Take The Test!


So last Monday, in a move to drum up support for sexual health advocacies and increase awareness for HIV/AIDS and its perils, I invited my dear friend and social worker, Tony B., to give a 30-minute talk to the staff on the subject matter. He dished out hard truths and statistical data concerning the current state of sexual health in the country and they were truly sobering. And I mean sobering, even I had to do several double-takes.

Thank you Tony!

For example, did you know that the number of HIV cases in the country has reached astronomical levels, chances are, you know someone who has the virus without having to go all the way through six degrees of separation? That we are now inching closer to Thailand’s HIV record and that is in no way helping us given the many other socio-political challenges we are currently facing? That – and for this you may need to sit down, I think – women are, now more than ever, more promiscuous than men and the only difference is that they do NOT talk about it like men do?

The only silver lining we see here is that somehow, according to Tony, Philippines has better HIV support system (as) compared with neighboring countries battling the same problem. HIV-positive people can actually gain access to free medicine and other support systems just as long as (1.) They are AWARE, and (b.) They KNOW where to go. So you see, AWARENESS is crucial. Knowing is already winning half the battle. And mind you, having HIV is no longer synonymous to a death sentence in this day and age. But of course, that does NOT in any way, justify you carrying on with your risky and indiscriminate sexual behavior.

What’s the first step? Take the test – TODAY! Kudos to those who have taken a proactive and vigilant stance on this and actually submit themselves to HIV testing on a regular basis. For highly sexually active people, it is recommended that you get tested once a year, or more, if you have been rather naughty. I have had myself tested twice this year and there is NO shame in that. Like some people, I happen to like being in the know and this is where I want to be two steps ahead in the health game, no ifs and buts. Monogamy seems to have taken on a whole new twisted dimension, or so I’ve been told. Most of you may still be of a different opinion when it comes to the M word, but they say these days, when you are in a committed relationship and you have sex with another person BUT used protection, that still qualifies as monogamy. Pretty sad, huh? Imagine the unpretty, unpalatable scenarios now playing in my head, thanks to my overactive imagination and absolute lack of trust and faith in people. So, yeah, it’s not you, it’s definitely me – and my trust issues.:)

Here at work, we believe that knowledge, indeed, is power.:)

Going back to the talk, we are thankful to Tony for taking time out of his very busy social work schedule to drive home some very basic yet excessively serious points on sexual health and being responsible adults that unfortunately, we all tend to disregard or treat with a great deal of disinterest, sometimes.

At the end of his talk, 11 of us from work submitted ourselves for HIV rapid test (95.something percent accurate) and the test results came back non-reactive for all of us! Yey! Except for Noel and I, it was the first time for the rest of them to take the test and I’m just happy that they volunteered. Besides, HIV testing is not covered by our HMO and I heard it costs around 400 to 600 pesos to have it done in clinics – we only donated 100 each. Tipid, di ba?

11 out of 11 Passed!

On a serious note (as if the last 300 words or so were some form of jest, haha), I’m really encouraging you guys out there to take the  test. I mean, sure, you may be 110% confident about your monogamous ways BUT you can never be too trusting of your partner’s. You don’t know where that merchandise has been dipped into before coming home to your eager arms. Am I being too harsh and judgmental here? Maybe, maybe not. But whatever, trust your own instincts and protect yourself – at all times – because believe me, if there is one test you would want to pass with flying colors, HIV test would be it.

Lastly, glove up and lube up! There is no shame in that either.

***

Note: EDITED to add this.

If you want to join the crusade for ZERO HIV infections; ZERO Discrimination; ZERO AIDS-related deaths, sign up for this race and visit the website here for a dose of fact and figures concerning HIV/AIDS.

Act NOW!

In Which I’m Not Allowed To Get Sick


But I’m only human and so yesterday, I did. And it was so horrible I couldn’t talk because my throat was inflamed; I couldn’t move much because my joints ached like there’s no tomorrow; and I couldn’t feed myself due to combination of the first two. And so it came to be that I must’ve lost 2lbs at least from yesterday’s unwanted house arrest. All I managed to eat at around 8:30pm was half a cupcake and a glass of milk.

I thought it was perhaps the long hours of meetings and work from my last trip that somehow took toll on my body. And of course, in one of my most stupid stunts yet, I made STC+hiphop+bodyjam nonstop my first agendum when I arrived. Hoping that sweating out the early signs of flu would deter it. I was wrong. My immune system only got vulnerable to the virus’ onslaught. So in the end, there I was in bed yesterday, fever-ravaged and majorly debilitated.

