Note: The following letter was first poasted on the SEA-AIDS list on March 31, 1998, by Ms. Susan Paxton, Human Rights Convenor at APN+, Thailand. We thank her for giving her permission to reproduce her letter here.
Marife was a very gentle, bright, loving, reserved and intelligent young woman whose drive and determination set her apart. The oldest child in her family, she had excelled academically during her schooling. On diagnosis, however, she experienced a great loss of self esteem. This ultimately fuelled her activism. In 1994 she went public on television because she wanted to give a message of compassion to people living with the virus.
"I felt that I have some skills. People with AIDS in the Philippines need to be represented and they were not skilled or prepared. And who was going to do it, and when? So I feel pressured to do it because I want to do something. We should make change, create change. Not for personal benefit, but for people infected and affected. And with the small thing that I began, we can create many good things. They should see us as part of the solution. They should see our involvement as vital." (Marife, April 1997)
In 1996 she co-ordinated a collaborative project between APN+ and UNAIDS which included a needs assessment of positive people in the region. Marife was based in Bangkok and she found the experience exhilarating as well as somewhat intimidating. Being one of the first outspoken positive Asian women to work in the international AIDS field at times she felt overwhelmed by the position in which she found herself. In October last year Marife was elected as one of the two regional representatives onto the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. For Marife, this was a great privilege and a position she had hoped to put a great deal of energy into. At the time of the election she became ill with PCP. Whilst recovering in hospital she contracted TB and did not respond to medication.
Dear little sister we thank you for your unique contribution to the region.
We miss you so very much.
Q2: Describe Marife's youth.
Q3: What drove her to go on public television?
Q4: What positions did she achieve?
Q5: Are there many people like Marife here in Japan?
** What advice can you give to PWAs in Japan?
** What advice can you give to people who support PWAs here in Japan?