Saturday, December 28, 2013

Looking for a Program Officer and an Admin/Finance Assistant


Love Yourself will be implementing a specially-funded program in 2014, and to execute this, we are looking for two project-based employees:

  • Program Officer 
  • Administration and Finance Assistant
The project duration will be January 16, 2014 to September 30, 2014. Below are the qualifications for each job opening.

The Program Officer shall liaise with partner MSM, TG and PLHIV CBOs, and local and national partners and stakeholders of the program. S/he will manage and facilitate support grants allocated to partner CBOs. (More details of the job duties and candidate requirements can be found here.) 

The assistant shall assist the program team in the development and/or implementation of administrative and financial process for the program. (More details of the job duties and candidate requirements can be found here.) 

Interested applicants are encouraged to submit an expression of interest (EOI) letter and updated CV/resume (with list of character references), via email to and (cc: on or before January 4, 20, 2014, addressed to Mr. Ronivin Pagtakhan, President/CEO, Love Yourself. Kindly mention in the subject line of your email the position you are applying for.

Technical review of documents, interview and written exam will be facilitated and the most qualified applicant will be contracted by Love Yourself.  Please take note that this is for immediate hiring to be based in Metro Manila, and contract period is from January 16, 2014 to September 30, 2014.


Sunday, December 22, 2013


Today, LoveYourself is in the midst of a growing movement. We're opening our doors to a new generation of LoveYourself volunteers who can lead this movement with us. Interested? Read on.

LoveYourself is known for creating innovative campaigns, and building model communities that empower MSMs across the country. That simply wouldn't be possible without Lovers — our incredibly talented volunteers.

These Lovers are vanguards  people who lead the way; volunteers who have the passion, talent and love to transform our advocacy in new and exciting ways, and take it to ever-greater heights.

At a time when attention around HIV in the Philippines is growing increasingly frenetic, LoveYourself has been one with the community, helping people dare to make the choice to love themselves everyday. In a society where we are taught that staying healthy means living less, LoveYourself has been changing the way we care for ourselves by injecting fresh perspectives into the conversation on safer sex. In a society where stigma is still the norm for people like us, LoveYourself is ready to share its vision of self-worth with the unveiling of LoveYourself ANGLO, a safe and affirming space for MSMs and their friends in 2014.

This is what LoveYourself has always been about. We believe that when you dare to know and be yourself, when you care for your well-being without denying yourself pleasure, and when you share your love, time and talent with other people, you are loving yourself.

Do you feel passionate about our purpose? Can you commit time, pour energy, and invest love into it? Do you have the skills that can transform it into an outstanding experience for the community?

LoveYourself Vanguard is your chance to join us at the forefront of the advocacy, where we unite our diverse talents behind our common mission to create ripples of positive change in the community, and together realize the promise of LoveYourself.

Curious about how you can help? Sign up to volunteer on our website:

NOTE: The sign-up period for this batch ends on 10 January, 2014 (Friday), after which all sign-ups will be entertained during the next recruitment cycle.

Year-end 2013 Holiday Schedule for Free HIV Test at the Love Yourself Hub

The year-end brings with it great positive energies, inspiring people to take care of themselves, and reclaiming that peace of mind they so very much deserve. For you, how about your HIV test?

Our community center in Malate, The Love Yourself Hub (a.k.a. RITM Satellite Clinic) which offers free HIV, Syphilis, and Hepa B testing, will have the following year-end schedule. Go for it! We have friendly staff to assist you. Just walk in, drop-in, and worry no more. For map and directions, go to

Open or closed? Check out the schedule below?

Monday, December 09, 2013

Erasing Stigma by Example: Student Leaders Take the HIV Test

Roughly 1 of 4 new HIV cases now come from Filipino youth aged 15 to 24.

Alarmed by this trend, student leaders recently partnered with LoveYourself to take an HIV test, hoping to encourage more youth to know their HIV status and practice safer sex.

13 student council representatives from different schools trooped to the LoveYourself hub in Malate late last month. They joined 40 other visitors to avail of the free HIV testing and counseling services at the community center.

“It has come to our attention as student leaders that the incidence of HIV in the Philippines has been on a rapid increase. What bothered us more is the fact that a significant portion of these recent increases in HIV incidences come from the youth sector,” explained Arjay Mercado, head of the Gender Committee of the U.P. Diliman University Student Council, and one of the student leaders from the Student Council Association of the Philippines (SCAP), which led the initiative.

“With this in our minds, we decided to take the HIV test ourselves. We thought that if their student representation could not be good examples to others, then who can? That’s why we all took the test  to encourage the youth that knowing your status is something that should be top priority.”