But, now I’m back. Still feeling weak but hellbent on coming to work and getting stuff done. And perhaps, later, if I’m good, I would treat myself to Old Spaghetti’s newest lunch set promo which I have recently favorited because it’s good stuff – and cheap! I’m still thinking if I’m up for pole dancing + power yoga later after work because I’m still really not a hundred percent okay. We’ll see.

On a totally unrelated note, lately it’s been pretty warm outside I’m always nauseated. The other day, I walked no more than 30 feet outside the building and my back was already drenched in sweat within five minutes! I miss those chilly days, and especially the chillier nights, of the ‘ber’ months. Remember those days? They seemed to have gone on a semi-permanent retirement, never to be felt again in our side of the planet. But as Nora Ephron would say, consider the alternative. I would take my sweat-drenched clothes anytime over having to wade in waist-deep flood waters which, as you know in the Metro, is almost similar to opening the floodgates to various water-related diseases and infections and literally inviting them to take your mortal body hostage. This climate change is really alarming and I would loathe to imagine how the next generation would cope if the worsening situation is left ignored.

***

So I bit the bullet and finally registered for Bataan Death March (BDM) 102 next year. That’s right, 102 kilometers and over 10 hours of nonstop road-pounding under hot weather conditions. I know a few people who survived the ordeal which gives me some level of comfort that I won’t be signing my life away…hopefully. But that does not, in any way, excuse me from being lackadaisical when it comes to my training (it hasn’t started yet so i’m starting to feel jitters sprinting up and down my spine) – a major character flaw of mine, I must admit. I’m such a slacker I never would have made it as a serious athlete!  But just so you know, I’m an entirely different animal at work. My dedication, loyalty, and hard work are unquantifiable! Hello, colleagues! *wink*

This is it!

No why am I even doing BDM 102? Good question. It’s because I can. haha. No, seriously, it’s because I see it as the apex of my ultrarunning career (naks!) while my knees are still good. I’m 32 and obviously, I still want to keep my knees for many years (and I heard you need them for walking down the aisle, i’m just saying…) so at some point, I will have to take it very easy. But only after I have carved my name in BDM history.

So, training it is. But aside from that, I also need to talk to serious runners and get valuable ultrarunning pointers from them because my bara-bara ways simply won’t cut it anymore. I can usually charm my way out of anything BUT I don’t think I can charm my way out of a DNF, haha. I’m still carrying emotional scars from my last DNF, thank you very much, and I have resolved never to take that course again. Dinamay ko pa si Dennis the RunningPinoy!

So tomorrow, I will start running again, only this time, I am breaking-in my pair of Reebok RealFlex – which I’m thinking of naming Basia because the original Basia (my pink ZigTech) along with Chris’ pair of Zigs were stolen a few months back, sob sob sob – which I’m reviewing for Total Fitness. RealFlex is Reebok’s major entry to the lightweight footwear category  and it is truly light at only 9.2 ounces in weight. I am also very excited to see whether the famed 72 “sensors” underfoot really work in  providing a new free form and natural movement experience while running. I just love Reebok’s innovative technology and fresh designs!

Check out the 72 sensors...in purple!
Basia in another form - sleeker and lighter.

***

Oh, by the way, if you guys happen to be at the Megamall area on November 30 to December 4, drop by Megatrade Hall 2 for Royal Sports SUPER Christmas Sale! Get jaw-dropping discounts on brands such as Reebok, Diadora, Teva, Rockport, Oakley, GBX, Everlast, to name a few! And if you’re a hoarder like me, you would probably end up buying something from each brand. Mark your calendars, people!

ROYAL SPORTS SUPER SALE!

Better Together.


Wow. The past two weeks in Malaysia just zoomed by it feels as though I merely blinked a few times and I’m home, once again behind the desk, trying to make heads and tails of the year 2012 and how I can make it even more grand than 2011 – in so many different facets of my all too-grown up world. I think I did pretty okay this year. I had a somewhat tumultuous start, which I attribute to my penchant for ambivalence and playing it safe when I should have been taking great risks; and doing the exact opposite when I really should have been more logical and pragmatic. At 32, surprisingly, I still sometimes fail to get it together. Oh I do appear to be in total control of the situation all the time, but 3 out of 10 – still not a bad fraction, if you ask me – I’m simply bluffing my uncertainties and inadequacies away.

