Monday, September 4, 2017

silent conversations: how i confronted my best friend after confessing being HIV positive

I guess meeting Y the following day was inevitable.

but i pondered hard how i will manage after learning the status.

what will i do? where do i start? and what will i even ask?

Y and i have probably seen each other in extremely rare occasions after graduation, more than a decade ago (damn, time flies). mostly, during blockmates' weddings, reunions and a spontaneous trip in tagaytay for lunch. but thanks to social media and perhaps our bond, its always as if it was just last week. so we never had any awkward moments when we are together.

"Y!," i exclaimed but Y did not respond. i knew Y  heard me. but somehow Y refused or perhaps did not have the strength to look back.

in a way, I immediately understood Y's dilemma on where to even start. from there, i knew that the pressure of starting the conversation was already on me.

as I approached Y, my head was telling me: lift the conversation up. enter with high energy. strike a joke. make it casual. as much as possible, let Y feel its just another day.

"musta ang malandi?" (how's the flirt?)


I swore I saw the sudden change in Y's expression. by that time I am not sure whether or not I offended Y. yes, sometimes I say the most stupid things. but eventually both of us just laughed at it like the old times.

"grabe siya (you are harsh)." Y answered back.

"tara, dinner tayo! (come on, lets have dinner)" I said which Y obliged.

Y remained silent the entire time we were walking towards the restaurant; unmindful of the incoming wave of pedestrians and makati employees rushing home.

with a lowered head, Y was just staring straight right past through the sidewalk. perhaps, hoping to see and pick up anything along the way to at least start a conversation.

when we were in college, Y have always portrayed to be straight, had a number of straight relationships, been a varsity player throughout our college stay, and though Y have a number of gay peers, Y have always preferred to be surrounded with straight friends.

it was only the later part of our senior year, when Y told me that Y is also attracted with the same sex. and if Y did not admit it, i myself may have never knew.

eventually after college, Y discreetly pursued same-sex relationships and managed to remain straight in front of family, friends and even workmates. Y was so good at it that sometimes, i laughed on how clueless people were. so Y was determined to keep it that way even after knowing being HIV positive.

hence, it felt like hell when Y learned about it.

Y still remained silent even when our food arrived,

bothered, i recalled being very restless. nagging Y for confirmation of everything that was running inside my head. until i remembered a smart person once told me, that in order for you to smell the sweetest scent of a flower, you just have to wait for it to bloom.

obviously, i was stupid enough to bombard Y with so many unnecessary questions such as: do you already figure out how you get it? did you have any unprotected sex before? when was the last time you had sex? it pains me even now recalling it.

now, i realize that these questions no longer matter as they dwell from the past and do not promise any positive help for Y in the future. i realize that instead of accepting, I was actually unconsciously judging Y based on my narrowminded stigma i have with the virus.

but eventually, the conversation just naturally kicked in. then i learned that what was important that  moment was just to listen. no cutting, no asking. no anything. as i will never imagine the thought process and courage Y had to take just to say what Y wanted to say. because at the end of the day, the only question that will matter is a question to myself; simply about what I can do now to people like Y who may be needing me the most.


after dinner, Y and i went to my place to possibly further discuss about the situation --- or so we thought.

for hours, we spent silent conversations with ourselves without realizing how late it became.

I decided to invite Y to stay over after seeing tears and uncertainties fell over my couch. i thought that it was not the best idea for Y to be alone that night. but Y insisted to go home.

when Y assured me that it will be alright, I walked Y out of the door with heavy steps. funny, how I can still vividly remember the sound of the door when Y closed it shut as if it was telling me something.

then after a few minutes, i suddenly heard hard knocks on my door. i immediately rush downstairs and opened it. it was Y, with teary eyes and breaking voice. 

"I just cannot stop shaking."

Friday, September 1, 2017

my best friend has HIV

i remembered waking up that morning still feeling tired despite an unusual 8-hour sleep.

i reached my phone and got a message from Y. with my eyes still half open, i had to double check.

the message was a stretch and the first few lines were serious. it was very unusual. being best friends since college, Y and I were never this serious.

i immediately scrolled down to check if it was another of those stupid messages that would eventually reveal itself as a joke at the end --- but it did not.

i even remembered attempting to scroll down further at the end of the message twice before it hit me that it was not a joke neither was an extension of another forgotten bad dream; my friend indeed has HIV.

relatively, i always consider myself as a brave person, who through time have never gave a bull to what other people say. i wanted to say that i always tend look at the brighter side of whatever life throws at me. but never this.

the honest truth is that hiv and aids have always been topics i religiously evade. some say its because of the stigma. but i say its because it has always been depicted with sadness among many films i have seen, books i have read and stories I have heard. hence, for the first time in my life i have chosen to be a conscious ignorant.

i refused to have myself tested, read anything about it, participate in any related activities or even join advocacy groups - until fate decided to hit me closer to home and it sucks. really. really. hard.

i always end up blank and cautious. for a conscious ignorant, i have the tendency to overthink every word and action to Y but with that nagging feeling that you always need to engage. it sucks because you always end up wordless despite your intention of making everything feel almost exactly the same. that despite of it, nothing has changed. but then again, you realize something has to change.

