Stream of Life

Stream of Life
Eternally flowing...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What do you say to someone grieving?

Last night I went to a wake. It was that of my best friend's father.

I came there not really knowing what to say. You see, I have that problem. I don't know what to say to someone who had just suffered the loss of a loved one.

"How are you?" - I just find this stupid.

"I am really sorry." - for what?

"My condolences." - too impersonal.

When I got to the chapel, I ended up just giving my best friend a hug. Something that I really do not do often.

But this got me thinking.

When I go, and friends come to my wake (not that I would want to have one), what would they say to the ones I would leave behind?

Pipingutin ko ang sinumang magtanong sa pamilya ko ng "kamusta na po kayo?" o "ok lang po kayo?"!

Pipitikin ko ang ilong ng sinumang magsabi ng "kaya nyo nyan!" o "tibayan nyo loob nyo."!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When 5% Isn't Bad At All

Got my CD4 results last Thursday. The magic numbers are 2-7-6.

Yes, my CD4 count is at 276 from the previous 263 six months ago.

It isn't much. A mere 5% increase from the previous results. But I will gladly take that 5%!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

World's AIDS Day - the Yoga For Life Way

December 2008. It was the first World's AIDS Day that I attended. And I swore that it was going to be my last...

Fast forward November 2010. The day before December 1 (Tuesday), I texted our yogi and asked whether it was OK for me to do yoga practice the day before my CD4 extraction. He said it was.

I was actually trying to make an excuse not to attend another World AIDS Day event.

On December 1, I was called to an emergency meeting scheduled for 6PM. Normally, I would have made a fuss about the timing but I accepted the meeting invite without second thoughts.

I was actually trying to make an excuse not to attend another World AIDS Day event.

Later that day, the meeting was re-scheduled for 4:30PM and finished a few minutes past 6PM. I left the office quarter past 6. I was expecting to reach Ortigas from Ayala way past 7pm as usually happens.

I was actually trying to make an excuse not to attend another World AIDS Day event.

Lo and behold! No traffic along EDSA! And I made it to Ortigas quarter before 7!

I could not make any more excuse to attend another World AIDS Day event!

And I am glad that all my excuses came to naught.

Filipinos have a saying: "wag kang magsalita ng tapos". And this was proven on the second World AIDS Day that I attended.

I was more than happy that I came. Aside from actually disclosing my "kapusitan", the Yoga for Life activity for WAD gave me a more positive (no pun intended) experience of this event.

One of the things that stuck with me about that evening were the words: "times are changing". And indeed they are.

Gone are the days when WAD is about death and suffering.

What struck me most was that during that WAD celebration, we were actually doing that - CELEBRATING!

Celebrating our own lives - whether positive or negative. Celebrating the lives of those who have gone on ahead of us by living our lives as healthy as they wished they could have had they been given the same chance that we PLWHA are being given now.

I do not regret disclosing my HIV status during that YFL session. It was a step for me in finally accepting my status not just in my mind and heart but in my words as well.

Times are changing indeed.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weight Gain

I am gaining weight.

After going through body wasting a few years back, you would think I would be happy knowing that I am gaining weight. But, honestly, I am not happy at all.

I need to control my weight. My last cholesterol and triglyceride results show borderline values - side-effects of my ARVs.

Fat distribution is also a problem. I'm shaped like a pear standing on two sticks right now.

I really should take my Yoga for Life practice seriously. I already missed two weeks of yoga practice because of work. And speaking of work, it doesn't help that I have been rendering 4 - 5 hours of overtime each day for the past three to four weeks.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back Up

Last week, I was asked to present an update of our Manila operations somewhere in Southeast Asia.

Whenever it's my first time to be in a particular hotel, I always check the toilet first - the toilet says a lot about an establishment.

The one I stayed in had a nice toilet.

However, if you look closely at the toiletries provided, there is one essential item missing...

Good thing I always have back-up.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Got to Get Away!

This week has not been fun at all!

Annual appraisals are due soon and I haven't even started doing my team's individual appraisals.