HIV awareness campaign and university initiatives

By taking the HIV test, the student leaders wanted to erase the stigma of HIV testing, and encourage more youth to practice safer sex and keep their reproductive health in mind.

The student leaders' HIV awareness campaign culminated with a press conference on December 2, 2013 which coincided with the World AIDS Day celebrations. Read the students’ official statements here.

The student leaders expressed support for the Reproductive Health law, which will institutionalize an HIV-AIDS module in school curriculum. They also advocated for more adolescence desks in universities to help the youth receive proper advice on sexual and reproductive health.

Individually, each student leader is also working to enact changes in their schools that would help promote HIV testing.

“For example, in UP Diliman, we are lobbying to give training to our medical technologist and health service staff to undergo HIV-AIDS training so that HIV testing could be done anytime in school,” said Mercado.

UP Diliman also held a week-long lineup of events which included a commemoration of World AIDS Day, a forum, film screening, discussions on HIV and the RH Law, and also free HIV testing for students.

“We’re really targeting this age group through messages from student leaders who are very young so as to inspire them that the HIV issue should be their concern,” said Mercado.

Love Yourself provides free HIV testing for youth 

Love Yourself is proud to support SCAP and its student leaders to encourage HIV testing among the youth.

The advocacy provides free and confidential HIV testing, but all minors (below 18 years old) need to obtain parental consent. Friendly and knowledgeable LoveYourself counselors can help answer questions about HIV and AIDS and will guide every visitor through the HIV testing process.

Feel free to read our HIV testing FAQs to know more or schedule now for a free HIV test.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

FOOD PORN: A Fresh Perspective on Safer Sex

by Allen Yu 

Don’t worry, no fruits or vegetables were harmed in the making of this video.

FOOD PORN, the latest content offering from LoveYourself, is sure to cause a stir in the community: whether for its unconventional take on protection, its abuse of still life, or just that hot guy fondling the produce.

Wear it. Wet it. Better safe when horny.

Although conceptualized as a promotional video for condom-and-lubricant-use, LoveYourself is ditching the messaging strategies that have traditionally dominated the safer sex space, and pushing the envelope with its own innovative approach. This willingness to buck the trend shouldn't come as any surprise, given that LoveYourself has always had a track record of reinventing how HIV issues are advocated for, with viral hits like FLY LoveYourself: How to Have Sex and Avoid HIV and the groundbreaking Project 'Indulge'.

FOOD PORN isn't any different. Integrating lubricants into its core message contrasts noticeably with earlier, exclusively condom-focused safer sex promotion efforts (this is a big deal: it's little-known that water-based lubricants prevent condom breakage and minimize tearing on the anal mucosa, making penetrative sex safer). Older interventions just didn't seem to get how important sensation was to the quality of the sexual experience  a good insight when trying to understand why exactly people keep having unprotected sex.

Since it’s the experience that matters, LoveYourself has put that front and center: FOOD PORN basically speaks to the desire in all of us to have really awesome sex. Is there a bigger turn-off for tops than pulling out to find poop on the peen? Is there anything more terrifying for bottoms than having bowel movements while bonking?

Though depicted euphemistically, the message FOOD PORN drives home is clear: sh*t happens, but don't let it mess your thang. Save yourself the trouble: slip on a condom, and lube up. Better safe when horny!

The release of FOOD PORN is especially timely given the kind of sex MSM are having today: in late November, the news that unprotected sex had risen by almost a fifth among US MSMs throughout 2005 to 2011 (even higher among those who didn't know their HIV status) had federal health officials spooked. This rise was predictably accompanied by a similar jump in new HIV infections (22%), after almost a decade of decline. Those stats tell us that we need to revisit the kinds of insights we draw about sexual behavior between men, as well as the conversations we build around safer sex.

FOOD PORN simply wouldn't have been possible without the expert direction and production of Jedd Rommel (he's a big supporter of LoveYourself), the abs talents of Cosmo Hunk Victor Sy (who clearly puts the “porn” in FOOD PORN), food styling by Edge Joaquin, make-up by Jackie Seballos, camerawork by Jan Tristan Pandy, and the generosity of PNGOC and ISEAN-Hivos. Oh, and those fruits and vegetables who were totally not harmed in the making of this video. Kinda.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Certified Platinum: A peek into the most premium testing service in the metro

by Allen Yu   

Since LoveYourself Platinum first launched in January 2013, it's been nothing but a runaway success. Known for its hyper-discreet, by-appointment testing process and premium service quality, Platinum — already offered twice a month — is routinely booked solid.

