Saturday, May 29, 2010
AIDS Candlelighting 2010 - H4 Pavilion, San Lazaro Hospital
It was early in the morning, 8 AM. I was walking on a humid morning when I was nearing H4 Pavilion's entrance steps, I greeted one nurse in a bluish suit with a very warm smile, it was the first warm smile I ever showed anyone inH4. I then greeted one nurse who seems to already know me, I asked her where the mass will be. She said it will be in the doctor's lounge/office area. I then walked towards that area and everyone seemed to be very busy. Chairs were lined up and ready, it was comfortable, the temperature was. I scanned the people who were in there, NGOs, men and women in red shirts and the doctor's wearing the shirt for this year's Candlelighting. Patients were already starting to come in the small room and sit on the lined up plastic chairs. I can tell them that they were patients because of the obvious tags they were wearing. I found myself a seat. Two boys around my age sat beside me, the one next to me at my right was a patient, I am not sure if the guy next to him who escorted him to the seat was also a patient or if that guy was his lover. I looked around, there were a couple a soft spoken gay men in front of me, 4 of them, they seem to know each other very well. behind was a boy, I think he is in his early twenties or teenage years, or perhaps in his mid 20s, I am not just sure. My age determining skills weren't really useful if I am looking at someone whose skin is wrinkly and somewhat full of allergy like scars, he was so thin, sickly, and he looked very fragile. My heart broke when I saw him, he was with his mom. Avoiding myself from such sad emotions... I quickly gazed at the mass table in front. After a few minutes, the mass started. I was so quiet, I nodded and gave a small smile to anyone who looked at me. I did not even sang the church songs, I don't know any. I wasn't brought up in a way most people think.
After the mass, the program started. A doctor introduced herself, I forgot her name, she a a bit chubby with a round face and a friendly aura, then she called up the head doctor, whom I also forgot the name, she had a very strong look, overall. Short hair, strong facial features, in her mid 40s or perhaps late 40s. They both gave an introduction on what the program was all about. It was looking back, and remembering the people who died and fought and had a significant role in the fight for HIV/AIDS; for remembering those who gave us access the free ARVs and other necessary equipment we need for our medications.
A woman was called up, she's a mother of two. She has AIDS, she got it from her former husband who was a seaman. The husband knew he has AIDS when he needs to fulfill a requirement for a work abroad. He told his wife he has the virus when she was pregnant. The woman was of course, like many of us, devastated of the news. She got tested after she gave birth, she already has it. Eventually, the woman got sick, and was confined in the H4 Pavilion. That was years ago. The woman now looks very healthy, she said she always watches what she eats and she exerts efforts not to lose weight nor look sick, she said in a girlish manner that she has to be always pretty for everyone to see, then she wore a very big smile. Now she is a single mom, living a healthy life, her husband left for another woman. Now she takes ARVs and living great and taking care of her two kids, one is 3 year old, and the eldest is 10... Both HIV positive. She is still waiting for the right time when she will tell her kids what they are facing and will face.
...to be continued