Art against the epidemic: Filipino artists and authors unite to spark HIV Awareness for World AIDS Month


Always use the active voice.

That well-known writing rule has taken on a different meaning for these established and budding Filipino authors and artists, as they take on the fast-growing HIV epidemic with their words and images.

This year, the Philippines reported the highest number of HIV cases on a daily basis: 22 people testing positive–a huge jump from the 17 people in 2014. Since 1984 when the first HIV case was documented in the Philippines, the country has leapfrogged to 29,079 cases as of October 2015.

As a collaborative platform raising HIV and AIDS awareness via pop culture, pioneering HIV organization The Red Whistle has spearheaded various creative and productive collaborations to stop the rise ofHIV here in the Philippines.

With its soon-to-be-launched folio, Red Letter Days, the organization brings together respected and up-and-coming voices in the art and literary scene to again bring discussions of HIV and AIDS, sex, and sexuality closer to young Filipinos.

Through this folio, we were able to gather opinions and interpretations by respected voices from the art and literary community on HIV and AIDS, gender identity, sexual expression and sexual health,” says Ronald Ramos, Red Letter Days folio editor, former president of the University of the Philippines Ugnayan ng Manunulat (UP Ugat), and fellow of the 1st Palihang Rogelio Sikat. “By bringing their thoughts together, we aspire to make discussions on HIV, sexual health and empowerment, as well as gender and equality, less taboo and more mainstream.”

The folio will feature literary works by esteemed poet Jim Pascual Agustin; award-winning writer Romulo P. Baquiran, Jr.; and prolific author and editor of the Ladlad anthologies J. Neil C. Garcia, among others. Likewise, it will also be graced by artworks by rising names such as Rob Cham, Isobel Francisco, Tokwa Peñaflorida—to name a few.

The launch of the folio will happen on December 19, 2015, 7:30 pm, Saturday, at the Today x Future Bar, 7-T Gen. Malvar St., Araneta Centre, Cubao, Quezon City.

Limited prints of the folio will be sold during the event; the downloadable version will also be made available.

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