For many of its clients, the discreetness makes it their ideal choice. “My past testing experiences were okay — straight to the point, very professional,” recalls Mike, who got tested with Platinum last October. "But given the stigma on HIV, I still prefer privacy and discreetness — and LoveYourself Platinum offered just that.”

Other clients go even further: for them, discreetness is non-negotiable. “The stigma is a hindrance,” explains JR, a designer who tested with Platinum last April. “The privacy aspect was paramount.”

Joey, a system administrator who also got tested with Platinum this October, appreciates that he didn’t need to worry about how to approach clinic or hospital staff. “The thought of directly approaching people from the clinic or hospital to get tested sounds really uncomfortable to me,” he confides. “I was worried of the stigma, because most people do not have a broader sense of understanding of this kind of thing.”

Apart from discreetness, many clients also appreciate that Platinum isn’t just a run-of-the-mill testing service. Care has been taken to make every aspect of the experience as comfortable as possible.

“The environment and the people involved are very much accommodating,” shares Waltz, who works in a BPO company. “You won’t feel like you are going to a test.”

Accommodating, but efficient. “What I liked most in the experience is the swift outcome of the results,” says a 35-year old professional who tested with Platinum last September, and has chosen to remain anonymous. “Also, the place where you hold it is very private yet easy to go to.”

Jerry, another client who tested last June and runs his family’s business, agrees. “I personally liked having a specified time to be tested, so there was no waiting. The staff was professional and extremely courteous. The location was also convenient. I would recommend Platinum to anyone who prefers privacy over the dislikes of the hospital atmosphere, with long lines and unsympathetic hospital workers.”

Given some of the horror stories that have gone around about these ‘dislikes’, Jerry’s comment highlights one of the great advantages of the LoveYourself Platinum testing experience: the counselors. Rigorously trained on HIV issues and health-plan building, they are the perfect resource people for curious clients.

“You get the extra knowledge on things that you thought you already knew,” says Waltz.

Max, a writer who tested with Platinum last October, also notes the “positive, information-driven approach” of the counselors, as well as their “consistent advocacy for everyday habits that lead a person to take better care of themselves sexually, and as a whole.”

Mike, on the other hand, appreciated the counselors’ empathy as much as their know-how. “Though we were strangers to each other, I felt genuine and sincere warmth. And that in itself spelled all the difference for me.”

The existence of Platinum serves as much-needed reassurance at a time when the attention around HIV is growing increasingly frenetic. The past year has seen a month-on-month increase in the overall number of MSM who have gotten tested for HIV. This groundswell of initiative from within the community could be a signal that people are becoming more aware of the presence of HIV and its implication on their lives.

“I’m in my mid-thirties, and sexually active with multiple partners,” shares Mike. “I know that I am at high risk.”

For some clients, the urgency of getting tested radiates from their social circles. “The recent surge of positive individuals made me want to know my status,” says JR. Here, as before, stigma (and the accompanying fear) complicates the situation.

“If you think that you really need to get tested, take the courage to do so,” advises Joey. “In my case, I became so paranoid and even physically ill because of too much stress. I decided to end the agony and had the guts to know what I should know about myself.”

JR concurs: “Knowledge is key to keeping oneself healthy. It’s not the end of the world — prevention and/or maintenance can do wonders.”

Others, however, feel that getting tested shouldn’t just be a reaction, but a responsibility.

“It is something I feel we owe ourselves to know,” Max insists. “This is one body that we have, and it really makes sense to be responsible for it and to be deliberate about what we do with it.”

“At this time and age when LGBTs are pushing for not just equality but recognition, it is important that HIV concerns are placed at the forefront of our agenda,” Mike concludes. “Getting tested is a tangible way to establish our taking full responsibility for our well-being, and interest in being part of the solution and the proactive efforts to deter, if not stop, the unnecessary spread of HIV.”

Do you want to get tested at LoveYourself Platinum?
Find out more about what happens at LoveYourself Platinum here. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Victor Sy Stars in LoveYourself Food Porn Video

by Michael Jamias

One Saturday afternoon Victor Sy stripped off his shirt, unbuttoned his jeans, and started fondling food like he does his lovers.

Just all in a day’s advocacy work for the 32-year-old Cosmo bachelor and star of LoveYourself Food Porn, the outrageous new condom-and-lube-use campaign targeting Filipino men who have sex with men.

In the food porn video, Victor represents the primal urge of sex that can offer mind-blowing pleasure but can also lure unwary men into unprotected anal intercourse.

Delicious seducer

Admittedly a very sexual man, Victor eased into the character of a delicious seducer. By simply picking up a longganisa and staring intently into the camera, he had our knees – and probably yours – wobbling.

