A few days after the December 01 World AIDS Day in UP Diliman, our own @chiefniko04 joined his creator for peace so eternal and love so pure.
December 14, 2013. (Evening)
#REDx attendees were scrambling to prepare for the Mr&Ms REDx. Twitterlandia Idol was also lined up for the night. Dinner. and what I have always dreaded — a Candlelight Memorial.
You see, I have been doing the candlelight since 1995, it started with a small group and eventually it was either a Candlelight ceremony or just me lighting a candle at home —alone. It was never emotional for me, at least for the first ten to fifteen years, it was more of a routine for me. But as the years passed by, things got heavy having personally known people who passed away– pneumonia mostly, and some from the stigma. The minute candles are lit, tears start to build up. At the first note of any song, Faces flash, tears fell. Heart break over and over and over.
I told @ItsOfficialNemo I may not be strong enough to read through the speech, he told me to just let it go.
And so the lights were dimmed.
@arkipoz started his song. I stood behind @ItsOfficialNemo unable to control my tears. Faces flashed right before my closed tearful eyes. Happy faces and happy memories. Times of Pride March on the streets of Manila. Bars and alcohol overdose. Badminton game. Dinner, movies, beach and coffee moments. Or simply sitting beside each other in silence.
The lights were turned back on as @jonstaycool gave a brief speech. I didn’t want to read mine but I knew I had to. And so I did, edited and shortened, skipped a few parts, just to make it to the end of the document I prepared the night before.
It goes exactly like:
Good evening. HIV and AIDS. I am quite sure we hear these acronyms quite often these days. And to some, this may just be a passing joke as they have fully accepted and have been living with, not against HIV and AIDS. For some, each passing day is a struggle.
For October, the DOH has reported 491 newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases. That’s a total of 5,141 cases for the year 2013. 5 died from HIV/AIDS complications, all male – this October alone.
Today, we still are bombarded by the stigma that surrounds our daily lives. We have government officials wanting to further marginalize PLHIVs and drive people underground from testing and seeking treatment by proposing mandatory testing and mandatory contact tracing, together with a non disclosure criminalization. While CBOs work against these provisions, we can only hope for the best.
Please allow us to borrow a few minutes of our REDx event to remind us of those who passed away from HIV and AIDS related complications; and those who died from the stigma of HIV and AIDS.
Let us all remember the men and women responding to the constant need of PLHIVs lobbying against discrimination, campaigning for a zero HIV future, hoping that one day, maybe one day, everyone will know more and more about HIV and AIDS information.
Let us all remember our brothers and sisters who died not from the complications, but from the stigma brought forward by the society, their families, and yes, even by fellow PLHIVs.
Let us all remember that Chiefnikko who once was there texting us, playing badminton with us, or simply sharing that positive spirit of hope and faith with us.
Let us all remember that we all are here to support one another. Even when others don’t, or simply won’t.
@jonstaycool closed the candlelight ceremony.
Candles were blown.
But the candles shall forever burn in my heart.
I miss all of you.