I am gay!

I am gay
I am not flamboyant
I do not want to be a woman

I am gay
I am not a deviate or pervert
I do not have any diseases

I am gay
I love one man
I sleep with one man

I am gay
I am not a pedophile
I do not harm anyone

I am gay
I pay taxes
I contribute to my community

I am gay
I don't hate 
I am hated

I am gay
I love our differences and realize it's these differences that make us wonderful and amazing.
I am hoping that one day you will realize this too

The problem is that there is a large percentage of people who still believe homosexuality is a choice; such as being a skinhead or Holocaust denier (which a blogger grouped homosexuals with to make a very horrifying and ill-stated point). Why would any person choose to be hated, denied basic civil rights and compared to such things? 
And to those people believing my being gay is a choice - a question: When did you decide you were straight?  Which day was it that you woke up and thought to yourself, "I am going to be straight"?  Because as far back as I can remember I never made a choice and never wanted to live my life being judged and hated for one aspect of it.

I am gay
I am not defined by this
I define me!



Most Asian gays vulnerable to AIDS -- report


HONG KONG: More than 90 percent of gay men in the Asia-Pacific region don’t have access to HIV prevention and care services, as levels of the disease soar to “alarming levels,” a United Nations report said on Monday.

The study, conducted by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said that discriminatory laws in many countries are exacerbating the “critical situation” with abuse and human-rights violations are commonplace.

“If countries fail to address the legal context of the epidemic, this already critical situation is likely to become worse,” said the report jointly produced with the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health.

Many national HIV policies now accord a priority to men who have sex with men, the report said, “even though the legal environment remains repressive.”

“HIV prevalence has reached alarming levels among men who have sex with men and transgender populations in many countries of Asia and the Pacific,” the report said.

The high-risk group, which includes homosexuals and bisexuals, can potentially account for between 10 and 30 percent of new HIV infections in a typical Asian country, it added.

Nineteen of 48 countries in the Asia Pacific region criminalize male-to-male sex, and these laws “often take on the force of vigilantism, often leading to abuse and human-rights violations,” the study said.

“The effectiveness of the HIV response will depend not just on the sustained scale up of HIV prevention, treatment and care, but on whether the legal and social environment support or hinder programs for those who are most vulnerable,” the UNDP’s Mandeep Dhaliwal said in a statement.

Legislation and law enforcement frequently lag behind national HIV policies, undermining the “reach and effectiveness” of healthcare and prevention programs, the study said.

“This indicates the need for greater coordination between health and justice sectors within government,” it added.

Several countries have ushered in new laws and policies to address the issue with favorable court judgments in countries including Nepal, India, the Philippines and South Korea, the study said.

“However, these are exceptional developments and action is required to improve the legal environment in all countries.”

The report’s release coincides with International Day against Homophobia.


German national dies of ‘HIV-Aids’ in Cagayan de Oro

THE City Council expressed alarm Thursday over the death of a German national reportedly from the human immunodeficiency virus-acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV-Aids).

The German’s body has not been claimed at Bollozos Funeral Parlor in Barangay Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City, for more than a month now.

Councilor Dante Pajo, chairperson of the City Council committee on health and author of the Cagayan de Oro Aids Council, said the German national arrived in Cagayan de Oro in November 2009 and was hospitalized at the Polymedic General Hospital a few days after he arrived and later died.

He said the foreigner was suspected to have HIV/AIDS.

“The German national made a grand entrance in the city. He used to have a wife in Thailand and a lot of lovers in Malaysia. When he arrived here, reports said he was fond of playing around with teenage girls, aged 13 years old and up. He also loved to go to the ‘red light district’,” Pajo said.

Pajo said though they have yet to confirm the real cause of the foreigner’s death, the report is still “very alarming.”
“It is better to take precautionary measures for our peace of mind. This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass Aids to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breastfeeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Most of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection,” Pajo said.

He said if it is confirmed that the German national died of HIV-Aids, the City Health Office along with the Aids Council will closely monitor those who were in contact with the foreigner to prevent the spread of the disease.

With this, Pajo called on those who had previous sexual contacts with the German national to visit the City Health Office for thorough check-up and counseling. (Nicole J. Managbang)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 28, 2010.


Ang Ladlad invites you to a Pink Party

ANG LADLAD PARTYLIST and The Lounge give you PINK PRIDE PARTY! Out & Proud LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual) Night Hosted by: Royal Hotness KRIS LOYOLA Event Promoter PRINCE VINNY and TV HOST COOLAI CONCEPCION Feat HOUSE ANTHEMS by Dj Jenil Party.
Party starts @ 9PM
Door charge P200 with drink inclusive
This is a fund-raising event.
See yah there sisters!
LOUNGE is located at 2nd Floor Bellagio Square, Sct Fuentebella cor Tomas Morato, Quezon City



Fil-Am transgender sues Macy’s for discrimination

Balitang America

CALIFORNIA - A Filipino American is suing her former employer Macy’s department store for wrongful termination and discrimination.

For close to 3 years, Filipino American Jason “Jazz” Araquel, Jr. was at employee at the Macy’s store in the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, California. Araquel is a pre-operative male to female transgender, which Macy’s management knew when she was hired in 2006.

Araquel, who worked in the cosmetics department, was fired in September last year for alleged insubordination and use of foul language. Araquel then filed a lawsuit claiming she was wrongfully terminated, alleging that she was a victim of gender identity discrimination, according to Araquel’s attorney Kelly Chen.

Araquel claims that throughout her employment at Macy’s, she experienced ongoing verbal abuse, being ejected from the women’s restroom, was required to do work assignments not part of her duties, was being held at a stricter standard, and was subjected to constant ridicule from both management and other employees.

She made ongoing complaints to management about being harassed and discriminated in the workplace. Araquel believes her termination was retaliation for those complaints.

“Given the sensitive nature and impact of the decision by any individual to change their sex – physically, psychologically and emotionally – it is abhorrent that Macy’s not only sat by and allowed her to suffer in an environment of humiliation and harassment from other employees, but its management actually contributed to her pain and suffering through its ongoing unfair treatment of her and eventually by her termination,” said Araquel’s attorney Eric Castelblanco. (Balitang America)


Brush teeth to prevent heart disease

People who fail to brush their teeth twice a day are putting themselves at risk of heart disease, research suggests. 

The Scottish study of more than 11,000 adults backs previous research linking gum disease with heart problems.

The researchers said more work is needed to confirm if poor oral health directly causes heart disease or is a marker of risk.