When the director asked Victor to turn up the heat, he grabbed the nearest banana, and felt the length of the phallic fruit along his cheek.

Satisfied at how the banana feels against his scruffy jaw, Victor then looked at the banana longingly while licking his lower lip.

The room suddenly felt hotter. Until Victor started fingering a donut hole.

HIV hits close to home

Not all straight guys will agree to perform these homoerotic food porn scenes, much less have them recorded for all the world to see.

But one compelling reason the ruggedly handsome chinito did so -- instead of say hitting the gym or practicing as part of the male ensemble for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at the Resorts World Manila -- was to help fight a plague that has hit close to home.

Victor revealed that he has a good friend living with HIV, whose fate may have been averted given stronger messages encouraging safer sex.

“When he first told me, of course it was very sad. You wanna comfort him but you do not know how to do it," recounted Victor. He said moral support after that confirmatory HIV test has helped his friend consistently take his medications and improve his quality of life.

"I give moral support. I ask how he is. He says he's eating well. He’s drinking what he should drink, his antivirals. And then I just check up on him frequently. He always says ‘I'm OK, I'm OK. Don't you worry.' He's very brave. But you can see he's really taking care of himself. And I think he’s doing better now than before."

Victor advises men who have sex with men, as well as everyone else, to practice safer sex by consistently using condoms and water-based lubes: “Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) are so rampant these days for both males and females, so we need to practice safe sex to prevent the spread of all kinds of STIs."

“Use protection. Do safer sex. Love Yourself.”

Campaign funding

The LoveYourself Food Porn video would not have been possible without funding support from the ISEAN-Hivos Program, a grant that addresses the increased vulnerability of men who have sex with men or MSM population, as well as transgenders, to HIV transmission in the Southeast Asia region.

The campaign was also supported by the Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare (PNGOC), the lead local organization in implementing ISEAN-Hivos Program activities.

ISEAN-Hivos and PNGOC previously funded the Fly LoveYourself  HIV 101 video, which imparts the factual truths about HIV/AIDS and its transmission. The video also guides viewers to a smart and scrumptious sex life with in-flight assistance from the adorable YouTube star Sebastian Castro.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Straits Games 2013 Manila Kicks Off at BED

BONGGA AND FUN! This is how Chris Lagman labelled the event at the prominent Manila gay bar, Bed, last night. And rightly so, the two hours were filled with laughter because of kinky games, sizzling dance numbers, tempting prizes and of course, jaw-dropping drag shows. It was the kick-off party for the 3-day sports-centric and LGBT-focused annual gathering – The Straits Games (TSG). The event is held for the first time, since its inception 12 years ago, in the Philippines.

The night started at around 7:00 PM with the registration of participants to the sports activities and a light dinner. The program proper followed an hour after with Dennis Corteza, one of the event organizers, and Noel Contreras, a sports enthusiast, taking the mic as hosts. The welcome remarks of Ivan Yap, one of the brainchildren of the annual event and who hails from Malaysia, provided the objective of TSG. That is to foster “friendships and healthy lifestyle through sports”. He emphasized that we are a community, esp., the MSM, capable of leading a healthy lifestyle and not of sex and drugs; a message that somehow resonates to TLY’s mantra of DARE, CARE, SHARE.

Dennis and Noel then facilitated two games onstage to which the players eagerly pitched-in. Well, who wouldn't? With a promise of prizes, a chance to kiss a hunky Hilom masseur and if you’re lucky, an opportunity to indiscrimately frisk a hopefully beefy assigned partner to find condoms; the stage was full in no time. A dozen of gift cards and a hundred or so kisses later, the much awaited performances kicked-in.

First to jump-in was Helena Prasertkul of Thailand. It started well, she fell on stage halfway and twerked her way-up to the fascination of the audience to the end. It was followed by an electrifying lip-sync of yet another drag queen from Thailand (Boy don’t they run-out of these talents). The delivery of the first song brought the house down that when the crowd craved for more, she was happy to oblige. The last, which was the collaborative presentations of Las Mujeres and 38 Degrees made everyone feverish. It took almost half an hour but, hey, no one was complaining. In fact, had the audience had their way, they would have wanted more. Inspired by boxing, UAAP basketball and twinks (sorry, STUDENTS) in uniform, the sultry trio of Las Mujeres with their pompoms and the half-naked members of 38 Degrees strut their stuff and gyrated their oh-so-hot-bods to the music of “Eye of the Tiger” and “Roar”, among others.

