Monday, March 30, 2020

Executive Director's Message

Statement for the Day 15 of the Community Quarantine Due to COVID-19
(March 30, 2020)

On our 15th day since the effectivity of the community quarantine due to COVID-19, LoveYourself continues to extend its utmost care for its clients, volunteers, and health workers. As a community-based non-profit organization, we continue to draw strength and inspiration from our beloved community.

In times of crisis like COVID19, our community's expressions of love come in different forms. Your understanding and support enable us to operate smoothly amidst the occurrence of technical challenges.

Despite our limited capacity, we endeavor for continuous delivery of our sexual health and trans health services, particularly the access of anti-retroviral medicines of our clients on treatment through our Xpress Refill program. With the direction from the Department of Health, we were also able to serve non-clients access their life-saving medications given the situation.

We wouldn't have made this work if not for the support of the government, our partners, the volunteers, and the staff. We hope for a stronger collaboration as the challenge continues to persist in the coming days. Let's help everyone to keep their morale high enough to make it through.

Until this global health crisis is over, please remember that the Safety of one is Safety of all. Everyone's cooperation means an act of love that entails compassion and selflessness toward all of us. 

Again, we thank you for all the help and solidarity. LoveYourself is always grateful to serve you.

Keep safe, everyone.

Ronivin G. Pagtakhan
Founder and Executive Director
LoveYourself, Inc.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Babae Ako: Empowering Femininity

By Carlos Diego A. Rozul

Women’s month is not only a celebration, but it’s also a time to augment the empowerment of all women. Intersectional feminism reminds us to be cognizant of the different factors that affect gender equality. These factors include ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and physical/mental ability among others. As we recognize the essential part of women in building today’s society, let us take a look at how femininity has been a part of select women’s lives.

Transgender Health Officers of LoveYourself Inc., Jesse Castelo, Eda Catabas, and Yanyan Arana (L-R)
Eda Catabas and Jesse Castelo are some of the newest Trans Health Officers of LoveYourself Inc. As trans women themselves, they feel right at home in their new role. Together with their teammates, they are partnering up with Decent Image of South Signal Association (DIOSSA) for an event to celebrate Women’s Month.

Femininity is very important for me because I grew up with the thought in mind that I wanted to transition. I wanted feminine features…. It is part of my humanity. Explained Eda

For Eda, femininity is a societal expectation that people conform to in order to be acknowledged as a woman. She holds femininity dear to her heart as it has been a part  of her thought process ever since she was little. But it was a challenging journey for her growing up. She was named after her father, who is a former police officer. With strong Filipino tradition and belief, Eda's family expected her to follow in her father's footsteps. 

Growing up, she felt a lot of pressure to conform to the masculine expectations of her environment being born male. This pressure has been aggravated by the bullying she experienced from her schoolmates, peers and neighbors. But somewhere down the road, she made the conscious decision to fight for her true identity.

At 13 Eda started expressing her femininity through her eyebrows, but she did not fully realize her true expression until she met her mentors. They guided her through hormone replacement therapy, make up, and flattering clothing. Through her mentors, Eda met other trans women who have different backgrounds, but have similar experiences as her growing up. It was a joy to find support and understanding from other trans women despite their differences.

To be female is to be human. She is strong, she is powerful, and more than anything she is capable. Shared Jesse

Jesse shared that during her early phases in transition, her concept of femininity was unclear and loose. She thought that in order to be feminine, she has to look and behave in a certain way lest she will be disrespected. She was afraid that she would not be taken seriously.

But as time went on Jesse discovered that femininity is not a defining factor of women. She felt restricted to become her authentic self, giving control of herself to men. For her, she truly became a woman when she was able to let go of the weight of gender expectations.

I remember in the early stages of my transition when you’re trying to conform to a certain standard physically first I felt awkward, others got humiliated, and some even experienced gender-based violence. Said Eda

The expectations of femininity drove Eda to conform to societal standards of beauty. She admitted that she experienced depressing moments during her journey, but with the support of her newfound community, she was able to go on with her transition. With gender affirming operations - not all of which were readily available in the Philippines - Eda grew closer to having the body she feels correct with how she sees herself. 