A charity added that oral hygiene was just one factor in good heart health.

It is known that inflammation in the body, including in the mouth and gums, has an important role in the build up of clogged arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

But this is the first time that researchers have looked at whether the frequency of teeth brushing has any bearing on the risk of developing heart disease.

Data, published in the British Medical Journal, was collected on lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking, physical activity and oral health routines. 

Participants were also asked how often they visited the dentist and how often they brushed their teeth.
Then nurses collected information on medical history and family history of heart disease, took blood pressure and blood samples. 

Overall, six out of 10 people said they visited the dentist every six months and seven out 10 reported brushing their teeth twice a day. 

Over the eight-year study there were 555 "cardiovascular events" such as heart attacks, 170 of which were fatal. 

Taking into account factors that affect heart disease risk, such as social class, obesity, smoking and family history, the researchers found those with the worst oral hygiene had a 70% increased chance of developing the condition compared with those who brush their teeth twice a day.
Those with poor oral hygiene also tested positive in blood samples for proteins which are suggestive of inflammation. 

Cause and effect
Study leader Professor Richard Watt, from University College London, said future studies will be needed to confirm whether the link between oral health behaviour and cardiovascular disease "is in fact causal or merely a risk marker". 

Judy O'Sullivan, senior cardiac nurse at British Heart Foundation, said: "If you don't brush your teeth, your mouth can become infected with bacteria which can cause inflammation. 

"However, it is complicated by the fact that poor oral hygiene is often associated with other well known risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking and poor diet." 

She added: "Good personal hygiene is a basic element of a healthy lifestyle. 

"But if you want to help your heart, you should eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and take part in regular physical activity." 

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, added it was still unclear whether there was a definite cause and effect between oral hygiene and heart disease. 

"Whatever the true position is, we can say with certainty that if people brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, visit the dentist regularly and restrict sugary snacks to mealtimes; that this will go a long way towards keeping the teeth and gums in a healthy state for life." (


Lubricants may increase disease risk of anal sex, studies show

The use of lubricants may make anal sex more comfortable, but they may also increase the risk of spreading sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, researchers said Tuesday. Many experts have been concerned about the potential effects of such lubricants, but there have previously been virtually no studies about how they affect disease.

In the United States, as many as 90% of gay men practice anal sex, according to International Rectal Microbicides Advocates, a group that has been lobbying for the development of microbicides — chemical agents that can kill HIV during sexual acts. Estimates in the U.S. also suggest that as many as 35% of women have participated in anal sex at least once. The majority of both sexes are thought to use lubricants to ease penetration.
Epidemiologist Pamina H. Gorbach of UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine and her colleagues studied 879 men and women between October 2006 and December 2008. The participants were tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia and queried about their sexual behavior in private, computer-based interviews, which have been shown to elicit more truthful answers than face-to-face interviews. Of the 879 participants, 229 men and 192 women reported having receptive anal intercourse in the past year, and about half said they used lubricants. When the team analyzed the data, Gorbach told a Pittsburgh microbicides meeting, they found that those who used lubricants were three times as likely to have contracted a rectal infection.

A partial explanation for the increased risk may have been provided by Charlene Dezzutti, a reproductive science specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, and her colleagues. They studied the effects of six of the most popular lubricants on rectal cells and tissues in laboratory dishes.They found that many of the products had high concentrations of dissolved salts and sugars that draw water out of cells, weakening and even killing the cells. Some of them even stripped away significant portions of the surface epithelial cells on the rectal tissue, the layer of cells that serves as a protective barrier. They also studied the effect of the lubricants on beneficial bacteria in the rectum.

Two of the six lubricants, PRE and Wet Platinum, were shown to be safest for the cells, while Astroglide was the most toxic to cells and tissue. KY Jelly had the worst effect on rectal bacteria, essentially wiping out the entire colony. ID Glide and Elbow Grease had intermediate effects, the team found. None of the lubricants was found to have measurable anti-HIV activity.

The team now plans to investigate the effect of the lubricants on HIV infections.
- Thomas H. Maugh II


Written by Dr John Dean, specialist in sexual medicine, and Dr David Delvin, GP and family planning specialist

What is it?

Anal sex means sexual activity involving the bottom – in particular, the type of intercourse in which the penis goes into the anus. It is often referred to as ‘rectal sex'. Anal sex does carry some health risks, so please read our advice carefully.

Our impression is that anal sex has become rather more common in heterosexual couples, partly because they have watched ‘blue movies’ in which this activity so often occurs.

One small study carried out in 2009 suggested that 30 per cent of pornographic DVDs which are on sale in the UK feature rectal intercourse. Often, it is presented as something that is both routine and painless for women. In real life, this is not the case.

Other types of sexual activity which involve the anus include:

‘postillionage’ – which means putting a finger into the partner’s bottom.

insertion of ‘butt plugs’ – which are sex toys that dilate the anal opening and create a sensation of fullness.

use of vibrators on or in the anus (please see cautionary note below).

'rimming’ – which is oral-anal contact; this carries a significant risk of infection.

‘fisting’ – which means putting the hand into the rectum; this activity is rare among heterosexual couples.

Taboos and infection

There are taboos surrounding the various types of anal sex – and particularly anal intercourse. These may arouse strong feelings of moral indignation, guilt and anxiety.

It is important to remember that while some people find these activities repugnant, others may find them stimulating, exciting, and a normal part of their sexual intimacy.

Research shows that, whether we like it or not, the anal area is equipped with many erotic nerve endings – in both men and women. So it is not surprising that many couples (including a lot of heterosexual ones) derive pleasure from some form of ‘bottom stimulation'.

What about infection? Most sexual activities carry a risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) from gonorrhoea and herpes to hepatitis B and HIV. There is evidence that anal intercourse carries a higher transmission risk than almost any other sexual activity. Information about these risks is given below.


What consenting adults enjoy sexually in the privacy of their homes is their own business provided that the law does not prohibit it.

The key issues are legality and consent. In the UK, anal intercourse is a legal activity between consenting men and women aged 16 and over, in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, except in Northern Ireland where it's 17 and over.

In some countries it is still a criminal offence punishable by long custodial sentences, corporal or even capital punishment. It remains forbidden in some states of the USA, and in some former colonies of Britain.

Consent freely given by both partners is an essential feature of sexual activity in a loving relationship. Many individuals, both men and women, may have secret fantasies involving anal intercourse but feel unable to discuss them with their partner.