I need to complete a presentation for a meeting late next week but I don't even have the necessary data and I only have two days next week to be at the office.

My team members are acting juvenile and I don't have the time to sit down with them and discuss their issues.

I am due for a CD4 extraction a few weeks from now but I have been stressed and lacking in sleep in the past weeks that I am afraid my CD4 might have gone down a bit.

I need a rest. No, I need a vacation!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Today is my 35th birthday. It has been two years since I was diagnosed with HIV.

I do not know which one I should really be celebrating, my natal day or the day I found out I was HIV positive. I want to celebrate the day I got my confirmatory test because that is the day that I made the decision to live - I mean really live!

But that will be for another time.

For now, I will celebrate this day.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Confronting My Own Damaso

Photocredit from
Last week, words like "RH Bill", Damaso, ex-communication and Carlos Celdran were thrown around in newspapers, newscast and blogs.

I am not going to make a commentary on the RH Bill here. Neither am I going to defend nor condemn Celdran's actions.

What I want to talk about is fear, my fears - past and present.

It took me a long time to finally come out of my shell and embrace my true nature because I was afraid of what my family, friends and colleagues will say if they find about my preferences.

It was fear that led me to dark bath houses and bars for anonymous sex and eyeballs for no-strings-attached one-night-stands with strangers. I was afraid of commitments. I was afraid of being dumped and left alone.

It was fear that prevented me from getting tested for HIV even when I knew I was at high risk of contracting the disease. I was afraid of what I might do (or not do) should I test positive. I was afraid of the stigma.

It was fear of dying with an unknown disease which rendered me incapacitated for months that finally led me to give a consent to the HIV test suggested by my doctor.

And it was also fear that forced me to tell my parents about my sexuality and the possibility of me having HIV - I was afraid that if they found out they'd cast me out and I'd be left alone, dying on my own. Some would say it was courage. But I knew better. I wanted to know whether they'd accept me if they knew who and what I really was. My plan was if they didn't accept me, I'd leave and go to an out-of-the-way place, curl up and wait for death to come and take me.

But in hindsight, I would have been in a better situation had I learned to walk in fear, not out of fear. It would have made me more careful. I could have found the right person. I would not have the virus now.

And yet, all these are "would haves" and "could haves".

Now I face new fears. Will I allow myself again to be led in fear, or will I stand and stare Fear in the face and say "Bring it on!"

Carlos Celdran had it right. Stand up despite of fear. Speak up inspite of the threat of being left all alone in the world.

For if I don't stand up and speak for myself, no one else will. And I will truly be alone.

Shucks, crush!

At my age, medyo nakakahiya pero aaminin ko - may bago akong crush :)

Hindi ko alam kung ilang taon na sya pero one thing is for sure, di ako pwedeng akusahan ng pagiging pedophile!

Once a week ko syang nakikita, for four weeks na. Each time, pasimple lang ako. Nakakahiya kaya!

Pero last week, breakthrough! Nakaupo sya sa may dadaanan ko palabas ng venue, at pagdaan ko sa may harapan nya, nakita kong nakangiti sya sa akin. Gusto kong tumigil, parang naririnig ko si Jose Marie Chan na kumakanta ng "can we stop and talk a while". Pero ngumiti lang din ako sa kanya (shucks, di ko man lang na-practice kung pano sya ngingitian) at dali-daling lumabas papuntang elevator.

Sana next week, magkausap na rin kami.

Note about the photo. I took this photo during the Rennaissance Festival in Houston almost three years ago. I had this super crush on the bag-piper - so much so that I bought their bag-pipe series CD so I could be reminded of him whenever I listen to the music. Crazy? Yes. Worth it? Not really sure. Would I do the same crazy stuff with regards to my new crush? Hmmm...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

From Fab to Flat to Flab

Had fun boy-watching recently with friends (a curious group of straight girls, bi-female and gays).