Amidst all these, our indefatigable leaders, Vinn, Ian, Anthony and Chris, were at the background, unabashedly advancing TLY’s cause by arranging the showing of TLY’s video clips and the distribution of lubricated condoms accompanied by an ID tag promoting the use of it. They were assisted by Mr. Gay Philippines, Erimar Ortigas and a peer educator, Jester Jeff De Veyra.

Half of the participants fit on stage. Yes, they were few but they represent a group that attempts to break the stereotype – that we can’t actively participate in sports. Feel the adrenaline, build friendships, encourage a healthy lifestyle, incidentally contribute in breaking the stereotype and make the event more, as Chris aptly puts it, เหลือเชื่อ, tuyệt vời, 极好, hebat, fabulous, BONGGA!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TSG: 12 Years of Tosses, Spikes, and Adrenaline Rush

Ready, ace, smash! 

It’s that time of the year again when strait men rummage through their non-proverbial closets, or sprint their way to the nearest active lifestyle boutiques to look for the perfect sports attire as The Straits Games (TSG) draws nearer to its 2013 leg: Manila.

This highly anticipated affair dates back to 2002, when it started as a friendly annual sporting event initiated by Malaysia’s Leadership for Gays (LPG, formerly known as Leadership Program for Graduates) and Singapore’s Men After Work (MAW); aimed at fostering the spirit of friendship among LGBT communities, and at the same time, promoting health and an active lifestyle. That’s why the main attraction of TSG is the different sports tournaments for teams and individuals — volleyball, badminton, bowling, and now, tennis and squash.

The ‘games’ was named after the Straits of Malacca, a stretch of water where Malaysia and Singapore are both coincidentally located. An etymology that can also suggest the idea that LGBT communities around the world must first break barriers of their own in order to come out as a bigger, stronger unit.

The first TSG in 2002 held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was a big hit. The news spread like wildfire that reached as far as China, USA, and The Netherlands. And since then, LGBT groups in neighboring Asian countries have already hosted the games: Singapore (2003), Thailand (2006, 2007, 2012), Taiwan (2009), Hong Kong (2010). Malaysia has graced TSG five times already (2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011), while Manila is gearing up as a first-time host.

This year, organizers of the 12th TSG are promising to give not only adrenaline-filled match-ups, but also a spectacle of fabulous and fun-filled parties and gatherings as hot as Manila’s tropical climate. It has been twelve years but TSG is kicking harder than ever. So come out and play on October 18- 20, 2013, wear your fiercest pair of rubber shoes and show the world that gays do strait best!

LoveYourself Invites You to the Wear Love photoshoot on October 25

Don’t miss the LoveYourself classic open photoshoot when it returns for one night only – possibly the last for the year -- this October 25 at The Enterprise Center.

Sign up now to get your first-ever professional LoveYourself photo wearing the advocacy’s iconic shirt. (Or update your old LoveYouself photo if you’re sporting a handsome new haircut or want to show off that recently gym-toned body!)

For a donation of P1,000 you’ll get:

  • 1 LoveYourself T-shirt;
  • Grooming services to make you look your best; and
  • 1 layout of your post-processed digital photo, all ready to share on your Facebook feed and online albums
All photographs will be shot by noted magazine and commercial photographer Ian Felix Alquiros.

Be part of a celebrated tradition

In just two years, the LoveYourself open photoshoot has grown into a celebrated and empowering tradition.

We’ve taken hundreds of photos of A-list celebrities, actors, directors, fashion designers, entrepreneurs, corporate professionals, activists, students, men, women, and everything else in between.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, and whomever you choose to love – all that fades away when you step into a LoveYourself shoot. Then a few minutes later you'll walk away with one memorable photo brimming with self-confidence and positivity. A photo you’ll likely treasure forever.

Register now for the LoveYourself photoshoot

Sample photos from 38 Degrees

"But will I look good?" you ask.

Here's a sampling of high-quality photos from our previous LoveYourself open photoshoot with the six talented dancers of 38 Degrees, and we'd like to think they came out fantastic.

All for a fabulous cause

Photoshoot proceeds will go to support LoveYourself’s projects, including HIV testing, education and counseling. Donations will also help finish the construction of LoveYourself Anglo, the advocacy’s new community center along Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas that will function as its primary hub in the center of Metro Manila.

So you won't only look great after the photoshoot, but also feel great.

For more information

For more information on, please visit the LoveYourself open photoshoot Facebook event page. Then reserve a slot by choosing your preferred time and shirt size.

