May 08, 2017
I just got back from a near 10 hour drive from Ilocos. I had to see you for HIV screening and admittedly, my mind was not up to it. Exhausted, I dragged my ass and drove to your location. You were already waiting when I got there. And inside the car, we talked about your history, your risks, your concerns. You. Your parents both passed away years ago and you were in Manila alone. Working in a call center in Manila for almost 10 years, you had no one but yourself. Your aunt’s your only family, but she’s in Zamboanga, some 1300 kilometers south of the Philippines. You have two siblings, the other one you can’t find and has not been in touch for five years. Your other sibling has a kid, also with your Aunt in Zamboanga.
The time came and we finally did your HIV screening. Reactive. You were calm. You didn’t go all crazy on me. You didn’t cry. Your eyes however said everything. Your sadness was evident. We went on to Project 7 Social Hygiene where your HIV test was done along with your baseline tests. CD4 was 164.
May 27, 2017
You went back to Zamboanga City. You messaged me saying you have moved to Zamboanga. You messaged me on Facebook, but we met on Twitter– so yeah, I was clueless who you were.
August 27, 2017
You messaged me asking if I am in town. I wasn’t quite sure who you were but yeah, I am in town. We chatted and it took some time before I finally remembered who you were. You transferred treatment to Zamboanga City and you have been doing very well. Your treatment has been consistent, although you were given anti-depressants by the Psychiatrist due to occasional depressions. You felt you were stable and that you didn’t need your psych meds anymore. You joined a transgenders group and has been active in the community. You disclosed to practically everyone in town and you don’t care what others think about you. Or your status.
You’re good. You’re well. You’re well on your way.
August 28, 2017
Today, you came in early for a meeting for community-based HIV screening. You were full of life. You told me so much stories in the little time you spent here in Zamboanga. You also told me how much you wanted to start helping with the HIV program in the city.
You looked happy. And I’m glad you are. You are looking forward to a better tomorrow– good for you.
It felt like you’ve grown so much in the past few months I have not seen you.
You Owe Me
You must have told me three times since yesterday that you owe me your life. You don’t. You gathered your own shit and faced your fears. And I, in fact, owe you. You inspired me to keep going. At a time when I always end my days tired, you inspired me to keep moving.
Please. Keep going.