More than the pretty faces, I was really struck by the uber-sexy bods of guys nowadays. I'm not just talking about the muscular, kargador-type guys we see on run-of-the-mill, friendly-neighbor gyms. There were the V-type swimmers with beautiful tans. The slim and lanky - and at times geeky in a cute kind of way - yuppies.

Of course, having a fetish for armpits, I couldn't resist taking every opportunity to get a glimpse of those parts. And I must say, I am happily surprised by what I "accidentally" see. I mean, are those done by professionals? Where do they get their pits trimmed?

But all this body-worshipping has led me to look back at my own body.

Before the virus, I had a fairly good form. I never went to the gym but I swam on weekends. I gloried in flaunting my body in skimpy trunks. I could pig out one day and lose the pounds the next - in time for a weekend all-nighter. Taking off my shirt was no problem. I had nothing to hide and everything to show.

All these changed when the virus struck.

First, it was body wasting. No matter how much I ate, I continually lost weight! I stopped swimming, thinking that I was over-doing it. I wasn't aware of my condition yet.

Then the rashes began to show. I was so affected that I consulted a dermatologist to find out what's wrong. Since both of us had no idea that I had the virus already at that time, the dermatologist concluded it was skin asthma (I wasn't surprised since our family does have a history of allergies). We had to give away our dogs because we thought they contributed to my condition.

I couldn't wear shorts and sleeveless shirts which I really loved wearing before - because they hang loose over my emaciated frame and because of the dark spots that appeared on my extremities.

Two years, 48 bottles of ARV and +250CD4 count later, the wasting has stopped and the spots have cleared out. However, a new concern has arisen - that of uneven fat distribution.

Who knows, I might just wake up one day and find out I have grown boobs!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I was browsing through Chris Guillebeau's site again and came across another piece of gem.

In this article, he writes about potential - how a lot of people have it - and why only a few of these people actually make it big time. Chris' article focuses on these successful people's tenacity - the will to carry on and persevere despite all odds.

As an engineer, whenever I hear the word "potential", the mental picture that I have is that of a roller coaster at the very top of the crest, when all "kinetic" energy has been "used up" to drive the cart to the top and the cart will thus have "maximum potential".

However, unless the cart go down the rails, its energy will remain "potential". It can never be transformed to "kinetic" energy - imagine what those thrill-riders would feel if they would be left on the top of the rail!

As a supervisor in-charge of developing my direct reports, I have made it a point to identify potentials - technical capabilities, leadership abilities, time-management skills, etc. However, turning these potentials into productive projects and processes can be overwhelming and daunting.

Since I have already made up my mind to leave the company I am currently working for, I have taken myself to task to ensure that I develop leaders from my team in the event that I decide to call it quits (or my body asks for time-off).

I have also been looking at my own potentials vis-a-vis my condition as a person living with the virus. I have been considering what I really want to do with my life and what limits I have to set to ensure that I do not tax my body unnecessarily.

Simultaneous with my efforts to build a strong pool of potential replacements at work, I have been taking entrepreneurship classes whenever I can and exercising my mind to come up with viable business plans.

At this point, these are all plans and proposals, but hey, as Chris Guillebeau once said, two-steps forward, one-step back will eventually take me to the finish line.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I received a text message from a friend and former officemate around noon middle of the week of the past week.

Friend was asking if we could meet up after work. The kaladkarin that I am, I easily said "yes".

However, since I had an earlier appointment that day after work, I told Friend that I would be available after 9pm.

My earlier appointment ended a bit late. So I immediately texted Friend and informed her that I was on my way to meet her.

We met at Megamall about 15 minutes after 9pm. Since Megamall was about to close, she asked if I wanted to go to McDonald's at El Pueblo and I said "sure".

On our way to El Pueblo, she dialled her phone and spoke to someone and said "parating na kami".

That should have been warning enough but I let it pass.

At McDo, we were joined by an acquiantance and another stranger.

While we were eating, Stranger and Acquiantance started talking about the supplements they are currently taking and asked me whether I was taking any.

I said was only taking ascorbic acid.

