Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Making This is Me: Brave and Free a Smash Hit - The Hornet Experience

By Carlos Diego A. Rozul

The stage was set ablaze in the Philippines' first community-led multi-site HIV testing day on May 26, 2018. This is Me: Brave and Free is a team effort organized by community based organizations across the Philippines (Juan Positive Movement, HIV & AIDS Support House, Inc, Decent Image of South Signal Association, Cavite Positive Action Group, GAYON, Project H4, Kagay-an PLUS, and Olympus Society of Davao) alongside LoveYourself (LoveYourself Anglo, LoveYourself Uni, and Victoria by LoveYourself) to celebrate self-care through a fast, free, and confidential community based-screening process.

With almost one million people reached across social media platforms, and a total of 1,145 sign-ups, campaign efforts has certainly been a success. With today's advancements in social networking, social networking applications has played a significant role in promoting timely testing among its  user base. Let's see how Hornet came to support This is Me Brave and Free.

Supporting the Event

Hornet joined This is Me: Brave and Free as they believe in the great work community-based organizations in the Philippines has done to improve health and wellness in the LGBT community.

"We are committed to the health of the LGBT community and want to do all that we can to empower our users to make informed decisions about their sexual health." - Alex Garner, Hornet Senior Health Innovation Strategist

Alex from Hornet shares how vital gay social networking applications are to provide useful information and help men of all statuses make connections. Even with a simple notification telling you about a nearby event, it can make all the difference in a person's journey in self-care.

"We strive to create a community that celebrate and affirms people of all ethnicities, gender expressions, body types, ages, and HIV statuses. Getting more people to openly talk about their testing experience and providing a platform for that conversation can really make an impact." - Alex Garner, Hornet Senior Health Innovation Strategist

This is Me: Brave and Free has one of the most diverse sets of faces influencing the LGBT community towards getting tested. Featuring people of different gender identities, abilities, and body types, it is a step forward towards spreading the importance of HIV testing in a healthy lifestyle.

Hornet's Role in the HIV Advocacy

"Getting tested is a great way to take control of one's health. Much of the fear associated with testing is around fear of what a life with HIV will mean. We work to demonstrate all sorts of experiences of people living with HIV and a positive diagnosis does not mean a loss of sexuality, health, or support system"  - Alex Garner, Hornet Senior Health Innovation Strategist

Hornet positions itself as a platform wherein people can openly and affirmatively declare their HIV status to combat the stigma associated with knowing one's status. Hornet has even created a video series on Youtube called Ask a Pro that tackles important topics such as livign with HIV.


The evolution of how people connect nowadays has affected how the message of love and self-care is delivered. With plenty of resources and opportunities brought to an online platform, Hornet does its part to connect these to the people who would most benefit from them. You can be part of the network Hornet helps to connect by downloading their app on the Google Play Store and on iTunes
___________________________________________________________
Carlos Diego is an HIV counselor and the Head of Editorial for LoveYourself. Outside of volunteering, he is a clinical audiology student and a registered psychometrician. He aims to facilitate a deeper meaning to health by discussing the importance of aural, sexual, and mental health.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Batch Upendo - The 20th Batch of Volunteers, Starts Their Mark in the HIV Advocacy

By Mark Angello C. Ganon

1,000 in 20 – Stars aligned on Saturday, June 2, 2018, at the People’s Hall of SM Aura Premier when LoveYourself welcomed Batch Upendo, a cluster of 56 new recruits in the HIV and AIDS awareness advocacy. With the orientation of these extraordinary individuals, Batch Upendo has etched its mark in LoveYourself history as it became its 20th batch of volunteers. On top of that, 56 was the just the right number to push LoveYourself’s roster of advocates beyond the one thousand mark.


Chris Lagman, LoveYourself’s Director for Learning and Development, primes Batch Upendo volunteers to continue the organization’s commitment to be a safe space for the community
With this milestone, LoveYourself positions itself in the frontline in the battle against HIV. Staying true to its commitment to the community, the organization continues to provide a safe space for anyone who wishes to be enlightened on HIV, its transmission and prevention, and on how to thwart the stigma it entails. Marvin Frondoza, a volunteer HIV counselor, headed the batch orientation that welcomed the promising HIV advocates. The orientation served as their stepping stone in the advocacy and their coming out as new warriors against the virus.


