Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hope from shattered dreams and a broken heart...

I read a blog entry this afternoon that really affected me so much that I started to play songs about shattered dreams and broken hearts. 

Click here, for That Nishiboy's blog entry.

I can feel the the writer's pain, being a little of an avid reader of his blog and knowing a bit about the author. I can say, in that particular day, he dreamt and he longed; then suddenly all came crashing down on him. In that situation, I can't really say it was his fault, but whatever there is to learn, I hope he doesn't grow so hard that he becomes too numb to love in the many coming days ahead.

Some people can be just so adventurous that they treat others as merely disposable toys; disregarding how the other party feels, but then again, how would they know, how would I? Were the proper expectations set in the first place? I am in no position nor I want to judge anyone who sleeps to many beds looking for that orgasmic high. I don't want to judge those who spends a piece of their time to single-served strangers, exchanging body fluids, tasting their salty sweat and their cigarette flavored saliva. Only to go home to someone waiting for them, waiting for that kiss, for that warm embrace, waiting to taste their lips who kissed a stranger's mouth and sucked a stranger's cock. Whatever their reason for doing so, I am in no position to judge who and what they are. I only hope that this pandemic of carnal addiction would not turn this metropolis into a city of heartless souls. 

His story makes me remember what I lost, and appreciate what I already have. Also, makes me wonder how many more hearts will be broken and torn. How many dreams will shatter after every lustful tryst? How many relationships will falter and how many will be born out from tonight's scorching entwinement of sweaty bodies and spurting warm fluids? How many from tonight, how many tomorrow?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Self-Empowerment Training (RITM)

This is an a public invitation that a fellow PLHIV (pozziepinoy) from RITM asked me to re-post from his blog. I have personally attended this training several months ago. It is a good way to meet up with fellow PLHIVs from different Treatment Hubs. In our batch, there were seven from San Lazaro Hospital (including me) and seven from RITM. It was a refreshing experience to meet PLHIVs from a different Hub. While the seven of us from San Lazaro Hospital are the tenured ones in our batch because most of us were diagnosed in 2010 and already knew each other because we often see one another every Thursdays (OPD Day); the boys from RITM don't know each other, aside from the fact that they were all newbies because all of them just got diagnosed this year, they also don't get to see each other very often due to clinic schedules. So we were the ates and kuyas of our batch.

Anyway, this training is fun and educational. A good way to be able to move forward, specially for those who just got diagnosed.



              SUNDAY, AUGUST 26, 2012, 8AM TO 1PM


Interested parties can text or call Ate Beth 0917- 836-0312. You can also email me at if you have any inquiries. Please indicate your complete name with middle initials for the certificates and ID.

This is a project of RITM-ARG and training is FREE! First come first served basis only. Limited slots available.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

For those who lost the battle

We have been fighting battles for equal right, discrimination, for medicines, for prevention, awareness, fear, for a cure, and many others; but our biggest fight is to stay alive longer and to be at the peak of our health. For some it is an easy battle, for others it is more than an uphill climb, or worse, a losing one.

In the memory of those we have lost in HIV/AIDS, let us keep fighting and keep on moving forward; because this virus will not stop us, until our life's final night. We will live life, and stay alive.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Of deaths and dying in the Philippine PLHIV community

Yesterday, I was browsing some HIV/AIDS clips in Youtube when I checked my Twitter timeline to see the news that a fellow PLHIV passed away earlier that day; the coincidence is just of good timing. I was terribly saddened by the news and it is always heart breaking to know someone passed away because of HIV/AIDS; the virus, the condition, the syndrome, the disease, that many others and me have been fighting. It's even sadder news when they die so young, like the young fellow patients I once knew who died a few weeks after I have known them.

A fellow PLHIV from whom the tweet originally came from told me that some PLHIVs sent him a message that they were scared of the news. I told him "tell them to face the facts, I know it's scary that we will end up the way almost every PLHIV do, but it's how we live that matters". It is always a serious and devastating issue whenever someone dies, whether we personally know them or otherwise, or if we are close to them or not. Dead is how all of us will end up, but when it comes to the PLHIV community, it is always an extra sensitive issue, and I believe it is one fact that many thinks of but are yet to face.

