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"I went out to find a friend, i found nobody
but when I went out to be a friend i found many"
(i do not know who is the author of this quote that means a lot)

First of 2 parts

Last Sunday November 7, 2010, I was wrapping up to initiate a community visit in two places, (i) is a place where boys hang out for sex and (ii) a place where women work as guest relations officer. My purpose is to interact with "the most unheard voices" of communities who are at risk of HIV. This in order to assess their levels of engagement with their community, their workplaces, and their service providers from NGOs and LGUs. I was in a hurry because I should have information for cities of Manila, Quezon and Pasay before traveling to 8 cities in the Visayas and Mindanao area and another 5 in Luzon.

I arrived in area # 1at 5:30 pm, the place is notorious for young boys selling their bodies for food and money. I entered the place and the business is evident in the lens of a survivor.

The area is full of people young and old, others playing games, singing, dining, shopping, playing computers and etc. Almost every corner there are apparent "negotiations for sex" with boys with age ranging from 12-24. The sight is so hopeless that seems to be a normal business that nobody cares of, nor awareness materials about HIV, human rights and trafficking among others is not found - only a sticker that say "no scandalous acts allowed" that no one seems to bother. I felt so bad that my childhood experience is vicariously keep coming back. But I kept myself reminded to maintain being objective and take the opportunity of organizing these poor boys by finding friends among them.

In one corner, I approached two boys after their failed negotiation with an old man. I sat next to them and both looked at me straight in the eye and walked away.

I approached another boy who seemingly is looking for somebody. I asked him if I can talk to him, he replied "about what", about being why being here and he said "taga DSWD ka ba?" (are you from the social welfare office?). I was bothered by the question and I asked him why ask such a question... he replied because we are afraid of them... then he walked away.

I approached a group of 5 boys, seemingly a gangsters. When they went inside the arcade, other boys went out as quickly as possible. These group seems to show-off their power to others. When they grabbed a chair next to me, i took the opportunity to interact with them. "bakit umalis ang mga iyon?" (why did those boys went out when you arrived?) the older guy replied "amin ang lugar na ito" (this is our place/turf). I introduced myself when his peer whispered something to another. They asked me why I have a piece of folded paper in my hand. Before I can reply... another boy butted in and said "alis tayo" (lets go). So they went straight to a group of old men then they negotiated from afar.

I was so bothered that I looked myself in a mirror, i looked like I cannot be trusted and not one of them felt my intentions and they might feel I am someone in authority or someone trying to obtain information about their behavior or I don't look like a costumer.

I already stayed almost 3 hours, it was difficult for me to interact with these young men because they are busy with their business, games, and negotiations and I do not know my entry point except of pretending to be a costumer. I was so tired and hungry of keep coming back and forth. So I sat down and played one of my favorite computer games "street fighter". Suddenly. a guy, maybe in his late 50's approached me and having an indecent proposal. I replied to him, "that is not my business of going here". He went away looking for someone else.

And suddenly another guy sat beside me and said "may kasama ka?" (do you have a companion)" and I replied "wala" (none). He was silent for a moment and he kept on mumbling. He suddenly introduced himself "ako si Ivan" (I'm Ivan) and i was watching you for almost 1 hour". I asked him why do you watch and follow me? he replied "you look friendly".

"Why are you here" I asked, then he replied he needs money and is looking for someone to trade sex with. I asked him if he is aware of HIV and AIDS and said, he is aware of AIDS but not HIV. He said he is 16 years old, he lives in a slum area and a member of a notorious gang. He asked me if i am a costumer, I said no, but I have been into same work few years back. He then reacted and asked "really" he pondered and asked again how about as a friend, I said hmmm... of course. And because the old men where watching our serious discussion, we went out and find a silent place where we can discuss freely. I forgot my purpose but kept on listening all his issues.

He reminds me that I am loosing the computer game and then I stopped playing. He then started sharing about his life, he said that he is the youngest of 13 siblings, of his being a member of a gang who influenced him in doing the business of sex work. He shared that he aspires of someday not anymore engaging in sex work and focus more on decent work.

After expressing his life concerns. I asked him if he wish to be a member of our association. He asked me of what kind of association and if there is a possibility that he can be hired for work. I explained to him that this a membership of boys and men who transcended sexual abuse, exploitation and violence. He then said "ahhh as a volunteer?. I said, "yes, and when you reach 18, you should pay a membership fee". He then expressed interest and said "Yes I will become member and pay, because myself and my gang needs groups and people like you and if only some one listens to us like you do now, we will not be engaging in this kind of work. There are only two kinds of people who reach us in our hang outs, those who pick and pay us for sex and those who condemn and arrest us for the same" he lamented.