Stranger then began to retrieve from her bag some brochures about the supplements and proceeded to tell me about the "wonders" of these supplements. This went on for about an hour or so.

Somewhere in the middle of her spiel I felt saying something like "eh sa HIV meron ka bang cure?" just to stop her from droning. But I kept my mouth shut and my mind fluttering somewhere else.

When I couldn't take it anymore, I gave the universal sign for "time out" and told her that I was really tired and I had to excuse myself. I told Friend that I would text her and said goodbye.

I haven't texted Friend. I don't have any intention of doing so. It was rude that I was ambushed into listening to a total stranger tell stories about cures and healings of people she did not know personally but learned about in a seminar.

Had she told me about people who's CD4 count rose by 100 points after 6 months of ARV or of people whose viral load results show "undetectable" levels, I would have gladly listened to her for hours! Hell, I would be a happy person had she told me of people who feared they could have contracted HIV but tested negative!

Help Replenish the Global Fund

This is a blog entry from one of the pozzie bloggers that I am following. It provides a link for a sign-up petition sheet to encourage world leaders to continue their financial support for the Global Fund. Read it to find out more about what the petition is all about.

I have already signed-up and have asked my pozzie acquiantances to do the same.

Here is the link to the petition.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Resident Evil: Afterlife Reminded Me of My Hollywood Crush

Went to see Resident Evil: Afterlife today with two of my friends.

The lazy movie-goer that I am, I did not bother to find out who played who so I got surprised when I saw Wentworth Miller (of Prison Break fame) playing Chris Redfield.

I never really cared much about Prison Break. And it is still a puzzle to me why people are so hung up with Went Miller. Yeah, he's cute and all but he's just not my type.

Photocredit from Just Jared
There was this rumor, though, that he's gay and that he has dated Luke MacFarlane (of Brothers & Sisters).

Now Luke , on the otherhand, is one of my Hollywood crushes. I mean,  I have only seen him on Brothers & Sisters but he is one of the reasons why I am following that series. He is so adorable and sexy and so "wifey". I love how he's so laidback and so caring and so clingy.

If the rumors about Went and Luke were true - oh how I wish I were Went!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quiet Space

Finally had the chance to attend my first Yoga for Life session last Wednesday evening.

After a stressful day at work, I was really looking forward to the yoga session that evening. I left the office at 6pm and took the company shuttle from Ayala to Ortigas. We got to Ortigas at quarter to seven, so I decided to drop by a 7-11 store near our Ortigas building. I was only supposed to buy an energy drink which I take when I feel dehydrated but I ended up buying a banana as well. I wasn't really hungry at that time but I thought, "laman tyan din hanggang makapag-dinner". And I was to take my meds at eight pm so I didn't want to take my ARV on an empty stomach.

So there I was walking on the street, bitting on a banana and thinking: "ano kaya nangyayari sa yoga class?" Yes, it was going to be my first yoga session in my entire life, and I was excited!

I got to the room just as the session was about to start so I had to change clothes as fast as I can. I took the farthest mat from the front and listened as the yogi and the yogini addressed the class and welcomed us first timers.

The whole session lasted for almost two hours (I think). I completely lost track of time (good thing, we ended on time, though as I had a "date" afterwards). It was good. For the first time in so many months, I actually felt good sweat (not sweat from heat) running down my body. I felt my entire body was happy. It was tired, yes, but happy nonetheless. I felt that my body had been calling out for this kind of activity for the longest time and it felt gooooooood to finally give in.

What was more important, though, was that I found my quiet place again in the midst of the session. I found a way back to my forest where I can meet once more my naiads and sprites. I found my way back to my well where I can get refreshment. I found my pool again where I can cleanse my spirit.

So, I thank the universe for leading me back. I thank the people who were instrumental to this homecoming. And I thank my myself for taking the most important first step to re-discovery.

I can still feel the tiny aches in some parts of my body as it becomes re-acquianted with itself. But it's all worth it. I will dip in the pool every chance I get. I will commune with life every opportunity I am handed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Little Angel Who Hang on to Life

I spent the whole day yesterday at the wake of my friend's 4 month old daughter.