For someone like me who is fighting a battle with HIV/AIDS, it is a sad fact that we will go one by one. It's devastating enough to have this virus and even more with that morbid thought of us dying. My point is, let us not fear death, and let us not ignore it. At our situation, we are somehow lucky that we know what will most likely kill us; therefore, we have more reasons to value our lives and the people we love. Perhaps this awareness will give us greater will and more reasons to live life, and be alive.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Street Photography collection

Alley to paradiseBand standBata sa tabing dagatBoard and wavesFamily outingFamily outing II
Father and childGrowing old togetherHis name starts with the letter JLight and inkMiss boarderMorning swim
On her way to workPagluwasPink bikiniSea from a dreamSkim boardingThe couples
Walking hand in hand with the one I loveWe used to sit side by sidePaghihintayAninoDaanKuwatro kanto
Street Photography, a set on Flickr.
This is a part of a collection of photographs I have shot for the past four years, so far. Click on the link (above) for more Bohemian Diary street photographs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I have three new scars on my right arm and forearm. I am not sure how or when these scars will fade away, or if they ever will. Like a painful experience, these scars were once wounds; they did hurt a little as they heal, until they don’t hurt anymore. Like memories, these scars somehow remain, ‘though I may not feel the pain, the reminder is still there, for me to see or linger upon.

Scars are reminders that we survived.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sa Selda, ang bilanggo sa Ermita

Ito po ang kwento ko sa loob ng selda, kung paano ako hinuli at nakulong sa bilangguan, ilang taon nang nakakalipas. Hindi ko na maalala kung anung taon ito nangyari, pero ang karanasang ito ay hinding-hindi ko malilimutan.

Isang gabi, nag-usap kami ng kaibigan kong si PJ, nagyaya siyang pumunta ng Malate, tutal, matagal-tagal na raw kaming hindi nakakadalaw ulit sa lugar na iyon, baka naman daw may makilala kami o may mag-take home sa kanya. Sinundo ko si PJ sa apartment na inuupahan niya sa Cubao at kami ay kumain muna sa Gayway, este sa Gateway. Matapos ng aming hapunan ay sumakay na kami ng taxi patungong Malate. Baon ang masasayang pagmumuni-muni sa loob ng taxi at ang kaligayahan ng natitira naming pagkabata ay masaya kaming nagtungo sa Malate.

Dumating kami ng Malate ng medyo maaga, mga bandang alas-diyes yata ng gabi iyon at nagsisimula pa lang magsidatingan ang mga kabaklaan sa Oh Bar, sabi ko ay pumunta kami ng Bed na lang. Nung sumilip kami sa Bed, aba, halos walang tao, korny… Pero sabagay, maaga pa kasi. Kaya pumunta kami sa Oh Bar at nakipagsiksikan sa loob. Umorder kami ng beer at nakihalubilo sa mga lalakeng borta sa dance floor at sa tabi-tabi na tila mga call boy na nag-aabang ng mga customer. Naka dalawang bote na ako ng beer at si PJ ay isa pa lang, hindi pa niya naubos ang beer niya, kaya ako na ang umubos at hindi naman siya sanay uminom. Lumabas muna siya at ako naman ay naiwang nag-s-sightseeing sa loob ng Oh Bar. Sayaw-sayaw, lakad dito, lakad doon. Hanggang sa tumawag si PJ, at lumabas daw ako, may boylet daw siyang nakita at mukhang pogi. Naka-apat na bote na ako ng beer nang ako ay lumabas at hinahanap siya sa tapat ng Oh Bar.  Nakita ko si PJ na nasa tapat ng Oh Bar sa kabilang side ng kalye at may kumakausap sa kanyang bata na may dalang mga rosas at nilapitan ko naman siya sa may kanto ng Orosa at Nakpil. Nang biglang…

