Nuffnang ad

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011, The Year In Poem.

Spin, my poor head does,
In writing what I must,
Events that have passed this year,
As the end of it draws near.

A penis on a deity,
Reactions were anything but dainty,
Hell's fury wrought on Cruz,
As an artist, he did not lose.

Supsup was named a hero,
For winning a tilt so shallow,
To be judged solely on one's shell,
This is, indeed, fresh hell.

Enrile, Cayetano and Sotto,
With their mantras and singular motto,
Supplicants to the Catholic fraternity,
The RH Bill, they deemed unnecessary.

With lies, fear and religiosity,
They thwarted our path to democracy,
Where everyone has the right to plan,
Their family to the last wo/man.

Pacquiao was once again victorious,
Though the manner was anything but unanimous,
A pugilist, a lawmaker and a singer,
The list goes on, we shudder.

And this country, whose faith is "strong",
Whose norm is the corrupt and wrong,
Was brutalized by Nature's Song,
A hurricane by the name of Sendong.

The blame game is once again in season,
While the ones who lost their reason,
For living, struggling and loving,
Must cope with the deaths surrounding.

Who can forget the little lady,
Who would have loathed to be in solitary,
Demanding a suite for incarceration,
In the guise of a "medical condition".

This country has come full circle,
A horrific past is a mere hurdle,
When the Marcoses are back in power.
This generation, none the wiser.

So as the year comes to a close,
And we cheer the same variety shows,
It pains me to say with shame,
2012 will be more of the same.

(Photo courtesy of

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Feminism, The Rated K Way

A week or two ago, I settled in early on a Sunday, resting for the workload ahead. The television was on, and Art had the controller under his palm, and while we may have different views on what constitutes "entertainment", sometimes those paths do cross.

Rated K, with Korina Sanchez, was on. They were promoting - after yet another lengthy commercial break - a woman who had turned her life around from rags to riches.

(Photo courtesy of

Which was interesting to both of us, to say the least. (And very Pinoy teleserye mentality.) It has a romantic ring to it, a sort of I-triumphed-against-all odds feel and in a time where right does not necessarily mean legal (as long as you have Supreme Court justices in the palm of your hands, or the weight of your mole), I needed to hear a feel-good story.

As a student of history, I know that there will be something amiss when Korina -and her team - makes their report.

I wasn't disappointed in that regard.

They dramatized her "origins", how she grew up in a poor family, and had to walk miles just to get to school. She went on to get a degree in teaching, but because of financial constraints, ends up having to take a job abroad as a domestic helper. It was during this stint in her life that she met her "Prince", a Caucasian guy who swept her off her feet, married her, and now has settled with her in her hometown, back in the Philippines, in a grandly designed house built for them.

The clip then fast forwards to how she has become some kind of saint to her hometown, giving financial support and books or supplies to the local school/s.

All well and good, on the "end" part.

What bothered us both was the "means" to her "sainthood".

The unsaid meta-message here was that a woman can become rich, powerful, immersed in philantrophy, giving, a hero for the people around her - if she marries the right guy.

It is the year 2011. We have had 2 female Presidents. Worldwide, women are breaking down all kinds of glass ceilings to prove that it isn't only a "man's world". What used to be unheard of is slowly seeping into the public consciousness, to the point where no one blinks anymore seeing women in "traditionally male roles".

Framed against this reality, I don't know how to even begin describing this episode of Rated K.

A friend of mine, a devotee to the Altar of Feminism, had more than a few choice words, though.

None of which I can print.

A Letter For Angela Zhang

Dear Angela,

When I heard the news that you, at your young, sprite-filled age of 17, have just created a cancer-killing nanoparticle, a flood, no, a torrent of emotions came rushing in. A heady mixture, for sure, but know one thing: I am in awe of what you have just accomplished.

(Photo courtesy of

17 seems like a long time ago, for me, anyway. But what I do remember from my 17 was:

(1) I tried out smoking for the first time, and stayed with it for years.
(2) I was present in my classes only in the physical sense.
(3) I was more excited about the possibilities of a life outside of school.

Years later, I am seeing the same thing repeated in this generation's 17's, in a different context. There seems to be an inordinate obsession with fame, regardless of what one has achieved intellectually, physically, socially. It doesn't matter, as long as you're famous. So you see all the gyrating onscreen, on national television, by kids who should be burying their noses in mounds of textbooks, or teenagers getting into fights just so the "local media" will get a whiff of their "event".

