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, June 28, 2011

K Brosas for TTT

K Brosas on real beauty... for Take the Test.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Graduation Day

It’s Tuesday, the start of another workweek. It was a holiday yesterday. So after a long, cold, rainy weekend, it was going to be tough to get into work mode.

But today, I decided last minute… as in after taking a shower and dressing up… to make a detour onto the path of my past.

Blame my current workplace, they suddenly decided to get some pre-employment requirements from everyone, even those who’d been with the company for years on end. I’m one of the newbies, so I had most of mine. Except one. My diploma.

I never got my diploma. No toga. No ceremony. No nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I finished my degree. Albeit taking three extra years. Well, I blame Happy-150th-Birthday-Jose-Protacio-Rizal-Mercado-y-Alonso-Realonda himself because I failed his subject so many times. And I blame ROTC, whose irrelevance to life was just not giving me enough sense to finish. So three years after I should’ve, I finally passed Rizal, and ROTC got reduced to two semesters, and I finally graduated. Whoopee!

And I think that was a factor. I was a bit ashamed to suddenly show up at my college three years late, claiming my diploma. Not exactly something to be proud of. So I just got my Transcript from the Registrar’s Office, which was all that I needed thus far, for work and whatnot. Until now.

So today, I took the turn to a different yet familiar destination. I soon realized that familiarity was not only about location… it’s also about time. And here, I’m not talking about days, not months, not just a couple of years. I’m talking 7 years after settling my clearance, and 9 years since my last enrollment. So things had changed.

Just getting there, I no longer knew. Where exactly is the jeepney terminal? Which line is it? Did the route change? Where can I get off? Where are the jeepney stops? Thankfully, I got there without having to ask, or even look stupid.

First stop the Registrar’s Office. It was in a new building that wasn’t there yet when I was still in school. So I had to find it. I was led by the guard to the Records Section. I waited. Soon, the window opened, and I asked if I could get my diploma there. Asked when I graduated, whether I’d been cleared, and what documents I had, I was told I should claim it at my College. Fine. I am not a coward. I am not a coward. Brrrrr.

I guess my biggest fear has been seeing someone I know who would ask me what I’ve been up to. Hmm, nope, I’m not anyone’s boss. Nope, I don’t work for a big multinational company. Nope, I’m not even practicing my degree anymore. Yes, I’m still rank and file. And yes, my biggest achievement might just be that I’m now HIV positive. Not exactly the most ideal spiel.

The stroll across the picturesque campus to my old College building may have helped calm me down. Climbing the front steps, the guard at the gate asked for an ID. Okay, security has changed as well. I asked what time the office of the college head opens, instead he pointed me to another room. Apparently, even that had transferred.

The office was still closed, and a bunch of students were outside. I tried not to let the generation gap stick out. Allow me to say I think I can still pass for a college student. Time ticked away, the students left for class, and still it was closed. Hmm. Good thing I walked towards the old Admin Office, relieved to see that it was still where it used to be.

I walked in and saw familiar faces, still the ladies who always used to be there. I’m pretty sure though they didn’t recognize me. So I asked if I could claim my diploma there. Bingo. She took my transcript and asked what year I graduated. I told her the year I last enrolled.

She approached a cabinet and pulled out a diploma jacket and a binder, and started leafing through the pages. Back and forth, back and forth. She asked me what year again, and if I was sure. Honestly, I wasn’t. She even asked for an ID to prove I was the same person. Fine. Still nothing. I was beginning to sweat. Did I not graduate after all?

Finally she was approached by one of her colleagues, asking what the problem was. She took my ID and searched the computer database. Okay, my year was right. And in a few minutes, they found it. I was hearing the graduation march in my head. I was in disbelief. Not much hassle. A single trip. A couple of hours. No payments made. That’s it. It’s done.

I walked to where I could have it photocopied. And honestly, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face the whole time. It was a gutsy day. A gutsy move. And I’m officially a diploma-holder. Should I frame it? Should I give it to my mom? Oi, I was giggling.

I was actually so proud at the time that I wanted to treat myself with a day off from work. Watch a movie maybe. Go home and sleep. Workout. But my pride was prize enough. So I shook it off, and just hopped on a bus to work, which is where I am now.

Obviously, I’m still caught up in the excitement because I’ve managed to blog instead of work. But hey, gimme a break. This is the closest I’ve gotten to my graduation day.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Alicia Mayer for TTT

Alicia Mayer on real beauty... for Take the Test.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Geneva Cruz for TTT

Geneva Cruz on real beauty... for Take the Test.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sweet Break

May pasalubong ako sa iyo! Baket ka nagagalit sa akin? Nagpapakasweet na nga lang ako eh!