May lumapit sa aking pulis. Sabi sa akin “Ser, bawal po yan”. Ang bigla kong tanung… “Anu ho ang bawal kuya”? “Bawal magdala ng alak sa kalye, kaya sa presinto na po kayo magpaliwanag” sabi ng pulis. Tapos may biglang lumapis na Police Mobile, yung mga nakikita niyo na mukhang jeep na maliit na kulay puti, iyon ang biglang dumating at pinasakay ako ng biglaan. Si PJ ay wala nang nagawa, maski ako, sumunod na lang ako sa gustong mangyari ng mga pulis at sumakay sa jeep. May apat pang mga becks ang pinasakay nila at nang makaupo ay nagsimula nang umandar ang sasakyan ng pulis. Lahat ng sangkabadingan ng Malate ay nakatingin sa amin, jusko... Ang kahihiyan ko! Ang bilis ng tibok ng puso ko habang hawak ko pa ang bote ng beer na hindi ko na nagawang inumin pa. Bigla kong tinawagan si PJ at sabi ko sa kanya na tatawagan ko siya agad kung saan man kami dadalhin ng mga pulis. Nagpapanick na ako at halos mangiyak-ngiyak dahil naiisip ko na bubugbugin ako ng mga pulis na ito. Tumigil ang jeep sa isang kanto at hinuli ang lalakeng umiihi sa pader, pati siya ay pinasakay sa sasakyan. Maya-maya ay tinatahak na ng pulis jeepney ang kahabaan ng Taft hanggang sa lumiko kami pa-kanan sa U.N. avenue. Pinababa kami sa Ermita Police Station, na may nabanggang kotse sa harap nito at umuusok pa ang makina. Ako, yung apat na becks, yung lalaking umiihi sa pader ay pare-parehong pinababa at pinaderecho sa loob. Sabi sa amin ng mga pulis sa loob ng presinto, bawal daw ang may hawak ng bote ng beer na bukas sa labas ng kalye, sabi ko naman ay galing ako sa katapat na bar, sabi naman ng pulis, ay hindi na raw pag-ma-may-ari ng bar ang parte na iyon ng kalye. Sumagot naman ako na eh paano kung may street party? Bakit hindi niyo naman hinuhuli ang mga tao? Eh hirit naman ng isang pulis “may permit iyon, kaya hindi kami nanghuhuli, pero ngayon, ordinaryong araw lang, kaya dapat doon lang kayo sa mga may lamesa nag-iinom ng mga beer, hindi sa kalye mismo, kahit hindi ka umiinom, may dala ka pa ring bukas na bote ng beer”. Lumabag daw kami sa City Ordinance ng Maynila, sabi pa ng isang pulis. Kaya wala na kaming nagawa, at lahat kami ay pinapasok na sa selda.

Tinawagan ko na si PJ at sabi ko ay nasa Ermita Police Station ako at nasa loob na ng selda. Tinawagan ko ang daddy ko, sabi ko nakulong ako, pinaliwanag ko lahat sa daddy ko ang nangyari at sabi ko ay sunduin niya ako, aba, ang sabi ba naman ay “maaga pa, mamaya na at baka hindi ka rin naman makalabas diyan at weekend ngayon isa pa, ignorance is not an excuse”. Tinawagan ko si Aubrey, tumawag ako sa boss ko, tumawag ako sa tita ko, at kung sino-sinu pa… Hanggang sa nawala ang kaba ko nang dumating si PJ. Siya na rin ang kumausap sa mga pulis at pinakilala niya akong kapatid niya.

Sa loob ng selda, ay kung anu ang napapanood natin sa pelikula ay ganoon nga! Marumi, maiinit, masikip, at punong-puno ng mga nakakatakot na mga lalakeng mukhang tambay sa kanto, maraming tattoo, at mukhang mamatay tao…Sa ibang salita, mukha talaga silang kriminal at mga hindi pa naliligo. Nakaharap ako sa labas ng selda habang may kausap sa telepono si PJ, nasa gitna ako ng loob ng selda, at sa gawing kaliwa ko naman ay ang apat na becks na mga paminta, sa gawing kanan ko naman ay ang mga nakakulong na nagising at bigla ba namang humingi sa akin ng yosi. Ako naman si bigay ng yosi kasi baka bugbugin nila ako kung hindi ko sila bibigyan. Tinanung ako ng isang matandang nakakulong kung bakit daw ako andun at anung kaso ko, sabi ko “hinuli po ako kasi may dala po akong bote ng beer sa kalye”, bigla namang sabi ng lalakeng medyo bata pa na mukhang nasa biente anyos pa lang “madali lang ‘yan, magbabayad lang kayo ng piyansa sa City Hall, makakabalas ka na, kaso Sabado ng madaling araw-ngayon, sa Lunes ka pa makakalabas dahil walang City Hall mamaya, sarado”. Hanggang sa nagising na ang karamihan sa mga nakakulong at lahat sila humingi ng yosi, binigyan ko naman. Nakipagkuwentuhan naman sila sa akin, sabi nila, huwag daw akong matakot at makakalabas naman daw ako agad, wow, very comforting.

