In a little more than an hour, I will be turning twenty five years old. At one point, when I found out about my HIV status, I doubted if I would even reach that age. Needless to say, I am really grateful.

In a little more than six hours, about 70 or so Filipinos living with HIV will be gathering for an event that came to be known as RedXSummer. I am very, very excited about this.

And although I didn’t have anything to do with organizing this event, I will shamelessly say that this will be, by far, the biggest, most fun birthday celebration I’ve ever had! Hahaha!

March 29, 2014 is going to be an amazing day!

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I remember seeing the RedX Christmas party invitation for the first time in Twitter. I remember how excited I was because during that time, I was actually wondering if the PLHIV community will be having one.

I had some concerns about the day of the event. I just started at my new job at the time and the day for the RedX Christmas party was also the day of my new employers Christmas Party. Since we were new, my boss kind of wanted us newbies to be there. Also, that very day was first of the many family reunions of last year.

But I knew I would miss a lot if don’t go to this PLHIV event. So what did I do? I lied. Well, sort of. Lol! I told my mananger that we have a very important family reunion. Then I told my mother that my company requires me to attend our very first team building/Christmas Party. So you see, I didn’t really lie. Hahaha! So that qorked out well.

On the day of the event, as previously arranged, i picked my friends up at BGC. I’ve been using the app Waze for driving so I looked for the location and here’s what I found out. Needless to say, it was quite a long drive. 

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When we arrived,  there were already quite a lot of people there. I hugged people that I know, made some small talks, and stuff.

There were a lot of new faces and I saw someone that made me go like “Ooh… I like him.” Just in my head. Lol!

When I got a chance to look at the group of people there, I realized that there are A LOT of good looking guys there. Which made me tweet this:

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After an hour or two, @jonstaycool assigned as to our rooms. He said he gave us the best room. LOL.

We had some time to roam around the place before the first activity started. I must say, the place was nice. Good job organizers for providing us with a nice venue. I even saw one of my favorite Bible phrases somewhere:

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Once settled, we were divided into five groups - called districts - refferencing Hunger Games. I was part of district 4.

And then the games begun. The first one was “Paint me a picture” where the organizers would say a situation/place/scene which the districts would then form a tableau of. It was a fun game. They made us do a scene in RITM (my district just formed 1 straight line to show the long queue there. Lol), a scene at a SPA (we won that one cause we used a lot of props. Haha!) and a scene at a dark room. Well, you can just imagine what the districts did with that one. Hahaha!

The second game was “find your sound”. The districts were asked to come up with our distinct sounds, blind folded, separated from each other, and asked to look for our teammates by shouting our sounds. My district’s sound was “Olah” while the others were “Teh” or some animal sound or a moaning sound. It was chaos! Hahaha!

Then the organizers asked 4 people to represent their districts to play the “egg catching” game. No, it’s not a perverted. It’s that usual I’ll-toss-the-egg-you-catch-it-then-we’ll-step-back game.

The next game though was a bit more exciting. It’s the “longest line” game. Yeah, I played this game a lit of time before but this was the first tine I took everything off until I only have my undies on. And the only reason why I did that was because everyone else did it as well. At the end of the game, we were all almost completely naked. Well, except for the organizers. Hmm… I wonder if that was their plan from the start. Kayo ah!

The last game before we had our lunch was the “drowning game”. I call it that because almost everyone who joined the game exclaimed that they almost got drowned. Lol! So the game was the usual Filipino “pabitin” game, only it was at a 7 feet deep pool. So we were asked to get as much red candies for our district and whoever gets the moat wins.

That was a tiring life and threatening game so when lunch time came, it was perfect.

The food was great! We had our own pozzie chef and he did a phenomenal job cooking for his brothers. I’m not sure if I ever got to thank you before so let me take thia opportunity to thank you now. Thank you!

I regret that I didn’t take photos for blogging purposes. But it was bountiful and delucious!

After eating and getting a few minutes of rest, we were back to having fun. 

The first game that afternoon was “pass the drawing”.  It was like pass the message but we have to draw. It’s funny how a “queso de bola” would end up being “pizza” or “titanic” ending up as “puto bungbong” or “darna” ending up as just “boobs”. It was hilarious!

Then before we begun the next game, we were given paper bags to use for the pageant that evening. Yes, there will be a pageant later that evening. Hahaha!

The next game was a “quiz bee” game. Considering we had 2 doctors in our district, we sucked miserably. Lol. Sinisi yung mga doctor?

Then the candidates  we chose to represent our diatrict for the pageant were asked to stand. To size up the competition, I guess. Hahaha! We wanted @leon_heart2010 and @IncognitoPlus to represent us.

Then we were given papers to nominate/vote for people who are there for a few titles. Titles like “super sireyna” and “rosa rosal” and other funny titles. 

Then it was that idle time. That time to talk to people. Get to know and befriend others. 

Then at one point Sid approached me and asked me to replace @leon_heart2010. The reason: “He thinks he’s too old for this sort of stuff. He’s 31” I found that very surprising he looked like 26. (Nako matutuwa si Best nito. Huwag lalaki ulo ah! I wrote this paragraph back in December pa, before we became “Best”. Hahaha!)

So yes, I ended up being my diatricts “male” representative.

It’s amazing how we came up with things to wear for the pageant. But then we were all gays, so maybe it wasn’t that amazing. It’ expected. Lol. Still, we came up with some fun artiatic stuff.