Him dropping the call was the most welcome thing for me. That was it. We didn’t talk nor text for the next two weeks.

Yep, I’m talking about the hubby. Do I seem harsh? Snapping at someone just because of a pasalubong? I think so too a bit, but here’s my story.

So he goes out of town, and asks me what pasalubong I’d like. He always brings me pasalubongs. Too much in fact, that when one pasalubong comes, I would still have pasalubongs from previous trips still at home. Perishables every time at that. So I declined this time.

You don’t need to get me anything.

But I want to.

No, no need, there’s already too much food at home, but thank you.

So he goes on his trip and comes back. May pasalubong ako sa iyo! And I’m pissed.

Why? I’m a quiet guy. An introvert. I would usually rather keep things to myself. So those few times I speak up, I would appreciate if you'd listen.

And I repeated myself.
No need, thank you.

But I want to.

Fine, bahala ka.

Baket ka nagagalit sa akin?
Nagpapakasweet na nga lang ako eh!
Sige na nga, matulog ka na!

Call dropped.

I felt offended. Not by the dropped call. But by the insinuation that material things equal sweetness. No. I’m not that kind of a guy, sorry.

Sweet is listening to what little I have to say.

Sweet is calling not just to say you love me... ask how my day went!

Sweet is not stopping me from putting my arm around you in public.

Sweet is not just saying you want to hug me whenever we meet. Do it.

Sweet is accepting my invitations to share my yoga time with me.

Sweet is not a “Masaya ka na?” after meeting my BFF the first time.

There, that’s why I snapped. Sweet?! These were things I had been letting pass. I was patiently letting him have his way. And this, this seemed like the last straw.

I’m sorry. I’m the farthest thing from a closet case. Fine, I’ve declared I’m Back In The Closet with this HIV thing, but even with that, I haven’t let the closet doors stop me from living. Not at this point where I’ve gotten a wake up call to treasure life more, and be thankful for every moment I get to live, laugh and love.

I was soon asking myself, why was I so bitchy? Why was I nitpicking? Why did I snap at him? It was becoming clear what the underlying issue was... I was falling out of love.

Some of you will think that I’m letting go of a perfectly good thing, knowing that an HIV-negative guy accepted me for who I am and what I had. But that’s not the end all and be all of it all.

He will not be the last person who will accept me despite my HIV-positive status. Call me much hopeful, but I guarantee that. Like I always say, if you don’t like me just because I’m HIV-positive, then you’re not worth my time anyways.

So there. Pending one final conversation... closure to be exact... this BITCH is officially single.

So, sweet ba kamo? Break.


Monday, June 06, 2011

"Functionally Cured" of HIV

Since HIV was discovered 30 years ago this week, 30 million people have died from the disease, and it continues to spread at the rate of 7,000 people per day globally, the UN says.

There's not much good news when it comes to this devastating virus. But that is perhaps why the story of the man scientists call the "Berlin patient" is so remarkable and has generated so much excitement among the HIV advocacy community.

Timothy Ray Brown suffered from both leukemia and HIV when he received a bone marrow stem cell transplant in Berlin, Germany in 2007. The transplant came from a man who was immune to HIV, which scientists say about 1 percent of Caucasians are. (According to San Francisco's CBS affiliate, the trait may be passed down from ancestors who became immune to the plague centuries ago. This Wired story says it was more likely passed down from people who became immune to a smallpox-like disease.)

What happened next has stunned the dozens of scientists who are closely monitoring Brown: His HIV went away.

"He has no replicating virus and he isn't taking any medication. And he will now probably never have any problems with HIV," his doctor Gero Huetter told Reuters. Brown now lives in the Bay Area, and suffers from some mild neurological difficulties after the operation. "It makes me very happy," he says of the incredible cure.

The development of anti-retroviral drugs in the 1990s was the first sign of hope in the epidemic, transforming the disease from a sudden killer to a more manageable illness that could be lived with for decades. But still, the miraculous cocktail of drugs is expensive, costing $13 billion a year in developing countries alone, according to Reuters. That figure is expected to triple in 20 years--raising the worry that more sick people will not be able to afford treatment.

Although Brown's story is remarkable, scientists were quick to point out that bone marrow transplants can be fatal, and there's no way Brown's treatment could be applied to the 33.3 million people around the world living with HIV. The discovery does encourage "cure research," according to Dr. Jay Levy, who co-discovered HIV thirty years ago, something that many people did not even think was possible years ago.

You can watch Brown talk about his cure in this CBS video report.