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…