Bigla akong na-wiwi sa mga nangyayari, tinungo ko ang C.R. ngunit umurong ang ihi ko sa baho at dumi ng nito kaya hindi ko kinaya, nagyosi na lang ako ulit. Tiningnan ko yung apat na becks, tahimik lang silang apat at walang kinakausp na mga bilanggo, ako naman ay chumika na lang sa mga nakakulong doon, mukha naman pala silang mababait, take-note... Mukha lang! Eh mga kriminal ang mga iyon! Bigla tuloy sumagi sa isip ko ang mga jail-rape na nangyayari sa bilangguan na napapanood ko sa porn movies, at kung anu-ano pang pelikula, baka ma-rape ako dito! Sa kaka-imagine ko ng kung anu-ano ay umupo na ako sa marumi at malamig na sahig ng selda sa gawing kanan habang nasa labas pa rin si PJ at hindi magkanda-ugaga sa pakikipagusap sa cellphone niya, at tuloy-tuloy pa rin ako sa pagyoyosi para mawala ang kaba… Dahil ayokong abutin ng Lunes sa bilangguan! Isa pang inaalala ko ay ang kotseng nabangga sa harap ng pulis station at umuusok, baka biglang sumabog iyon at lamunin kami ng apoy habang nasa loob ng selda!

Ilang sandali pa ay tinawag ang pangalan ko, makakalaya na raw ako! Sa wakas, makakalaya na ako pagkalipas ng dalawang oras sa bilangguan!

Dali-daliang lumabas kami ni PJ palabas ng presinto. Nagbayad daw siya ng P1,500 at nag-iwan ng I.D. para sa kalayaan ko. Hay, maraming salamat, PJ!

Pumunta na kami ng Makati at kumain. Hindi ko na alam kung anu ang nangyari sa apat na becks na naiwan sa loob ng selda o sa lalakeng hinuli dahil umiihi sa pader. 

Ang leksyon ng pangyayaring ito... Huwag magdala ng bukas na bote ng beer sa kalye at sumunod sa batas. Simula ng araw na iyon ay naging napakamasunurin ko nang bata pagdating sa batas.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Happiness and Health; keeping the CD4 count up.

One common and constant battle among PLHIVs (People Living with HIV) is the challenge we face in either keeping or pulling up our CD4 count at a healthy and normal level. Here are some facts (from online sources) to what a CD4 is and its importance before we proceed.

“CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Another name for them is T-helper cells. CD4 cells are made in the spleen, lymph nodes, and thymus gland, which are part of the lymph or infection-fighting system. CD4 cells move throughout your body, helping to identify and destroy germs such as bacteria and viruses.
The CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of your blood drawn by a needle from a vein in your arm. Along with other tests, the CD4 count helps tell how strong your immune system is, indicates the stage of your HIV disease, guides treatment, and predicts how your disease may progress. Keeping your CD4 count high can reduce complications of HIV disease and extend your life.”

“Your immune system contains different types of cells that help protect the body from infection. One of these types of specialized cells are called the CD4 or T-cells. HIV attacks these types of cells and uses them to make more copies of HIV. And in doing so, HIV weakens the immune system, making it unable to protect the body from illness and infection.”

“HIV most often infects CD4 cells. The virus becomes part of the cells, and when they multiply to fight an infection, they make more copies of HIV.
When someone is infected with HIV but has not started treatment, the number of CD4 cells they have goes down. This is a sign that the immune system is being weakened. The lower the CD4 cell count, the more likely the person will get sick.”

Thus, as mentioned above, the amount of CD4 cells are of important basis of a PLHIV’s health. The higher the number of CD4 cells in the system, the better. A normal CD4 count is from 500 to 1000 cells/mm3.

