Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I was supposed to be attending SET (Self-Empowerment Training) with some Twitter friends last March 9-10 the first time I heard about it. But as I tried to register, the slots for that date were already full. So I decided to attend the March 23-24 schedule, but then my friend, EU, demanded (yes, he demanded) that I join him on the last batch of SET for the month of April.

Since I got nothing to do and I am pretty much in control of my schedule this summer, I agreed to join him on that day.

However, it was a long wait. Batch after batch, they have finished their training with all good feedbacks and reviews to tell. Good thing that I have kept myself busy with work that time passed quickly.

Finally, my SET Saturday came (April 27-28) and it was a tiring morning for me. I drove all the way from my workplace somewhere up north, jostled through the Saturday morning traffic, until I reached home in Manila at around noon time already. No more time to rest, I had my quick lunch, packed my things, prepped up for the much-awaited SET in the afternoon.

I arrived at RITM Satellite Clinic at around 2:30PM with TL (I'd love to call him Taylor Lautner.  And then he gets pressured to get in shape like Taylor Lautner. When in fact, he is the wolf version of Taylor Lautner's Jacob character in the Twilight Saga. Kidding, hon! He's my partner.)

We went inside the clinic, saw a bunch of guys getting tested, went straight up, and entered the room where we were supposed to be having our SET.

This is it. (No more delays. No more re-schedules.)

I had a quick scan around the room and surveyed the people around sitting quietly. None of them were familiar to me except of course for EU, whom I have met several times already. And CRL, whom I invited to join me in the SET. I haven't really met him personally, though we have been exchanging Direct Messages and SMS for the past couple of months already.

JSC, a product of the previous SET, came in with pizza for the group. I think it has been the tradition lately that previous SET clients give something in return for the new batch. Maybe as a sign of welcoming the group. So for the next batch, we will be preparing a catering service for them. Kidding!

I won't go on details about what transpired on our first day at the SET. Suffice it to say that I have learned a lot from my SETmates. Some may have devastating stories to tell. Some may have light stories to share. Some are funny and witty. Some narrated their story the beauty queen style. While others were quick, and direct to the point. Nonetheless, all of them are worth listening to. All their stories have lessons to learn from.

The first day ended at around 10-ish in the evening. We were brought to the New Solanie Hotel were we stayed for the night. Since JGZ went home, we were exactly 10 who checked-in at the hotel. There was no odd-one-out. In addition, there was an extra room. TL and I obviously were in the same room. (EU and I were supposed to be roommates before I met TL.) So EU ended up being with NN. CRL was with P. BB shared room with DMS, and as for J and JM, uhm... they slept solo since we have one extra room.

Before we called it a night, while some of us were already wearing our nighties (yes, we're on our nighties, sexier than nude!), the group decided to go to the bar right beside Solanie Hotel, Jefz Cafe. We had a few drinks, and a few sing-alongs. We had more laughs and more quality time together. The night was just so fun-filled. And before we left the bar, the gay host reminded us to be careful with whatever we are to do for the rest of the night. He emphasized on being careful with HIV. Yeah right. Thanks for reminding us. :)

My Efav has already kicked in the moment I stood up from our table. And it hit me big time. Plus the fact that I had a bottle of San Mig Light. (Take note: I only had a bottle.) I think my liver complained about putting on additional workload on him.

We slept the instance we returned to our rooms.

And just when TL and I were about to doze off, we heard a knock from our door. As I opened it, EU was outside. He told us about what just happened which made him decide to come knocking at our door, freaking out. (Ok, slightly freaking out.) I am in no position to tell the story. However, here is the link to his story about what happened to him that night.

After all, he still ended up being my roommate, as we have originally planned. Cute how fate works. Hahaha! Of course, TL didn't mind at all.

The second day was shorter, but definitely jam-packed with lessons from our facilitator and from my SETmates. I sure learned a lot, I just can't remember most of them now. Kidding! It's all in the heart now. :)

True enough, the best part of the training was when J, the timid guy, the apprehensive one, voiced out his willingness to submit himself to the treatment regimen, as he was doubtful about it at first. The most rewarding part, according to Dra. Rita, was when J smiled. She said, he looked "prettier" with that smile on his face.

We ended up earlier than 12 noon, just in time before our stomach started rumbling. We satisfied our cravings with the sumptuous meal prepared for us. After our lunch, we exchanged contact infos, Twitter accounts so that we could still get in touch even after our two-day activity has ended. We had a little few more chats, awarding ceremonies (the beauty queen style) before we left the place, with all smiles on our faces.

Taking a leave from work to attend the SET is very much worth it. At first, I thought I won't be needing it anymore since I thought I knew enough about my gift - me being HIV positive. But then again, I was wrong. Every new experience is a lesson well-learned. And attending SET has been one of the best thing that has happened to my gifted life.

Apparently, I love how destiny worked its wonders for me. Moving from one SET schedule to another, I guess I was meant to belong to the right group of SETmates. Love y'all! :)

Again, kudos to the RITM Satellite family and thank you to my SETmates, my new-found friends for that wonderful experience. Looking forward to seeing you guys again soon!

I just remembered. That same night when EU demonstrated to me how he was molested, he actually also grabbed my balls. Accidental or not, I haven't really asked him yet about it.


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