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 to sign up! You can also walk-in too!


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.


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: or 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!


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:

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.”


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 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
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.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sharing Love Behind the Set of This is Me: Brave and Free

By Carlos Diego A. Rozul

Let’s take a look behind the shoot of the Philippines’ first community-led multi-site HIV testing day on May 26, 2018! Meet the talented people who shared their passions for the HIV advocacy. Seven Barreto a fashion photographer of ten years, Erwin Aguila member of the Fashion Designers Alliance (FaDAL), Vincent Mallanta a gym buff make-up artist of seven years, Jenn Tuazon who balances medical technology and make-up, and Mila Gulfan an up and comer make-up artist shared love for This is Me: Brave and Free.

Getting Involved

It was an easy decision for Vincent and Seven to shoot for the campaign, even offering his studio to use. “I got a call from a friend and offered me to shoot for LoveYourself. I immediately accepted the offer, in the name of the advocacy.” Seven stated. Similarly, Erwin shared how FaDAL’s support for the HIV advocacy has driven him to join. HIV Prevention has been the advocacy of FaDAL Manila for a long time now so when I was given the opportunity to dress the models for this campaign, I said yes right away.” Erwin shared.

When Mila was invited to support the advocacy through her skills in make-up, she was thrilled! “I was also an HIV proficient medical technologist and the cause of the organisation is very close to my heart. Being able to do my passion (make-up) while volunteering for a cause has always been a dream of mine.” she shared. Jenn was also excited to do something she loves for a worthwhile cause. “Supporting causes like this through what I do makes me feel proud.” Jenn said

Seven, Erwin, Vincent, Jenn, and Mila may have come from different backgrounds, but they put their time, skills, and talents together for a single purpose. Much like the many community-based organizations supporting the event, their shared passions and resources are pooled for the greater good of the HIV advocacy.

Being Brave and Free

Being brave and free means different things for every person. For Mila, being brave and free means coming out of your shell. I was always a shy kid. Growing up and meeting different people inspired me to embrace everyone, everything, and most especially myself.” she said.

Jenn and Seven shared the same idea on how following what you love shows your courage and freedom. “Breaking free from your inhibitions, knowing that there will always be people who will criticize you, especially when it comes to your sexuality, takes so much courage and sometimes can be too overwhelming that some of us in the community choose to hide. With that, I think being yourself without caring about how people think of you or how they perceive you is the bravest thing you could ever do.” told Seven.

Erwin and Vincent also shared similar sentiments with how knowing your HIV status is also a test of courage. “To know our status already says that we are brave and free so once we’ve done this first big step, we already have the courage and the strength to do the next correct steps.” Erwin stated.

Shouting Out THIS IS ME!

Fashion, make-up, and photography can give life to your day. As Jenn, Mila and Vincent pointed out how these things can boost your self-esteem. If it can help boost someone’s confidence, then it can be a way to inspire people to live a more beautiful life.” stated Mila. Vincent even shared that this new found confidence can empower you towards more healthy habits.

For Seven, supporting worthwhile causes like the HIV advocacy is a stride towards you standing up for your beliefs. “Participating in awareness and educational campaigns like this is an enormous thing for the community. We need to enlighten people and debunk all those negative perceptions on getting tested, and on HIV, in general.” he said. Erwin further discussed how knowing your HIV status is not the end. “Once you know it, life goes on.. you may even have a better life because you already know what to do and what not to do.. You can enjoy life even more because you are not scared anymore, no regrets.. you can live life happily.. you are free to dream and free to be YOU.” shared Erwin.

Truly being yourself is about the bravest thing you can do. In this endeavor, we continually strive to discover more about ourselves. May it be knowing more about how we work, handle stress, or even just our sleeping schedule, it all helps us in becoming more self-aware. In our journey to self-discovery, let’s include our sexual health, and  a single HIV test can be your first step to accomplishing this.

The stage is set for you, lovers. Join us at This is Me: Brave and Free - the first community-led multi-site HIV testing day launching on May 26, 2018. Join in the celebration of self-care by bringing your courage to community based organizations (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). Get to know your status with the fast, free, and confidential community based-screening process.

Go to to sign up and you’ll receive a confirmation notice in a few days!
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, May 17, 2018

Owning Your Identity, Owning Your Health in This is Me: Brave and Free

By Jhemarie Arca

The support from the community far transcends our expectations as the Philippines’ first community-led multi-site HIV testing day happening on May 26, 2018 is just around the corner! Join us as we welcome our transgender volunteers: Disney Aguila, trans Deaf advocate, and makeup artist from Mandaluyong; and Margaux Medina, stylist from a major commercial network. The duo share their advocacy that inspires both the Deaf and transgender community.

Joining the Campaign

The lovely ladies both expressed their admiration for the campaign as it showcases inclusivity through all expressions and orientation.

Disney pointed out that the key to every action is loving and caring for yourself first. “The campaign is really perfect since it’s about loving yourself. And all people must be aware of HIV.” She explained that everyone, no matter how small, can help spread the word. “I really wanted to join today’s campaign as a volunteer and to give service to the organization.”

Margaux expressed her desire to inspire more people by joining the campaign. “Beauty with a purpose, I wanna help in my little way in encouraging people to be aware and to know their status,” she said as she explained being an image of beauty also means to take care of oneself. “We enjoy life so we have to take care of it”, she added.

Brave and Free

While others may shy away from HIV testing, Disney understands that there might be some feeling of fear and doubt. “I really wanted to show the support, to stand and say there’s nothing to worry. You have to set the fear aside and show people that you believe in them and testing is the way to do so,” Disney explained.

Margaux echoed the idea that no one should feel any hindrance in knowing their status. “You stand for what you believe in and free because walang hindrance, walang any fear that’s why you’re free.” She observed that this negative feeling of fear should not be stronger than our love for ourselves that will not only give us freedom but also leads to a healthier life. “The stigma and the fear prevents us from getting tested, but if we love ourselves, we should be brave enough to get ourselves tested, to know your status.

By being aware of the feelings you may have, you have the power to control  what to do. Like what we understand from the heroes we watched when we were little, any fear, any doubt, will be defeated by love.

Shouting Out THIS IS ME!

Disney encourages all especially those in the Deaf and transgender community to stand up and spread awareness, “I want to help them especially in terms of awareness and advocacy for all the communities - really to remove all the worries.” Her selflessness shows not only by being part of the campaign, but by her continuous support to the community. “I give my heart to everyone.” Disney signed.

Margaux shared her philosophy in leading a healthy and happy life by knowing your status. “Sa aking mga sisters, to enjoy our life, if we are sexualy active- we have to do this!” Her powerful call to action to everyone. “Because we love ourselves, lahat tayo maging healthy.” Margaux said.

Their message of courage and self awareness is a strong foundation in leading a healthy and worry-free lifestyle. By deciding on taking the HIV test and knowing your status, you have transformed into a healthier, better version of yourself. Be brave, be free, and shout: This is Me!

The stage is set for you, lovers. Join us at This is Me: Brave and Free - the first multi-site HIV testing day launching on May 26, 2018. Join in the celebration of self-care by bringing your courage to community based organizations (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). Get to know your status with the fast, free, and confidential community based-screening process.

Go to to sign up and you’ll receive a confirmation notice in a few days!
Jhemarie Arca. A simple observer who learned how to weave stories before she can actually read, Jhem discovered the beauty of storytelling at an early age along with the reality of loss, death, hope, and truth of life. Realizing stories are her fuel, she blogs, writes, and immerse herself in as much human interaction as possible knowing she'll gain and exchange stories with other people along the way.