By Isabella O. Orteza, Φ2021, Class 2025
On September 18, the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority successfully held EmpoweRED: An HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, which has been an annual event since its establishment in 2014. Similar to last year’s event, the series of talks were made available to high school students in Metro Manila via an online webinar using both Zoom and Facebook Live.
Ever since this event was transferred to an online platform due to the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sorority has fortunately been able to find a silver lining despite all circumstances. Specifically, for the past two online webinars, we have invited many more students and partners as compared to the previous events held in person at certain high schools, which notably increased the impact of this advocacy. This year alone, reaching over 400 live participants, the Sorority partnered up with 13 high schools and 22 organizations to bring EmpoweRED to life.
The Sorority invited 4 keynote speakers, namely: Dr. Winlove P. Mojica, Ma’am Elena Felix, Sir Ryan de Torres, and Ma’am Irene Quilantang. Dr. Mojica has been a consistent speaker for EmpoweRED for several years now, as he strongly advocates to normalize conversations about HIV/AIDS, which is still a taboo topic for many families in the Philippines. As always, he effectively educated the young audience by debunking common myths on HIV and by further elucidating on the science and reality behind the disease.
Ma’am Elena has also been a consistent speaker that we are so fortunate to have at EmpoweRED, especially since she sits at the frontlines for this cause as a vigorous activist for her community. Having HIV herself, she inspired the audience to really put words into actions by sharing about her arduous personal journey as she battled for her physical health while she also faced the cruel realities behind the stigma.
Sir Ryan, on the other hand, shared clear and excellent points on what steps one must take when he/she might have HIV, from getting tested all the way to following the schedule of treatment. Lastly, Ma’am Irene left the audience with important take-home messages as she further stressed on what the youth can do to help address this issue in their own homes and communities.