By Glemir Sordilla
The second month of the year is often associated with things like roses, chocolates, dates, and, yup, sex. What better month to promote safe sex and the importance of using contraceptives than February? HAPI Bacolod seized the love-filled, Valentines air and launched their first-ever webinar called “Project Itot: A Safe Sex Education and HIV Awareness” together with BAGANI, Love Yourself, and Negrosanon Young Leaders Institute (NYLI) last February 12, 2021.
(The Facebook pubmat for the event garnered up to 14,000 engagements, but not all the responses were positive: some commenters said that “God will be judging” us; still, HAPI Bacolod only treated it as a motivation.)
The event kicked off with the zealous moderators from Rekindle PH and 034G, J-rik Villa and Angelique Anne Villa, who also made the Facebook livestream of the event possible. The Project Head of the event, Junuis Capus also welcomed the participants and the viewers in his opening remarks.
The first speaker was Mr. Kevin Gaitan, who is the Executive Director of NYLI as well as for Project SexZ which aims to deliver culturally appropriate Sexual and Reproductive Health Education to rural areas of Negros Occidental. Mr. Gaitan greeted the participants and emphasized that “we don’t promote sex. We are doing this to [help] them [make an] informed decision.”
Mr. Butch Lavaro, the second speaker and a proud volunteer at BAGANI Community Center and former Nurse Care Manager, gave the participants a medical perspective about the symptoms, tests, and treatment of HIV. Mr. Lavaro continuously engaged with the participants and eagerly answered their questions.
“HIV is not a form of punishment but ignorance is” was the strong statement of the last speaker, Eryl Hagoriles, a volunteer at Love Yourself and a medical technologist. His talk was centered on reminding the participants about the toxicity of stigma and discrimination towards people that have sexually transmitted diseases.
The webinar involved patient and delighted participants that totaled to an estimated 40 both in Zoom and on Facebook Live.
Besides this webinar, HAPI Bacolod had another successful event! Unbeknownst to most people, February 14 is also National Condom Day. With this in mind, HAPI Bacolod (with the help of BAGANI and the City Health Office) took to the hotspots of the City of Bacolod to give out free condoms and lubricants to people who are celebrating the day.
These two events concluded the Hearts’ Day celebration of HAPI people from Bacolod. We offer our sincerest gratitude to people behind the scenes that made all of these successful.
Everyone can still catch the webinar and other updates via HAPI Bacolod’s Facebook page.