honestly, Y was not the first person to trust me with their status. but despite how many times i receive these, you just never get used to it and it just keeps on getting worst every time. faces just keep on coming up whenever you see statistics soaring. your heart skips and remember names whenever you hear someone talking about it: and somehow, the issues just keep on getting closer and closer to you; that the more you avoid it, the more it puts you on the corner.

but that was two years ago. now, looking back, i told myself I want to use my blog in chronicling my experience and how it changed me as a support, a good friend of someone who has HIV and a better person -- i think.

i want people to learn and laugh with my mistakes, my own ignorance and even my fear. i want to encourage other people in coming up with a more colorful and hopeful depiction of the condition. i want them to understand that like any other shit in life we just have to suck it up and deal with it together; with the hope of eventually achieving a better resolve.

but for now, i just want to gather all my strength to push that "publish" button.

smiling knowing i finally did it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

intellectualizing sex

L came to a point wherein he just want to fuck around. no expectations. no complications. easy.

L meets them up. go somewhere private. no more talking. just undress.

no need for staring; for appreciating. L has no time. he just need to satisfy his urge, which he thinks might be his own curse.  

skip the gestures. no kissing. no hugging.

L goes down. flips. moans. screams. clings. everything he needs to know how.

L turn his back. he cannot know. he cannot remember. L hates why he have to think about this. why does he need to rationalize this?

L feels the grip growing stronger. L moves faster. L loosen up the grip. it hurts. L breath shorter. L chases the rush. he feels the rush. until finally L surrenders and catches a half sigh.

then L stands up and put on his clothes. he opens the door and dashes his way out without turning back. after several steps, he leaned flat on the wall and firmly pressed his hand on his chest.



he was just in time - before the next beat.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

so how have i been?

never been better.

last week, i just celebrated my seventh year with my company; and as of the moment, i still have no thoughts of leaving anytime soon.

i enjoy my work as it gives me a lot of space to move, to learn and grow. i travel very frequently to places which i did not think i would if it was just a personal trip. it makes my brain run. never been a routine, time flies so fast that most of the time it fee
ls you have been robbed. and above all, it gives you a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment at the end of the day.

i am also committed to someone and have been living together for more than four years now with the most stubborn but the cutest 3-year old siberian husky. we are staying in a 2-bedroom apartment in makati, wherein we also throiw regular sunday dinners for friends and host couchsurfers.

recently, i enjoy going home early, lie down and do nothing. my mind is clearer than it was before. i still get bored easily but i get by by just thinking nothing.

honestly, i feel like i have less friends now and i do not have any problems with it. i guess, i already came to a point wherein i just keep a few and pretty much satisfied with it.

as you grow old, you realize friendship is anchored by respect and not by politeness. we tell them the truth than to drown them by illusions due to the fear that we might hurt their feelings.

one time, i read this statement by meryl streep (though i am not also sure if she really did say this) but boy was i glad to have someone finally put my thoughts in words. ever since then, i started refering it as the meryl streep syndrome.

there were several attempts to sketch and write but it always end up in the corner. for some reason, i always end up falling short of inspiration. i guess because i was used to channel it from a darker source. hahaha! so now, here i am trying again, taking the first step.

i also gained so much weight over the past years. in fact, last september, i was rushed and confined for a week in the hospital for almost having a stroke due to travel stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and poor diet which i obviously taken for granted. i then realize that maybe this is the way life is telling me that i am no longer getting any younger; that the days of YOLO-ing is finally over.

but its also ironic how gaining weight made me gained so much confidence, to a point wherein you just stop worrying or stop always trying to prove something. again, you just stop caring. or maybe i am just really growing old.

today, after finishing two major and grueling projects, blankly looking at my monitor screen. i've finally cornered my head to focus on something: i am thinking of BUSINESS.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

version 3.2

it has been more than two years.

two years since the last time i wrote something personal.

reading back my old entries made me realize what an entirely different person i am now. i just turned 32 and i am just glad that i followed a blogger's friend advise of not shutting this blog down way back.

blogging is not as big as it used to be. many blamed micro-blogging or twitter killed it. while some believed that there was just too many distractions now online that many cannot last staying in just one webpage for more than 3 minutes.

eventually, many bloggers, including myself, unconsciously turned their backs away from their blog pages and found different outlets to express themselves.

but once in a while, you find yourself typing that familiar URL address and wondered how it felt like again. how it leads you to other peoples lives and rekindle their stories and conversations you have made. how you imagine how they look like behind their blogs and the truth and lies from their stories. until like a warm stream of gushing water, it overwhelms you. it out-powers you with so much memories and nostalgia until you tell yourself you cannot take it anymore.

yes, writing an entry nowadays is like opening past wounds.

for some reason, i am scared to rekindle past emotions as it may mixed up with my current content. i fear that past mental muses will haunt me again and lead me to that deep abyss of complications. i am terrified with the thought that after all these years, i find myself back to where i first started.

perhaps it was just recently when i was resolved that i am indeed a very emotional person: that my arts and thoughts were linked on how i managed and struggled myself internally. thus, i learned how to suppress my emotions, evade those moments of deep thinking and just taking everything as it is.

i restrained my politics and avoided others. i refused to listen to other peoples' struggles as i find nothing new about it. i stopped holding a pen to draw or write poems. simply speaking, i grew old and had different priorities; made myself distracted and for some reason i liked it.

but eventually it makes me realize there is something wrong, lacking or missing. so you tend to force yourself to face all these again and see how it goes from here again.