HIV and Malate

It was ages since I last visited Malate. My first encounter of the place was way back during college – around 2003 or so. The crowd is very young, sights and sounds were booming. It was a perfect place to chill and party. 

I’m not really a socially inclined guy so it was a tough challenge for me to stay within the premises of this fun and noisy place. It was a feeling of awkwardness. I never went back and it was not my hang out place like others do. 

This place has left a not-so-good impression towards socializing. Just late last year, a friend and I was victimized by this hooker. Well, it started out just to stroll and booze around up until this guy (a hooker in disguise) approached us and ask for some time to make a little chit chat. We took the liberty of doing so since it was ages since we were here. Then, there he goes… asking my friend to check-in at a nearby hostel for quick rundown. He was a little insistent to a point that agreed for this shit to pass through.

This hooker even asked another friend to join us. We were really not interested in doing such hanky panky but due to his persistence, we gave up. Scouted the streets of Malate for a cheap hostel and after hours of walking, we ended up at this hotel. My friend and I told this hooker shit to make the transaction at the hotel desk as we have a stint of embarrassment when inside such “sex den” hotel. Hooker shit went to the reception and got back to us asking for 500 bucks — I know in my mind there’s a kickback from him, no such room for 500 bucks. My friend handed over the money to hooker shit and waited. Twenty minutes has passed, there’s no sigh of him.. uh oh. I knew it, I ran over and tried chasing that bullshit but no traces of him. 

Ok, this is not a good experience for a fairly new visitor. We don’t the tricks of trade of this place and we ended up like crap.

Aside from some mishaps, there are also good times to cherish. Well, it really depends on your purpose if you are to stay here. Whether to have a clean and plain fun OR some naughty escapade.

The Red Light district of Manila, I think no wonder HIV is still at large at these places.  


How I Like My Coffee

It’s almost a year since I’m working on a graveyard shift. I must say, I no longer want this schedule. I was just forced to take this schedule than no have no work at all. I work for an IT-software company which explains everything. Since the beginning of this work, I’m starting to appreciate the value of coffee. When I was a kid up until recently, I’m no coffee drinker. I do take on some occasion but not as heavy as today. Every working day, I can manage to free up my tummy for 3 cups of coffee. Just don’t give me the strong plain black coffee with no sugar, milk, creamer or whatsoever.

This post is not about me as a coffee drinker (novice, that is) but how I consume them up. The introvert way.

During office days – or should I say nights, I always start my day to perk up. That is, either buy coffee from a nearby shop of just get a plain vendo-coffee, either way works for me. I have a large mug that is good for 2 on a single serving, if i feel the need for more action.. I can instantly use 3 servings, so that’s 6 all in. 

The most exciting part is when I end up on a weekend and having my cup of coffee alone. If no invite from from friends or appointments on weekends, I usually do my “me time” – that is most of the time. After watching a movie or dining out by myself and since I don’t want to disrupt my body “graveyard” body clock, I go to some coffee shops and have a sip before going home. This way, even though at the wee hours of the night, I’m still awake. Sleep is now the far most important thing in this world – after coffee. 

Any variants will do, as long as I get to sit down and watch people while I slowly consume my stuff. Yes, this is how I take my coffee during my “me time – watch people as they pass by. It’s quite an exciting activity for me coz I see a lot of different stories while sipping my hot, smoking and aroma-full drink. As long as I have a cup, a chair to relax to and my iPod, then the day is complete.

Don’t think I’m mean coz that’s what most introverts do. We watch people and create stories behind what we see. We gather up and collect energy from within using what we see or observe. That’s what I do. maybe it’s different from others.

Observing other for my own pleasure is a good experience. It creates an introspective art of well being which makes me realize how should I be thankful of and what should I be having insecurities with.  I do this a lot, maybe twice in a month or so. Some of my friends are so curious on how I manage to be alone. To each his own. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean lonely, it’s just a way  your mind collects energy and caring for one’s own dimension. This is one way of reviving pleasure – through solidarity.

There are several needs for this – either I reward myself for some small achievement, a time-off from a stressful week or contemplate on some depressive moments.

My coffee time is my me-time. If you happen to see someone alone, having a sip, listening to iPod and just watching people pass by. Remember The Chemistry Guy.

*I can do this for hours up until closing time.

Association and Travel

Honestly, I don’t have a steady past time. During your kid days, your parents would normally ask you to either play the piano – or an instrument, do some painting, engage in a sport – like a sports clinic or anything that will hone your abilities (be it mental, physical, spatial whatsoever). But it was the other way around on my end. They tried, but didn’t succeed. I’m not really sure why but having an introspective flashback of my situation.. I was the ultimate introvert kid. The typical shy, stay at the corner kid who can’t even make friends with.

