10 January 2009

Cholo Laurel Speaks POSITIVISM

Shola. Change.
The launch issue of POSITIVISM.ph

The first Filipino webzine on HIV.
Photography by Wig Tysman
Art direction by Fidel Pamintuan & Inigo Arnaiz
Make-up by Tor Torre
Hair by Gericho Calam

It’s finally happened.
I have a permanent link under my
MUST SEE list.
Check it out after your read.
It's fantastic for people with HIV and especially for people without it.
OR the ones who think they may have it.
It's for you.
All of you.
A gift.

To say that I’m passionate about the HIV/AIDS conversation in the Philippines is to only undercut the true depth of my feelings. My global advocacy includes the Philippines, and always will. After all, it’s where everything began. However, my HIV/AIDS advocacy program is truly global now.
And I’m defiantly not alone fighting this battle.
In fact, I keep the best company an advocate for change can hope for.

Living with HIV has many challenges for sure; but the surprising gifts that accompany the virus are also plentiful and beautiful. And as we see around the world, there are many millions of people who face huge obstacles trying to remain healthy and upright with their HIV, while some of us swim in first world health care luxury. Regardless of our differences, we have a common thread that runs through us all.

It’s what makes HIV carriers truly special.
Not pariahs nor outcasts.
We don’t want your sympathy; we demand your respect.
We should all demand respect.
But you must also give it.

I’m proud of the Philippines when it comes to its tolerance and acceptance of many things that other countries may baulk at. Although the Catholic Church is against homosexuality for the most part, the nation itself has a somewhat comfortable understanding with our very special sub-culture. Considering the country’s strict religious underpinning, I think it’s a most commendable achievement. But there is more work to be done.
POSITIVISM.PH is not only at the forefront of this change, it’s actually defining the change. Driving the machine. It’s the petrol in the tank, if you will.

POSITIVISM.PH is helping many others to find the way through the crazy HIV maze.

POSITIVISM.PH is the first FREE online magazine devoted to the spreading of accurate and thoughtful information about HIV/AIDS.
It truly is a remarkable achievement.

But we have more to do.
Much more.
All of us have more to do.
It’s HIV- related STIGMA that kills.
Not HIV.
Stigma is killing our hearts.
It’s killing our dreams.
And It can ultimately kill our future.

Discrimination is still everywhere we look; the attitude towards HIV/AIDS and the carriers of the virus is, for the most part, appalling. The gay community has to look at itself very closely, because so much of the HIV/AIDS- related stigma come from within our own ranks. It permeates from within our very own community.
This I find quite distressing and most unfortunate. Not only for myself but for the many thousands of young men and women who have enough to deal with already without the ignorance of others blocking their paths.

Open your minds.
Open your heart.
Help destroy HIV -related stigma.
It’s the real killer.
Not HIV.
Innocent ignorance is no longer an excuse.
Get educated because many things have changed in the last twenty years.
HIV carriers NEED you to take the time and find out.
And get tested.

I’d like to thank my great friend Cholo and his entire team of brilliantly talented creative artists, writers and visionaries who helped to see the
POSITIVISM.PH project come to fruition.
Promoting it has been my greatest pleasure.
Because I know a winner when I see one.

Interviewing your friends is always strange but fun. I had the chance to throw these questions at Cholo and he was gracious enough to answer, in his own very special way.

Thank you once again to the entire force of creation behind this new and innovative approach to HIV/AIDS education.
We have a long way to go but the road just became that much shorter.



BG- I’m wondering how satisfying it must be for you to watch POSITIVISM.PH, your fantastic ground breaking HIV/AIDS project grow wings and finally fly free?

CL- The first time I reviewed the whole thing on line, I was amazed, almost in tears. I told my team, “ Given the little time we had, I can’t believe we came up with all this…God is truly with us on this one.” We were proud of course, but instead of grinning form ear to ear I think everyone was more… contemplative. Our minds were spinning with thoughts of how to make this site even better. Now that it has taken off, how do we make it fly higher?

BG- Cholo, the creative force behind POSITIVISM.PH is so powerful and full of variety. How difficult was it to assemble such an incredible group of people who helped create POSITIVISM.PH?

CL- I think heaven set it all up for us. Everything and everyone just fell into place. Of course it all started with my penchant for getting people to rally behind a cause. When I knew in my heart that the mission needed to be done and done soon. I sat quietly and thought of the people who would have the sense and sensibility for this…and I prayed about it…and heaven sent.

BG- The Philippines is a great country in many respects, but stigma-surrounding HIV/AIDS is still huge issue there and all around the world.
Do you see POSITIVISM.PH as an instrument for change?

CL- Yes, we will do our darnest best to make this effect change in our beloved country. It will. I have faith.

BG- Cholo, the response to POSITIVISM.PH has been incredible so far. You should be very proud of your team. I've looked the world over and I've yet to find a blog more beautiful or insightful and informative.
What's next for P.PH?

CL- I don’t know what’s coming up, honestly. I just know that when love is the root of something, the fruit is always beautiful. We here in HOTBOX make an effort to improve the site one day at a time. This is a non-profit project and we are not getting any funding from anyone but our own humble pockets. We will give our minds, our hearts and our time, passionately and we hope our readers will be patient with us. We will learn how to serve their needs, one baby step at a time. Of course, we will need the support of the blogging community and great bloggers like yourself to spread viral heat about this …as to how far it will go is really up to its creator… up there ☺

By the way, constantly watch out, positivism will show new improved features every month but formally issue 2 comes out in March - your spring, our summer :)

Thank you Cholo.
I'm so impressed.

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