Monthly Archives: March 2012

Where it all started

My journey to writing HIV/AIDS stories in the newspaper began from a photo exhibit at a popular mall in Mandaluyong City, which I have attended sometime in April 2002.

The photo exhibit was mounted by leading documentary photographers and HIV/AIDS specialists. They came up with the project to help the public learn, understand and appreciate the lives of men, women and children living with or affected by the incurable disease worldwide.

The exhibit, dubbed “Positive Lives Caravan: HIV/AIDS in the Philippines,” is a photographic exhibit that contains 120 photos from Japan, Korea, China, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines.

The exhibit depicts the struggle of people living with the incurable disease and how they conduct their daily lives. It attempts to highlight that people with HIV can lead a normal life just like any other individuals.

A nameless photo of an Asian woman with HIV tells, “It (HIV) is there all the time, I always think about it, even when I am sleeping. I worry about what will happen to my daughter when I go.”

From the caravan, I met Joshua Formentera, he is (was) the president and executive director of the Positive Action Foundation Philippines Inc., a non-government organization, run by volunteers, both HIV and non-HOV positives, since 1998.

Joshua is HIV positive, a professional, and willing to share his story sans the pseudonym to conceal his true identity. You won’t need barcode scanners to identify him.

From the exclusive interview with Joshua lead me to do a series of stories with other people living with HIV/AIDS, most landed on the front page of our newspaper. And the rest, so they say, is history…

He rose from the dead

I never met Mang Resty, a former photographer at PJI. He was there long before I came in. But I was lucky to have heard his uncanny story from the man himself.

Mang Resty had a reputation for always being late when reporting for assignments. But on a particular day, he was unbelievably early. Half an hour before he left for his assignment in Makati, he felt dizzy. The company nurse gave him medicine to alleviate his dizziness. The nurse followed procedures and took his blood pressure. The nurse heaved a sigh of relief as the blood pressure apparatus reading was normal, but when he tried to help Mang Resty get up, his legs suddenly felt woobly.

He let Mang Resty rest again, but he suddenly had seizure and his pulse went blank a few minutes later. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. But doctors still placed him at the ICU where they waited for another 24-hours.

After the critical period lapsed, doctors officially declared him dead. Word about Mang Resty’s untimely demise spread like wildfire.

But miracles do happen as 48 hours after he was wheeled into the hospital emergency room, Mang Resty woke up, sat on his bed and began talking to his wife as if nothing happened. He could not remember a thing of the 48 hours that he was detached from the real world (unlike those who experienced near-death encounters sa seen on movies or sony tvs).

His attending physician had told him that the abscene of any astral projection or paranormal experience could be the will of God.