Traditional femininity affected Jesse’s early relationships, where she let men control the way she dressed and acted in public. She relished in the feeling of validation whenever she would submit herself to a man she was committed to. However, as she grew more independent, she realized that the feeling of freedom was more powerful than feeling validated.

Eda firmly expresses her femininity to affirm her chosen identity, and she emphasized that the way women present themselves is their own rightful decision. Jesse on the other hand utilizes her feminine energy by using her voice, not only for herself but others as well. Women can express whatever identity they subscribe to. As it shouldn’t be the society that dictates who we are. It is us who tell the society who we are. The power of femininity is to create affirming choices for ourselves.

Victoria by LoveYourself is an affirming place for trans women to express themselves as they are. As the first community-led transgender health center in the country, the center aims to provide a safe space where people who identify as trans can transition safely.

Friday, March 20, 2020

HIV Advocacy Group Asks Government Support for Continued Access to Life-Saving Medication Amidst COVID-19 Situation

By LoveYourself Communications

MANDALUYONG CITY (March 20, 2020) – The LoveYourself, Inc., a community-based non-profit primary health care facility for people living with HIV (PLHIV), appeals for the support of the government for the continued and uninterrupted access of PLHIV to anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.

Primarily, LoveYourself asks for the help of concerned national agencies, the local government units, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Philippine National Police, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ensure smooth delivery of health services to the PLHIV community.

The organization understands the government's precautions, and fully abide with the directives of the Department of Health (DOH) to help contain the spread of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), but the continued delivery of its services is crucial in addressing another kind of pandemic, which is HIV.

LoveYourself Executive Director Ronivin Pagtakhan explained that "People living with HIV have become more vulnerable to contracting any diseases due to limited access to their life-saving medication, following the imposition of Enhanced Community Quarantine and declaration of the entire Philippines under a state of calamity amidst the COVID-19 situation."

"On behalf of all our clients and even other HIV treatment facilities, we humbly request the government authorities to help us deliver our services not only to our clients but also to anyone who needs to take their ARVs. These life-saving medicines support their health requirements because missing out on taking ARVs poses a danger to their health and in achieving an undetectable status," said Pagtakhan, who is also a Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World for Humanitarian Leadership awardee in 2018.

In responding to this public health crisis, LoveYourself already shifted its HIV treatment services from onsite to online processing called Xpress Refill program with the delivery of life-saving medication or ARV drugs through couriers that are currently operational.

Clients enrolled in LoveYourself treatment services and even PLHIV who have not enrolled in its treatment services but near to any of its centers are catered through the Xpress refill program: Clients can also call any of these hotlines:
·         Anglo (Mandaluyong): 0920 502 1007 | 0999 529 2330 | 0956 615 1230 | 0915 310 7336
·         Victoria (Pasay): 09995292399 | 09153107339 | 0915 831 8715
·         Lily (ParaƱaque): 0917 155 5955 | 0928 689 6422
·         Welcome (Manila): 0967 207 1976
·         Hero (Bacoor, Cavite): 0956 490 3747 | 0906 483 9040
·         White House (Cebu City): 0961 573 6493

LoveYourself can also be reached through e-mail at Other hubs across the country can be accessed through this:

Based on the latest report of the DOH, there were 3,029 newly confirmed HIV cases in the Philippines from October to December 2019. The new cases brought the total cases of HIV in the country to 74,807 since January 1984.

LoveYourself is serving more than 5,000 PLHIV for their life-saving medications.

Together with its partner community-based organization, LoveYourself hopes for all clients to be served for their life-saving medications unimpeded while ensuring the maximum health and safety measures in availing of these services.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Maintain U=U With Xpress by LoveYourself

By LoveYourself Communications

In response to the impending community quarantine in Metro Manila on March 15, 2020, LoveYourself has innovated its antiretroviral therapy (ART) refill delivery system. Through the XPress by LoveYourself, clients enrolled in its treatment services can have their ART refills delivered to their doorstep. This ensures reduced risk for LoveYourself clients living with HIV to be exposed to COVD-19 by reducing the number of clients visiting LoveYourself Centers and eliminating the need to travel.