New volunteers share smiles and laughter as they are welcomed to LoveYourself




LOVE in NUMBERS

With over 1,000 LoveYourself members, one would think it’s an arduous task to keep such a diverse group intact. The secret? It’s the amity and solidarity formed within each of the 20 batches, which eventually transcended to the organization as a whole. While it might not be the best idea to create division through batches, embracing differences within a small group would empower individual members to be able to yield and accept diversity in a larger scale. Batch Upendo is no exemption to this 6-year tradition of LoveYourself. Branding a batch with a name and pairing it up with a distinct insignia builds a sense of unity as new volunteers begin their venture in the advocacy.

Staying true to this year’s theme of “love across the globe”, LoveYourself’s core group selected a word from Swahili, one of vast languages of the eastern Africans. Upendo, the term that was chosen is the Swahili translation of “love”. It is an old belief that love is a universal term that defies definition. It is an understandable language that does not necessarily warrant words and it is more felt than said. In essence, it is the love of the volunteers that keeps LoveYourself going strong in its 6th year of service to the community. It is in love to and for the community that LoveYourself envisions itself to continue being a safe space in the years to come.
Batch Upendo logo, created by TJ Monzon,
got its inspiration from the barren lands of Africa

LOVE in FLOCKS and PACKS

From the Swahili roots blossomed the inspiration of Rick James “TJ” Monzon, the creator of the logo for Batch Upendo. The emblem shows a brown circle enclosing a young giraffe in a sitting position. Its border is adorned with leaves that are embellished with African-enthused patterns. The color theme of the logo, on the other hand, is a representation of the parched lands of Africa where predators easily hide themselves in shrivelled grass and dried soil.

The giraffe was chosen as the spirit animal of Batch Upendo for its height, and compassion. It has long been considered that giraffes are one of the worst mothers in the animal planet, but latest discoveries have shown that the when a young calf dies, its mother, along with other female giraffes in the tower, protect the carcass days after death. In this day and age, giraffes can teach us a thing or two on how a heightened sense of compassion for others is what is needed in our community.
Digging deeper in the essence of the logo, TJ quips that love is also represented in the logo. It can be noted that despite the sweltering heat and danger lurking behind bushes, there is one thing that’s common in the African faunas: the instinct to form groups, like the giraffe. This natural proclivity of forming flocks and packs is planted on the fact that there is a better chance of survival if they stick together.
“The hunted come together in groups to protect one
another especially the young.” - TJ Monzon
This love for one another spells life and death for the young who’s just starting his journey in a harsh world. In that same sense, as the community continues its battle against HIV, we also get enlightened with the common LoveYourself adage that says, “Alone we can do so little, together, we can do so much.”

Batch Upendo
Alongside the growing numbers of HIV cases is the increase of the numbers of hearts and minds that converge to combat HIV and AIDS. LoveYourself continues to be a community of volunteers that aims to not just create ripples, but to be the ripples that nurture the value of loving one’s self as a way to multiply joy in the community.

Feeling inspired? Join us in the advocacy by clicking here.
______________________________________________________
Gello is an infection control nurse who is utterly useless before his 2nd cup of coffee. Unbeknownst to most, he’s a closeted otaku and has a deep obsession with eggs. Despite being 30, he still secretly waits for the owl that will finally deliver his acceptance letter at Hogwarts.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Where Do Brave Hearts Go? Going Beyond Metro Manila for This is Me: Brave and Free

By Reiner "Meow" Grospe

Living outside Metro Manila, but still want to celebrate self-care? Then you're in luck! This is Me: Brave and Free is hitting six cities through our partner community based organizations. On May 26, 2018, Loveyourself, Inc. together with community-based organizations are launching This is Me: Brave and Free – the first community-led multi-site HIV testing day in the Philippines. Nine like-minded organizations banded together to expand the reach within and outside Metro Manila. Get to know your status with the fast, free, and confidential community based-screening (CBS) process.

Go to https://bitly.com/ThisIsMe2018 to sign up! You can also walk-in too!




CAGAYAN DE ORO: Kagay-an PLUS, Inc.

Preserving life and uniting society is what it means to be a PLUS, at least for Kagay-on PLUS (KPLUS), Inc. They envision being a leading organization that promotes a non-discriminating and gender responsive society for people living with HIV (PLHIVs) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex + (LGBTQI+) through peer education and trainings on sexual health and Community Based HIV Screening (CBS).

The operations of Kagay-on PLUS, Inc. during the up-coming This is Me: Brave and Free is powered by the Department of Health - Regional Office X. They will conduct CBS at Pearlmont Hotel which is located at Limketkai Drive, Cagayan de Oro City. You will find it at the back of Limketkai Mall. You may ride the RA NHA jeepney from Divisoria at the BBQ Station near Xavier University or any jeepney from eastern part of CDO en route to Cogon Market.