Here in the Philippines, a PLHIV is required to have his CD4 count checked every 6 months. When I was first diagnosed, my CD4 count was at 526 back in April 2010. It then went down to 385; I started taking medications when my CD4 hit 295. Six months after beginning ARV treatment, my CD4 went up to 589, it went up again last June to 687. During the time that my CD4 count hit below the 500 level, I did get sick; I got Pneumonia twice within three months, so yes, my immune system was already indeed weak and vulnerable as science says.

When I started ARV treatment, I really did not do anything radically different to help boost-up my immune system. No vitamins until now, no food supplements, no herbal treatments whatsoever. I just stayed happy as I usually am and learned to let go of things that would heighten my stress levels, because stress is a very big factor to our immune system’s decline. Although I do believe in another thing, that one can never be truly happy without being accepting of oneself, thus, living in denial is a health hazard.

Also, surround yourself with people who care. Remember, when you disclose to someone you know, it does not mean that they care or will do, some or most people are only curious of you and your condition despite of how much you trust them. So be wise on whom you disclose your status to.

I admit, I still do smoke, I figured that I’d rather psychologically de-stress with something that might kill me a few years from now, rather than not smoke at all and be stressed about it and than put my health in bigger jeopardy because of mental or emotional stress then it will kill me sooner because of a weakened immune system. However, despite of my now back smoking habits, I was still able to pull-up my CD4 count to normal, and still going higher. I know of many PLHIVs who have a hard time doing so, yes it is a case to case basis, but still, the point is, pulling it up to a normal level is indeed a big challenge every PLHIV face with or without any Opportunistic Infections they might have or roadblocks they might be facing.

Being happy is one thing, but being genuinely happy and thinking one is happy are two different things and there is a fine line between the two.  Be genuinely happy, accept yourself and the things you can’t change, and let go of the extra baggage, embrace life and be alive.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Automatic Loveletter (a band review)

Around two years ago, I stumbled upon this live video of All Time Low's *Remembering Sunday, with Juliet Simms singing somewhere along the song. The moment I heard her sing I thought that “she’s so damn good”, although I never paid attention nor check out her band until only this year when my partner told me that a certain Juliet Simms was one of the finalists in the My Voice contest in the States, and that she was his favorite contestant. This very video (right) is what made me know who Juliet Simms is and her band, Automatic Loveletter. 

*All Time Low’s song Remembering Sunday is one of my ultimate favorite song of theirs. This song is about a man falling in love with a girl but losing her in the process, then tries to look for her again, but the girl doesn't want to go back to him anymore, and goes away.

Checking out Automatic Loveletter’s music has been such a wonderful experience. Their songs were great and Juliet Simms’ voice is powerfully different with a unique sound between husky and high pitched. Their music reminds of the likes of Paramore and Flyleaf. The difference is that the band's music somehow sounds unpolished, making it sound as if more emotions has been put into their songs, you can almost feel the angst or that certain feeling that the singer tries to show. However, generally, they sound more like those bands back in the 1990s where their instrumental setup is basic, with straightforward lyrics that will make you reminisce of past break-ups with lyrics such as:

You color my eyes red
Your loves not alive it's dead
This letters written itself inside-out again
When rivers turn to roads and lovers become trends
Hush, this is where it ends.

Track: Hush
Album: Recover

…And will also make you feel giddy all over, like the first time you ever fell in love.

Tonight we're alive for the very first time
Tonight we're alive 'cause there's no where to hide
Don't give up on me now
I won't let you down
When we come back to life

Track: Back to Life
Album: Truth or Dare

…Or some lines to bid goodbye to whoever made a mark in our lives. 

It's goodbye to the ones we left
There's a place on my pillow should you need to rest
And a sense of belonging that never ends
But I'll always be hoping that one day I'll see you again.

Track: Pillows
Album: The Kids Will Take Their Monsters On

Automatic Loveletter videos:

Make-up Smeared Eyes


Hush (acoustic)

Black Ink Revenge (live)

I was just wondering why this particular song (below) is not part of any of their albums, I like the up-beat tune of this song and the wonderfully light lyrics it has. 