Monday, October 14, 2013

LoveYourself Confidential: How To Get To RITM-ARG (Alabang)

For Commuters from North and Metro East:
  • Take any bus going to Alabang (But not the one with Sucat-Bicutan signage, preferably in Edsa Ayala so less stopover; P25-35 fare, around 20-30 mins. travel time depending on the traffic)
  • From Alabang look for Muntinlupa Fire Station
  • Ride a minivan/multicab with a Filinvest Ikot route in front the Orang Condo/Building and Festival Mall beside the fire station. (P10 fare, 5 mins. travel time)
  • Tell driver to drop you off at RITM

For Commuters from Metro South & South Luzon:
  • Ride any transpo going to Alabang
  • From Alabang look for Muntinlupa Fire Station
  • Ride a minivan/multicab with a Filinvest Ikot route in front the Orang Condo/Building and Festival Mall beside the fire station. (P10 fare, 5 mins. travel time)
  • Tell driver to drop you off at RITM

If Bringing a Private Vehicle:
  • Take SLEX
  • Exit to  Filinvest Toll
  • Turn left after toll
  • RITM is at the right side


  • Be there before 7AM for baseline testing (Important)
  • Once inside RITM compound just ask for the ARG clinic then register
  • After registration buy the Orange Patient Record Sheet at the cashier near ER (P130), then go back to ARG for further instructions
  • CD4 results usually becomes available after lunch / 2pm-ish
  • ARG is closed on Sat/Sun. No baseline testing (CD4 Count) on Wednesdays.
  • There's cafeteria inside the premises
  • There's TV in ARG or bring gadgets to kill boredom

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Generations Unite to Bring The Straits Games to Manila

The Straits Games Manila 2013 (October 18-20) is promising to be the friendliest and most fabulously produced sporting event to hit Manila this year. And it’s all thanks to the combined push from two groups – one filled with veteran organizers the other brimming with eager young volunteers.

Veteran organizers

The first group led by Dennis Corteza and his The Library Foundation friends, are mostly in their mid-30s and early 40s, and all veteran organizers eager to make The Straits Games Manila 2013 the splashiest yet in its 12-year run.

Corteza has produced other local sports spectacles like the Ms.U Bowling Pageant, Bowlibining Pilipinas, Billiardbining Plipinas, and Volleybining Pilipinas. He recalls joining The Straits Games 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and coming back to the Philippines with a trove of fun pictures and new friendships.

Corteza’s rave review of the event piqued the interest of his friends, so much so that when the opportunity this year came for the Philippines to host the annual sports event for the first time ever, his gang pledged their unflinching support.

Made up mainly by his volleyball playmates in Ateneo and Valley-belles, Corteza has cobbled together a team of well-established professionals, from an art director to hospitality staff, to ensure The Straits Games Manila 2013 runs without a hitch.

Young volunteers

While Corteza and his buddies guaranteed precise planning and execution for The Straits Games Manila 2013, the event still needed to gain buzz and mileage among potential participants and the press.

Enter The Love Yourself Project, a Philippine-based advocacy filled with young volunteers that has been lauded for its communications campaigns spreading awareness for and encouraging HIV testing among men who have sex with men.

Mobilizing their passionate members, LoveYourself is out to spread the word on The Straits Games Manila 2013 as a positive, confidence-building sports event for men who have sex with men. LoveYourself believes that sports and friendships can help this often-vulnerable cohort build stronger self-esteem and social support systems.

LoveYourself will be rolling out announcements and articles leading up to the event, and will also be fielding correspondents to cover the exciting court action as well as the swanky night outs after each day’s competitions.

Join The Straits Games Manila 2013

Check out the full schedule of activities and game formats. To secure your ticket to the event or for queries on admission prices, schedules and other concerns, contact Dennis Corteza via mobile (+63-918-5338826) or email (

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Sports, Friendship and Then Some: The Straits Games Hits Manila

Want to smash balls, make new friends, and experience Manila’s thrilling nightlife scene? Then take part in The Straits Games 2013 Manila this October 18-20 weekend.

Held for the first time ever in the Philippines, The Straits Games 2013 Manila will see sports enthusiasts and social butterflies from across eight countries and all colors of the LGBT rainbow converging in the friendly metro capital of Manila.

Their goal:  To win in six team and individual sports, get to know each other in sweaty camaraderie, and just let loose in the swanky after parties capping off the three-day games.

The Straits Games: A History

The Straits Games traces its roots as a friendly sports event between two organizations – the Leadership Programme Graduates of Malaysia and Men After Work of Singapore back in 2002.

Its name was inspired by the Straits of Malacca, a stretch of water and strategic shipping lane just off the coast of Malay Peninsula where both Malaysia and Singapore are located.

But what started as a bi-nation collaboration has expanded into a regional sports and socialization event.

For the 2013 Manila version, participants will hail from eight Asia Pacific countries – Malaysia and Singapore, plus Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Japan, United States and Philippines.