And since 2012 practically has one foot planted firmly on that spot where 2011’s exiting foot should’ve been, I have an excuse for waxing nostalgic at midnight. Would you kindly indulge me? Oh never mind. You know darn well I would ramble on regardless. If I ever did great in anything this year, it would have to be on these three areas: Career, Relationship, and Personal Growth. I know it sounds too self-indulgent and perhaps it is, but from where I’m sitting, I have far less reasons to complain now than last year – or even the many years before. Or perhaps I have simply become more tolerant of disappointments – people and scenarios alike? Be that as it may, I’m still inclined to think Life has been kinder – generous in unquantifiable measure – to me.

My passion has not waned and my faith has grown stronger, thanks in large part to the people around me: the love of my life, my brother, some of the truly amazing people I work with (there are only a few of them I respect and love with such ferocity and I am truly grateful for the learning experience), and the few people I consider good friends. All of them, I must say, are worth so much more than their weight in pounds.

Especially you, C. Remember that song I told you would make a perfect march song? Thank you for turning out to be that one person I can say those words to – without having to conjure up some perfect image I know would only shatter at the slightest ripple.

As individuals, we are strong and capable, no doubt about it. But together, We. Are. So. Much. Better.

CURVES Promo: Beat holiday weight with no monthly fees until January 2012


Keeping in shape in the season of noche buena and media noche is a tough feat to achieve. Ask anyone who bears the same fondness for food and festivities as you and I probably are, and they will tell you the same thing. Firsthand observation: there are fewer people frequenting fitness clubs during Christmas season and why not? It’s holiday season, our once-a-year-waived-strict-fitness-observance period and there are parties to attend and loads of gastronomic delights to consume! And we haven’t even touched on alcohol yet. I mean for those of you who are rather fond of the bitter and those salt-lined rim drinks.:)

Still, some of us think that calling a two-week truce with fitness is probably too much of a slack. Take me, for example. I wouldn’t be so bold as to completely shun working out during this period because I have a figure to watch (and a reputation to uphold, haha). When you’ve worked hard at something for, say, 11 months, you wouldn’t just lay your efforts down to waste by gaining the excess weight you’ve kept at bay for so long.

Not to say that I also would shun eating, and believe me I won’t, because I love food far too much to deprive myself of it. The beauty of the rigid discipline I have instilled in me as far as fitness is concerned is that, I no longer bother counting calories. I eat whatever I want to eat, knowing full well that my body needs all the energy it can store and spare due to the maniacal workout I do several times a week. Ultrarunning, Insanity, Pole dancing, Power yoga, STC, Circuit training – all these things keep me physically fit and strong. Add to that the amount of thinking, strategizing, and concentration that I also plow into my work and other activities, then you can more or less deduce just how badly I need sustenance.

This kind of healthy behavior – well-balanced eating coupled with a healthy dose of workout in an all-exclusive, fun environment – is exactly what CURVES BGC has in mind. Curves wants us, women, to get a head start on our New Year’s resolutions and evade holiday weight gain by slimming and sculpting.

How? The club is waiving the monthly fees until 2012 for new members who join between 1 November and 31 December! Can you believe that?!?

“There’s no better way to finish the year strong than getting in shape and looking and feeling amazing,” says Fe Abrihan of the Bonifacio Global City Curves. “Just 30 minutes, 3 times a week at Curves can lift your spirits and help you enter the New Year with confidence and style.”

Studies have shown that women gain an average of 0.8-1.5 kg over the festive season. With the proven Curves 30-minute circuit, women can work every major muscle group and burn up to 2,000 kilojoules in a single workout to combat excess fat. Current members praise the benefits of the circuit, including muscle toning, weight and inch loss, increased energy and stamina, and a strong community of peers.

“This program is just the push you’ve been looking for to let you fit into that little black dress or enjoy your holiday treats to the fullest,” says Abrihan.  “The sooner that new members join, the more money they will save. The benefits won’t last just for the festive season, but all year long.”

For more information, please contact Fe Abrihan at (02) 8280208 or visit the Curves at 2F Serendra, McKinley Parkway, BGC, Taguig City.

Another Year Almost Over


Here I sit, watching The Voice on AXN and thinking Adam Levine is really one very attractive specimen. Don’t you think so? In the bathroom, i’m running a hot bath in which i’m going to soak myself for an hour, to wash off the sweat I worked up with my back-to-back Insanity Core and Cardio sessions earlier. It’s Saturday, the beginning of a long weekend in Malaysia (and the Philippines, too) and I’m just keeping it nice and easy in the morning – before it gets roller coaster-crazy again in the afternoon.

Not to say that I am a fitness freak...

