The fight on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues alongside the battle with COVID-19 as the nation observed the Philippine International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (PIACM) on May 17 for Light Up, an online concert ceremony.

Following the imposition of the physical distancing, the Philippine HIV community gathered virtually for “Light Up” in commemorating the lives of people we have lost to HIV and celebrating the progress we have made through the years in our fight against the disease. Hosted by Tim Yap and Patrixia Santos, the online event was streamed on the PIACM Facebook page.

Highlights of Light Up included the inspirational messages from UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, and staunch HIV advocate, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray.

Despite these trying times, we light up each candle as a symbol of our stronger faith and serves as a pint of hope that we all need right now.

Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015

We remember. We take action. And we live beyond HIV/AIDS.

Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018

Another HIV advocate, Miss Universe-Philippines 2019 Gazini Ganados, led the candle lighting ceremony together with more than 50 community advocates. Ganados prayed that people find strength in the midst of two ongoing crises — HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

Also, giving their inspirational messages were Dr. Stanley Carrascal of the Department of Health-NCR, Assistant Secretary Rhea Peñaflor of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Dr. Louie Ocampo of Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). 

One of the event’s highlights was the formation of the Red Ribbon video message, which emphasized health as a basic human right. The call was conveyed by various movers in the HIV advocacy, including actress Cherry Pie Picache, Senator Risa Hontiveros, Directors Melvin Lee and RS Santiago, health experts, community leaders, and other influencers.

Also showcasing a free online concert, Light Up’s roster of performers included Katrina Velarde, who sang “Isang Himala,” Nina with “Sunlight,” and 4th Impact with “Hallelujah.” Asia’s Premiere Vocal Harmony Group, The Company performed two songs, “Nandito Pa Rin Tayo” and “Isang Tawag Mo Lang.” Joining performers include Ice Seguerra, Zeus Collins, Anna Ramsey, Phi Palmos, Adrian Lindayag, Addlib Divas, Nicole Asensio, Arman Ferrer, Globe Voices@Work, and drag queen performers. 

Towards the end of the concert, the Light Up My HIV Story photo essay contest winners were announced. Winning the first place was Anthony Louie David with his photo essay entitled: “Unconditional Love.” Kael Mata’s “Salamat HIV” entry took the second spot, and Alliah Nicole Tabarangao Sayo, whose piece was entitled “Think POZitive” got the third place. 

The concert concluded with the exceptional performance by Lea Salonga, Morissette Amon, Jed Madela, Radha, and many more artists singing “Seasons of Love.” The concert gained 36 thousand views just after Light Up streaming has ended. 

Light Up was presented by the Department of Health, The Project Red Ribbon Care Management Foundation, and The LoveYourself, Inc.; sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Camber Pharmaceutical Inc. by Hetero, Cepheid, Champion Community Centers, Frontrow Cares, Macare Medicals, Inc., Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., Premiere Condoms, Teleperformance Philippines, and Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Populations in Asia (SKPA); and supported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, EON Foundation, the National Youth Commission (NYC), Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), PhilHealth, Positibong Marino Philippines, Inc., The Red Whistle, Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines, and UNAIDS.


Text by LoveYourself Communications