24 December 2008

POSITIVISM.PH and Cholo Hidalgo Laurel

Cholo Hidalgo Laurel. Our inspiration and truth.


By Cholo Hidalgo Laurel

I was in a café in Saigon during one of my shoots when this word first came to me. I recall the sunlight directly piercing through the trees and blinding my eyes as if to signify a coming epiphany. I felt a need but I didn’t know what I needed. I wondered if something was wrong with my life that I was not seeing. Defensively, I spoke to my self, “On the contrary, considering all that I had gone through in life, this is feeling like harvest time! I’m in a good relationship with a wonderful partner; 4 lovely children, respected by our peers. Ano pa ba ang hihilingin diba?” But the piercing sun was persistent. The emptiness was still there. It was making me sigh. Suddenly I just whispered to myself, “ God, I need to do something…no…not for myself. I need to do something… for you.

Before this starts to sound like college existentialist angst, I will have to admit that this soul searching comes from a natural tendency, My tendency to dig deep when I am sick and tired of something. Ok, confession, I was, at that point, getting very weary of advertising productions. Twelve years of tiptoeing around people’s egos, witnessing the most evil power plays known to man, often compromising standards and never really feeling creatively fulfilled was just eating my soul up. Ergo, This happy man was not a very contented man. This man wanted to start doing things that meant something. Gets?

After a few more sips (or was it cups) of coffee, the thought of an old acquaintance SHOLA LUNA crossed my mind. The thought lingered and I took it as a cue so I traced back. I had seen Shola a few weeks prior in a hospital near my home. I was having my annual check up and she was working as a health counselor of sorts and that was stunningly surprising for me because the Shola I once knew in Malate was the rebel of all rebels, not at all the angel that I had seen that day. But what was remarkable about meeting her again?... the fact that she’s HIV positive? That doesn’t stun me one bit…and then I thought of the word POSITIVE and found it amusing that a person with a viral strain would be popularly called POSITIVE. God must have some poetry behind that and I was about to find out.

POSITIVISM…hmm…I liked the sound of it.

Back in Manila a few weeks later, I intentionally paid Shola a visit in the same hospital to learn more of the world of POSITIVES and being the obsessive person that I can be, I even asked her to bring some of her positive friends over for dinner at my place just to get a deeper insight into an underworld of human beings who, as I discovered, are trying to rise above the heavy weight of stigma. They talked about their journeys from the darkness into light…from negative to positive…from near death to new life. They talked about how lonely it’s been but how hopeful they are for themselves and for the world, that world may awaken to realize that they deserve the name positive. I met gay as well as straight positive men and women and after many hours of hard laughter and tears, my heart found its mission. I focused into a vision… and I knew.

All this time the word POSITIVISM had already stuck to my subconscious mind. I didn’t know what it really meant but to me it meant POSITIVE ACTIVISM – activism for hiv positive people - to eradicate the apparent ignorance, kill the stigma and encourage love and understanding….kewl.

I penciled this in as part of the agenda for the next meetings with my creative team. Being like-hearted people, The HOTBOX team was quick to embrace the advocacy and so we set out for the most creatively fulfilling, heart-warming, soul-feeding journey – To make a web campaign that will help the Filipino deeply understand the HIV POSITIVE phenomenon.

God’s power is amazing, from one person (myself), ten more joined, then a small production house supported, a young director agreed to make a short, I sought help from colleagues and friends – THE Wig Tysman volunteered to shoot the cover, THE Tor Torre gave his make-up services, THE Mitch Amurao did the voices and THE Doctora Dytangko of the Research Institute for tropical medicine backed us up with the facts. Four months later, today, we’ve all grown up immensely and have learned so much about life, love and hope.

This Christmas, as we, the HOTBOX DESIGN STUDIO and our POSITIVISM friends launch this campaign; these are our arms wide open to all of you with all our love and hope. Help us spread the word in order to give hearts cheer, save lives, and spur hope in the hearts of many who need it.

Pay it forward; ask your loved ones to check it out. You will save lives and give hope to those who are deprived of hope.

Maligayang Pasko Pilipinas.

please click to read about POSITIVISM

Thank you dearest Cholo.
From the bottom of all our hearts.
Merry Christmas.

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