Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A positive Christmas

Christmas 2010.

This will be my 1st Christmas as a person living with HIV (PLWHIV). So much has happened from last March 26 when I came out reactive in a rapid test to April 12 when I got my confirmation and up to this day - two days before Christmas.

Early March - I contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized for five days. This was what finally prompted me to take the HIV test.
Early to late May - I suffered from fever and allergies caused by the ARV I first took.
June to early December - I occasionally sustain moderate hair follicle infections (folliculitis) as my body started adjusting to the ARVs and also due to stress.

On a positive note though,I see Christmas this year in a different light. My previous Christmases was just a season of parties, fun, camaraderie and bonding with my family, partner and friends. Christmas 2010 something I should treasure a lot and be very thankful for that I am still celebrating it because my bout with pneumonia last March could have ended my life back then.

I hope to see more Christmases ahead despite my medical condition. :)

Happy Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thank you G. Till we meet again....

I woke up very early Monday morning and read a text message from a pozzie friend asking if it was true that G, a common friend of many pozzie friends of mine since he is a strong and reliable supporter of the HIV-positive community even if he is negative of the virus, was killed late Sunday night. I replied and said I would find out and I did.

Another poz friend of mine called me up to break the news. What happened was that G's brother was ganged upon and when G fought back, he got stabbed twice - one in the chest near the heart and at the back. He was rushed to the hospital but efforts to revive him failed. I wept after the call. My partner, who was asleep, woke up and I relayed the news and hugged me. He knows G.

G was one of the few people I met when I went to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) the first time to have my first CD4 count and for my profiling last April 16. He was such a jolly guy and very friendly. He made me feel at ease. The next time G and I bumped into each other was at the lounge for pozzies during one of my visits at RITM, and then at the birthday of Doctor Ditangco held in her resthouse in Tagaytay sometime last June. We shared a lot of good moments and so many laughs during our overnight celebration of Doctora D's birthday. That was last time I saw him since I got busy at work and whenever I'd go to RITM, I don't get to catch G there anymore. He did invite me and other pozzies to visit his barbershop in Las Pinas but I never got the chance...

G, wherever you are right now, rest in peace and i love you, my dear friend. I will be missing you a lot but we will surely meet again in the afterlife. Godspeed...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Unsolicited advice

For those who are immuno-compromised like me, being depressed, stressed out and even bitter or negative about life and love can wreak havoc on our immune system so as much as possible, we need to be happy often and maintain a positive attitude.

It is just sad to note that there are some HIV-positive individuals who are bitter, engage in gossip, spread rumors, malign other people, and cast unfair or uncalled for remarks.

How I wish they'd realize the folly of their actions.

So here's my unsolicited advice: We all have a choice. Either have a cheerful disposition as much as possible and live life to the fullest or stay sad, depressed and bitter/negative, which will get you nowhere and not help you at all.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Pride March and my plan to 'come out'

Last Saturday's Gay Pride March held in Tomas Morato in Quezon City was a first for me. Participation-wise. In last year's march held in Malate, my partner and I were just in the sidelines as we both watched the parade start from Remedios Circle. We later walked along the parade route and sometime during the parade, we joined our friend who were part of the Out Philippines contingent.

When Bruce Amoroto of TeamPilipinas advertised about the parade this year and he was seeking volunteers to help carry the 40-meter rainbow flag, I immediately wrote to Bruce early last November and told him I want to be one of the flag bearers and so we met over at Starbucks in Shangri-La Mall, where Bruce interviewed me and briefed me on what will we do. Another meeting was set last November 27, a week before the march to discuss details of the activity.

Pride March came and went and it very tiring but still fun and liberating nonetheless. However, a side story to this is that 2 days before the march, I had planned to come out in public regarding my HIV status since this year's march had HIV and Aids awareness as a theme. I planned to ask the emcees of the program that would follow the march for permission to speak to everyone and then come out regarding my status to put a new face to the health problem and perhaps, the audience will learn a lesson or two from my experience that I was going to share. I also wanted to call the government's attention to the growing HIV and Aids problem in the country as the number of new cases has increased tremendously this year. I thought long and hard about what I was planning to do and weighed the pros and cons.