She was born pre-maturely. So premature that at the time of her birth, the doctors could not even determine the gender of the baby.

She also had a small mass on her lower back which grew with her as she progressed.

Worst of all, she did not have a hole on her anus, so her body had no way to discharge the waste.

She was a fighter. From the moment she was born, the doctors gave up on her. A pediatric surgeon, however, had the wits to check on her condition. The doctor pulled on her little arms, testing her will to survive. The little baby held her fingers securely as if telling the doctor: "I want to live".

Right there and then, the surgeon decided to operate on her to help her with the most pressing concern, that of providing her little body with a means to discharge body waste.

That was when we first heard about her situation. The management of our company sent out an email blast informing us of our friend's and her baby's conditions (both her parents work in the same company as I do).

That was more than four months ago.

Last week she had another operation. It wasn't a planned operation but her doctors said it was necessary.

She got out of the operation fine. She was stable. She was still fighting on.

A few days after the operation, sepsis began to take over her frail body.

The details of the treatment and her death are not clear to me. I wasn't listening anymore as her mother retold the story of how they fought to keep her alive when her doctors were already quitting on her one by one.

I was already immersed in my own thoughts. In my own fragile mortality. In my own possible end.

But the little girl lying in that little box showed me how it was to fight. To hold on to life to the very end.

Even as my physical body decays and the virus traps me into a life resembling the living dead, I will look up to that little angel who, despite her physical deformities and the hardships she had to endure at a very young age, fought with all her might to live.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Love Life!

I am following this site called "The Art of Non-Conformity"and recently the writer (Chris Guillebeau) posted this article .

Since having been diagnosed in 2008, I have vowed to live my life to the fullest, knowing that at any moment my health can deteriorate.

However, the demands of work and the lure of a "happy" life with friends most of the time prevent me from keeping this vow.

Sure, I have my meds to keep me strong but for how long? And I have not been living as healthy as I need to be.

It's a good thing that I came across Chris' article.

OO nga naman, who ever came up with that old saying (i.e. if you love something/someone, set it/him/her free) is in love with being hurt.

And I agree with Chris... One has to make an effort to ensure that the thing most important to him/her thrives. It's a daily choice.

So, I re-affirm my vow which I first made when I tested positive: I will live! I will protect my life because I love life.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What makes a throne

Went to Megamall this afternoon to buy, of all things, a toilet seat. Yes, a toilet seat.

My brothers and I were supposed to buy one last Monday at Ace Hardware. However, I found out that it wasn't as easy as going to a rack and pointing to one that catches your fancy.

No, one has to know the dimensions of the toilet! I never imagined that something as mundane as a toilet bowl had standard dimensions to follow and that buying the wrong seat could spell the difference between comfort and disaster!

So, before going out on a toilet seat hunt, I asked my brother to measure the bowl. 14" x 18". Fair enough.

Armed with this information, we headed once more to Ace Hardware to purchase a seat.

Then the real dilemma began. Are we buying the hinge-less seat or the slow-close one? Which color to buy? And what about the price? Does a higher price ensure more comfort?

After some discussion, we settled for a standard, "universal", white seat. I would have wanted the soft, beige one but the only design available was one with a huge butterfly "embroidery" on the canvass cover. Too "bohemian" for our taste.

Lesson learned: never take toilet seats for granted - they are the ones that give dignity to our "thrones"!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On Starting a New Blog

Here I go again with another blog. It has been years (3 years to be exact) since I last updated a previous blog I maintained (unfortunately, I can't remember my credentials to that account, so, "Goodbye, Old Blog").

I guess it is just fitting to start a new one at this time... the old me is gone, vaporized into extinction by what others would call "sero-conversion". I would call it a wake-up call, but that would just be so non-melodramatic.

Thanks to the other PLWHA and their blogs, I have realized how much I love writing.

So, here's to me - the Ant traversing the infinite strip called Life. And here's to my new blog - a journal of one Living in a Mobius Strip!