Friday, January 16, 2009
What do you get when you mix the Waltz with the Tango?
This has been a funny line that we quote from a movie that I can not recall anymore what the title is. People from the Pub Office way back when I was still Editor In Chief of the School Publication "The Purisimian" Of Colegio De la Purisima Concepcion in Roxas City, Capiz would always crack up when we remember this. I miss Harold "Jaja" Buenvenida, Thea Acielo, Laarni Pagharion, and the rest of the Pub Guys, and the RSA, or the Russian Secret Agents, but that is another story for another day.
Today, Wanggo is no longer the dance that is a cross between a Waltz and a Tango for me. It has become the badge of courage, in the continuing dance of life, and perhaps, a twirl with death; and Wanggo speaks. Allow me to let him speak for himself.
"My name is Wanggo Gallaga. I'm twenty-nine years old, I'm a writer, I'm HIV positive, and I'm telling my story so that others will be aware."
During the successful "Pulong Binalaybay, 2008, Mother John Iremil Teodoro, Tatay Leoncio P. Deriada, and the bunch of us writers were enjoying lunch and Tatay admonishes Mother John, Me and my writing duo, Bryan, that we should be very careful because Wanggo has come out. I chcukled immediately... "Wanggo, A waltz and a tango," I chimed. "Not just that," Tatay Leo continues, "he also announced that he is HIV possitive." There was a Karen Carpenter moment, then... There was a kind of hush. Then I go... "Wanggo who?" Mother John answered that Wanggo was the son of Award Winning Director Peque Gallaga, and was a lifestyle writer himself. One amongst us. The last statement struck a nerve. One amongst us... A writer... make that a gay writer.
I may not know who Wanggo is, but I know who Peque is! But of course, he is a proud son of Bacolod, and I was one among the many members of the theater group during my short stint at the University of Saint La Salle Bacolod Integrated School, way way back 1996 when I was in 1st year highschool, no make that grade 8, and the theater building we call home was named after him. No need perhaps to enumerate the sterling films he made, and the numerous protege's he has produced in the many semesters he taught and the workshops under his tutelage; one worth mentioning is the yearly Negros Summer Workshop, running alongside the Summer Iyas National Writers Workshop, where I was awarded a fellowship two summers ago.
The reality of the HIV/AIDS danger has never been an alien concept to me, as I was a peer counselor/facilitator during my days as a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairman, when I was selected to be trained as a peer lecturer by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, but now, more than ever, the menace's ugly head rears once more, and closer than it did years back.
It is such a sad fact that after we had conducted seminars around the city, targeting people within our age bracket, our HIV/AIDS peer lecture series was canceled due to a lack of funds, support and perhaps, red-tape, as after all, the RITM of the DOH is dependent on funding for its many projects.
I feel a renewed sense of duty and responsibility, and just as it was before, I gladly count myself in, with this crusade in the best way I know. Let this blog post be my small, humble but well meaning contribution to the crusade.
For now, then, this is my small contribution to the crusade.
I may not know you, Wanggo, and you may not know me but then again, let me step up and dance in with your crusade. The Waltz of a brave soul and the Tango of Life in the clutches of a deadly menace.
Watch Wanggo Gallaga tell his story in StoryLine in ANC, this Friday, January 16 at 6 PM, with replay at 11 PM.
Not the Disease!
Photo and Text Credits:
Ian Rosales Casocot's Blog
ABS CBN ANC