It's more fun in the Philippines

Organizers of The Straits Games 2013 Manila promise a memorably fun time in the Philippines for all participants, both for local Filipinos and visiting foreign nationals.

Having produced the likes of Bowlibining Pilipinas, Ms. U Bowling Pageant, Billiardbining Pilipinas, and Volleybining Pilipinas at Puerto Galera – the Manila organizers plan to tap into the trademark Filipino flair for hospitality to make the annual games exceptionally cozy and welcoming.




Schedule of activities and games formats 

For the Straits Games 2013 Manila, attendees will compete across six events: volleyball, badminton, bowling, tennis, billiards and swimming.

Based on previous attendance, more than 100 competitors are expected to sign up and participate not only in the sporting events, but also in the social activities such as the welcome party, tours, gala dinner and club parties.

See the full program schedule and game formats below:

Schedule updated as of 15 October

How to sign-up 

Sign-ups are ongoing. For queries on admission prices, schedules and other concerns, please contact Dennis Corteza via mobile (+63-918-5338826) or email (

TLY supports The Straits Games

LoveYourself Philippines supports The Straits Games 2013 Manila, an event that encourages Filipino men who have sex with men to get physically active and form lasting friendships. These activities help in building self-confidence, a vital emotional pillar in encouraging safe sex and HIV testing practices.

Monday, October 07, 2013

LoveYourself Counselors: a Continuous Learning Experience

Soon after the successful Quickie by LoveYourself Confidential HIV testing event last September 20 at the Makati Friendship Suites, more than 70 of LoveYourself's HIV-trained counselors came together for the 1st LoveYourself Counselors' Convention on Saturday, October 5 at the Best Western Antel Suites.

The Convention was sponsored by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, specifically by their AIDS Reseach Group (RITM-ARG). Dr. Rossana Ditangco, head of RITM-ARG kicked off the Convention with a keynote.

She talked about the love story between RITM and LoveYourself -- how the partnership has blossomed in the past two years, starting with a basic vision from RITM on the HIV continuum of care, and LoveYourself's passion to bring it to life.

"Since LoveYourself took over the operations of the RITM Satellite Clinic in Malate as the LoveYourself Hub, the numbers of those coming to get tested for HIV at the Hub has drastically increased, " Dr. Ditangco declared with much pride.

A module on Suicide First Aid Guidelines was handled by Aladin Borja, former Program Director of NGF/Hopeline and new member of LoveYourself; while Eddy Razon, president of Pinoy Plus Association, talked about Disclosure Counseling to complete the morning.

Other modules included: Ethics in HIV Counseling (AJ Sagmit, Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Cand., Ateneo de Manila University), Basics of HIV Treatment (Dr. Carmenchu Echiverri-Villavicencio, Infectious Diseases, Makati Medical Center), and Stress Management for HIV Counselors (Dona Esteban, Founder, Yin Yoga Philippines).

"We understand the need for further training of our counselors so we can continuously improve the level of service we are able to provide the community, " explained Anthony Decoste, LoveYourself's new Director for Counseling and Education. "We intend to do more of these conventions to keep our counselors well-informed and with the best skills to handle people who come to us."

Joining the LoveYourself HIV testing counselors were a couple of participants from the Quezon City Health Department, Yoga for Life and ACHIEVE who were invited to the Convention.

Fittingly, one of LoveYourself's own members, Edgie Guevarra, shared this open letter to LoveYourself on the day of the Convention:
To all our dear LoveYourself counselors, 
I am Edgie, a LoveYourself member for some months now, part of batch Synergy. I came in as a client last Quickie, and this was the first time I had undergone HIV testing with LoveYourself. This letter I am writing you is a contemplation of my experiences and thoughts from thereon, from the perspective of a client-member, as you may put it. 
I’d like to share with you some thoughts about this experience: 
First is that of gratitude. I joined LoveYourself for reasons that may not be as different as with most members: having close encounters with PLHIV friends, some of whom knew too late and have already moved on; I also had my own scare of getting infected. For these reasons that are not so very different, we grouped together to form a stronger force that helps each other and the community fight HIV. In my opinion, you are at the forefront of this fight—at the very core of LoveYourself — which now, more than ever, has been very effective in reaching out to help more MSMs. You are the people who can really bring about behavioral change—to empower the clients to love themselves more—because you approach the client face-to-face, able to know their needs, wants, and dreams. In my experience, after my test, I can only feel gratitude. You bring LoveYourself to new heights, not just because I feel it as a member, but because experienced being a client who can confide my feelings to people who really care, can relate, and will not judge me for my actions. 
Next is that of admiration. You see, my profession is in a very technical field, and I talk to computers for most of the day. I think I chose this profession because I do not have to deal with anything I have limited control. You, on the other hand, chose and continue to choose to deal with the unfathomable psyche of each client. I can only wonder how you muster the courage to tell a client that his result is reactive; how you reveal yourself each time to a person you just briefly met--to empower them--and in the process becoming as vulnerable as your client.
Lastly, I want to share the idea of hope. Recently, I have been a member of the Case Management Team which guides clients before the test. I have been conversing with our clients, and I can strongly feel their anxiety and fears even just through SMS exchanges. You know what I tell them at the end of the conversation? That taking the test and knowing their status is the best action to take, and no matter what the outcome is, LoveYourself, through their assigned counselors will be there to support them. This idea of hope sends a very strong message, because the danger is very real. But I also have this fear that this is a double-edged sword. As I see it, there can be two objects of hope in this case: the first and the strongest would be hoping that their result turns out non-reactive, and the second is that hoping that they are somehow ready to accept reality if they find out that they are infected by HIV. I do not know what happens after testing, you are in the best position to know each story, but we all know that either way can turn out for the worst. This is why, I believe, that counseling is a profession.