Yes, you may be a genius. (Which means you are in the minority in a statistical sense, and only in that sense.) But beyond that, you have shown me, and everyone else, what single-mindedness, dedication and passion can do, how it can be utilized, and funneled into something that potentially has the chance to change the course of cancer treatment - and humanity - forever. And you're only 17 - I can't imagine what other things you will continue to develop and create over the course of a lifetime that is singularly focused on honing what you have been gifted with.

I salute you, and wish you all the support that is possible to continue doing what you obviously derive great pleasure from. I can't imagine how incessantly proud your parents must be of you - we're not even related and already, I cannot help but feel pride in what you have achieved. Score one for humanity against cancer.

Shine a light, both for our teenagers, and for everyone else in this world. (How apropos that your work is somehow tangent to the world of imaging and optics.)

May you, and your tribe, not just increase, but go forth and multiply.

The Guy With A Blog

Angela Zhang, 17, has just won $100,000.00, and the Grand Prize in the Individual Category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. The title of her project was "Design of Image-Guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells." Let me quote from the article I am drawing this from:

"Her nanoparticle is award-winning due to the fact it has the potential to overcome cancer resistance while offering up the ability to monitor the effects of the treatment in real-time using existing imaging techniques."

To read more about Angela's achievement, click on this link. And be amazed.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Hammer Principle

Don't worry, this isn't a throwback to MC Hammer's hit, U Can't Touch This.

This is about my brush with death yesterday. And it still feels unreal, after having had almost a full day of viewing it from the perspective of the immediate past.

(Photo courtesy of

I suppose it's because the manner and the time it took for the entire event to be consummated was over in mere seconds.

Having conducted a private class for a client, I decided to walk over to the bank three buildings away from where I was. Lugging around that enormous mat I used for work was only slightly neutralized by the use of comfortable sandals. As we were in an area that was well-established, with more projects "in development" (I didn't there there would be any more parcels of land to do so, but never underestimate determined real estate companies), one of the buildings I had to pass by was in such a "developmental" stage.

I remember making a mental note of avoiding the immediate "work area" on the sidewalk where the construction workers were mixing water with cement. I am an honorary member of the Order of the Sprain, and my ankle wobbly stands as a testament to the amount of excruciating pains I have had to endure over the years as a result of the excessive pronation it seems to enjoy (?) like a heat seeking projectile. Seeing any uneven surface makes me instantly wary of an impending sprain. (Which is also the reason I have never been bitten by the running bug that has all but swept the metro, nor will I be mountain climbing anytime soon - two activities that enjoy terrain that is both rugged and rustic.)

Having sidestepped the cement obstacle, I now came to a narrow path that was framed by a large acacia tree on the left, and a ladder leading up to the constructed building on the right. I remember looking up to the building and seeing the makeshift "roof", a safety precaution in case objects might fall on unsuspecting pedestrians.

As I was passing at the point right in between the tree and the ladder, I then heard - and felt - a thundering BOOG! 

I'm sure my stunned state was in milliseconds, but it felt like an underwater scene as I saw what caused the sound.

A large, worn-out hammer fell on the concrete sidewalk, not more than 2 inches from my right foot.

I looked up, and saw that it came from the worker at the top of the ladder propped against the building, under the "safety roof". He had on a shirt that was wrapped around his face, so all I could see were his eyes.

Eyes that refused to acknowledge what had just happened. He merely shrugged - if it had been his voice, that shrug was clear and audible, no mistake - then he refused to go down to get the hammer and just stayed at the top, pretending to be occupied with something-or-other.

I had an intense desire to pull the ladder towards the road. I thought ahead of the evidence of his splattered body in a well-known street and I decided against it.

The security guard in the next building (beside the bank I was going to) witnessed the whole thing, and was just as amazed that the worker didn't bother apologizing. He hollered to the idiot in my stead: "Hoy! Dahan dahan ka sa mga kagamitan mo! Makakapatay ka ng tao kapag tumama yang martilyo sa ulo ng mga dumadaan!"

I think I was in a trance while depositing in the bank right after.

The rest of the day passed by in a blur. I knew I ran a million errands, I weaved through insane traffic conditions, motorcycles sideswiped side mirrors as if they were pinball levers, things the rest of the day went lousy because I was able to only have lunch at around 4PM.

