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Friday, February 18, 2005

AIDS is a youth issue

by Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
December 6, 2004, posted at www.thefreeman.com

If I could only give one zildjian_tjuk90715432 a good spanking, I would gladly help him to some serving he so deserves. Imagine on message boards, while I was asking some of my online friends to support Music Television’s call to “Spread the Message, Not the Virus” last December 1 in line with World AIDS Day, he came barging in with his moronic blah: “Blame HIV to the faggots, the homos and the black promiscuous people of Cameroon”.

It was the “crappiest” thing I’d ever read on my message board!

Obviously, he missed a point here. We are not to trace who created what virus, who first started spreading the HIV, or who’s to be burned on the stake. To eradicate ignorance about HIV/AIDS would be to refrain from dismissing that it is a Western evil confined to drug users, homosexuals, and prostitutes only.

The world can no longer afford to ignore the enormity of the HIV epidemic, says Antonio Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The disease is real and we are all prone to contract it. Yes, it is incurable, but it could be controllable. This depends upon a conscious effort from among various sectors – and the youth, most especially, because this is our issue!

HIV/AIDS is a youth problem because we are the ones most sexually active and only we can solve this problem.

Should we continue to point a finger at philandering husbands spreading HIV among women and girls, as the most vulnerable group? Should we continue to watch at how our society allow those inflicted with HIV/AIDS to deal with the stigma all by themselves, and their uneasiness on opening up on sexual matters? Or could we possibly join hands to commit in this fight against a silent adversary?

HIV/AIDS comes with large societal issues that need our active participation to confront. The time has come to strike back at a killer that is transmitted by drug use and sex, as well as by ignorance and denial.

So far, it seems many of us are treating this issue as a joke, not realizing that we could be next in line spreading HIV/AIDS and will destroy not only other people’s lives but that of the nation, as well.

We could choose to live in chastity or abstinence. We could opt to have only one sex partner, or practice protected sex — weapons against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

We, the youth, have the power to spread the message, not the virus!

* * *

VAYA CON DIOS, ‘BOKI!

I would like to devote this little space in space in memory of THE FREEMAN/BANAT photojournalist Allan Nillas Dizon, a colleague. I endearingly call him ‘Boki, a play-up of “tambok” because of his built.

Of all the travel assignments I had in my two-year stint as a writer for the marketing department of this paper, I only pulled him out of his beat once and he showed commitment upon learning the assignment would take us to Badian island (Zaragoza island) with another colleague, Niño Roberto Gonzales. He just wanted some respite, he said. A lighter subject to photograph. A relaxing coverage.

Allan, Niño, and I shared a king-size bed that time. I would just want to make mention of his “kakulitan,” insisting he would want to share the blanket with me. Niño was left there, tickled to the bone at the sight of us fighting over the linen when in fact we had been issued a sheet each.

After saying “Vaya con Dios” to ‘torni Arbet Yongco some weeks back in this column, now I have to say same again to Boki gunned down by four bullets on a Saturday. He was interred yesterday. The night before he was slain, he teased me about my mobile phone not having the benefits of a camera.

“Sus ilisi na imong phone oi. Palit gud kanang naay cam. Editor? Nya karaan ug cellphone,” those were the last of his blahs of which I had retorted: “Sige lang Boki, madato gani ko paliton tika! Ikaw ang akong camera!”

Little did I know that was the last of our conversations. No more Boki clicking and tinkering with his camera. No more Boki checking shutter speeds and all at the photographer’s pool.

While groping for some conclusion to this article, I glanced at the printer connected to my workstation where photographers give their shoots some hard copies. Boki won’t be standing there anymore to solicit my ideas on how to go about with his photo captions.

Boki now has claimed a space in space. May his soul then rest in eternal peace!

(For your comments, reactions, suggestions, and contributions, crank up my addy: pinay_mangatkatay@yahoo.com.)