Sunday, September 20, 2020

Message in a Rubber: Powerful Thoughts Behind Winning Condom Photos

 By Tino Largado

“How do you take pieces of condoms and use it to convey powerful and compelling messages through photographs?”


Artists, photographers, hobbyists, and enthusiasts took on this challenge when they joined the Shoot the Rubber Photography Contest held from July 27th to August 5th, 2020, as a highlight of the first ever National HIV Prevention Month (NHPM).


Over 50 entries were sent, all creatively using condoms and lubes in a way that invokes a strong message on why they are key HIV prevention tools and how they help promote a #SaferNow lifestyle. Of these, 37 made the final cut and meticulously judged by an esteemed panel of jurors: Culture and Arts Managers of the Philippines (CAMP), Inc founder and HIV advocate Ian Alquiros, freelance photographer and artist Kraus Estanislao, photographer, LGBT rights advocate and HIV awareness ambassador Niccolo Cosme, and celebrity photographer BJ Pascual.


Ian, Kraus, and Niccolo joined in on the Condoms and Lubes Day virtual event hosted by Peachy Roberts and Omie Simbulan on August 8th, 2020 to award the winners of the competition. The judges shared their thoughts on what made these entries winners.


Runners-Up: SJ Dageno (Iloilo) and Dani Fallorin (Cavite)

Kraus and Ian thought the photographs that earned the fifth and fourth spots showed creativity and balance composition and relevance in their pieces.

personal security of all people. We can start that by not spreading sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV through the proper use of condoms, it is the best method according to studies. Be a role model in practicing safe sex, don't be ashamed to have condom in your pocket because that is normal."


Third Place: Arjay Matabia (Tarlac)

“This one really caught my eye,” exclaimed Kraus about Arjay’s entry. “Ang ganda ng sinabi niya (that) HIV does not discriminate.” This message is pretty straightforward not only in the photograph itself, but with the description that came with it.

According to Arjay: "The zipper starts to be brought down with a whining sound that rises the warm tempo of the surrounding atmosphere of desires leading everything to lustful venture towards the unchanging waves of breasts, hips, and the sensitive parts of someone's body.”


“But before tasting the extraordinary spice of the path that you're going to taste, completely cover the masculine elongation,” he adds. “Mask its entirety with utmost protection (condom) and make sure to avoid a leak of the liquid product of your sweaty up and down actions as failing to do so, can transform that muscular part into a sharp melee which can put you into a life-threatening storyline, either with awareness or not."


Second Place: June Famur, Jr (Iloilo)

Niccolo is quick to claim this second place winner as “one of my favorites.” He commends June’s composition and how it hit the technical aspects, but also the clarity in the way it conveyed his message. “I can imagine this as a poster.”



June can’t stress enough what condoms do, and why they’re important. "(By) using Latex Condoms is one of the most effective ways in averting sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS, as well avoiding unwanted pregnancies. Uncertainties pertaining to safety brought about by smoky fluid containing the semen can be ceased by condoms as proven by researches.”


“Moreover, using of condom is considered very essential as well as beneficial to partners and couples, Stay safe, be safe!", he adds.



First Place: Billy Joe Peralta (Quirino)

What helped Billy’s photograph grab the top prize is its simplicity in execution, paired with strength in the messaging. “(The) photograph itself is simple, pero focused on condom use. Simple pero creative.”, described Ian. “Malalim ang pinaghuhugutan at napakaganda ng mensahe lalo na sa mga kabataan.”


Kraus agreed. “Yun ang hinahanap namin sa mga entries: mapapaisip ang isang tao, titignan niyang mabuti kung anong ibig sabihin ng litrato.” He noted Billy’s important call to action: “Itanim natin sa isip natin na maging maingat tayo all the time.”


Niccolo praised Billy’s ability to weave the foreground subject and background components to achieve a technically excellent photograph, one that “tumatak sa judges.” For him, it is thought-provoking. “Condom campaign ito, pero mapapaisip ka: anong istorya niya?”

The story, according to Billy, is one about going really deep rather than just scratching the surface. "We can’t change people, but we can plant seeds that may one day bloom in them. So let us plant in our minds to practice safe sex with the use of condoms and lubricants. With this seed that we have planted, we will grow a community that is safe from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections."


LoveYourself congratulates the winners, and appreciates everyone who sent their entries and made the competition a success. The NHPM is spearheaded by the Global Fund Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Populations in Asia (SKPA) Program and CHAMPION Community Centers network; co-presented by AIDS Healthcare Foundation; sponsored by Rotary Club of Cubao Quezon City District 3780; also brought to you by Durex, Lauvette, 3M, Bliss Four, LUBIE, ChloRelief, Usana Philippines, EZ Lubricating Jelly, Premiere Condoms, Liquor Bouquet Philippines; and supported by UNAIDS Philippines, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, APCOM, and LoveYourself, Inc.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

#SaferNowPH Highlights: Condom and Lube Day

By Tino Largado

Condoms and lubes in different packs and tubes took virtual centerstage on two different virtual events celebrating Condom and Lube Day on August 8th, 2020, as part of the National HIV Prevention Month.



Hosts Robin Avorque and DeeDee Villegas straight up served a condom and lubes “infomercial” in a #SaferNow virtual talk episode. They were joined by trans advocate KC and her partner Patrick as they unboxed ribbed and dotted condoms and Fire and Ice Bliss® variants and differentiated each product, reminding viewers that the condoms we have come to know have already gotten creative in texture and size, while lubes have also been available in different types, both as a way to encourage consistent use, not only for a more satisfying pleasurable sex, but as a way to keep both sexual parties safe.