Upon your arrival at the hotel, have a look at the monitor near the entrance for This is Me: Brave and Free directions and other details of the function room provided by DOH-ROX

Anyone near Cagayan de Oro City may visit KPLUS, Inc.’s clinic from Mondays-Fridays, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. For more information, call or text them via 09154833542, 09959918622, 09264506251, and/or 09985823949. Enrico Nino L. Patricio, the Executive Producer of K-PLUS will be more than happy to assist you. Join their battle to promote sexual health and human rights.

CAVITE: CPAG, Inc.

Mr. Joseph C. Honra envisioned to revert the unpleasant reality PLHIVs experience, thus, the Cavite Positive Action Group – The JCH Advocacy, Inc. (CPAG, Inc.)

CPAG, Inc. is committed to help not only the PLHIV but also their family who are also affected by the situation. Like other HIV advocacy groups, the promote HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention. But what is peculiar about CPAG, Inc. is their focus on psychosocial intervention by offering care and support to their client’s social and emotional development. In fact, they envision being a center for counseling and treatment.

You may visit CPAG, Inc. on the multi-site testing day Sta. Cruz, Cavite City. You may take a bus from Baclaran going to Cavite City. Ask the conductor to drop you in the street of Himlayang Caviteno. From there, you will see Barangay 11 Gonzales with sign board of CPAG.ORG. You will know you are at the right place when you see This is Me: Brave and Free posters.

Their lines are also open via landline numbers: 046.235.5608, 046.697.2750 and mobile numbers: 0927.555.3806, 0928.285.8238, 0921.978.1651, 0947.288.4574 and 0997.593.7796. You may also contact them via email: cpagorganization@gmail.com or cpagorg@yahoo.com or read more about them here.



This organization emanated from the Elite Bi-Male Organization founded by Mr. Sky which was then continued by Mr. Oscar Obenza and gave it a new name: Olympus Society of Davao. It has been advocating for HIV awareness for three (3) years already.

Olympus envisions an empowered LGBTQI+ community who can fight for and strengthen their rights as individuals and as a community. Its ultimate commitment is to help raise social awareness on human rights and mobilize related advocacies pertaining to is such as the world-wide battle for sexual health. As a community-based organization, they find joy and fulfillment in all their undertakings. Even if they face different challenges in their finances and workforce, they still remain steadfast with their goals as an organization.

This brings them to have free HIV Screening as one of their primary services. Visit them on May 26, 2018 and be part of the first ever multisite HIV tasting day. Olympus Society of Davao operates from 4:00pm to 10:00pm daily and can be located at Bo. Obrero, Davao City. They may also be reached through 327-3839.

Be brave and free, Davaoenos!

LEGAZPI: Gayon

Gayon started in 2007 as a small group of volunteers for a relief operation after a typhoon hit Albay. This experience lit their burning passion today to help their community by supporting starting community organization like the. Their mission took them to be part of the growing number of advocates for STI/HIV/AIDS education.

Gayon is committed to campaign for HIV/AIDS Education, conduct workshops and peer education training, counselling, Community-Based Screening, Referrals and CBO Organizing. They do this with great success in partnership with the Department of Health Region V and other LGUs such as but not limited to Tiwi, Legazpi, Daraga and Sto. Domingo.

Gayon encourages their kababayans to be part of This is Me: Brave and Free regardless of their economic status, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. Residents of Albay braved countless natural disasters. It’s high time to gather courage to know your HIV statuses for early detection and prompt treatment.


Juan Positive Movement (JPM) Association Incorporated has been the community since August 2016. It started from series unfortunate events experienced by its founder such as prejudice, rejection and discrimination turning it into a source of motivation which transpired to a mission that no PLHIV should be discriminated and no PLHIV deserves to experience such hardships through the course of their survival. From then on, JPM was established with the inspiration to create a support group that will help reduce stigma and help PLHIVs retain their self-esteem, self-worth and self-efficacy.

Their main goal is to convey a strong message to the public regardless of their Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression that awareness of their HIV status is a social responsibility of every “Juan Dela Cruz”. Through this, they help normalize and promote testing and enhance linkage to care among our key population. They are committed to eliminate fear and misconceptions which serve as the biggest barriers in accessing the services that our national and local service networks offer. They do all these by empowering MSMs and TGWs to come together and create a domino effect of positive change.

JPM’s primary services are HIV Counseling and Screening, Life Coaching, Condoms and Lubricants Distribution and HIV education. What’s unique about the services of JPM is their temporary shelter for PLHIVs. Not to mention they provide technical assistance, facilitate referrals, internships and outreach services.

