Acclaimed and best-selling author Segundo Matias, Jr. has recently launched his new book under Lampara Publishing House. Dubbed Mga Batang Poz, Matias’ latest foray into pop culture lit is an emotionally gripping account of four teenagers afflicted with HIV-AIDS. The story grows in poignancy as the characters reveal something about their lives throughout the journey, finding comfort and solace in each other’s harrowing experiences and in return, helping them realize the beauty of life and friendship underneath the suffering.
Mga Batang Poz is the first Young Adult novel about HIV-AIDS in the Philippines, and a game-changer in the literary front as it singlehandedly confronts misconceptions about the disease. It marks an important step forward in understanding the lives of People living with HIV-AIDS, exploring in greater depth the characters’ lives in the age of social media and dating app hookups.
The author considers the book as a personal advocacy to educate young readers about the stigma and discrimination against HIV-AIDS and at the same time, raise sexual health awareness affecting the LGBTQ community at large. “Nilalayon ng proyektong ito na makatulong upang unawain ang kultura ng kabataang miyembro ng LGBT, wakasan ang homophobia, at itigil ang stigma sa mga positibo sa HIV.” Matias adds, “Pangunahing nilalayon nito ang makatulong sa kamulatan hinggil sa Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) at Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), sang-ayon sa mga bagong pananaliksik at estadistika ng Department of Health.”
So far, the reception about Segundo Matias, Jr.’s Mga Batang Poz has been overwhelmingly positive, with key figures in the literary community praising the book for its provocative and emotionally compelling narrative. Award-winning screenwriter Ricky Lee in particular, enjoyed the book for its incisive storytelling. “Bawat pahina ng Batang Poz ay patalim na humihiwa sa ating kamalayan, ginigising tayo sa katotohanan na sa tuwing may kabataang nagkakaroon ng HIV o namamatay, kasangkot tayo.” Filmmaker and producer Chris Martinez praised the novel for keeping readers on the edge of their seats: “Hindi ko mabitawan,” the Ang Babae sa Septic Tank director recounts his experience reading the novel. “Tinapos ko sa isang upuan. Masakit na masarap basahin ang nobelang ito.” Kilometer Zero author Wilfredo Pascual also waxed poetic about the author and his latest offering. “Segundo Matias, Jr. is a bold writer. In confronting the alarming rate of HIV infection in the country, he zeroes in on youth and social media, young lives about to break into pieces. He lays bare the various shadings of recklessness, the unexpected comfort, the terror, the rage, and the desire to find true connections and real bliss.”
Palanca-awardee Segundo Matias, Jr. recently launched Mga Batang Poz last September 28, 2018 at the Precious Events Center, Quezon City. The event provided a platform to promote HIV awareness and prevention among MSM and other high-risk segments of society.
An expert in telling stories targeted to a younger demographic, Matias wrote Mga Batang Poz as part of his graduate thesis in University of the Philippines Diliman, where he is determined to come up with a Young Adult novel tackling a highly controversial subject that a lot of people are afraid to discuss in public.