by Hazel Hannah Von S. Tabelin
On the third of May, at the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University around two to three in the afternoon, people from different ages, genders, and backgrounds came to support an important event. It was the time where Ms. Universe 2015 and social media icon, Pia Wurtzbach, officially joins the UNAIDS as a Goodwill Ambassador to advocate for reproductive health rights for the youth and the LGBTQ community. Many members of ACT!2030 were also present to share knowledge regarding HIV and AIDS cases in the Philippines by setting up their own booth filled with games and prizes.
Pia, together with the director of UNAIDS, the student council president of Ateneo, and a transgender woman became esteemed guests and panellists. They were engaged in a Q&A portion concerning HIV and AIDS issues within the country. Here we see how these issues are viewed and responded to in this current generation. One of the highlights of the interview is that Pia encourages everyone to test for HIV. She expressed that such procedure is safe and should be for everyone. One of the obstacles seen is the continued discrimination and misconceptions towards people living with HIV. The people of the Philippines hold conservative beliefs that are in conflict with modern change in society. She expressed that it is necessary for us to adapt to the cultural change in our community. She also shared her stand that Filipinos should be educated more about HIV and AIDS in order to establish an esteemed environment.
One of media asked her of her future plans as the Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS, while she on the other hand responds by using social media as a platform for educating others. Pia relays the fact that she is now a role model in social media whose information and influence reaches the millennials of today. In the end, the interview was finished with a photo op with the panellists and representatives commemorating the event.
By the time it ended, these liberal ideas left a refreshing impact on the audience such as me. Pia was right. The Philippine youth is indeed liberal and open-minded enough to progress within the country. If only much more effort and emphasis was given to express the importance of reproductive health rights and education then reproductive health issues will then be acceptable thus garnering a more effective response from the public. Up until now HIV and AIDS are still both taboo and a mystery to many, but all of us know better. We are educated to grow in diversity with freedom because the future consists of everyone for everyone despite circumstances and differences.
Personally, this event gave me a new perspective towards the people in our community. The Philippines is changing, but the people have not yet responded to its call. People have not realized the concern towards the rise in HIV and AIDS cases which only makes them indifferent to others. It personally made me curious about learning about HIV and its effects here in the Philippines. Seeing Pia being a Goodwill Ambassador motivated me to support and teach others regarding the advocacy of HIV testing. Filipino youths like me have the power to encourage and share our own voices that will influence generations to progress for the better.