sorry I'm really not an alcohol expert... I could live on just a pale pilsen any day.

After a short while, we headed to Bed, the bar I mean. I was not looking forward to it actually. Bed on a normal weekend is dense enough. On a White Party weekend? You guessed it. Packed! We headed in, at which point I actually lost sight of my friends for a few minutes. I stood midway up the stairs trying to make out any familiar face in the dimly lit room. Good thing I saw them finally near the bar.

Making my way to them, claustrophobia was already setting in. It's worse than the MRT at rush hour, because it was dark, and hot, and everyone was trying to sway to the beat. Geez, just give me my beer. From there we headed up to the second floor. I found an oasis when I chanced upon a vacant seat at the couches. When it's that tight a space, you appreciate even the breathing space you have between your face and your knees. Seriously.

Slowly, I was wilting away. I was tired. I was on ARVs. And of course, it was way past my bedtime. So I made my great escape, leaving everyone else behind. Walking out to get a cab, I glanced at my watch. It was 4:00 am. Really, it was time for me to go.

Honestly, I had no regrets. Being tired, getting harassed and all, it was fine. Was just glad to get the chance to be witness to Take the Test for the first time, if at least just by my presence. I just really hope we at least made a few HIV ripples in the crowd that night.

Other than that... my other thought would be... that I've had enough of Malate for another 5 years. Obviously! It took me a week to recover enough to blog it, right? And so the question remains... Inay... bading ba talaga ako? Just kidding! Proudly! Pwera Malate...

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