World AIDS Day and I Got Shot!!!

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One lazy weekend afternoon, while my partner and I were browsing through our emails and our social media, she showed me an invitation to join an activity, I said alright we’d join and asked what I should do.  She said I just had to answer some questionnaire, so I read through it… answered as if I were a contestant from the Ms. Universe Beauty Pageant without really ending my answer.. “and World Peace..”  Sent my answer… and, after a couple of days, I was surprised I got an invitation to appear for the photoshoot!  Hmnn… now I think of it.. I could not event remember what I wrote there… … I GOT IN! I was quite excited, saw the sample layouts and it was beautiful.. what do you expect?  It’s a Niccolo Cosme project, and I am honored!

Shoot day came.  I was nervous and excited, all at the same time.  We came a bit early, and they were very organized, we were welcomed warmly by The Red Whistle people, Odj was at the registration, there were several other good looking young men and of course Niccolo himself, who went around the different areas of the Lab.  Then, I changed into my tube top as requested, I already had some simple make up on and hair done, same way as I always do, then they led me in front of the mirror and the very nice make-up artist had me sit down asked me where I wanted the glitter thingy’s.  I looked around on how the others had theirs done, we’ll it was a personal look thing and so I motioned from my right temple to my left shoulder blade, and so Ms. Make up artist went on across, applied glue and then the gold stuff… hmnnn.. growing excited by the minute…she was quick.. we were done, and Aileen and I went down to the studio, nice set up!  Really a brilliant idea if I may say, they were still shooting someone when we came in, there there was still one person ahead of me, they were doing their Madonna “Vogue” poses, what should I do? How would I look?  How should I stand?  Hmnnn, I guess the photographer will be giving the directions, “bahala na si Batman” I told myself like this wasn’t my first shoot and I had my clothes on anyway, so here goes..   Click………click……click……click…… and we were done!  Changed outfit, removed my gold thingy’s and said my goodbyes and thank yous to everyone and went to our next agenda that day.

We were told that by December 1, all the photos will be out on line and that by the 6th of December will be the launch there at the Pineapple Lab.  Of course we were glad to confirm our attendance.  December 1 came, my oh my!  “Ganda ko naman! Grabeh!” modesty aside, I love my photo!  Thank you Niccolo! Thank you Red Whistle!  Thank you Project Headshot Clinic!   We were requested to have it as our profile photo on FB, but of course I was more than proud to use it even if they did not ask, in fact, I’ll have it there for a loooong time.  Aside from me of course, there were more than 250 people who also participated in Project Headshot Clinic X. Different personalities, sex, way of life, beliefs, religion, social status, hair color, tattoos, languages, origins, culture, lineage, or maybe even political affiliation.

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Launch day came, December 6, we went to Pineapple Lab, the faces started to arrive one by one, warm, welcoming, each checking out their photo on the wall, selfies, groupfies….. Drink Manila together with Remy Martin, made the party happier and uninhibited, free and fun!  Apart from the photos on the walls, there were also posters embedded with the augmented reality app called Artvive which could be downloaded on our mobile devises, and will later on be shown over Cignal Cable by December 9th.  There were also announcements encouraging people to support the ongoing projects and programs of the group for HIV Awareness and Prevention.

As the beautiful host and longtime advocate explained “a decade ago, a digital platform which celebrates individuality and utilizes the power of social media in promoting causes that matter was born, it was called  Project Headshot Clinic (HSC).  Since its inception, it has been used as an effective medium for various advocacy campaigns such as Climate Change, youth Empowerment, LGBT Rights among many others but one particular advocacy campaign that ran every year since 2008 is what we are celebrating today.”

In his welcome speech, the Founder of Project Headshot Clinic and the Co-Founder of The Red Whistle, Mr. Niccolo Cosme says, “Headshot, was born because I did not know what to say when confronted by the situation, but I knew that I had to do something about it.  Sometimes it’s okay that we don’t know what to say, it somehow CHALLENGES us to MOVE, to ACT.  About a decade ago, my dear friend, Wanggo Gallaga came out to me with his HIV status, and it had changed my life.  That one moment created a shift in my life and took me to the path of an HIV Awareness Advocate.  I would not have thought that a few years later, that we would be running a Non-Profit Organization………. Tonight, we celebrate life, love, friendships and our commitment to continue the fight against the growing cases of HIV and AIDS, our fight for our rights for a healthy and better Philippines, towards a world FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION, FREE FROM HATE, FREE FROM AIDS… one HEADSHOT at a time.” 


Following Niccolo was Wanggo Gallaga, the reason why all of us were there, the reason why Headshots was born.  Shortly after his short message, all the guests were all requested to proceed to the studio where there was a short skit to be presented, apparently written by Wanggo himself.  The presentation was short, but the message was pretty sharp, it shattered  me.  I gave in and melted, Truly we are no different, we are all the same, we do sometime make different choices….that often times do have consequences that we have to endure and live through it if we are still lucky.

My heart overflows for all the people behind The Project Headshot Clinic and The Red Whistle,  I know your journey has not been an easy one but you have already touched a lot of lives with what you have been doing.  I am happy to be a part of something very worthwhile, something right in the middle of everything that is wrong in this world that we live in. I salute’ you guys! I’m proud to have been part of Project Headshot Clinic X.

*Acknowledgement to The Headshot Clinic, The Red Whistle and Aileen Siwa for the photos

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Sue Jose
A mom of two and a granny to one. I love the outdoors, good movies, watching advertisements, cooking, designing, writing...

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