As far as I can remember, the first time I did these learning enhancement skills was when I started drawing. Drawing and skething the basic stuff of living things up to cartoon characters. It didn’t last long enough and I wasn’t able to sustain it. 

My mother encouraged me to do swimming lessons, he asked my cousins to teach me how to swim – the basics such as breathing and floating. There was a time I nearly drowned – take note, not just one instance. After that, I was so scared to hit the pool or be in the middle of the beach. I have to say, even until today.. I don’t know how to swim. I’m so hesistant to be in the airline industry – cabin crew/flight crew coz what I know, you need to learn how to swim.

When I was in lower grades of schooling, I tried joining “boy scouts”. The normal routine of cab scouts as they imply to young boys joining the team made me even more shy and reserved as I see a lot of boys of my age and teens among the group. I cannot mingle around them and unable to connect with what they want. A week after, I quit.

Several years later, I went crazy to modern technology when Family Computer was released. My mom didn’t spoilt me enough, it was the childhood experience when I go to the neighboor every weekend night nd whole day of Sundays just to play Mario, Mappy, Ice Climber and those old school stuff. I had a chance to own one when my father bought a unit for my birthday. Soon, he bought another Sega Mega Drive. It was kinda sad to play since I don’t have any siblings to play with. Mom doesn’t want my friends to be in the house. The only choice left was to play alone.

My parents then realized this computer stuff will not do me any good so they bought some sports supplies. I have BMX bike, a football, a volleyball, a basketball and a roller skate all in one big box as a birthday present. The BMX bike was an instant friend, I got to learn balancing and riding the bike within a few weeks. It was so intense that I even did somersault along the streets until the bicycle fork broke and was never repaired. I then turned my interest to roller skates, touch luck – those four wheelers were hard to learn so I just kept them. I never had the chance to do basketball, I don’t know but there’s no spark between us. I think I was really born to be gay coz I don’t like basketball and did like volleyball. I had a Spalding volleyball and that time – 1990’s, a Spalding ball was expensive as hell. I got the chance to play volleyball with neighboors, day and night – non stop until it was severely punctured beyond repair. 

All the my sports stuff were gone except my gadgets which I reconciled and played with them again. As I grew up, I become naive of such activities. Even at school, I wasn’t even active at extra-curricular subject. Entered the school volleyball team but wasn’t sustained as well. I was a loser. Teenage years was a bit more “athletic” as I met some new friends when we got a new home. Athletic in such was I do outdoor games. Not a big deal though.

Up until now, I haven’t found a thing that I can associate myself with. Now, I’m trying photography and travel. Both wasn’t sustained much and slowly deteriorating. I think I just wasted some hundred thousand bucks for buying photography equipment. As for traveling, no regrets though. Traveling is the best thing to do while you’re still capable. The experience it leaves is most treasured other than anything else.

*topic deviation ahead 

The past couple of years, I have been into traveling and I really like it. It gives me the chance to explore beyond the common standards. I started traveling with friends and now planning to do it by myself. Solo traveler as they say. I plan to visit majority of the Philippine Island and some neighboring countries as well. Recent;y, I have been reading local travel blogs, been a fan of booking online flights and searching for itineraries of my next domestic travel destination. 

The sad part of this is when you there’s no one to invite for you to join an out of town trip. You are then forced to do it alone. Which is kinda frustrating. But after trying to be alone one time – during my Baguio trip, where I met some new friends then it became more exciting. Yes it’s exciting but when the time comes that I need to book a flight on my end, I can’t seems to put the excitement into action. 

I even seen this site where it will grade you based upon how many provinces of the Philippines you traveled. Quite baffled as I got a C mark. I need to extend my network and be on the move.

My Lakbayan grade is C!How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

I admire these people who create their travel blogs and at the same time I’m jealous. Why they can travel alone and here am I being to hesistant. In any case I’m able to push through with it, maybe I’ll make my own travel blog. Or perhaps post some of them here – of course, I won’t go into much details for security and identity purposes.

This year I will be committing myself to at least have a travel activity to 1 or 2 places every quarter. Possibly, this can be associated with The Chemistry Guy. Soon.

**Summer and Holy Week is coming so I expect to be out of town. Hopefully not being closed inside my room and playing video games or online Tetris.

A risk postulate

I engaged myself into the dating scene last month which didn’t work well. I have heard that this guy (link) just ended his premature relationship… and the reason is me. I don’t know how to understand and comprehend the meaning of this but why the hell I am involved with this?