I consulted 2 close friends in the poz community, my partner, and my elder sister about what I was planning to do. I told them about the pros and cons. The cons however outnumbered the pros. I risk getting terminated from my job and getting kicked out of my boarding house if I came out in public despite the law (Republic Act 8504) protecting HIV-positive individuals in the country against discriminatory acts. I would also be putting myself, my family, and my partner at risk also to discrimination and stigma. Since my partner and I work in the same company, I might jeopardize my partner's continued employment in our company since they see us always together. We are not out as a couple in our place of work but I guess our fellow employees have a suspicion that we are partners.

Anyway, to cut the long story short and following the advice of my elder sister, I decided not to push through with my "coming out" last Saturday. It proved to be a wise decision because the march and the program held after the event were happy occasions and my coming out would have dampened the celebratory mood.

To quote my elder sister, she said it is best that I do not come out in public - for now. The right opportunity will come and I will just have to wait.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Another moving story - a pozzie's tale

I would like to share with everyone another moving story - this time from a pozzie. After he read the letter from the mother of a person living with HIV (PLWHIV) that I posted here in my blog, he decided to share his tale - one that I can describe as a miracle.

I am also posting my reply to his letter. Read on. :)

Hi Juan dela Cruz,

Greetings! I am a huge fan of your blog and have been reading your entries religiously, seeing i've contracted the virus a few months back. I got touched by one of your latest entries, from the concerned mom who wrote about her experience with her son.

In the spirit of Christmas and sharing, I hope you can post my letter as well. I would like to share my own story, from a son's perspective.

See, I grew up detached from my family; my family had rules, strict rules (we were a conservative bunch- curfews even when i was already working, no going out on Saturdays and Sundays, no friends at home, etc. etc.), that i had a lot of problems with. i became detached and independent, and grew up spending my life locked inside my room, and then later on to my own place. i distanced myself from them ON PURPOSE because i couldnt take the rules, i couldnt take living with them.

We never were a close family, no matter how each of us tried. we were never the share-stuff-about-your-life family who laughs during dinner and watches dvds after. we never talked about stuff, rarely shared jokes.

but since i found out about my test results, things turned. miraculously. seeing that i am not close to my parents, imagine my apprehension about telling them. they are conservative, very strict, and yes again, conservative. i could not reiterate enough how conservative they are. i felt that my sexuality would be one topic that they might not be supportive of, so how then can i tell them i have a virus i got through (irresponsible) sex?

so after a night of drinking, i mustered enough strength (or hello, tipsiness) to spill the bad beans. And boy was i surprised and surprisingly relieved. I was sobbing the entire time and my mom was listening very intently. i was expecting her to cry and to shout and to scream, to react violently to the news, but no. she was very receptive, in control. Was this my mom i was talking to? from then on, a huge burden was lifted from me. i felt relieved.

the next few days were a whirlwind of change. we talked, we conferred. i opened up with them, and to my surprise, they opened up with me as well. i felt a flurry of love and support from them. they began texting me almost every day, and checked up on me. we began to talk about sex, joke about sex, i even began joking with my dad, and even got away calling him gay (as a joke!)

i guess the whole point(s) of this quite lengthy letter is to 1.) thank my parents for being highly loving, despite our family history and 2.) to tell your readers who are too afraid to tell the people in their lives, that there are still miracles, and that mine (for this year, i think) is my parents' love, that no matter what happens, there will be people out there that will support you and love you unconditionally, that the first step is always the scariest, that once you've taken that leap, someone(s) will be there to catch you.

This will be my Christmas gift to myself as well as to my parents, Juan dela Cruz. I hope you can publish this for me.

Thank you and more power to you,


Hello there Nondescript_333!

Thank you for taking time to read my blog and being an avid fan. I feel like a celebrity. Haha!

I am very happy that I have also touched and inspired you and several others who follow my blog. I am sorry though if I don't get to update it as often as before either because I don't have anything in mind to write about or I am busy with work.

Your moving story is nothing short of a miracle. You are very lucky to have experienced such. This goes to show that miracles still happen in what seems to be impossible circumstances.

I salute you for having the guts to tell your family of your status and I take my hat off to them for dealing with it very well. I also greatly admire your family for the change in attitude toward you. I wish all families of all persons living with HIV (PLWHIV) are the same as yours. You are truly blessed to have them.

I strongly agree with what you said -- "that no matter what happens, there will be people out there who will support you and love you unconditionally, that the first step is always the scariest, that once you've taken that leap, someone will be there to catch you."

Anyway, stay healthy and Godbless you and your family. Mabuhay kayong lahat! :)

Juan dela Cruz