We parted ways after having a soft drink and he thanked me for the time.

The next day, he called up at 4:30 pm, he asked for the time we can meet again for the interview that I asked him to participate. I fetched him at España area and brought him in our office. I introduced him my office mates Bing and Junnel. I did the interview there about his engagement with others in the response to HIV and AIDS - he all scored zero in all assessment areas.

He said, that almost all of his peers in their community and workplace (cruising site) has never been reached by any people about HIV or any IEC materials. There are some according to him giving out condoms but those are the people who pick them up for sex. I then taught him how to do emails and opened an yahoo email account for him.

I offered him to read a news clip about me and I was surprised of his reaction. He he told me... "I trust you and please trust me too because if we will not trust each other, this moment we have known each other will be useless...I plan to introduce you with my gang at Intramuros" he continued.

News clip: from Philippine Star September 24 Issue page F4

Indeed Paulo Freire is correct when he said "dialogue requires intense faith in human beings; their power to make and remake, to create and recreate, faith that the vocation of truly be fully human is the birthright of all people and not the privilege of the elite": See separate blog here:

We then ate dinner together in a nearby street carinderia and he promised that when he will have enough money he will also treat me.

My lessons and reflections:

In a salt visit/dialogue I should:

  1. Suspend assumptions (they are prostituted, they have problems, they need help, etc) and forgo any specific outcomes (successful visit) or purpose (obtain information). Respect their time and their purpose why they are in their hang out areas, do not rob their time to be replaced by your own purpose.
  2. When interaction starts, build trust, show your true identity (ID, introduce your name, etc). Keep on listening and facilitate expressions, answer questions briefly, honestly and straightforwardly. Let the person feel you are not the usual people they meet.
  3. Building human relationship is the primary step in reaching out to others, establish friendship by being a friend is a key to sustained connections. Never initiate a visit just because thats whats required of you by your office or you project but as natural as possible, do it because you have that heart of doing it and the genuine desire to reach out others to raise them above their adversities. That energy will be felt.

Now, I have met a friend, a lifetime relationship more than what is expected of me of my Office.

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on December 18, 2010 at 9:57am

Dear Jeanne-pierre, Lau, Wil and Caca,


I am enjoying this soul-stirring exchange. I recently read a book by Osho who says that to be intimate with others, you first need to be intimate with yourself. I quote him- Once you have accepted yourself as you are, the fear of intimacy will disappear.  You can say everything that you feel authentically and sincerely. And if you are ready to be intimate, you will encourage the other person also to be intimate. Your openness will help the other person also to be open to you. Your unpretentious simplicity will allow the other also to enjoy simplicity, innocence, trust, love, openness.

The discussion here has given me a deeper understanding and motivation to apply in my life and work. Thanks!


Jeanne-pierre, please can you tell me what do the blue and pink ribbons denote in the logo. Like Lau I too feel that voice that matter sounds more powerful.


Warm regards,


Comment by John Piermont Montilla on December 18, 2010 at 4:35am

Hi wil


Yes, its really different if our mental model is fixed to one mindset. Thats why in behavior change, we should also change the "values" or "culture". Here at the constellation, we call it changing our "ways of thinking and ways of working".

We can be alone but not lonely

We can be in solitude in communion with nature

We can be separated with materialism but united with the consciousness of the Universe

I am here in the Philippines and you are there in mexico but we share our thoughts


Wil, isnt it a miracle? we just sat together in the Bus on the last day of the Mexico Conference and yet we are connected here at ning? I remembered I expressed my feelings with you during that trip that my heart is bursting after the conference because we all will part ways. But we are here again connecting.


You said about Love, I think that is what is missing in being Alone. Add another "L" to make it All-one. When we put love to connect our selves with our "self" and with "others", we are all One.



Comment by Wilfrido Aguilar on December 16, 2010 at 5:15pm

I like that "ALL-ONE" for "alone". It's a complete different meaning. In occident, at least in Mexico alone has to do with loneliness, solitud, separtedness; and that is not the meaning of all-one...Love

Comment by John Piermont Montilla on December 16, 2010 at 10:52am

Hi Laurence and Caca


Alone = All-One, this maybe the reason why whenever we are alone, we listen to our truth, the child in us and the healing sound of silence and of nature. Thanks Laurence.

Lets keep the Journey, I know and feel though we are far from each other, we together Journey life hand in hand, though separate ways, we arrive in touching many people's lives.






Comment by Laurence Gilliot on December 16, 2010 at 10:14am

Caca and John-Pierre, just wanted to tell you that I'm touched by your words. I feel the same connection from the heart to both of you. Did you know that the word 'Alone' actually means ALL-ONE?

