Category Archives: events
It’s been a while since I joined in any activity for World AIDS Day. But today I represented HASH, the NGO I co-founded with a friend last year in an event held at Atrium Hotel in Pasay City.
The organizer of the event was Pinoy Plus Association–the first PLHIV organization in the Philippines. The morning’s activities were about raising awareness on HIV & AIDS among young people. I caught the tail-end of a presentation on mental well-being and the open forum that followed. There’s a wealth of knowledge we can learn from young people, and vice versa. I’ve long realized this nugget of wisdom. Changing the way we think and talk about sexual health will depend on them.
Today was also the day the winner of a poster-making contest was announced. I inspected the entries and came up with a favorite, which turned out to be the winning entry, according to the judges.
And finally, the main reason for my being in the event, I represented my NGO in signing a Memorandum of Understanding between UNAIDS Philippines, Pinoy Plus Association, and HASH to operationalize a Response Center for Filipinos Living with HIV. This response center aims to address in real time issues specific to PLHIV like treatment, care, and support. It can be accessed through phones (mobile and landline), a smartphone app (IOS and android), and on-line (website and social media).
Today was quite busy and tiring (mostly because of the heavy traffic) but productive in terms of looking at ways to address the Philippine HIV & AIDS epidemic.
Yesterday I spent most of the evening out of the house. These days, this is somewhat akin to an astronomical phenomenon that we earthlings get to observe once in a lifetime only. Okay, I exaggerate; but you get the point. I rarely go out on evenings these days, especially on the weekend. But yesterday, I managed to haul myself to the SMX Convention Center at SM Aura in Bonifacio Global City (said journey can also be compared to space travel) to attend the awards ceremony of BloggysPH (or the Philippine Blogging Awards).
It’s because this humble blog of mine made it as finalist in the Personal Blog category.
The letter of invitation set the time at 5PM so I made sure I was at the venue an hour before. At 4:15 I went to SMX (which is inside the mall) but found the organizers still setting up. So I decided to do a little window shopping at first. I came back at 10 minutes before 5PM and I saw a couple of long-ish queues to the registration table. It was fairly chaotic because they decided to separate the queue of the finalists from the bloggers and guests after the people have lined up. I had to change queues a couple of times and when I finally signed in, we were told to wait for further instructions before coming in the function room. I found this to be an omen of how things will proceed from that point.
When we finally entered the function rooms, the first to greet us were the booths from the sponsors but only the ABS-CBN booth seemed mildly interesting. Apparently there’s a series of games/ tasks that one needed to complete and among those who did, 3 prizes will be given. I quickly left it after I was forced to take a photo wearing a headdress that looked dingy. I think I was too old to play that game.
I made my way to a seat, close to the bar. But the drinks they were serving were limited so after one weak cocktail, I didn’t return to the bar. The program started much later than the schedule so I said goodbye to my plan of being home at 9PM.
Things improved when they started giving out the awards. Primarily because the emcee, an Australian guy who spoke fluent Tagalog, was very engaging. Going to the ceremony, I had no expectations that I would win. Making it to the list of finalists, was a feat enough for me. I am not sure if many people can relate to the posts of this blog. Still, as the night went on, I found myself gradually wanting to win the award, to claim it as my own.
I even formulated an acceptance speech in my head. After thanking the awarding body and the readers of this blog, I planned to say, “I have been blogging for more than 10 years and this recognition was the farthest thing on my mind when I started blogging. So this is such a huge and pleasant surprise. Writing is almost always a solitary undertaking but discovering a community like this is certainly welcome.”
The last statement was especially true for me. When I was blogging in Cambodia, I was regularly corresponding with other Filipino gay bloggers who were living in the States, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. But I never met any of them, except for the one based here. I could feel a strong sense of community in the gathering, at least from those who appeared to know each other. Bloggers even collaborate in projects, this I know. However, I am uncertain if this is for me.
When the time for my category came, I was happy and calm. All expectations were gone. I just concentrated on climbing on the stage without tripping a la Jennifer Lawrence, shaking the hands of the judges, and smiling for the camera. The winner of my category didn’t not attend the event, and for a moment I had a flickering desire to go to the mic and deliver the speech in my head. If only I were that bold.
Back at home as I prepared to go to bed, I looked at my certificate and felt glad I attended the event. The conduct of the event at the start was somewhat inept, but over-all I think it was a success. If they can improve the secretariat services and start on time, it will be perfect.
And finally, THANK YOU to those who nominated me for the award in the first place, to the supporters who promoted this blog in their networks, and to the readers who have stayed with me and the various incarnations of my blog.
Yesterday I finally went and submitted my application to reactivate my voting status. Last June I filled out my application online only to realize that I would still need to appear at the nearest COMELEC (Commission on Elections) office to submit said application and to have my image and finger prints captured. The last time my biometrics was captured was back in 2009, when I was still living in Cambodia. Back then the Philippine embassy was a couple of houses down the street where my flat was located so making the trip required no effort at all.
This time, however, the prospect of going to this government agency’s office in my district wasn’t such an attractive idea. The office, after all, is notorious for being dilapidated, dirty, and crowded. A friend who had completed her registration in this office recounted how dirty, hot, and unruly the proceedings were. There was not enough space to sit down and accomplish the forms, the queue was disorderly, and the staff were harried and rude.
So when I learned that COMELEC was holding voter registration in malls, I decided to just do it there. However, I failed to register when the event was held in SM City San Lazaro. As the deadline (end of October) loomed, I grew resigned to the fact that I will really have to venture to their office if I really wanted to participate in next year’s elections.
Then I was pleasantly surprised that another voter registration event was to be held for my district, this time at Lucky Chinatown Mall. This mall was a bit farther from my home than SM City San Lazaro but it’s a much better option for me than going to the COMELEC office.
I arrived at the mall at about 11: 15 AM and I was directed to the fourth floor. The event was in an un-used part of the mall, but they dressed it for the registration by installing glass doors at the entrance, carpet over the concrete floor, and air conditioners that kept the room cool in spite of the increasing number of people. There were also adequate number of chairs for people in the queue to sit and tables for those who were filling out forms. Most commendable past of this set-up was the presence of a security person, who was very polite in answering questions, managing the queues inside and out of the room, and maintaining order.
My process was a bit shorter because I had accomplished the forms online. The election officer only later asked me to fill out a page (out of 3) because the paper they used was much thicker than the paper I used to print the form at home and therefore would last longer in their non-digital files. By 12:30 PM my image and prints were already being captured and I was done.
Whoever thought of holding voter registration at the malls should be commended because it is certainly convenient for us. I suppose it is convenient for COMELEC also because aside from the normal stresses of organizing events outside the office, working in a comfortable environment (like a mall) is less stressful than working in a cramped, humid office.
I really didn’t see this one coming. At a time when I couldn’t post in this blog, save for the weekly photo post, somebody nominated me to this year’s Bloggy’s 2015. I am really humbled. And thankful. Of course, my blog is just one of many other blogs in the (really) long list of nominees in the Best Personal category. To become a final nominee, I need votes from people who have valid email and Facebook accounts. The deadline of casting votes is on October 31.
This kind of thing happens only rarely to someone like me so I might as well enjoy the moment till it lasts. Oh, and if in case you want to vote for this blog, click THIS and select kidboomerang.wordpress.com
It will be greatly appreciated!