Robin readily demonstrated the correct way of using a condom, from the way each condom pack is opened to how it should be disposed, all while debunking misconceptions and incorrect perceptions about condom use (hint: condoms on wallets aren’t necessarily lucky, contrary to a popular myth). While we think we know everything there is about using lubes and condoms, Robin’s “live demonstration” served as a helpful reminder that staying safe while satisfied should be an easy habit to make. Did you know that each individual pack is numbered because one piece must only be used for no more than 10 minutes?


They’re later joined by Ralph Ivan Samson, president and CEO of Y-PEER Pilipinas, to discuss the organization’s continuous movement in advocating sexual and reproductive health and rights,particularly in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Samson stressed the need to partner with schools, community centers, and youth networks in providing comprehensive and quality sexual education. Their #GetCondomPH campaign aligns with this goal by ensuring the availability of condoms and lubes to young people who, upon understanding of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, deserve the right and earn the responsibility to make responsible choices and maintain their safety against HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STIs).



Meanwhile, Peachy Roberts and Omie Simbulan hosted a panel consist of Dr. Andy Paningbatan, medical affairs officer of DKT Health, the company behind reliable brands such as Trust® and Premiere® condoms and EZ® lubricants, Adam Crayne, advocacy lead of EON Group who has participated in the SafeSpaces condom/lubes distribution campaign of LoveYourself, and Benedict Bernabe, president of The Red Whistle, an organization advocating sexual health and HIV awareness. 


Throughout the discussion, the guests helped emphasize the importance of taking care of sexual health in an individual’s overall well-being, and how condoms and lubes easily help maintain sexual health and responsibility. On the stigma surrounding the purchase and use of condoms and lubes, Paningbatan mentioned how their company, through the different variants and brands of the products they offer, tried to de-”medicalize” condoms and bring it closer to the public, while Bernabe expressed a wishful vision of seeing condoms and lubes sold even by neighborhood sari-sari stores, where everyone and anyone can easily buy and sell them like any important commodity. Crayne agreed, saying that it boils down to confidence and awareness, which is why, whenever possible, he helps in providing education about sexual health and responsibility.


Peachy and Omie also awarded the winners of the Shoot the Rubber Photography Contest, joined in by successful artists and photography experts Ian Alquiros, Kraus Estanislao, and Niccolo Cosme who also judged the competition together with BJ Pascual. Winners received cash prizes and gift packs from Lauvette, Lubie, ChloRelief, and Bliss Four condoms.




First Place: Billy Joe Peralta (Quirino)
Second Place: June Famur, Jr (Iloilo)

Third Place: Arjay Matabia (Tarlac)

Fourth Place: Dani Fallorin (Cavite)

Fifth Place: SJ Dageno (Iloilo)


The NHPM is spearheaded by the Global Fund Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Populations in Asia (SKPA) Program and CHAMPION Community Centers network; co-presented by AIDS Healthcare Foundation; sponsored by Rotary Club of Cubao Quezon City District 3780; also brought to you by Durex, Lauvette, 3M, Bliss Four, LUBIE, ChloRelief, Usana Philippines, EZ Lubricating Jelly, Premiere Condoms, Liquor Bouquet Philippines; and supported by UNAIDS Philippines, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, APCOM, and LoveYourself, Inc.

Enzo: Your HIV Combination Prevention Expert

 By Carlos Diego A. Rozul

Safe Spaces PH launches a new way to access peer-led sexual health information. Meet Enzo, your friendly sexual health chatbot. Prepared with quips, gifs, and tips, Enzo has got you covered in preventing HIV transmission from testing to treatment! Try him out on Facebook Messenger at m.me/safespacesph



We wanted to make Safe Spaces PH a gateway for sexual health information, and since we are often on our social media, we went for a chatbot for people to easier navigate and access the information that they need, instead of searching for specific posts said Paul Junio, Safe Spaces PH Chatbot Developer.


Peer-level information sharing is still an integral part of how people access information. We sometimes find ourselves looking towards them in verifying what we’ve learned from our internet search. This may be through our friends, community leaders, or even your trusted community based organizations. While the current pandemic protocols limit the reach of traditional peer educators, Enzo was made to bridge the gap.


Developing Enzo


Matching the technical sides of developing the chatbot, the medical facts, and the relatable tone of messaging was definitely a challenge. Junio told.


When Enzo was conceptualized, one of the top priorities was giving him a personality. Unlike other automated messaging systems, the Safe Spaces PH team wanted to make the user experience as close to how you’d talk to a friend as possible. A conversational tone mixed in with fun gifs, videos, and credible information.



Enzo also customizes its responses based on your given demographics and need. With a few simple questions, Enzo can recommend courses of action that are best for you. So whether you’re a man having sex with men who is living with HIV, a transgender woman, or cisgender heterosexual, Enzo knows what is just right for you, and gives you a directory of where to access these services.


Moving Forward


Currently, Enzo is only available on Facebook Messenger under the Safe Spaces PH page, however if all goes well with his pilot run, we may be seeing him on other platforms as well. Translations into Tagalog and Bisaya are also in development, and the team is more than willing to make Enzo accessible in other Philippine languages. To collaborate, you can send a private message on the Safe Spaces PH Facebook page, or send an email to info@loveyourself.ph.