Some may try and pressurise their partner to have anal intercourse, even though the partner does not share their interest. Some partners will reluctantly acquiesce, others may be pressured or even physically forced to allow it.

Forcing or pressurising a partner to submit to an activity that they find distasteful or degrading is completely unacceptable behaviour.

Intoxication with drugs or alcohol is associated with lowering inhibitions and experimentation with unusual or unsafe sexual behaviour – and can lead to serious consequences.

It should be remembered that in the absence of freely given consent, the very serious criminal offences of assault and rape are committed. Therefore, it is essential that both partners agree that they wish to try anal sex as a part of their sexual repertoire and that they are sure of the legal position on anal intercourse in the country that they are in.

Who does it?

There is a common misconception that anal sex is practised almost exclusively by gay men. This is certainly not the case. An estimated one third of gay couples do not include anal intercourse in their lovemaking. About one third of heterosexual couples try it from time to time.

It is thought that about 10 per cent of heterosexual couples have anal intercourse as a more regular feature of their lovemaking. In absolute numbers, more heterosexual couples have anal sex than homosexual couples, because more people are heterosexual.

Is it safe?

Anal sex, if practised with care, is possible for most couples. It does, however, carry additional health risks and there are safer sexual practices that couples can enjoy. The main health risks, which affect both heterosexual and homosexual couples, are described below.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): there is no doubt that anal intercourse carries a greater risk of transmission of HIV - the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) - than other sexual activities, particularly for the receptive partner.

Human papilloma virus (HPV, wart virus): this can be transmitted during anal intercourse and lead to anal warts, which in turn could perhaps predispose infected individuals to cancer of the anal canal.

Hepatitis A (infectious hepatitis): this is a viral infection that can cause jaundice and abdominal pain. Hepatitis A is not usually a life-threatening illness, although sufferers can feel quite ill. It can be transmitted by oral-anal contact.

Hepatitis C: is a cause of progressive and sometimes fatal chronic liver disease. Hepatitis C may be transmitted by anal intercourse, although this seems to be a rare occurrence. Sharing of equipment for intravenous drug use is a far more important risk for transmission.

Escherichia coli (E. coli): may sometimes cause mild to severe, or even (rarely) fatal, gastroenteritis. It is one of many viruses and bacteria that can be transmitted by oral-anal contact. Some E. coli strains (uropathic E. coli) can also cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), ranging from cystitis to pyelonephritis - a serious kidney infection. E. coli very readily crosses the short distance between the female anus and the female urinary opening, so causing a urinary infection. Anal intercourse can facilitate this ‘transfer’ – particularly if it is immediately followed by vaginal intercourse.


Avoiding anal sex altogether is of course the best way of avoiding these risks. There are other, safer sexual practices that can be exciting and rewarding, but many couples may still wish to try the anal route.

The use of condoms and water-based lubricants, such as K-Y Jelly, will offer some protection. Other lubricants may cause condoms to split, as will over-energetic thrusting without adequate lubrication. Specially toughened condoms designed for anal intercourse may offer more protection.

How to have anal intercourse safely

Anal intercourse involves the penetration of the anus and rectum with the erect penis for the purpose of sexual stimulation. It is possible for both men and women to ‘receive’ it, although care is needed for it to be safe and comfortable.

Ensure the anal area is clean and the bowel is empty. This is important both aesthetically and practically. If the bowel is empty, there is no risk of the receptive partner passing faeces.

The 'receptive' partner must be able to relax the anal sphincter in order to accommodate the erect penis. The anal sphincter is a ring of muscle that can be contracted or relaxed under voluntary control. Forced penetration may result in tearing of the sensitive skin around the anus or the sphincter itself. This may result in severe anal pain or even faecal incontinence.

Try gently inserting a lubricated finger, perhaps covered by a condom or glove into the anus first. This will enable the receiving partner to find out whether penetration is comfortable and enjoyable. Having managed to accommodate one finger, you can run the finger around the anal canal - gently stretching it. This must be done delicately so as not to cause pain or injury.

Next, you can, if you wish, try and insert two fingers. If this is successfully achieved, the couple may agree to try with a well-lubricated penis or with a butt plug (a broad-based anal dilator), dildo or vibrator (see below about the risks of sex aids and anal sex).

Gentleness, care, adequate lubrication and anal relaxation are required, not the insertive partner pushing harder! If condoms are used for penile penetration, which is advisable to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted disease, it is important to use a water-based lubricant. The insertive partner must control any thrusting, so as to give the receptive partner time to allow the sphincter to relax. With time and practice, this may become easier.

Drugs and anal sex

Muscle relaxant drugs (amyl nitrate, butyl nitrate, glyceryl trinitrate) have been tried to make anal intercourse easier or more comfortable. We do not recommend this. Amyl nitrate 'poppers' sold in small bottles for inhalation, are popular in the gay community and have a reputation both for enhancing the intensity of orgasm and helping relax the anal sphincter. There is no real evidence to support these assertions and its use is not recommended by medical authorities. It is important to remember that amyl nitrate is a potent drug with many side effects, including facial flushing, headaches, dizziness and low blood pressure, which may lead to faintness and loss of consciousness. Amyl nitrate, when taken with Viagra (sildenafil), may cause a catastrophic drop in blood pressure with potentially fatal consequences. Other nitrates may have the same effect. All erection-inducing drugs, including Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil)and Levitra tablets (vardenafil), can be very dangerous if you are using nitrates.

Local anaesthetics, such as lignocaine (lidocaine) cream or even locally applied cocaine, have been used to reduce anal pain during intercourse. Again, we strongly advise against this. By numbing the anal skin there is a real risk of causing serious injury to the anal sphincter through over-vigorous thrusting. By following the steps above it is possible to gently dilate the sphincter for comfortable intercourse. The purpose of pain is to make us aware that we are causing injury and, therefore, local anaesthetics should be avoided. Another problem with local anaesthetics is that they may make the penis of the insertive partner numb. This may lead to problems with erection, orgasm and ejaculation.


This involves the insertion of the whole hand or forearm into the anus (or indeed the vagina) for sexual stimulation. With adequate relaxation it is physically possible and may be acceptable and enjoyable for some couples. But the diameter of the hand or forearm is so much greater than that of the penis there is an increased risk of anal injury. For that reason, we do not recommend this practice.

Good anal relaxation in the receptive partner and care by the insertive partner are essential.

In practice, anal fisting is very rarely used by heterosexual couples.