Have a try and visit them at Mabalacat City, Pampanga. You may take an Angeles City bound jeepney from Puregold Dau to Uratex JMC Enterprise or contact them via Lounge Help Hotline: 09561429240 and 09173068423, and Email: jpmoffical@juanpositivemovement.com.

As the founder of Juan Positive Movement, Wayne Baniqued tells everyone that “This Is Me: Brave and Free” is about being proud of who you are. He said, “We all have our own flaws and these flaws don’t really make us less of a person. Instead, they remind us that we can be better. We can impact positive change and create opportunities because this is us: Brave and Free to love safely and receive the same in return.”

PUERTO PRINCESA: Project H4

Project H4 started as a Facebook page group of bisexuals named BiOutLoud-Palawan. In May 2015 we partnered with PPC-CHO and DOH-MIMAROPA to hold Mr. Pogay Pageant, and exclusive grand eyeball for bisexuals. From there we had our first mass testing that alarmed the Region with the number of new cases we had. Founded by 4 individuals (Yuan, Bob, Jester, and June), Project H4 got its name which H4 stands for 4 Heads/Founder, H4 in roman numerals is HIV, and its goal to provide and promote Health, Help, Hope, and Happiness.

The group aims to promote awareness on HIV, AIDS and STI in the community, and help those who are directly affected. They envision being one of the leading contributors in the reduction of HIV, AIDS and STI cases in the Province of Palawan.

Their programs for HIV/AIDS include: Information and education, Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and Community Based Screening (CBS), referral, health promotion and condom distribution. They also provide support for the infected and affected individuals, facilitation of capacity building trainings/workshops, participation in the national activities like IACM & WAD and fund raising activities

You may visit Amos Tara Community Center at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. They are open from Wednesdays to Mondays, 10:00am – 8:00pm.

Project H4 shares to the public that Regular HIV screening is just one way to take care and valuing ourselves. Be BRAVE by conquering your fear of knowing your status and break FREE from stigma.


There you have them, the six participating community-based organizations ready to serve you on the first community-led multi-site HIV testing day in the Philippines on the 26th of May 2018. We are also enjoined by partner testing-sites within Metro Manila.
__________________________________________________
Meow is a nurse and social worker by profession. Wide-awake at midnight (best time to be with him). Leaves nothing but paw prints in his trail (follow at your own risk @meow.rnrsw).

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Where do Brave Hearts Go? Know the Metro Manila Community-Based Orgs Hosting This is Me: Brave and Free

By Raymond Martin Manahan

Hey, you! Are you a brave heart living in the Metro? Come celebrate with us as the first community-based multi-site HIV screening day takes place this May 26, 2018. This is Me: Brave and Free sets the stage for you lovers to showcase the beauty of self-love by knowing your status.

LoveYourself Inc., together with its partner community-based organizations (CBOs) brings fast, free, and confidential HIV screening all over the Metro. Sign up now!

Get to know how to get to the community-based organizations hosting this event of courage, liberty, and self-love.

“Let’s all do it the DIOSSA way: Be sure, be safe, and #BraveAndFree”

DIOSSA formally started in 2014 and has since took the commitment of working towards a more positive image for the transgender community; addressing their physical health, psychological well-being, and human rights issues. Through its efforts, it envisions a gender-fair and trans-friendly Taguig City.

Members of DIOSSA actively work with the Taguig Social Hygiene Clinic by organizing outreach activities that aim to spread information about HIV and AIDS in areas where key populations can be found most. DIOSSA endeavors to extend this volunteer work with other CBOs, and small groups of men having sex with men (MSM) and transgender persons in neighboring cities.

On May 26, you can visit the 9th floor of the SM Aura Tower in Bonifacio Global City to experience the multi-site screening day the DIOSSA way. From the MRT-Ayala Station, you can take a jeepney ride at the terminal just behind the Shell Gasoline Station. Take the jeep going to Market Market. Tip: ask the driver which drop off point is nearest to SM Aura Tower. After dropping off at Market Market, you just need to walk towards the large parking area and cross the 26th street. The building right across the street is where you want to go.

You may also visit DIOSSA in their district 1 site at the Taguig Social Hygiene Clinic in Tutukan, Taguig City, which operates on weekdays during regular business hours. DIOSSA also has a district 2 site at the Taguig Drop-in Center in Taguig District Hospital. This site is open on weekdays from 8am to 10pm.

Want to know more about the organization? Visit DIOSSAs facebook page or call them at 09262716671 (for the District 1 site) and 09286896422 (for District 2).


“Being #BraveAndFree is not about telling the world you are negative. Being brave and free is knowing your status and knowing what to do next, and doing what must be done next.”

