by Kevin de Vera
April 21, 2019
2018 GM Leadership Awardee
In Daraga, Albay, the GentleMEN Bicol last December 28, 2018 presented with prestige and greatest appreciation, Mr. Jay Angelo ‘Gelo’ Llabore, the Leadership Award for exhibiting strong spirit of volunteerism and leadership in serving the Bicolano community as CBS motivator. This award was presented to him by GM’s member of the Board of Advisers Hon. Board Member Howard Pem Imperial and Dr. Anecia Bailon, with GM President, Mr. Richard Hayag.
Exploring one’s heart to Sexual Health and HIV Advocacy
Jay Angelo ‘Gelo’ Llabore is just like any other common guy, he wakes up in the morning to check his phone before anything else, eats a biscuit or two for breakfast, prepares to go to work, spends the rest of the day at work, goes home, prepares dinner, find time to play Mobile Legends, and goes to sleep. But unlike most common guys, Gelo actually finds time to spend for his advocacy.
Gelo was a leader of a social media group of young people who does meet ups regularly, and yes, that group is actually a ‘clan’. This group goes out partying, drinks for socialization and some times enjoys team building activities.
As a clan leader, he was invited to an HIV advocacy training back in 2017. At first, he thought this was just another group trying to invite members to join them. But after getting to know this group more, it enabled him to open new page in his life, becoming a strong sexual health advocate.
He found a new group where he could worth spend his time. A group he later on get to love as his own. “Sa totoo lang nung nag-conduct ng seminar ang GentlemMEN Bicol akala ko ito ay katulad ng mga seminar na napuntahan - ko yung one time lang at kinalaunan wala na. Pero iba tong GM. May layunin sila na hindi katulad ng ibang grupo na sa simula lang may magandang layunin, at kinalaunan ay wala na - dissolved na ang grupo. Nakita ko yung pamilya sa loob ng grupo. Nakita ko yung magagandang pag-uugali at samahan na ituturing mo na ikalawang pamilya na.”
My Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Super Power is ‘Commitment’
“Yung tipong lahat ng tao ay ang maipapangako ay ang maging mas knowledgeable, hindi lamang yung mga natututunan nila sa paaralan kundi alamin ang kung paano maging ligtas sa anomang sakit na magdudulot ng kasiraan sa buhay ng isang tao”.
Gelo, committed to the service to people, views that learning should be a never ending experience. Through his journey in life as HIV advocate, he learned how important it is for every individual to know their status.
He is a certified community-based screening (CBS) motivator, trained by the Department of Health V last March 2018. From here, he also found out that the life as a volunteer was like his personal battle. “Naging isang ganap na CBS motivator ako. Matapos noong araw na natanggap namin ang certipicate na nagsasabi na kami ay nakapasa sa training, itinanim ko sa sarili ko na ayaw ko masayang ang mga natutunan ko, kaya patuloy ang tulong ko sa aking grupo at mga kapatid sa adbokasiya.”
It is not easy to be a CBS motivator. You will be dealing with real people, with real problems, with real worries, with real feelings, and very real need for someone to talk to. As a peer counselor, peer educator and CBS motivator, Gelo met a lot of people with real issues in their life. Since he started conducting HIV screening as CBS motivator, he met five people whose results were reactive. With his commitment, up until now he continuously provides counseling to them and ensures their identity confidential. He manages it efficiently and professionally. He also assisted his clients to be linked to social services and to the treatment hubs or centers in their respective areas. He could even be called ‘the best CBS motivator in town’, or at least in the province of Albay. Indeed, his SRH super power is ‘Commitment’.
Hurdles along the Way – Challenges Faced and Learned to Work around them
Gelo is faced with many hurdles in his journey as an advocate.
He remembers his first reactive client. It was like “pinagbaksakan ako ng langit at lupa”, as he describes it. For someone who just met his first reactive client, the feeling was just beyond words. On the other hand, this experience taught him the value of time and life. The importance of making best choices for yourself and your family – your loved ones. From here, he puts more effort in his passion to the advocacy. He wants to help as many people possible to know more about HIV and the importance of getting tested. He always finds time to join activities like medical missions with CBS, HIV forum, advocacy campaigns and the like.
Are tattoos really an issue? A question Gelo sometimes ponder on. He got some tattoos on his body, and one visible on his hand, that sometimes becomes an object of prejudice by others. With his tattoos, he feels that some people would question his credibility as a CBS motivator. “Pinagdududahan ako ng mga tao kung talaga bang isa akong CBS motivator at isang advocate – marahil nahuhusgahan ako dahil sa tattoo sa aking kamay”, he expressed. Tattoos has nothing to do with one’s ability and capability. Though he feels being judged, his dedication and the inspiration he gets from his love for his parents kept him going.
As community leader, Gelo to the general public can be a ‘nobody’. But this ‘nobody’ has the heart to reach everybody. He is the kind of person that in every decision he makes, he considers all the possibilities. As an advocate he giv
es his 100% in what he is doing.
“Mahirap magkamali at magdesisyon ng padalosdalos - ako bilang advocate ibinibigay ko ang isang daang porsyento ng kakayahan ko,” he says. This ‘nobody’ has corrected misconceptions about HIV among his peers and family. He even tried to correct wrong and misleading Facebook posts a
bout HIV made by a doctor and a teacher. Imagine, a Gelo trying to correct the statements of a doctor and a teacher. It was like entering a fight and you joined the losing team, still, as much as he could, he corrected misinformation with facts. He proves that he is not just a 'nobody'.
Gelo’s love for the advocacy did not just help his group, but also help himself to learn from his experiences to grow and become a better person. Ultimately, he was able to help people and families in the community he serves. Anybody can be a leader like Gelo. Like him, you just need to know where you heart is... and what your super power is.