Rimming involves oral contact with the anus for sexual stimulation. This involves a high risk of transmission of infection. So we cannot recommend this practice.

Sex aids and anal sex – a cautionary note

Some couples like to use sex aids for insertion into the anus. Certain individuals may use them for solitary sexual stimulation.

The same principles apply as for genital insertion in that relaxation is essential. Sex aids must be kept clean and washed carefully between use. Condoms may be placed over sex aids as an additional precaution.

One additional risk from the use of sex aids in anal sex is that of losing the aid into the rectum.

Some medical school pathology museums have a wide selection of novel foreign bodies recovered from the rectums of both men and women, ranging from vibrators to milk bottles.

Human ingenuity seems to know no bounds in this area, but it is incredibly foolish to insert potentially breakable objects into the anus and terrible injuries may result.

If you do lose a sex aid into the rectum you should attend the Accident and Emergency department of your local hospital as soon as possible, however embarrassing it may be. The situation will only get worse if it is neglected and the object may break or become more difficult to recover.

In general, you should only use a sex aid which is designed for the anus. Butt plugs and anal vibrators have a broad base which makes it very difficult to ‘lose’ them inside the rectum.

Vaginal vibrators are not designed in this way, and can easily slip inside and buzz their way up the colon. Some have been recovered by surgeons from far inside the abdomen. If they are still vibrating when the patient arrives at the hospital, they produce an interesting but alarming phenomenon called ‘the rotating umbilicus sign'. Don’t let this happen to you.




An Open Letter to Noynoy from OFWs

Dear Sen. Aquino,

First and foremost, we extend our deepest and sincerest congratulations on your ascendancy to the highest-elected office of our beloved country through a democratic process that every Filipino can take pride in for many generations to come. The first step inherent in the process of transformation is recognizing the need for change – and our capacity to change for the better! Thus, from this point onward, we are hopeful that inspired by your convincing victory and leadership, every Filipino will assume his or her role and responsibility to change the status quo by initiating positive changes towards a better and brighter Philippines, no matter where he or she is, and regardless of what citizenship he or she now holds.

We, the Overseas Filipinos Worldwide (OFW), are a group of Filipinos based abroad and in the Philippines, representing various organizations implementing projects in the Philippines and in our host countries for many years now that are aimed to strategically harness the Philippines’ migration gains into mechanisms for the development of the motherland and our communities of origin.

Migration gains are mainly remittances by overseas Filipinos to their family members, which are now in the region of USD17 billion and are the primary source of livelihood for millions of Philippine households. At 10.8% of the country’s GDP, they are also the third biggest source of the country’s foreign currency reserves and act as primary driver for our economy, shielding us from bankruptcy during the financial crisis in 1997 and the current one. The Filipino diaspora, estimated now at about 10 million working or residing in 239 countries and territories worldwide, send back donations to various humanitarian causes, such as disaster–relief, medical missions, schoolhouses, and other infrastructure. These contributions supplement local and national government deficits and, as of 2003, have already amounted to USD218 million, per BSP figures in that year. We do not count here the investments made by OFWs in real estate and the education and health of their family members, and the money spent on various goods and services, as well as on construction, food, shelter, and other inflows that support sectors like the airlines, shopping centers, and banks. Yet, after more than three decades of overseas employment, we do not see genuine signs of poverty alleviation, and instead more and more of our countrymen leave for work abroad.

Ironically, the Philippine model of overseas migration has become a model of sorts, for other migrant-origin countries to emulate and even copy. This however does not tell the whole story or reveal the other face of migration that has escaped the serious attention of past administrations, specifically, the social costs that migration has bred since government-managed deployment started in the early 70s and up to the present, where we now see at least 3,000 of many of the best and brightest Filipinos leaving daily to take up jobs overseas, due to local employment deficits. Other nations like South Korea, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and Taiwan, who once were labor exporting countries, have been able to get over their migration hump, as a result of their governments’ consciously harnessing their workers’ remittances and investing them to develop local infrastructure, shipyards, factories, and other industries. Convinced of the effectiveness of government programs and also trustful of their leaders’ sincerity, these countries’ expatriates and overseas workers, at great sacrifice, left their high-paying jobs overseas and returned to their home countries to lend their talents and acquired expertise in further helping their respective country’s leap towards developed status even working at low salaries. India, another migrant-sending country, is also now going in that direction. These examples serve to illustrate the dictum that migration should be temporary, that it must not be used as a substitute for development. The desirable goal of countries wishing to be strong and globally competitive must necessarily be self-sufficiency and the ability to provide its people with necessary components needed for their human development.

