In the midst of reeling from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and maneuvering into what can be considered the new normal, LoveYourself never missed the opportunity to celebrate and commemorate ten full years of passion and service as it marked the milestone with LoveYourself X: A Decade of Excellence in Serving the Community.
In 2021, LoveYourselt shifted its focus to address pandemic-related needs, but at the same time reinforced the organization’s efforts to continuously cater to the community’s sexual and reproductive health, trans health, and mental health. Here’s a quick look at the year that passed, right before we usher in a brand new one.
A Year of InTENsified Initiatives
LoveYourself proved unstoppable as it stepped up to help in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Partnering with the Mandaluyong LGU, the organization launched SafetyVax in May. Initially made available to our network of volunteers, partners, and clients, the vaccination services of SafetyVax extended to community members under the allowed priority categories. This truly helped increase the number of vaccinated Filipinos, as we aimed for herd immunity to better manage the pandemic.
The HIV advocacy never took the backseat, as LoveYourself continued to maximize virtual spaces and social media to promote combination prevention. The Safe Spaces Superbuds digital comics launched this year, with the Century Tuna Superbods 2020 finalists bringing to life the colorful artwork of Max Lubansky and Jaypee Fabra. This important project banked on the charm and appeal of the season’s hottest models to educate how different HIV prevention methods may be combined depending on lifestyle and status.
This year also saw the launch of two impactful campaigns. The video campaign #BreakFreePH led by Miss World 2013 Megan Young and Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan focused on inspiring ciswomen and transgender people to fight off the stigma surrounding sexual health and ensure their holistic well-being. The campaign also touched on sexual health, gender-affirming hormone therapy, and women and trans health services under Victoria by LoveYourself community center. Meanwhile, the web series Holding Space: Voices of Hope hosted by Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach featured different individuals who courageously shared their stories of hope and triumph in the continuous fight against the stigma surrounding HIV, transhealth, and mental health.
A Year of ExTENded Empowerment
Events continued to happen online this year, from the annual Pride Month celebration still pushing through. sans the usual mass gatherings, to the Philippine International AIDS Candlelight Memorial which honored not only the lives lost, but also the ones living and continuously fighting for HIV/AIDS–related causes.
2021 also marked the sophomore year of the National HIV Prevention Month, with a sharper focus at combination prevention as well as regional efforts in providing testing and treatment services while pandemic restrictions are ongoing. A key highlight of this year’s NHPM is the availability of free Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to community centers in several parts of the country, and making sure everyone is aware of PrEP, its purpose and accessibility.
The #TuloyPH project also turned two this year, a successful partnership of Flourish by LoveYourself and MentalHealthPH. This year’s #TuloyPH centered on “A Community of Wellness”, and how, even in the challenging times we’re at now, we can still find solace and comfort in the love and compassion of the people around us and the community we belong to.
2021 wasn’t just about extending and carrying out events and projects from the past year. It also marked LoveYourself’s extended reach. In June, we teamed up with the International AIDS Society for the two-day symposium “U Matter: Inspiring a Client-Centered HIV Response in the Philippines and Southeast Asia”. Here, international experts presented upscaling biomedical interventions and key innovations on HIV testing and treatment. In December, meanwhile, in time for World AIDS Day, we announced our expansion of services via Spectrum 2.0, including a new community centers in Baguio, an upcoming center for the Home for the Golden Gays, premium HIV care services via Luxecare sites in Starmall Shaw and Alabang, among others.
A Year of AtTENtion and Recognition
Three new volunteer batches were virtually christened this year—Batches Alab, Aruga, and Kadluan—making our tenth year even more special and remarkable as we reinvigorate our volunteer spirit with fresh new members. We also invaded TikTok this year, making sure our passion and advocacy reaches everyone in this growing platform.
We also handed out a wave of awards and recognitions as we marked the return of the Ripple Awards. We honored individuals for their Ripple of Inspiration, the organizations for their Ripple of Activation, and important projects and initiatives for its Ripple of Innovation. At a time when our advocacy faced unexpected challenges, these individuals, organizations, and projects championed the cause and deserved the accolade.
We come off of these accomplishments and successes as we welcome another year, and move forward to another decade of service, volunteerism, and community. Armed with our undying spirit to dare, care, and share, let’s head on to 2022 filled with eXcitement and aiming for eXcellence.