And I still had a silly grin on my face, sans my usual bitching and moaning.

It really is a matter of perspective.

If I had a piece of metallic equipment wedged in my cranium, there would be nothing left for me to bitch and moan about.

People, that is The Hammer Principle.

(And a few hours later, I heard of Hitchens passing away. Which made The Hammer Principle resonate even more.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When Religion Met Reality

Sometimes, life is really, really good for a blogger. Especially when topics present themselves unbidden - and believe me, I appreciate it.

And I thought I would be having a quiet, relaxed breakfast after two hours of training sessions.

Digging in my vegetable omelet, I noticed - well, everyone else in the cafe did - a trio talking animatedly as they entered.

One was a statuesque woman, which is not to say unattractive, as is often associated with that word. Her face was rather flushed, and against her white flowing dress, it made the color stand out.

The two other people, a man and a woman, were dressed equally nicely, although in a much more conservative manner: the other lady had her hair pulled back, and her face framed with glasses that screamed "librarian". The man had an air of self-confidence around him, and he relayed this quite successfully without uttering a word. (Note to everyone: What you don't say actually says much more.)

As luck would have it, they sat in the booth next to where I was. Score.

Statuesque (S) begins: "Kaya nga, eh. That's the reason I called you here, I am burdened."

Conservative Man (CM) responds: "You know that we are here for you, sister. You can always count on us."

Conservative Woman (CW) quips: "You can call us anytime."

S: "I am so tired, honestly. Lagi nalang ganito kasi. He wants me to take care of everything while he is gone for months, and one time, even more than a year. Yes, it's work, but this is not what I signed up for."

CM: "But this is the vow of marriage." (CM smiles in a knowing fashion.) "For better or for worse, remember? Remember when you first met and made those vows. Remember."

S: "Naandyan na ako, OK? Don't tell me that, I made those vows so I know them. But does that give him the right to hit me when I am too tired to have sex?"

CW: "Language, please. There are people here."


(You could cut the tension in the air with a serrated knife.)

(Photo courtesy of

CM: "I think we're losing focus here. Let's regroup: You called us because you had problems in your marriage. Let's try to work them out. Lahat naman ng mag-asawa may problema. I think the popular expression is weather-weather lang yan. So, what do you think should be your next step?"

S: "I've tried everything. I reasoned with him that we are not working on our marriage...Paano namin gagawin yun, eh nasa ibang bansa lagi?"

CM: "But this is your life. The life you both built together. Hindi ba?"

S: "Again, I understand your point, brother. And siguro my fault is that I agreed to this. I wanted to work so that he didn't have to leave to support both of us. But he insisted, kesyo it is the man daw who earns, and the woman takes care of the home."

CW: "That is our assigned role."

S: "Teka...may asawa ka na ba?"

CW: ""

S: "Ayan naman pala. Eh, di tumahimik ka nalang, PWEDE?!?!?"

At this point, CW excuses herself. I suppose to pick up her face in the next store.

CM: "You didn't have to go ballistic on her."

S: "What do you expect? Alam ko naman ang papayuhin nyo, eh!"

CM: "Don't be so sure. Remember, I'm on your side: I only met your husband through you, we have been friends for a long time."

S: "Kaya nga ako lumapit sa iyo. I need some semblance of familiarity, as I feel like I am going into uncharted waters. I need an anchor, something to keep me sane and in place."

CM: "Why would you feel like you are swimming in waters like that?"

S: "Because I am going to the lawyers next week for an annulment."

CM turns quiet. He looks down, then faces Statuesque in grim determination. "Do not do that."

At this point, Statuesque begins sobbing, but manages to still speak audibly. "I can take everything, pati yung distansya at tagal, but not the beating. That is not negotiable."

CM: "It is wrong to have an annulment. You have to work through it, this phase in your life. It is just a hardship you are given presently, be patient. God will hear you and your pleas, you will be protected if you only..."

Statuesque stands up, lifts up her left sleeve to reveal a welt that would make Manny Pacquiao wince. "How will I be protected from THIS?!?"


Statuesque delivers her parting words: "I didn't ask for your help in order for you to judge me. OK? I came to you, I wanted a listening ear, a sympathetic touch, one that would say "I don't know what you're going through but I am here for whatever you need." Since we met up, you have been telling me God does this, God will do keep sidestepping the fact that I have been beaten repeatedly by my husband! Hindi kita tinawagan para husgahan mo ako!!!  Tapos may sinama ka pang iba, eh mas lokaret pa pala yan pag dating sa relihiyon!"