Twenty eleven, you are almost on your way out of the door. When did the years start speeding by so fast? Is this an age thing somebody forgot to send me a memo of? Has my life now turned into this: months moving on fast forward, days on a mad loop, minutes that swirl round and round and round me? Some years ago, I graduated from the Uni and now I’m sorta-kinda living the life I had wanted since I was little – simple but purpose-driven.

I remember last November vividly. I remember traveling to Jordan for the first time and being fascinated by Petra. It was and still is, one of THE MOST amazing moments of my life. One day, when I’m old, I will forget faces, birthdays, numbers, moments, but not Petra and how it opened my senses to the beautifully strange and mystifying. One other thing I remember last November was how excited I was for months to change already so Chris and I can finally go on our December Phuket holiday.
Phuket 2010
One year later, I’m here in Malaysia for work and feeling the same wave of excitement again for December for a whole range of reasons but most especially for our second Bali trip (this piece of wonderland we visited in August 2010). The feel of sand between my toes, the just-the-two-of-us-holiday that we planned for, to once more close the gap between us, and no longer hating geography for making us so far apart.
Bali 2010
Things are changing up so fast I sometimes have to will myself to stand still, shut people out for a moment, and take several deep breaths just to regain focus. Do you ever feel that way sometimes? Being so overwhelmed it stifles you? Not that there is any reason for me to complain because try as I might, there isn’t any. Knock on wood but I feel Life has really made up for the bad cards it dealt me earlier on.
Two days ago, I also heard one of the most beautiful love story involving my dear friends from college and I remember going to bed that night feeling genuinely happy that they have found love in each other. Ahhh, Love. How is it that you make butterflies flutter about in my stomach? I think it’s time to make concrete plans to visit NY and give my felicitations personally.:)
It’s not yet twenty twelve but the dregs of twenty eleven are now visible that I can’t wait to take them all in one gulp so I can finally get a refill. Let my new year be happy. Let new opportunities come barreling through the door. I am ready for change, 2012, and if you know me even just a little bit, you know darn well that I can handle it. Let travel happen, let long distance become together-all-the-time, let me finally figure out cash and jobs and adult relationships. Will you allow me to be greedy and ask for more, more, more, and please, will you give it to me? Let everyone I love be safe, healthy, and happy this coming 2012, too. Make it an exciting year, a good year, a year we will not want to say goodbye to. At least not too soon.

The Girl Who Straddled Halloween


…and liked it very much, yes.  So last Friday, as you know, we celebrated Halloween in advance at the office and I showed up as a French maid who must’ve forgotten to go on a serious diet a month before because I looked bloated in some of the photos. ‘Sup with those gargantuan arms anyway, huh? Still, it was so much fun – especially since I don’t have past Halloweens to benchmark last  Friday’s against. So yey, fun!

'Don't Worry, 'V' Happy' Halloween 2011
I'm a good maid, yes?

And then I hied-off to Malaysia for work and arrived in time for my second Halloween, this time, with my Malaysian colleagues. If I was impressed by the costumes of some of the staff in Manila, I was even more impressed by what some of our Malaysian counterparts wore to the party. Some of them were pretty scary, I tell you. Izzan and Vijiyar startled me when they walked into the room garbed in their vampire costumes – complete with vampire contact lenses! Tanyen looked sensational in her Goth bride outfit and Jamie was a knockout in her Japanese schoolgirl/sailor ensemble. That night, I was a fairy with turquoise wings and lavender wand which does absolutely no magic, except to look pretty when (being) waved about. It was quite a transformation from the naughty maid that I was back home.Our Boss joined us at the tail end of the  poolside party and we had a managers meeting right after – which lasted well until past 1 in the morning. That’s exactly how we roll in this side of town where fairies attend meetings of the human kind.;)

Halloween in Malaysia (Photo by Eugene)
Japanese schoolgirl/sailor and the Blue Fairy
Vampires and a Fairy
With (the) Goth Bride and (the) Queen of the Damned.

And of course, after stuffing my face with sweets, Twisties, and mee hon, I felt so guilty I wanted to run around PJ, except that I forgot to pack my running kicks! I have Matilda (my EasyTone shoes) with me though, so at least I can do Insanity but with a bit of restraint because I have to constantly mind my form, which is a bit tough to hold with Matilda’s balance pods creating forced instability. Since I can’t do power jumps and other Insanity routines that could hurt my ankles when I land, I am concentrating on my core and thighs instead with lots of obliques and inner thigh pulses when on plie. At the risk of sounding utterly biased, I must say yet again that Reebok makes me look good. Don’t you think so?

Stretching is important in any workout.
Wearing Cirque du Soleil top and Reebok EasyTone shoes.