I don't doubt that having the heart to help and empower others is at the core of each and everyone of you. No detractor can contest that. A counselor may have imperfections, but he has what we call in Filipino: PUSO. Others may say that you don't have the credentials. I dare say you have the capacity to relate, give insights and fight the battle not for, but with the clients. They say that we are rushing grow bigger, but I would tell them that urgency is a virtue they have to learn. If not now, then when? Caring for the other doesn't stop or slow down. It can only grow to be a positive impetus to reach out to more people who need nurturing, and an effort to take on a different perspective: that life can be liveable and so much better amidst the difficulties in life--not just for the client, but for you, me, and everyone. 
Which is why I implore you, my dear counselors, to take every opportunity to care more, to empower better. To engage in dialogue and enrich your insights, using the experiences that you and those around you have gone through. To be able to say the right things to the right person at the right time. To give hope when others see none, and be a beacon of light when there can only be darkness. 
This Saturday, LoveYourself will hold a counselor's convention. My thoughts is for a hope that you dare to embrace yourself and your fellow counselors, and recharge yourself of the passion you have been driven from the start. Care to widen your sense of meaning in life through the eyes of another. Lastly, a hope for you to continue to share yourself to those who need not only acceptance, but understanding and love--flowing through you, and eventually perpetuates in the core of everyone you have touches. 
Thank you very much. 
LoveYourself member and aspiring counselor

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pancho Magno Flexes His Biceps for HIV Testing

by Michael Jamias

Pancho Magno has a body built for adoration.

Fans worship every inch of this six-foot-tall Bench fashion show model and My Husband’s Lover supporting star: From his intense eyes and razor-sharp jaw line, to those bulging arms and that luscious Moreno complexion.

What’s the secret to Pancho’s irresistible sex appeal? He treats his body like a sacred object, nourishing it with rigid workouts, a healthy wheat bread diet and a large dose of self-respect.

Pancho, who happens to be straight, shares that any guy can get the same sexy confidence by learning to love himself. And it can begin with something as simple as taking a free HIV test.

In the poster above, a wet and torso-baring Pancho represents the LoveYourself ideal --- the attractive and adventurous man ready to take on the world after knowing his HIV status.

All Filipino men should get tested, according to Pancho, and feel empowered by it:

“Please get tested. Loving yourself is not just physical. It’s everything – emotional and health-wise. HIV testing is also not only for yourself, but also for your partner,” says Pancho.

Visit to schedule your free, confidential and discreet HIV test.

Pancho is the latest model ambassador for Project Indulge, a LoveYourself campaign to spread awareness for and encourage HIV testing among men who have sex with men or MSM population, considered one of the most vulnerable to contracting the virus.

The campaign is a collaboration with award-winning advertising agency Campaigns & Grey and top-ranked photographer Jeanne Young. Previous celebrity models include Manhunt International 2012 winner June Macasaet, Philippine Volcanoes rugby flanker Kit Guerra, Mr. Gay World Philippines 2012 Carlito Rosalindo, Jr., and TV5 celebrity chef Jeremy Favia.

LoveYourself has provided thousands of sexually-active Filipinos with free HIV testing and counseling through its Malate-based LoveYourself Hub. Demand for LoveYourself's HIV testing services has grown exponentially, so it plans to build a second center called LoveYourself Anglo along Shaw Boulevard near EDSA. Visit to help Pancho and LoveYourself spread the message of self-love and acceptance.

(Inset photo credit: Bench Body)