When I learned over Facebook that my [ex] date changed his status to “in a relationship”.. I said “whoa, that was fast.. we just dated 2 weeks ago and now he has a bf – I know this is a premature engagement and it will end sooner than expected” and it did.

Now, he’s claiming me back.. trying to apologize for not waiting and being impatient for not breaking my shell. Yes, I admit that I impose a hard shell to break. I don’t typically show my weak point/s to any human entities. I am the opposite of vulnerability. An oyster with a hard shell, needs effort to open and see the pearl (melodramatic).

Now,  he’s like messaging me from every channel he could. From Facebook, to Viber or whatever that may come in handy.

I have set things straight, I told him I’m not your fall back guy. Not an option to be taken for granted. I just don’t know if he’ll accept it whole-heatedly or still be the persistent fly to roam around me.

One thing is for sure, I would no longer date him. We can go out, but as buddies. No more, no less.

Besides, he doesn’t know my sero-status. What could be the worse thing that can happen?

In relation to this, I have some postulates – assumptions or whatever you call it.

The Risk postulate
I am an HIV-positive guy, opened my doors to date another guy (assuming he’s negative), went out together for some time, feelings are now on the steady state then admitted my status… he declined and ran away. It’s pretty hard to find and date guys whose minds are as wide as an airport runway. Many have told, if you are to disclose your status to a guy, don’t do it immediately. Let the connection between you build up before letting it all out.

I have experienced a couple who deemed to show whether they can accept my status or not. I have mentioned in a blog post, perhaps 2 years ago, I asked this guy about the “non-negotiable” factors or traits for a future relationship.. he said, “he must be HIV negative”. Ok… PASS.

This is getting into a trend. I won’t take a risk.

I’m not really talking about “in general”, there are still some guys who are really open minded – those educated bitches who know how to accept and understand the scenario. I know some HIV-positive friends who engage into magnetic or sero-discordant relationships. I’m just wondering – “WHERE THE HELL DO THEY FIND THESE GUYS?!”

Latest CD4 count

Visited Research Institute for Tropical Medicine last Friday for medicine refill and CD4 testing. Been a long time since I last went here. I came in very early at 6:45 am for CD4 testing. They recently changed the cut-off time for blood extraction to 7am-8am only. At this early, I’m already on the 9th spot from the line. The process changed and improved a bit from the previous topsy turvy scene. Their process is more effective but less efficient. It took me roughly 8 hours waiting in vain. CD4 results are released within the day, in most cases 11am, after lunch otherwise. Since I am about to refill, they told me to wait for the doctor since she will be the one providing the prescription. You will encounter a very long and pain-on-the-ass wait. I’m gonna to another post about the crucial wait-for-results experience.

So far, I’m thankful for the result. In time for Thanksgiving day. 

From 406 units of CD4, it went up to 710 units.

This, perhaps, is one of the reason to be happy. Somehow, still thankful.

And oh by the way, I’m trying to resurface again. Struggling, but trying.

Follow me on Twitter @tcghiv

HIV’s exponential growth in the Philippines

Disclaimer: The following post you are about to read is highly opinionated. So it is strongly suggested not to compare any kind of shit to this.

Recently, I have reading the news about the rising cases of HIV in the Philippines. Obviously the health officials are alarmed about the situation. If my data gathering were correct, Philippines is one of the 5 nations enlisted by WHO whose HIV cases are rising. So this means to say that others are effectively controlling the situation. Then why in the world Philippines’ HIV are on the loose?

I think there are 2 sides of the story here:

1. The health ministry and some HIV-advocate non-government organizations (NGO) are being proactive to “shove” off the untested individuals to get tested for their sero status. They’re setting up free test centers every week or so, encouraging everyone to get tested. So basically, the increased number means these are piled up cases of individuals who just got tested, well supposedly they should have tested way long before. 

Due to media hype and scare, the general population is getting aware of the increasing numbers, as a result, they will have themselves tested through the free testing centers held up by the health ministry and NGO’s. You know what, the word TEST and its other forms are so used in this story.

Philippines is one heck of a conservative country, primarily because of the Spanish influence brought during the times of early civilization. Added to it, the dipshits of the religious groups. 

Due to this conservativeness of the Filipino people, they were unable to embrace the technlogical and medical advances of the world. Leading to idiocy. Not knowing what to do and what to expect from the consequences of every action.

I think sex education is the top priority when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention, it will not teach people how to be promiscuous but it will teach the what nots, what ifs, how to do it and every crap of sexual intercourse. 

If you don’t know how to use a condom, then dude, you are in big trouble. Tons of questions are being sent to my email and Planet Romeo account – examples are “What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS?”, “I kissed someone, will I get infected?” “I did bareback, am I at risk?” and all those crazy shit.

