Okay, now is some time for self-congratulations and some self-patting in the back. I got featured in two magazines this month and I haven’t been featured in a while, so my ego is pretty much making somersaults in glee. It kind of feels nice to be featured for the work that I’ve been doing. It’s some sort of recognition for all the work I’ve been doing. There’s still so much to be done, but It feels nice.
Regardless, it feels great.
I was making fun of the idea of being featured in Men’s Health. Me? Men’s Health? I’m not healthy! But it’s for my work in the HIV advocacy and HIV prevention. I feel good that I was put in the same category with Dr. Eric Tayag of the DOH, Cholo Laurel of Postivisim, and even Kim Atienza. Like, wow! Right?
And the Mega issue with a beautiful Iza Calzado on the cover has a wonderful two-page write up on how I’ve been living “positively” and Bianca Dumaup, who wrote the article, was able to capture how I want to be known — as someone who has managed to remain cheerful despite having HIV. My poetry shows otherwise, of course, but therein lies the different layers of me. The darkness is no longer front and center in my life and it’s nice to be able to show a different side of HIV; that it doesn’t change you if you don’t let it change you. I think that message came through. I love it. I’m so impressed how she was able to turn a four hour interview into a two page article but managed to stay true to who I am and put all the necessary information that’s out there.
I have stopped chasing the spotlight since I turned twenty-seven. I got my priorities straightened out and the limelight isn’t as important as it used to be. But then again, ever since I became aware of the HIV situation in the country, I realised that I had to live a public life to show what it really means in the context of life in the Philippines. I’m one of the very few who can, at the moment. So all these features are important because it puts the HIV dialogue front and center and when it is put inside the pages of a health magazine and a fashion magazine, we help normalize it and, hopefully, we can reduce stigma and spread the information. People have to stop living in ignorance about it. People have to know what it is all about. So we can move forward and do something about it.
So, yeah, I’m in the pages of two magazines this month. My twenty-five year old self would be ecstatic. Me? I am just happy that we are keeping the HIV conversation going. We have to keep talking about it until people can face it and deal with it properly. We have to keep talking about it until people stop being discriminated and stigmatized by the virus.
Zero HIV Philippines. It can be a reality. We just have to keep working at it.