Sign up for the service at Please be mindful of the following eligibility requirements:
  • 6 months experience of ART (no dropping out of care in between).
  • Must have a recent viral load monitoring result within 1 year of less than 1000 copies/mL (Undetectable Viral Load)
  • Good eligibility status in PhilHealth due to updated contributions.
  • Experience no severe adverse effects of ART
  • Have at least 12 days worth of remaining ART pills.

XPress by LoveYourself includes a 4-step process:
  1. Sign Up Confirmation (within 24-48 hours)
  2. Payment
  3. Accomplishment of PhilHealth Forms
  4. ART Delivery
Continuous adherence to ART is important in maintaining an undetectable status that prevents transmission of HIV through unprotected sexual contact. With XPress by LoveYourself, the organization aims for all of its clients to have access to treatment amidst the community quarantine.

LoveYourself in its commitment as a model community of MSM and friends that affirms self-worth through HIV counseling, testing, treatment, and prevention is responsive to the needs of the community. XPress by LoveYourself is a paid service to cover the delivery fee only.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Lit Love: Women's Month

Self Love
By Aphrodite

At times I wish to be, Someone else, My reflection looking Right back at me. At times I wish to be free Somebody new My actions overlooking Who I was meant to be But this time, today I want to be truly me, My own steps accepting, A woman of my own finally

Image result for rose vase

Babae, Ako
By Bet Domingo

Babae ako. Oo, babae. Alam ko na, Kahit bata pa lang. Kahit ako si utoy, At hindi si nene. Kahit barber’s cut, At hindi long hair. Kahit naka-shorts, At hindi naka-palda. Kahit laging blue, At hindi pink. Babae ako. Oo, babae po ako. Lalo na ngayon, Dahil nasa edad na ako. Kahit ako’y may junjun At walang flower. Kahit ‘di ka maniwala, At di mo tanggapin. Kahit pa kinukutsya, At di mo ipagtanggol. Babae po ako. At tao rin po ako.

Questions My Woman
By Bet Domingo

Question my existence. Hurts my woman of life. Carried me for nine months, Labored me for days, And took care of me for years. Question my whole being. Pains my woman protector. Hugged me for my tears. Warmed me when I’m cold, And fought many for my rights. Question my vibrant reality. Cries my woman of love. Cared for me no matter what, Embraced me for all my flaws, And accepted me for who I am.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

LoveYourself Cebu Ushers in Batch Espada to Fight the Stigma

By Ryan Taborada

Twenty-one new volunteers from Batch Espada were welcomed to the LoveYourself family on February 16, 2020, at LoveYourself White House, in Cebu City.

This fourth batch of volunteers in Cebu was already involved in the HIV advocacy completing 50 hours of volunteer work prior to the orientation. This gave every volunteer to get to know each other and develop the dedication of working in the advocacy. 

“The orientation was a way to formally welcome Batch Espada volunteers who have already shown their commitment by rendering community hours before they were allowed to join the official orientation,” said Dennis Tagamolila, head of Cebu’s LoveU - the committee spearheading the event.

The day’s agenda included an HIV Situationer from Atty. Orville Dela Cerna, which presented data on the state of HIV transmissions both globally and locally. Tagamolila then continued with a discussion on volunteerism, invigorating the passion they have for the advocacy. Soon after LoveU member, Vince Briones introduced the HIV 101 module. Lastly, an overview of PrEP was given by Dr. Giancarlo Garaygay.

One of the trainees that day, Mike Anthony Maligsay, shared, “It was fulfilling to see all our efforts to acquire volunteer hours paying off in becoming official LoveYourself volunteers.”

The feeling of fulfillment filled the room and the volunteers. The preceding batches – Amuma, Bitoon, Kalayo, and Dasig – all share the same enthusiasm for the new batch, assisting in so many things as much as they could. Some have even found their niche in the committees to dedicate their time and talents.

LoveYourself White House in Cebu offers free and confidential HIV testing, counseling, and treatment to all, no matter the age, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. To be part of the organization, you can sign up at or contact +63 927-873-7575.