I don't know about you, but I just had a very fulfilling breakfast.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Eternal Flame. Massive Stupidity.

Anyone who grew up in the 80's could not have missed the another-school-week-collective-groan anthem "Manic Monday", one of the more popular hits by erstwhile "girl-group" Bangles. I stopped counting how many Mondays I have heard at least three people singing to that song back then - helped, of course, by radio airplay. And they also introduced the "Egyptian Dance" - to go with their massive hit "Walk Like An Egyptian" - even guys were doing the dance whenever that song came on.

(More trivia than you care to know: One of their earlier names was "The Bangs", but legal considerations forced them to drop the 'The' and add the '-les' at the end.)

Silly. Fun. Singable. Danceable. And as one Youtube commenter noted: "Back then, MTV still played real music, not the trashy reality shows we see today." (The) Bangles were part of - can I say this now - a mini-Renaissance of music, at least the ones in popular form. The hairstyles of the 80's were deplorable (tigilan na ang Aqua Net!), and the fashion tastes were largely suspect and self-indulgent (spandex, layering, shoulder pads to high heavens), but few decades can match the lyricism, the melodies, the mood and the je ne sais quoi of this particular decade's contribution to popular music.

(Photo courtesy of

A girl group that occasionally - if ever so lightly - tread over to the light rock genre, one particular song of theirs caught the ire of a religious high school teacher of mine, and for the most inane of reasons.

Eternal Flame.

Close your eyes
Give me your hand
Do you feel my heart beating
Do you understand
Do you feel the same
Am I only dreaming
Or is this burning
An eternal flame?

I don't know of anyone from my generation who has not heard this song, and I know some who have memorized it in and out, back and forth. It was one of the group's most defining songs, seeing as they don't play ballads too often, but this attempt saw a more vulnerable side to them and is considered their best-selling single.

And so we come to the teacher who had a bone to pick with this song.

As I have mentioned in my past posts, I came from an ultra conservative religious high school of the Protestant variety. And this particular teacher had a knack for, or more properly, delighted, in pointing out the "you're doing it wrong" parts of everyone, save for a few "favorites".

There was some kind of class presentation, so we had to bring our own casette players (remember those?) to play the background music, for a skit, if I remember correctly. And since we had the player already, I turned on the radio during recess/lunch break. When this particular teacher passed by, Eternal Flame was playing. Standing by and listening, the song had not reached midway when I heard this question:

"Why are you listening to Satanic music?"

If I was more dexterous with my jaw, it would have literally dropped to the floor.

"What?" I was trying to stifle my laughter but knew that any betrayal of levity on my part would result in a lengthier discussion, which obviously, I had no intention of pursuing.

"That song. Isn't that a song glorifying the Lake of Fire?"

"The Lake of...You mean, because of its' title? Eternal Flame?"

"That is the eternal flame. Hell. Why would you sing a song celebrating Hell?"

"Because it doesn't? She's singing about her love for someone and she's hoping for it to last..."

"The lyrics alone...wasn't the first line 'Close your eyes'? It's attempting to draw you to the dark."


"And then over and over, she keeps mentioning the Eternal Flame. This song is Satanic! I will bring this up with the principal! This song should be banned and should have no place in our school!"

"But it's a number 1 song, it's been number 1 for weeks now..."

"Yet another proof that this is from the devil! Only things that are popular in this world are the machinations and instruments of Satan! Shut that radio off! Shut it off!"

I did. I endured a monstrous stare from this teacher, as if I had proposed to eat children and sell their carcasses to the neighborhood lush for furniture. From that point on, I could feel a burning glare from you-know-who, with whatever I did, presented, organized, joined in.

You can't blame me for thinking that too much religion makes people stupid. I had these particular adults to show me the way. And they displayed their mental emaciation in stunning, drop dead fashion. And I mean dead as in nonexistent grey matter.

So, to all "Satanists" (according to them), here's to us, and while we're on that note, here's a link to the video of the song in question. It's a good thing we didn't have portable video players back then, the "flickering fire" in the video background would just be more fodder for the imaginary battle against an illusory "evil influence" in a song that had nothing to do with religiosity.

You can sing along. Loudly. Without guilt or fear of reprisal.