The advent of a new administration, especially one under your inspired leadership, is a good time to ask where the Philippines is going regarding migration, and to act accordingly. Shall we continue to send out our people and rely on remittances and without any development objectives in sight? Conversely, don’t we have the talent to formulate a road map towards self-sufficiency over a period of time, in order that the hemorrhage of talents could be stopped, that a crisis in our dysfunctional families and society at large could be averted, and so that our people do not have to take migration as a forced option? If long-term migration goals are set now, the government could in the meantime work on some basic but urgent deployment and migration issues in order to clear the way towards having a genuine and serious program on translating migration gains for use in human development. In view of this, we humbly suggest starting to look at the following:
  • The government must send clear and strong signals that migration and remittances are only temporary measures to help the government prepare for a longer-term goal of self sufficiency,in which Filipinos no longer look at migration as a forced option. This must be integrated in Medium-Term Development Plans, which is currently being formulated by NEDA, and which should also include how in the meantime strategies, policies, and mechanisms for the productive use and investment of remittances could be harnessed to strengthen the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals.
  • Create a position for a Special Presidential Adviser on Migration and Development, who will work with a technical working group (TWG) composed of qualified individuals who have a background in migration and development, including knowledgeable and committed migrant leaders. Among others, the TWG could conduct studies, consultations, and discussions, and come up with updated situationers and appropriate policy recommendations on how to effectively translate remittances and migrant resources to develop local economies; and to address social costs, facilitation of return migration, reintegration, mechanisms for the counter parting of funds between Filipino diaspora groups, LGUs, and development agencies for local and countryside development, incentives for OFW investments in agriculture, SME, infrastructure, microfinance, cooperatives, and other sectors that need stronger funding support. The work could take the form of draft legislation for study by Congress’s standing committee on OFWs or form the basis for an Executive or Administrative Order, whichever is appropriate or workable. The committee’s work shall be purely consultative and should not supplant the work of government migration agencies.
  • Review and monitor the performance of government agencies in charge of migrant workers, such as the POEA, OWWA, CFO, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, with a view to strengthening these institutions, reducing wasteful and ineffective programs or duplication of work, giving agencies needed resources and funds for effective implementation of programs, and strengthening the capacity of their overseas offices to become centers of service to migrant workers overseas.
  • Departing OFWs contribute USD25 each as a requirement for departure and membership in OWWA and entitlement of welfare benefits. The total corpus of this trust fund is already at the level of at least PHP10 billion. The disposition and administration of this fund has been subject of criticisms, as its use has not been transparent and shown susceptibility to mismanagement. Specifically, reforms in OWWA should (1) impose strict criteria in the process of selection of people who will sit in the Board of Trustees, such that only those qualified and are committed to work for their constituents are appointed, e.g., women OFWs, sea-based, land-based, etc. (2) OWWA proceedings should be made transparent and open to public scrutiny, particularly the investment of the trust funds. (3) the incoming administration, for the benefit of OFWs and through the working group, should require from the current OWWA board an accounting of OWWA funds and how they were invested/used. To this end, the most recent COA audit of migration agencies, like POEA, OWWA, DFA, and POLO offices overseas, must be consulted.
  • The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) are two small agencies that are doing important work on mobilizing diaspora contributions for development and assistance to OFWs who are reintegrating to Philippine society after working abroad. The CFO, for instance, has submitted recommendations on how gaps and barriers to enhanced diaspora contributions could be addressed, but these have never been acted upon. The NRCO, in the three years it has been created, has given assistance and referrals on livelihood and employment to OFW returnees affected by the global crisis. Their work should be seriously looked into, and whenever necessary, the appropriate level of funds, resources, and support should be given to these agencies.
  • Lack of financial literacy or of the ability to use resources and incomes productively and wisely has been highlighted as a major cultural barrier among not only OFWs but also for most Filipinos. It prevents our people from improving their socio-economic conditions, despite years of employment in the Philippines or overseas. This refers to lack of savings or investment mindset and excessive spending on non-essentials. No less than an institutionalized nationwide program on financial literacy will be able to address this and should include not only OFWs but also members of their family. The BSP has been the lead government agency that has conducted financial literacy seminars for OFWs and families since 2006 in more than 30 Philippine cities and 10 cities overseas. This program could be improved and expanded through an impact assessment of the campaign and which might include providing resources for enlisting the DECS to include financial literacy and migration as part of school curriculum, starting from grade school, or the LGUs, by including financial literacy and social costs of migration in the Pre-employment Orientation Seminars (PEOS) conducted in their territories for intending migrants.
As a final note, while the recommendations above address specific OFW issues, the programs you had avowed to pursue in your electoral campaign on good governance—better access to health, education, employment and livelihood, and business opportunities for all—are all in the right track, constitute the basic elements for self-sufficiency, and provide viable options to our citizens to remain in the country and to devote their talents and resources to developing the homeland. On these, please be assured of our continued support.

Doris Alfafara, Habagat Foundation, The Netherlands
Marvin Bionat, USA
Ren Arrieta, USA
Ding Bagasao, Economic Resource Center for Overseas Filipinos (ERCOF), Philippines
Basco Fernandez, Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland, The Netherlands
Lorna Lardizabal Dietz
Judith Puyat-Magnaye, USA
Leila Rispens-Noel, Wimler Partnership for Social Progress, Hongkong/Contact Person
Dennis Yaun, Luxembourg
James Zamora, Philippines

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Many Lights For Human Rights - AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2010


The Department of Health–Philippine National AIDS Council and TLF SHARE Collective, Inc. are coordinating the 27th AIDS Candlelight Memorial with the theme “Many Lights for Human Rights: Remember, Honor and Act”.

The event aims to:
(1) increase awareness on HIV/AIDS;
(2) to foster solidarity and support between and among different communities, NGOs, support groups and other stakeholders in addressing HIV/AIDS issues;
(3) to promote respect and uphold the dignity of persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families;
(4) to mobilize communities and individuals towards achieving a participatory and meaningful engagement;
(5) to remember and honor Filipinos who passed away due to HIV/AIDS and to support those who are affected.

This event shall gather key stakeholders in the HIV and AIDS response--public and private organizations, faith-based groups, health, social welfare, labor, commerce and industry as well as civil society and local communities representing the most at risk and vulnerable populations.

For inquiries, please feel free to contact Mr. Marcy Oculto at (02) 751 7047    
(02) 751 7047       (02) 728 8487           (02) 728 8487      or (0908) 230 3783        
(0908) 230 3783     



Dear friends and allies,

May 20 marks the official foundation date of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). On our 8th year, we proudly present the

The Sybil Awards honor those who have promoted transgender visibility, equality, acceptance and dignity. The Sybil logo has three elements: a silhouette of a woman in a dance pose with raised arms, an oversized S that covers parts of her body and the name of the award and the year that it is being given.

The woman with outstretched hands represents the gallae, a cult of priestesses who dedicated their life to the worship of the goddess Sybil in ancient Greece and Rome. The gallae were assigned male at birth but transformed themselves by means of castration. During the festival honoring Sybil, the gallae danced wildly in veneration of the Great Mother. They are recognized as precursors of modern transgender identity.

The oversized S, aside from standing for the S in Sybil, represents the female garb that gallae wore. Its shape embodies flexibility and fluidity and encapsulates the idea of gender variability. The Sybil Awards is a celebration of the right to self-determination--the right to define one’s gender identity and expression--and is a way to honor those who respect this right fully.

The color of the poster is bronze to symbolize STRAP’s 8th year anniversary. This color will change depending on the color of the gemstone associated with that year. The Sybil logo was designed by our very own Ms Phoejay Amparo.



Naomi Fontanos
Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)

M: +63 920 269 7607 +63 920 269 7607

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."--MahathmaGhandi


Homophobia, defined.

1. What is homophobia?It's all the negative attitudes that can lead to rejection and to direct or indirect discrimination towards gay men, lesbians, and bisexual, transsexual or transgender people or toward anyone whose physical appearance or behaviour does not fit masculine or feminine stereotypes.The following are variants of homophobia • Bi-phobia: aversion towards bisexual people or bisexuality; • Gayphobia: aversion towards gay men or male homosexuality; • Lesbophobia: aversion towards lesbian women or female homosexuality.Both on a conscious or sub-conscious level, homophobia surfaces in various ways and can even be internalised.

2. What is transphobia?Transphobia is a negative attitude or feeling, a discomfort or an aversion towards transgender people, transsexuals or people who are transitioning.