Like most of the representatives, I haven’t done anything like that before. So most of us really had no clue what we were doing. But it was fun how each districts supported and helped their representatives then later on marvel at their masterpieces while we strut whatever we ended up wearing. Hahaha!

The first category was the “artistic wear.” I think my partner and I ended up trying to go for a god and godess look. I don’t have a picture of that. Actually, I don’t have a lot of pictures of the pageant.

After that first category, we had a sumptuous dinner. I actually forgot I was a part of the pageant and I ate too much. This I will later regret because the next part of the pageant was “Resort Wear”. But the food was too good to forego. So what the hell.

So while we were preparing for our next outfit, the “singing contest” was done. I think my district won second place for that. Yey!

So, resort wear. I do have a picture of that category but I’m not going to post it here. I did something crazy and very embarrassing that I won’t even mention it here. So let’s move forward.

The last and my favorite category was the “Formal Wear”. Only because I ended up wearing something good with a red bow tie and all. (The bow tie was a red cartolina. Hahaha!) Oh, and my partner and I won Best Formal Wear. Woot woot! 

Let me just say that 3 out of 4 other male representatives are my SETmates. Here’s a picture of us 4. SET04202013 represent!!! Lol!

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After the Q and A, yes there was a Q and A, The organizers gave out the Special Awards. The awards where we voted for others. My friends apparently campaigned for me to get the “emotera award” because of how I tweet. Crazy.

Then the people who brought gifts did exchange gifts. I wasn’t able to join because the gift I brought got smashed. I didn’t want to give a smashed gift. Hehehe

And then in hopes of giving hope or maybe inspiring others, JM (whom I fondly call bigbro, he’s a SETmate as well) was aksed by the organizers to share his story. And how his CD4 of 4 is now at 400 something.

Daddy Drew and @jonstaycool  (2 of the organizers) talked for a bit. They talked about the rise of HIV and talked about things dedicated to PLHIV who died. We lit candles for them and prayed.

I saw a number of people crying. I later found out that they knew these people who died and were good friends with them.

We also sang “The Power of Love”. It was all so solemn until at the end of the song, the videoke machine gave us a score for our performance. Haha! Then we had a huge group hug. :’)

And then came the Awarding of Titles. I won’t go into details of the award (because I’m selfish like that. Lol) But my partner and won first runner up! Woot woot! Kitty (@Possiecat83) said that we will play a very important role because if the title holders will die within the year, we will take over.

Hahaha!

Crazy! I still laugh out loud every time I rememver him saying that. :))

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After the awarding, some people decided to sleep already but most of us took this opportunity to get to know each other more. 

Pavel and I talked about our crushes and about a specific person we call bestfriend. Hahahaha!

Before leaving the venue at around 6 in the morning, we took one last group picture. It was a memorable event. After the event, Twitter was filled with tweets about RedX from people who attended for about 2 weeks or so. I even heard a story that someone deactivated his Twitter account for a while because all he can read was RedX and he can’t relate. Lol!

There was also a concern that came out that PLHIV should not be joining gatherings like this because it’s not safe because their confidentiality is not secured and that RedX is not a recognized organization By sone government body.

Well, first, I don’t think RedX ever claimed that it’s an organization. We’re just group of PLHIV friends who wants to gather as a support group and to have fun and decided to put a name to an event for reference.

Also, I think it was Daddy Drew who said, and I’m pretty sure I’m rephrasing here,  but he tweeted sonething like:

Recognition does not guarantee confidentiality. Respect, camaraderie and understanding does.

Or something like that. And I completely agree with him. Sure, we can sue our medical professionals if we, by any chance, find out that they are disclosing our cases without our permission.  But can we be ever completely certain that they’re not doing it without us knowing? But we trust them so we go to them and we just hope that they respect us enough to keep our secrets.

So to me, if I can trust these people, the more I can trust other people who are also undergoing similar situation as I am. Because they understand me better. Because they know what confidentiality means and how much I value it. Because I trust and respect them and I’m hoping they respect me too. That some of us have so little support that we can only count on people who are on the same boat.

Oh, and if you happen to be one of us, and you make a mistake of even considering divulging someone’s status, the PLHIV community will cause you so much stress until your CD4 drops below zero and die. That’s not a threat,  that’s a promise.

Haha!

Well, anyway, after more than 3 months, the organizers has come up with our next gathering and it’s for the summer.

Two weeks from now, we will be in an island somewhere. I still don’t know the exact location.  The organizers won’t tell because the first part of the event is the districts racing to go to this island.

Again, I had some concerns with the date because it will be on my very birthday but I’m still choosing to go. I don’t really celebrate my birthday and again, I’m sure this will be a lot of fun!

I’m usually fond of being a part of the group organizing an event but these guys are doing such great things that I think it would be way better if I’m just part of the receiving party enjoying the fruits of their hardwork. Hahaha!

Now that I’m reminded of what the organizers did last December, I’m thrilled with they might come up with this summer. But more importantly, I’m more excited to see my old friends and gain new ones too. Again, in an island!!! Survivor/amazing race/temptation island!!! Lol!!!

Today is the last day for reservation and payment for the event. From what I gathered,  the participants are already cloaing to 70. Yeah, that’s a lot of PLHIV in one island. This will be outrageously great!

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Read. The author brought up a lot of strong points. I wish that this is something that the government and employers will see, consider and implement. Let’s do our best to bring our insights across.

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The evolution of my tattoo design. I’m so excited to have it done! 😁

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Dentist’s Clinic/Gallery. Waiting for my turn.

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I am enough.

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