(Courtesy of

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Is it just me, or is Christmas on steroids this year?

(Photo courtesy of

The feasting began certainly early enough.  Barely have we entered the first week of December, I have been invited to more than 10 "celebrations" already - take note, I have been accused of being "anti-social" often so that makes that fact even more perplexing. (I can't imagine what the "socials" calendars would look like.) Whether in the office, at school, neighborhood socials, food, glorious food in its various manifestations, preparations and presentations have begun to unravel both before our eyes  - and inside our bowels.

Let's not leave out the horrendous (understatement of the year) traffic. It's as if everyone - at least in Metro Manila - has decided to go to one mall (pick any) and challenge the possibility of creating a black hole voluntarily by squeezing everyone and everything into a single space. And the rudeness level? It's at an all-time high. You see parents pushing their strollers and using them as battering rams to get just a few more inches of space, shoppers of both the harried and lazy variety aimlessly ambling along in an omni-directional pattern so you really have to dodge and weave every which way so as not to get schmoozed - yes, that is the scientific term.

And we've all been hearing about how the Philippines is so poor, and how our economy is so bad...really? Judging from the amount of shopping bags, carts, gifts, credit cards, booze, cigarettes and everything else that's being consumed, bought, gift-wrapped, thrown away, I find myself having to suspend my disbelief every day because all I see is spending, spending, spending. Even the kids who ask for alms already turn down 5 and 10 peso coins because they aren't "good enough" - and you thought beggars can't be choosers!

So, really, we should just redefine Christmas. Let's be honest and fair, whatever the original intent was for the season has long been pushed into a distant background, in a moldy box at the back of the closet of your least favorite relative. I propose that Christmas now should stand for this:

C Christmas
H Has
R Really
I  Ignited
S Superficial
T Tendencies
M Masked
A As
S Spirituality

Enjoy the head-splitting holidays.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Piolo-KC Breakup As An Inkblot

By now, everyone who has a TV set, internet connection or otherwise "wired" must have known/seen/read about "actress" KC Concepcion's tearful tell-all (can we label it that?) of her break-up with local heartthrob Piolo Pascual. (I use the term actress in quotes to denote "one who acts onscreen". I cannot use it in the same way I would describe Meryl Streep as an actress. And before anyone hisses, I have seen at least two of her "films", time I cannot take back.)

After her revelation, online activity was rather singular in its assumption and conclusion: Despite the lack of anything substantive actually spoken, what KC didn't say led most everyone to advise her to "move on, girl, he's not into girls!"

(Photo courtesy of

A sticking point in Piolo's long career, he has always been speculated as gay, and of the closet variety, which makes for more interesting "scoops". I remember how he tearfully appeared on TV denouncing a sex video that had gone viral (the video implying he was a party to a sexual encounter that involved another man). There was also that picture of him holding hands with Sam Milby, another "actor" who is also the subject of many get-togethers and gossip sessions as "questionable" in the sexuality department, which was later found out to be edited and photoshopped. And when he came forward to introduce his son with a non-showbiz woman, it was summarily judged as a "beard" action, something used to stop people from casting any further doubts into his sexual orientation.

What people fail to realize is that how they reacted revealed more about how they really thought and felt, vis a vis attitudes towards sexuality, homosexuality and gender roles. Hence, the inkblot analogy. (For more on Rorschach and the inkblot test, see as a springboard for further links.)

One, despite pushing by some sectors to be more "politically correct", we still are largely homophobic as a nation, and as a culture.

Notice how when someone is thought of to be "gay", you will hear - without missing a beat - the screeching "Aaaaaaay!" by certain females in radius. Or, the also equally ubiquitous "sayang" ("what a waste") under someone's breath.

Why is it a "waste"? That's your libido talking.

The screech would be an ode to "screaming" queens, one where the terms effiminacy and homosexuality are considered synonymous. How I pity the men, who by dint of choice or circumstance, are by their nature soft spoken, have a non threatening voice, updated on things related to skin care, actually have the talent to do pirouettes or play Chopin, who also happen to be heterosexual. They are reduced to hiding what they really want to do, to act totally out of their characters just so not to be mistaken as "bakla" (adopting a deeper voice, acting brusko).