I'm also on this journey that is life. Learning a lot each day. About letting go, going back to my breathing, creating space in my body and mind. Living with my heart and not my head...


Take care


Comment by John Piermont Montilla on December 15, 2010 at 6:53am

When we are connected mysteriously, we alaways ask what is the connection? and why is the enrgy hovering around us? Other than our inherent humanity, within us is a longing for community. As I said, Birth is an accident, we were stolen from our inherent Oneness and journey this wilderness called life and to connect again to all fragments and become One again. You are right.The day of reckoning is near that each humanity and creation will be One again with the Universe. We also have One something in common that only our hearts know. Your point is that we struggled and wounded but decided to connect in some other way and better make secret, a secret.


No matter what I do to ran away from my work for the most unheard, i always arrive in the same starting line. So better live and let live, go and let go. Hehehe.


I missed you cacca. Many opportunities are coming and yet challenges and persecutions are as many. Hope we will see again and share every expereince we had individually in the crossroads of our journey.





Comment by Caca Carillo on December 15, 2010 at 6:41am
Miss you sorely :-(
How far we have come my friend!
Imagine how amazing life and the universe is??!!!!
WE met sometime ago,working in the same region, but has NEVER really worked and talked together before we both got on the"competence bus"(or boat) for this journey. Since then I say"we've been TOGETHER, To Get There, wherever there is,was or would be.
Since then, i have gone to different directions and different programs.....
and you have moved on too from IloIlo to wherever you are currently in right now. I read your blog and i see that you still have the same fire for the HIV work that you do, may the universe bless you and make your vision come true for all these "unheard voices". The heart is truly strong, even when burned, it springs back to get on with the journey.
And though i now work in different advocacies with a very different population to work with, i say we are still connected in this one giant web of connectedness we shall all one day call ONE, and feel the force that drives us all.
I connect when you say that the outside world is a reflection of our internal world and the state of the world just reflects how many are wounded, hurting, sad and angry.
That is why i have moved from HIV to a wholeness program. I feel, once we get everything internal and sublime aligned, everything external and gross will align itself too.
I have changed so much in the past 4 years, its amazing to stare at myself in the mirror(which since ive shaved my head and shed the face) is not that common anymore, and meet a new me that i am everyday still getting to know, I have also met a lot of new people (my teachers) who allow me to expand my understanding and knowing of life and the universe and the world we live in.
I don't really know what is my point here, I don't even have 1 maybe :-) I just miss you, and i came to bless the work that you continuously do for HIV and AIDS.
May the force be with you pierre, im sending hugs and kisses to the child in you (we all have one) for healing.


kisses from caca
Comment by Wilfrido Aguilar on November 10, 2010 at 5:47pm
This story is fine, nice, warm, crude, sad, and hopeful
Comment by John Piermont Montilla on November 10, 2010 at 2:44am
Thank you you Laurence,

Our heart should be tempered by humility. The good and the bad is within us, our war is internal. External war is just a manifestation of our unresolved internal conflicts. In fact when you see in paragraph 8 above, instead of connecting with the man - it seem I reacted out of repulsion and failed to reach him out too, to build friendship and to understand why they seek to use others for their own gratification. For sure they have answers. But maybe later....

Though I have forgiven those who transgressed me during my childhood, however its the adult in me who is forgiving but the child in me who was the victim is unforgiving. Still I need help.

For the logo, actually, i also find the CES4PHR word too technical and not hip-hoppy. Sir Bob also wished to transform the logo something like a pole with our Philippine flag being hold on to by communities moving forward and sailing in a boat. It will evolve soon, I will solicit the small voices of communities on how to improve the logo. Thanks Laurence.

BTW, if Bing Pasco my office mate and a certain Willy from Mexico signs up, please approve them. Jean-Pierre
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on November 9, 2010 at 6:51pm
Hi John-Pierre,

The story is beautiful and again... you touched my heart. This is one of your biggest strengths. Because you are so real and genuine. You are in touch with your feelings and your heart and you can express this very well. Because you share from the heart, you open the door to me and anyone who meets you to become a friend. That is my biggest lesson from you... to be real and to follow your heart.

I like your logo, because I see the Philippines colours in there and the HIV symbol. Also the sun in the middle shows that your group is radiating, it gives a warm feeling. I was wondering why you need to put CES PHR in the logo itself? I'm not so attracted by an acronym. Why not put "Voices that matter" in the logo and leave the acronym in the text below. This is just my opinion, so please feel free to ignore it ;-)

With love from Kinshasa,


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