When We First Met 



When we're together we drift away
Often out of sight
We feel things that we can't explain
If we try hard we just might

Shake shake baby on and on
We're gonna break break, break on out
Shake shake baby on and on
We're gonna break break, break on out

Sweep me off of my feet
Take me back to the beginning
The night when we first met
So me and you can keep a secret
You're not close enough to hear it

The night when we first met
The night when we first met
We first met
The night when we first met

Waves crash down, the moon is high
Take my hand, lead me in
Our clothes are on the shore, the waters cold
We keep each other warm

Shake shake baby on and on
We're gonna break break, break on out
Shake shake baby on and on
We're gonna break break, break on out

Sweep me off of my feet
Take me back to the beginning
The night when we first met
So me and you can keep a secret
You're not close enough to hear it

The night when we first met
The night when we first met
We first met
The night when we first met

We are in love
We are in love
In love
In love
In love

Sweep me off of my feet
Take me back to the beginning
The night when we first met
So me and you can keep a secret
You're not close enough to hear it

What they don't know can't hurt
It felt so right when you kissed me
Close your eyes and you miss me
The night when we first met
Shooting stars got us wishing
That our eyes pay attention

The night when we first met
The night when we first met
We first met
The night when we first met

I don’t know why such a band hasn’t been very famous or popular in the mainstream scene when they are this good. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the videos. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Anyone Can Cook

I always wanted to be able to cook a nice meal for anyone, but this past few weeks, I have been exceptionally inspired (ahem) to do so, well, on almost a daily basis. I admit that I am not an exceptionally good cook, but I continuously hone my skills in this art of cooking as much as I can, because I believe that a good meal and a full stomach is one way to happiness, and I like to make people happy and that one person in particular.

Photos courtesy of PB

So I continue to cook, putting my heart into each dish I make and hopefully making each one be more tasteful and delicious than the last. As a famous line in the popular animated flick Ratatouille says, “Anyone can cook”.  
Click the player for music, Le Festin - Ratatouille OST

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Experiencing the Smashing Pumpkins concert in Manila.

It was a very rainy Wednesday night when my friend, as well as me and my partner braved the torrential downpour just to watch the Smashing Pumpkins perform in the Araneta-Smart Coliseum. I was doubtful that it we would still have good seats considering that we arrived in the venue an hour before the start of the program. However, when we got in, I was surprised to see a lot of seats still empty, oh well, it was raining hard that night and traffic was horrendous all over the city. So I believed my friend when she told me that there were still a lot of seats remaining for that night, that early. 

The front stage area was barely filled in half, so while we wait, I was doubtful it was ever going to be filled by half when the concert starts. It was past 8:30 PM and people kept coming in, the show was supposed to start by that time. It was almost past an hour and the front stage area was already way past half filled, so not bad, a lot of people did come. The upper box areas of Araneta were also quite filled with people, not bad for a very rainy night.

I was lost and was quite bored when the band played their songs from their album Oceania, although I saw a few people singing to their songs, my friend and me were really lost and she surprisingly fell asleep. I was feeling a bit disappointed mainly because I no longer know what the band was playing. I kept on wondering, will they ever play the songs I wish they would play, the old ones? The crowd was mainly composed of my same age group, old-school fans that were listening to the band way back in the 1990s so the venue was generally peaceful and quiet with a loud clapping in between songs as the band played their newer songs.

When the band roadies finally put the keyboards aside, my heart pounded fast, and I was ecstatic, because I thought… “Finally, here we go, this is what me and the rest of the fans came here for”, because there were no keyboards in old-school Smashing Pumpkins music! We were not disappointed. People started screaming, raising their hands, and clapping their hearts out when the band played Tonight, Tonight; which was one of their greatest hits back in the old days, from their on, people were singing along to the Smashing Pumpkins’ greatest hits, “this is the Smashing Pumpkins that we came here to for”, I said to myself. The crowd went wild when they played Bullet with Butterfly Wings and 1979 as well as when they played the rest of their old-school hits. My partner and me were surprised and happy that the band played their song Stand Inside Your Love, that song was our sort of theme song.

Overall, the band did not disappoint, the band ended their two and a half hour gig with a song from Kiss. They played all the songs I wish and expected them to play except for the song Perfect. We had a great time, I’m sure rest of the fans did too!