Two, it is also an ode to how stifling, rigid and unyielding our gender roles are, and coupled with our national obsession as being seen as some sort of pious, religious nucleus in Asia (you can't hear me, but I'm laughing), anyone who challenges the predetermined order is seen as "abnormal" and must be derisively dealt with posthaste. We've all heard of fathers beating up their sons who were found to be playing with dolls, as if somehow it was a form of "evil spirit" that could be "exorcised". Nothing more embarrassing than to be thought of as having an "abnormal" child, better beat the living daylights out of you before you "manifest".

Yet, strangely, we give mixed messages when it comes to adults.

How can anyone not note the hypocrisy? Below is a sampling of why I find this attempt to be gender-specific laughable.

Boys don't play the piano! (But those considered "masters" in it are predominantly men.)

The kitchen is a woman's place! (Yet most "star chefs" are male.)

Designing clothes? Hello! (Do I need to state the obvious?)

Apparently, it is considered "acceptable" for a man to be in a field traditionally viewed as "feminine", if the man is seen as a "captain" or "the best" in that industry. (Feminists, feel free to rant now.)

One message that is made resoundingly clear by "authorities", though, is that "men should be paired with women". But even though Piolo has already, repeatedly and categorically, stated that he is straight, and is dating women left and right, he will always be seen as "faking". No one will cut him any slack. Assuming that he is gay - he will be doing what has been expected of all males in this country and will still be thought of as a liar. In a continent halfway around the world, we have people like US Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann telling gay men they can get married, "to women". Add to that our religious neuroses to submit to the will of Catholic prelates and doctrine - regardless of actual chosen religion - and gay men are in the proverbial no-win situation.

The only "moral" recourse - as per the Catholic handbook - is for gay men to be celibate.

Considering the source, you'll excuse me if I guffaw like there's no tomorrow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Seeing Red

My thoughts turn to this singular statistic on December 1: a thousand babies are born with HIV every day. (See for the 2015 Quilt Project by (Red).)

(Photo courtesy of

And with these thoughts, I also think of how we could have prevented the spread of this disease with education. Scientific, factual, medical, accurate information. How can we even hope to stem the tide of these HIV cases if we choose to surround ourselves with hysteria and arm ourselves with rumors about what this disease is, how it is transmitted, and what can be done to arrest its' further spreading?

It has been decades since the HIV/AIDS virus first came into our collective consciousness. I remember discussing this in 2nd or 3rd grade class in vague terms, and the only detail that still resonates and stands out is that actor Rock Hudson was afflicted with it, and the unsaid (but thoroughly implied) thinking was that he got it "because he's gay." If memory serves me correctly, it was initially called GRIDS and not AIDS, the GR standing for "Gay-Related".

And, viewing it against the backdrop of the RH Bill discussions, it is time we put our foot down. Time to move past religious bickering - a painful fact in this country that truly weighs all of us down. Knowledge - the kind that saves physical, actual lives - is beyond personal beliefs and spiritual persuasions. Science is getting there (See, with links to details of how a man has "cautiously" been called "cured" of HIV with stem cell transplant.) Unfortunately, our attitudes towards it is a disservice to the strides that the medical/scientific community has been making in combating and defeating this disease.

HIV/AIDS is not a "bad person's" disease. (Line taken from Blanche from The Golden Girls.)

It is not something that only afflicts "degenerates".

We can prevent its spread if we know the facts about it.

Demonizing this disease is passing judgement, and in the fight for life, it should have no place in the struggle. Either you have it or you don't, period.

Here are the facts from WHO: More than half the adults afflicted are women, which should lay to rest the bogus propaganda that "only gay men have it." There are more than 3 million children (age 15 and below) who have it. And last year (2010), there were 2.7 million people newly infected with HIV.

Growing up in the time of HIV/AIDS means making sure that safe sex is part of the discussion for every couple. A mighty feat, daunting even, given how our society has essentially made sex "dirty". It is when people are prohibited from talking about it that misconceptions arise - I remember reading a post of a woman saying that her birth control method was to stand up right after sex with her husband so that the "sperm won't swim upwards." With notions like this, it is no wonder new HIV infections are in the millions.

If I asked you to stop thinking about lechon, I'll bet it will be the thing that you can't stop thinking about. By telling people to "not talk about sex", you (you know who you are) are cultivating an environment hospitable to ignorance and erroneous "facts".

December 1 is World AIDS Day. Remember those who have left us, and fight for those still with us so that we will have a future where this disease will be a memory.