3. What is the International Day Against Homophobia?The International Day Against Homophobia is an annual thematic event occurring every May 17. This is a unifying moment during which a great number of activities are taking place. It also represents an opportunity to organize educational and awareness activities. Citizens from all walks of life are invited to reflect on homophobia and its devastating effects.

4. Why is the International Day Against Homophobia so important?Homophobia is an insidious process that channels its effects through subtle, even disguised, ways. No one is safe from hostile manifestations of homosexuality. Like other forms of discrimination and intolerance such as racism, sexism or antisemitism, homophobia has important, sometimes devastating, repercussions for its victims.Because of it, certain people have difficulty accepting and living a sexual orientation that is different from that of the majority, the suicide rate among young gays is much higher than with their heterosexual peers, a great number of gays and lesbians live in secret and in fear of rejection, and transgendered and transsexual persons still live on the fringe of society.If progressive laws such as the Civil Marriage Act legalizing same-sex marriage are today a reality, social equality among all citizens regardless of the sexual orientation or sexual identity remains to be achieved.

5. Why May 17?May 17th is symbolic due to its significance in improving the status of gays and lesbians. In removing homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses on a May 17, the World Health Organisation (WHO) put an end to over a century of homophobia in the medical field. IDAHO organization proposed this date for annually holding a day set aside to fight homophobia. The Declaration of Montréal (July 29, 2006), borne out of the International Conference on LGBT Rights that preceded the first World Outgames, recommended the worldwide recognition of an International Day Against Homophobia on May 17 of each year.

6. What are the goals that should be pursued on that day?• promote the growth of harmonious relationships among people, regardless of their sexual orientation; • further the inclusion of homosexual persons in society;

• encourage citizens to understand sexual diversity;
• strive to put an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation in keeping with the charters of rights and freedoms;
• give rise to a general open mindedness towards diversity, and other related values in our society;
• show the devastating effects of homophobia;
• propose and put in place concrete means to fight homophobia;
• induce all sympathizers to organize activities aimed at fighting homophobia;
• set up a consultation process among its partners;
• converge all anti-homophobia activities on a single day;
• put together an organizational structure capable of insuring the survival and recurrence of the event

7. How can I get involved in the fight against homophobia?There are a number of ways people can contribute to the fight against homophobia. The International Day Against Homophobia is the perfect opportunity to make such efforts. There are a few simple ways to participate. For instance, we suggest that:
• parents tell their children that, regardless of their sexual orientation, they will love them just the same; • teachers and instructors talk about homophobia in the classroom;
• libraries clearly display books on homophobia • employers set up programs against homophobia in the workplace;
• trade unions organize awareness activities in the workplace;
• community groups heighten awareness among their constituencies;
• broadcasters present special reports and documentaries on the subject;
• newspapers publish reports and in-depth articles on the subject;
• radio and television stations call upon artists and personalities to speak on the subject, and play songs about tolerance;
• internet diffusers take out or refuse any homophobic content;
• gays and lesbians who wish to do so “come out” of the closet;
• legislators, governments, municipalities and school boards approve a motion in support of the International Day Against Homophobia, and make a commitment to fight homophobia; and that
• people in general make a symbolic gesture in their entourage.



19 of 48 countries in the Asia Pacific region criminalise male-to-male sex


Nineteen of 48 countries in the Asia Pacific region criminalise male-to-male sex which contributes to over 90 percent of gay and bisexual men in the region being denied access to HIV prevention and care services. Fridae’s Laurindo Garcia reports.

Left to right: Moderator Thomas Abraham, Hon. Ajit Prakash Shah (India),
Hon. Michael Kirby  (Australia), Hon. Dame Carol Kidu, MP and
Minister for Community Development (Papua New Guinea), and
Shivananda Khan, O.B.E, Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM)

On May 17 a panel of high-ranking judges, lawmakers, researchers and community activists gathered at the University of Hong Kong to discuss legal reform and how active participation from the community can help reverse an alarming trend where more than 90 percent of men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Asia-Pacific region do not have access to HIV prevention and care services.
This warning was highlighted during a high-level dialogue entitled “Punitive laws, human rights and HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in Asia Pacific” organised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in association with the Asia-Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (ACPOM) and the Center for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) at the Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong.

Research conducted by UNDP and APCOM over the last 12 months investigated the affect that legislation, the judiciary and law enforcement has on responses to the HIV epidemic across the Asia-Pacific region.

While the final report is to be tabled later this year, preliminary findings were released to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

John Godwin, a consultant to the UNDP, elaborated on data which demonstrates the precarious position of the Asia-Pacific’s HIV response. In its report, the UNDP believes the already critical situation is “likely to get worse” if countries fail to act.

Nineteen out of 48 countries across the Asia-Pacific region criminalise consensual male-to-male sex. [*Male-to-male sex is illegal in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Naura and Palau. Sex between adult males was decriminalised in India's National Capital Territory but Supreme Court proceedings are still pending and the application to other jurisdictions has not been determined.] Of these 19 countries, 16 are former British territories where anti-sodomy laws were introduced during colonisation. Despite the ascension to independence by all 16 countries, this remnant of colonialism remains in their penal codes.

Godwin described the disconnect that exists between national AIDS policies and legal frameworks in many countries. He cited how legislation often runs counter-productive to HIV prevention strategies implemented by health officials. This legal gridlock was compounded in some cases where selective enforcement of public order and prostitution laws hamper fundamental outreach activities such as safer sex campaigns and condom distribution.

“Why do people hate homosexuals?”
In an attempt to unravel the reasons behind the disconnect between public health policy and legislation, the Honourable Michael Kirby, former High Court Judge of Australia, posed the question to the audience point-blank: “Why do people hate homosexuals?”
Kirby’s analysis of this subject revealed how the human element has often been at odds with science. Evidence-based, scientific research is the cornerstone of any public health policy. In contrast, Kirby recounted with dismay the number of instances through history where proposed legal reforms, designed to support health policy, had been put down due to talk of “Sodom and Gomorra” and other religious metaphors entering public debates.

Kirby noted, however, that there is progress on the legal front coming from recent court decisions in India, Pakistan and the Philippines on issues of sexual orientation or gender identity. However more work and leadership, by the likes of countries like Hong Kong – who repealed their anti-sodomy laws in 1991 – is required.

