MANILA, Philippines – For the second year, World AIDS Day was commemorated in Baguio City with a poetry contest dubbed "Scarlet Letters from Baguio: A Poetry Slam for HIV Awareness."
Held at the Mt. Cloud Bookshop in Upper Session Road on Friday, November 29, the contest was organized by the AIDS Society of the Philippines (ASP) and the Baguio Writers Group. This year, CHILD, a non-governmental organization dealing with children in distress, and Hill Station Tapas Bar and Restaurant sponsored the event.
Twelve poets, with 4 joining the event for the first time, went through a round of reading poems by famous poets as well as poems of last year's finalist, Solana Perez. (READ: HIV through poetry: Sex, anger, uncertainty)
The poems were prepared by Mt. Cloud Bookshop owner Padmapanu Perez and journalist Diana Mendoza, an ASP board member.
In the next round, 8 contestants were chosen to read their own poems about HIV awareness. One contestant sang her poem, while another rapped it.
Award-winning filmmaker and contestant Martin Masadao shared his poem "Nakpil Corner Orosa" even though he did not make it to the second round:
"Sama ako sa 'yo..."
(The twink, standing under the lamp post across the street
from the cafe where I sat the past three hours, said.)
(I asked sheepishly.)
"Alam mo na..."
(He continued as he tucked his hands in his pockets,
the thumbs sticking out. Thumbing, thumbing.)
(I feigned coy innocence as my eyes took in his taut chest,
thick neck, strong arms.)
"Ikaw talaga, palabiro..."
(He grinned. Red lips, pink gums, Donny Osmond teeth and all)
"Ano nga 'yun?"
(I said, trying to remember if I laid him before or not.)
(He said as he inched closer his biceps nudging my left nipple.)
"May condom ka?!"
(I went straight to the point.)
"Oo naman, syempre!"
(His eyes twinkling. Triumph etched all over his face. The long
wait had finally come to fruition.)
"O, halika na!"
(I commanded and walked towards the curb. The twink beside me.
After a few meters I stopped. Looked into his eyes and said,
"Nga pala, nagpapabayad ako ha?!"
(He said and sped as fast as he could back to the lamp post
hoping to meet someone who would pay him instead.)
With the poem entitled "How to Put On a Condom," Kervin Calabias won P2,500, a dinner at Hill Station Restaurant, and condoms.
Judges for this year's poetry slam were Carlos Palanca Memorial Awardee Dr. Luis Gatmaitan, Jennifer Patricia Carino of the Baguio Writers Club, Elizabeth Ariaga of CHILD, and poet and HIV advocate Wanggo Gallaga.
World AIDS Day is celebrated every December 1 to raise awareness about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection obtained through unsafe, unprotected sexual intercourse.
Latest data from the World Health Organization show that the number of adolescents infected by HIV has jumped by one-third over the past decade. – Rappler.com