Our partner CBO in Quezon City is a group that is relentless in their passion to provide age-appropriate and gender sensitive psycho-social support to MSMs and Transgender persons living with HIV.

HASH was co-founded by Desi Andrew Ching and Michael P. De Guzman officially in 2013. Ching and De Guzman were former volunteers in a telephone counseling line on HIV and AIDS.  The two friends decided to spearhead an organization that is geared towards promoting the well-being of people newly-diagnosed with HIV.

The organization initiates activities that mainly seek to enable the community to establish sustainable practices that contribute to the group’s goal of promoting the welfare of PLHIVs. These programs include Community-Based Screening (CBS) training, mentoring, and quality assurance; providing prophylaxis assistance to indigent PLHIVs; mentoring newly-established PLHIV support groups; community capacity building; and case management.

HASH will be hosting This Is Me: Brave and Free on May 26. HASH is just a jeepney ride away from MRT Cubao. Just take any jeep or public utility van going to E. Rodriguez and drop off at the white building right before T. Gener. You can ask the driver to drop you off at Happy Sauna since the building is just situated before it.

Need to reach HASH? Give them a call at any of these phone numbers (02)634-3938/0998-555-2475 or send them an email at @hashpilipinas@gmail.com. You can also keep yourself posted with their latest activities by visiting HASH’s facebook page.

LoveYourself Community Centers

A “healthy and vibrant” sense of self-worth – this is the heart of LoveYourself’s initiatives and values. LoveYourself believes that nurturing one’s self-worth greatly improves a person’s quality of life, which emanates to the community, inspiring people to do the same.

As such, LoveYourself is committed to its pursuit to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS through awareness, counseling, and education.

Ronivin Pagtakhan, together with his colleagues and friends, founded the organization in 2011. The social media clamor on STIs, HIV, gender and sexuality among the youth and MSMs inspired the advocacy and gave birth to the organization. It has since then exponentially grown as more and more people joined the cause.

LoveYourself - through its community centers, offers services that aim to promote self-care among its target members of the community. These services include free and confidential community-based HIV screening and HIV counseling.

Mandaluyong City: LoveYourself Anglo

Situated along the busy road of Shaw Boulevard, LoveYourself Anglo is your destination if you are in or near Mandaluyong City on May 26.

It is located at Unit 5, 3rd Floor, Anglo Building, #715-A, Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City. It is just a 3-minute walk from MRT-Shaw Boulevard station. From the southbound side of EDSA, you just need to walk along Shaw Boulevard until you reach the tail-end of the flyover. You’ll know you’re there when you see the Anglo hardware.

LoveYourself Anglo offers free HIV testing and counseling Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12nn-7pm, and Sundays 9am-2pm. LoveYouself Anglo can be reached through their hotline: 09278926611.

Pasay City: LoveYourself Uni


Stuck in traffic along Taft Avenue? Try stopping by at LoveYourself Uni to experience warm, friendly, and non-discriminatory HIV screening and counseling.

Visit LoveYourself Uni at 2028 Taft Avenue Extension, Pasay City. It sits conveniently near LRT1-Gil Puyat Station. You just need to look for the Mercury Drug along the northbound side of Taft Avenue, across the DLTB bus terminal. Then, proceed to the second floor.

For more information on how to get to LoveYourself Uni, click here.

LoveYourself Uni can be reached at (02) 256-9384. Uni operates Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12nn-7pm, and Sundays 9am-2pm.


As the first community-led transgender health center in the Philippines, Victoria by LoveYourself does not only offer free HIV screening and counseling; it is a community center that focuses on the needs of transgender persons. Its services include hormone management, pre-GAS (Gender-Affirming Surgery) assessment and counseling, and assessment and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STI).

Visit Victoria by LoveYourself on May 26 at the 2nd Floor of Torres Building in 2442 Park Avenue, Pasay City. Coming from LRT1-Libertad Station, you can take a tricycle ride from the Victory Pasay Mall. Tip: You can ask the driver to drop you off at Torres Building along Park Avenue.

VLY operates Saturdays through Wednesdays from 12nn-7pm. You can reach VLY though their hotline: 09158318715


Come join us, lovers! Demonstrate that courage for self-love and acceptance, and witness freedom from stigma this May 26, 2018 at This is Me: Brave and Free. Visit any of our community-based organizations and community centers near you after signing up at bitly.com/ThisIsMe2018.
_______________________________________________________________
Raymond is an aspiring neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, currently taking his Bachelor's Degree in Development Communication at the University of the Philippines in Los BaƱos. He takes it as his mission to be part of initiatives geared towards ending HIV/AIDS stigma and, in effect, help stop the spread of the virus through education and empowerment.