Landmark decision by the Delhi High Court

The Chief Justice who presided over the court in Delhi, India was on hand to describe the turn of events that led to a landmark decision in July 2009. The Honourable Ajit Prakash Shah, explained the social impact of his ruling that Section 377 of India’s Penal Code was discriminatory and “a violation of fundamental rights”. He said the case began a “national conversation” with LGBT issues now firmly “out of the closet”, a scenario he described necessary and beneficial.

While pointing out that the loudest voices against the ruling are coming from religious groups, Shah drew attention to a handful of faith-based leaders who have come to support the decision. These pro-repeal religious figures, although modest in number, refer to the constitution as being paramount and acknowledge that the goal of any religion was to develop of an inclusive society that isolates no one.

In addressing issues of “morality” – a contentious issue often at the epicentre of legal debates on LGBT rights issues – the Indian court said governments should "not be guided by public morality, but by constitutional morality", Shah recalled. He went further to explain that by repealing Section 377, the court helped resolve an impasse for the Ministry of Health whose national HIV prevention program had been obstructed by the laws of the land.

While courtroom dramas and landmark judicial rulings provide fireworks which catch worldwide media attention, the long and arduous road to legal reform via the legislative process is often less publicised, but no less significant. The governmental route requires extraordinary effort, as was characterised by a lawmaker who presented her experience over the past 10 years in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea’s experience

The Hon. Dame Carol Kidu is Minister for Community Development in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and is the only woman member of the 109-member PNG Parliament. Kidu made no qualms in describing her campaign to have punitive laws against homosexuals reviewed in her country as a “rollercoaster ride, with some highs and many lows”. So turbulent has the journey been that Kidu admitted that she had recently considered ending her campaign, but was now reinvigorated after inspiration from the other panellists at the UNDP event.

Kidu’s mission is to correct the “hypocrisy of a situation” where “the criminality of homosexuality has remained, in spite of the fact that the technical criminals have become major players in PNG’s HIV response strategy”. Her submission to parliament points out that without effective measures to ensure safer sex practices, there is potential for a rapid increase in HIV infection among men who have sex with men, as well as the female sexual partners of bisexual men which are common in PNG.

Continued criminalisation of male-to-male sex does not stop it from occurring, Kidu explained, but instead, drives the practice further underground. These men become hidden and “difficult to engage in effective HIV prevention and care programs”. While Kidu was confident that her submission was based on sound evidence and acknowledges the sensitivities that exist among her fellow legislators, she hit a stumbling block in mid-May with progress on the current path now uncertain. Despite the recent setback Kidu, a strident advocate on issues of reproductive rights and sexual health, made it clear that several contingency plans are open for exploration.

Transforming talk into action
However the question remains: how can any of these UNDP-sponsored talks amount to significant change for gay men, bisexuals and transgender (TG) people, as well the wider LGBT community?

Dr. Mandeep Dhaliwal, a Team Leader at the UNDP’s Bureau of Development Policy in New York, explained that these findings and the pending report will be a guide to assist advocacy efforts in its 24 in-country offices throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

More to the point, Dr Dhaliwal was adamant that the report and events like these shed light on ideas and examples that can be applied in other countries.

This was illustrated by Shivananda Khan, Interim Chairperson of APCOM and founder of South Asia’s Naz Foundation International which is active on male-to-male sexuality and HIV in the region.

Khan spoke of a range of initiatives where lawmakers and law enforcers are becoming active players in educating the public. He spoke of plans in India where the government will embark on a campaign to destigmatise same-sex relationships. Khan noted several places where sensitisation programs for police officers have had encouraging success at reducing violence and abuses against MSM and TG. Further examples will be released in the final UNDP report to be tabled at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna this July.

The reality is that these things do not happen overnight, as Khan explained. He spoke at length that an active and passionate civil society that demands these initiatives is vital. Khan made it clear that action at government and justice level happens in countries where civil society “comes together and works together as a team, not against each, but with each other”. He made a call to the community to engage and build bridges with all sectors, including religious leaders.

A grim, yet common, thread between all speakers was tales of violence, police abuse, suicides in the face of public humiliation and spiralling HIV infection rates. Over time history has transformed these unfortunate events into catalysts for change in some countries. However the question left to attendees, and the community at large, is: how can significant change be won without further senseless loss of those whom we love.

Laurindo Garcia is a Manila-based correspondent and HIV Programs Manager for Fridae.



An Interesting Letter to Noynoy from F. Jose

Dear Noynoy, (from the Philippine Star)

You are now swamped with suggestions and advice, but just the same, I hope you’ll have time to read what this octogenarian has to say.

You were not my choice in the last election but since our people have spoken, we must now support you and pray that you prevail. But first, I must remind you of the stern reality that your drumbeaters ignore: you have no noble legacy from your forbears. It is now your arduous job to create one yourself in the six years that you will be the single most powerful Filipino. Six years is too short a time — the experience in our part of the world is that it takes at least one generation — 25 years — for a sick nation to recover and prosper. But you can begin that happy process of healing.

Bear in mind that the past weighs heavily on all of us because of the many contradictions in it that we have not resolved, whose resolutions would strengthen us as a nation. This past is now your burden, too. Let us start with the fact that your grandfather collaborated with the Japanese. Your father was deeply aware of this, its stigma, its possibilities. He did not leave any legacy because he did not become president. He was a brilliant and courageous politician. He was an enterprising journalist; he had friends in journalism who can attest to his effulgent vision, who did not profit from his friendship, among them Nestor Mata, Gregorio Brillantes — you may consult them. I cannot say I did not profit — he bought many books from my shop and when he was in Marcos’s prison, your mother brought books from my shop to him.

Forgive me for giving you this unsolicited advice. First, beware of hubris; you are surrounded by panderers who will tell you what is nice to hear. You need to be humble always and heed your conscience. When Caesar was paraded in ancient Rome before the cheering multitudes, there was always a man chanting behind him: “Remember, you are mortal.”
I say to you, remember, the poor — some of them in your own hacienda — will be your ultimate judge.
From your comfortable and privileged cocoon, you know so little of our country and people. Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them.

Be the revolutionary your father wanted to be and don’t be scared or wary of the word “revolution.” It need not be always bloody. EDSA I was not. Your father wanted to destroy the most formidable obstacle to our progress — the Oligarchy to which you and your family belong. To succeed, you have to betray your class. If you cannot smash the oligarchy, at least strive to have their wealth develop this country, that they bring back the billions they stashed abroad. You cannot do this in six years, but you can begin.