Based on these questions, it is surreal that most of these individuals are not yet educated in terms of sexual activities and basic virology of HIV/AIDS.

Man, if you can search and flirt with a guy on Facebook or any gay personal websites, then why the heck you can’t you just Google the answers to your questions? Information is now readily available through the means of internet. I mean, it’s already on the palm of one’s hand. If you’re shy to ask from a friend, medical staff or your doctor then just try to browse over. But of course, not all information on the net are factual. You just have to be keen on what you are reading and its source.

Summing it all up, the health ministry, NGO’ and media – be it tv, radio, paper or the internet is the prime cause of HIV/AIDS increase for a late bloomer country like the Philippines.

One reason why Reproductive Health bill needs to be passed and approved. (the ever long discussion between religion and technological advancement)

2. I have to admit, I have friends who are HIV+ and still engages to sexual acts which increases the risk of trnasmission. I have more than a couple of friends who really does this. They still participate in some orgies, partee and plays and some poopy events. 

A simple mathematical equation is this:

(The HIV+ individual who doesn’t seem to care + An idiotic victim who don’t know what to do)^2 = disaster

The idiotic victim is now at high risk of getting infected. He doesn’t know he’s already infected, propagates into another sexual act with another idiotic victim and the exponential growth continues. Simple as that.

It’s a perfect mixture of idiocy and those hard-headed morons.

Who to blame them, if they enjoy doing it… then let it be. If it’s a way to relax, then let them be. I don’t really care.

I don’t wanna came in hands-clean, but as of the moment, in the event I wanna have an intercourse with, do it with the same sero-status. Still safe.

If you’re gonna ask me, If I am saying all this shit and what not, then why in the world I am HIV+?
Well, I can say is.. it’s a combination of the 2 reasons above.

I was idiotic that time and a victim of that dipshit who knew he’s positive yet penetrated my ass. I really don’t know, i no longer give a damn shit of why, how, where and who infected me. The important thing now is to keep my sanity and maintain the humanity that might still resides in me.

Four Hundred Six

Just like what my previous post was described – deteriorating, so as my new CD4 count. Last week I went to RITM to have my CD4 count and refill of meds. It was quite a busy day for them as the clinic was bombarded by old timers and new patients. They have a new system for those who are due for their CD4 test – to have it scheduled prior to you arrival at the clinic. I have heard this from a friend of mine and immediately sent Ate Beth an  SMS to have my appointment o more than a week before my preferred date.
Come that day, I called in sick to my boss and went straight to Alabang. My home is quite near RITM so there was no need to struggle for an early morning call time – they have a cutoff time for the test which is 10am. I arrived like 9am and it was crowded. They have asked if I had my appointment BUT they cannot seem to find my name on that piece of ‘office desk calendar’ appointment sheet. Just to find out that they mistakenly wrote my code as R11-XXX which should have been R10-XXX, ayaw pa nila ko payagan to take the test kasi wala naman daw sa list yung ‘code’ ko. I insisted that I have called a week before this day and they admit they commit an error. So the mere difference of R10 versus R11 would have put my leave into waste.
This was also the day when I saw an old friend of mine. But I did not pay attention too much to him as he was aslo busy with his anniverasry exams.
My tests were done and I’m now waiting for the prescription of my ARV’s. When this guy came in almost 10am, just before the cutoff time for CD4 testing, he didn’t know about the appointment and schedule setting prior to the test but after  a while they allowed him to take the CD4 test. I was just a mere observer that time and only one thing came into my mind: I have scheduled myself a week before this day to have my CD4 test and almost on the brink of not taking it and wasting my leave to nothing when this guy came on an instant and he was allowed to take it? That was just too unfair. This guy was like a BFF to them. Ok fine, I now know where should I place myself.

Nonetheless, I was still grateful that I had the test and they gave my 3-month supply of ARVs – STILL. Contrart to what others have said a week before that they now only give 1 month supply.
That day was really a frustration, my first time to experience after 2 years of going to them. Everytime I go to RITM, I always wanted to stay even after my appointment as I wanted to mingle with other patients and staffs, now It’s like the opposite. I wanna get myself out the minute I finish my deal. I just hope this won’t take too long to change.
Anyway, my CD4 streamline is now:

1st: 282
2nd: 610
3rd: 608
4th: 406

1st viral load: 110,000+
2nd viral load: 86
The results were just texted to me, so I don’t have any validity whether this tremendous drop is real or not. I’m just worrying why in the world this happened? Am I too stressed and depressed or my ARV’s are no longer working? With the viral load still *NOT* undetectable after taking the potent Efavirenz for almost 2 years… I’m just worrying to much.