By Estrella Z. Gallardo
The first case of HIV infection in the Philippines was in 1984, when the HIV epidemic took the world by storm in the 1980s, due to fear, stigma and ignorance. There are now 60,270 confirmed HIV cases reported to HARP (HIV/AIDS Art Registry of the Philippines, wherein 94% (56,335 are male and 6% (3,861) are female, with 81% reported from January 2013 to October in a span of five years.
Despite the availability of so much information online, including those that speak about sexual health, the youth (even highly educated ones) continue to fall prey to preventable sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.
Statistics show that only 17% of Filipinos have the right awareness on HIV/AIDS prevention and transmission. The more alarming information is that the high percentage of new HIV infections in from the younger group, i.e. ages 15-24, but the youngest reported AIDS patient who sexually contracted HIV is 13 years old.
Clearly, information alone is not enough to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and there is not enough of the right information that lead to more HIV testing, more responsible sexual behavior and decreased stigma not only of HIV-AIDS but also of communities gravely at risk of contracting the disease.
The Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippine (DOST-NRCP) on February 13, 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City, conducted on NRCP FORUM in support to HIV/AIDS Campaigns, in collaboration with DOST-NCR, PCHRD, TAPI and NAST.
Professor Fortunato T. de la Peña, DOST Secretary welcomed guest and participants to the Forum, after the Opening Remarks of Ramon A. Razal, Ph.D., President, DOST-NRCP.
Marieta Ranez Sumagaysay, Ph.D., Executive Director, DOST-NRCP, introduced NRCP which is now considered as the oldest scientific advisory body of the Philippine government and the oldest science council in Asia with led to technological breakthrough and applications, citing some of the noteworthy.
Keynote Speaker Dr. Gundo Weiler, Country Representative, World Health Organization was awarded a token of appreciation with DOST Secretary, Usec for R&D, DOST NRCP Officials, Speaker and Symposium Participants.
Celebrity Advocates who shared their advocacy experience were Ms. Elizabeth Oropesa-Freeman, Film/TV Actress and Mr. Phi Palmos, Advocate and Artist for Film, TC, and Theater.
Care Artist advocates who presented their experiences were Mr. Ico Rodulfo, President, The Red Ribbon Care Management, Inc.; Mr. Jabar Esmael, Artist/Financial Advisor/Speaker, Member; Culture and Arts Managers of the Philippine/CARP Inc.) And Mr. Michael David Tan, Editor-in-chief, Outrage Magazine.
Mediating Advocates were Mr. Emmanuel Dela Cruz, Film Director, Writer Producer; Ms. Mary Anne Bianca Garcia Guidate, 2014 Bb. Pilipinas-International and Mr. Casaldo Pablo, Health Advocacy Movies Directory Writer/Producer, Creative Executive Director, The LoveLife Project for Health and Environment, Inc.
In 2017, the National Research Council of the Philippines funded a research project on “Digitized Arts and HIV/AIDS related Advocacies” by Brian S. Bantugan. It has three highlights and one of these is the Importance of Collaborative Work between Artists, Advocates, and Digital Technology Experts.
This is the creative process involved in artistic production paved the way for the development of “digitized” arts-a new artistic field where one art form contributes to and cultural continuum created by the digital media landscape from the process of conceptualization to public presentation, which I believe is the center of the forum.