Prosecute the crooks. It is difficult, thankless and even dangerous to do this. Your mother did not do it — she did not jail Imelda who was the partner in that conjugal dictatorship that plundered this nation. Watch her children — they were much too young to have participated in that looting but they are heirs to the billions which their parents stashed abroad. Now the Marcoses are on the high road to power, gloating, snickering at our credulity and despicable amnesia.

You know the biggest crooks in and out of government, those powerful smugglers, thieves, tax cheats — all you really need is guts to clobber them. Your father had lots of it — I hope he passed on to you most of it.

And most of all, now that you have the muscle to do it, go after your father’s killers. Blood and duty compel you to do so. Cory was only his wife — you are the anointed and only son. Your regime will be measured by how you resolve this most blatant crime that robbed us of a true leader.

And, finally, your mother. We loved her — she united us in ousting an abominable dictator. But she, too, did not leave a shining legacy for her presidency was a disaster. She announced a revolutionary government but did nothing revolutionary. She promised land reform but did not do it. And most grievous of all — she transformed the EDSA I revolution into a restoration of the oligarchy.

She became president only because her husband was murdered and you became president elect only because your mother died. Still, you are your father’s son and may you now — for the good of this country and people — scale the heights he and your mother never reached.

I am 85 and how I despair over how three generations of our leaders failed! Before I go, please let me see this unhappy country begin to be a much better place than the garbage dump our leaders and people have made it. You can be this long awaited messiah but only if you are brave enough and wise enough to redeem your father’s aborted promise.

Hopefully yours,

F. Sionil Jose



Dear Brian, they do not know that stigma kills.


Hi Brian,

I just wish to inform you that a patient of mine expired yesterday, due to pneumonia that (didn't) respond to antibiotics. He never sought consultation with any doctor despite bouts of easy fatigability for more than a year, and on & off low-grade fever for almost 6 months. He got admitted 5 days ago due to 2 weeks of persistent high-grade fever and progressive cough and difficulty of breathing.

On his 2nd hospital day, (the) symptoms got worse despite the potent antibiotics given. As I was having a doubt with persistent fever and cough, progressive labored breathing and the unusual heart size on his X-ray, I referred him to a cardiologist, (who), the same as I, thought of similar differential diagnosis pertaining to the heart and possibly, a hidden 'infection' which would worsen the present pulmonary infection, (and) which would aggravate the (...) heart condition. We talked to the patient privately, and he admitted to having unprotected sex with multiple partners. He immediately consented to an HIV screening procedure.

On his 4th day, he worsened progressively, and fast! The screening result then came in. Two different test methods were used for more validity. Both gave the same results... POSITIVE. His blood sample (was) sent to San Lazaro Hospital for the confirmatory test the day after. However, (a) few hours after the screening result came in, his heart suddenly stopped in (the) blink of an eye. He did not make it despite aggressive CPR.

Before his death, with the results still unknown to him, he told his bestfriend that in case the result is positive, not to tell his family, in fear of the social stigma his family would be facing. Maybe, he (knew) he (wasn't) gonna make it through the day. His friend also had this inclination that the patient wouldn't make it. He went home, not wanting to see his friend suffering more. He was later informed by the relatives that the patient expired 4 hours after he left.

I talked to the family and I had to tell them everything, since the patient's friend failed to inform me of his last wish, until he arrived after my lengthy talk with the family. Nevertheless, it is my professional and social responsibility to inform the immediate family members present in the hospital, to remove doubts as to the patient's demise. I told them that (although) a confirmatory test (was) still to be done, two different screening procedures that showed positive results almost always would show positive in a confirmatory test. The family members requested me not to tell anyone, moreso, identify the patient to others, especially about his HIV status. But even if they didn't ask (for) it, they need not fear about it.

Since they (planned) to do the regular Filipino funeral service, with the embalming and everything, and (wished) not to inform anyone, I advised them that it would be best to have an immediate cremation, to protect everyone who will work on the person's body. It is also to protect others by not having the body fluids go down the drainage and probably affect street Filipino children who (play) in sewers and canals. You know how 'effective' the sewerage system and flood control is in Manila, right?

I really don't know why I had to write you a letter about this. Maybe because I know you understand how (a) potentially-infected person feels, or how the family would handle the situation. Or maybe because I just want you to continue with your information campaign about the disease, and how important it is for people to have tests done, especially if they know they are at high risk. Maybe this story would help you more in making everyone aware of the hazards of the disease if left undiagnosed, and the unpreparedness of an unknowingly infected person to face the eventual outcome.

By the way, just a month ago, another young man died in the same hospital, admitted (for) tuberculosis with very progressive symptoms, (...) under another doctor's care. HIV screening tests were positive... as well as, the confirmatory one. He succumbed also after 4 days despite aggressive measures. I was just made aware about it a few hours after I got my patient's results. If only these young people had their tests done, they might still be living a happy and healthy life now.

Many thanks Brian. Keep up the good work. And please stay healthy."

from Pure Advocacy by Brian Gorrell


Britain may reduce aid if gay men are not set free in Malawi

Britain will review its aid to Malawi if the Government refuses to free two gay men who were sentenced to 14 years’ hard labour this week.
Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, came under pressure yesterday to begin withdrawing £19 million of British “budget support” for the Commonwealth country’s Government. 

The case of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza — who were sentenced to 14 years’ hard labour on Thursday for getting engaged in a traditional ceremony in December — has created an international outcry, with celebrities including Madonna joining calls for their release. 

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, was asked to increase diplomatic pressure after Alan Duncan, the International Development Minister, described their jailing as “both shocking and disturbing”. 

Writing on the pinknews website he said: “We, along with our international partners, will make urgent representations to the Government of Malawi to review its laws to ensure that it meets its commitments to human rights.” But he added that Britain “must be wary of calls to use aid money as a political weapon”. 

Mr Duncan, one of the most prominent gay members of the Government, joined 67 MPs in signing a Commons motion this year calling on President Bingu wa Mutharika to free the men. 

The Department for International Development (DfID) is understood to be considering reducing the proportion of aid paid directly to Malawi while maintaining the overall amount of £80 million donated to the country each year. Up to to 40 percent of Malawi’s budget comes from foreign donors. 

Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner who supported the Malawi democracy movement in the 1970s and 1980s, said that Mr Hague should ask President Mutharika to pardon Mr Chimbalanga and Mr Monjeza. 

A review of British government aid to Malawi will take place later this year. A DFID spokeswoman said last night: “Respect for human rights underpins our relationship with Malawi and will be taken into account in future aid decisions.”