“Nag-positive po ako sa COVID-19,”
That is how transgender comedian and actress Iyah Mina began her recent vlog posted last Thursday, October 15.
“Kung mapapansin niyo ’yong mga [recent] post ko sa YouTube is solo, mag-isa lagi, dahil inisolate ko ’yong sarili ko, home quarantine for almost two weeks mahigit,” she told her viewers.
Iyah also veered away from posting on her social media accounts about her feelings about testing positive, opting to post her make-up selfies and late uploads to hide the news.
“Kinept ko ’yong privacy na ’yun for myself and hindi ko siya kayang i-share that’s because ayokong mag-alala din ’yong lahat sa akin,” she said. “Sa katotohanan niyan, hindi ko rin sinabi sa magulang ko at saka sa kapatid ko kasi ayoko sila ma-stress.”
It all started when television roles and guestings were given to Iyah, forcing her to always go out of the house to do work.
With production protocol having celebrities take swab tests before taping, Iyah took her third swab test and was shocked the next day to find out that she is COVID-19 positive.
“’Yong araw na ’yon, ang aga-aga kong nagising because of the call. Nai-stress ako, alam mo ’yon?” she said. “So, tinananong ko pa kung ’di kaya na-contaminate ’yong result kasi wala naman akong nararamdaman. Wala akong sakit, hindi ako inubo, nilagnat, sinipon, nawalan ng panlasa, wala eh. Wala lahat, so okay ako.”
“Pero nung nalaman ko siya, bigla akong nanghina. ’Yong doon mo na nararamdaman ’yong mga dapat ’di mo naman nararamdaman,” she added. “Na-i-stress ako. Sobrang na-istress ako, overthinking like that.”
She immediately told her friends and, eventually, barangay officials found out and went to her house to ask how she was doing and offered free swab tests to her friends.
Upon learning about being positive, officials told her that she should transfer to a facility.
“Parang hindi ko kaya. Baka mas lalo akong ma-stress,” Iyah said. “So, tumawag ’yong doktor [at] in-explain ko na I can handle by myself. I can stay at home.”
Iyah self-isolated at home, all alone. Although, she was helped by her friends, collectively known as Team Compound, by buying her groceries, as she lost her job because of the disease.
“Ilang araw ng kakaisip [ng] kakaisip, mag-isa ka lang gigising, tas ang kausap mo virtually. Pero, okay ’yon kasi nakakagaan ng loob,” she recalled.
Upon finding out all her friends tested negative, Iyah was thankful, but thoughts started running through her head.
“Ako lang may problema. Bakit ganun?” she asked herself. “Wala naman akong sakit, wala akong nararamdaman. Magkakasakit ba ako kakaisip? Parang andoon [na ako sa] point na ’yon.”
“Iniisip ako [na] nawalan ako ng work, wala akong pagkakakitaan pero kaya ko ’to,” she added. “Lakas ko rin sa Panginoon, alam mo. Kung nag-positive man ako, at least ito, ’yong ganito lang, wala akong nagpaparamdam kaya nagpapasalamat ako.”
Before her quarantine period was up, Iyah was offered to do an antigen swab test to check if she is still positive for COVID-19.
“And then, it turns out na negative,” she proudly announced. “So, wala nga. So, kinabukasan, tinawagan ako ng doctor [at sinabi niya na] kailangan mo ng pumunta doon sa [...] magpa-test for antibody naman.”
Her antibody swab test turned out negative, as well, and she recalled thanking the Lord for allowing her to be healthy again.
“Nakakapraning siya, hindi siya biro. Kahit sino pwedeng tamaan nito,” she described.
However, Iyah faced another problem when one barangay official spread her identity and result of being COVID-19 positive.
“Na-bother ako doon kasi parang pinagdidirihan ka ng tao sa lugar namin. Eh, may diskriminasyon na rin [pero] hindi naman ako na-hospitalize, wala namang nangyari sa aking masama,” she said.
Iyah had already written a letter to the barangay so they could file an immediate action towards the official who breached confidentiality about Iyah’s results.
“Pero hindi ko naman maisip magsampa ng kaso or something. Wala namang ganun,” she noted. “Pero I’m so thankful lang na okay ako. Nagpapasalamat lang ako sa mga friends ko. Sorry kung hindi ako nag-post or pinaalam sa lahat kasi I don’t worry anyone.”
“I’m okay. Umiiyak lang ako kasi tears of joy. Salamat, Panginoon. Thank you na I’m safe, I’m okay. Grabe, grabe. Salamat talaga,” she added.
She, however, expressed regret that she did not tell her parents early on, out of concern that she might stress them out.
“Matatanda na sila, eh. Ayoko silang mag-isip,” she said. “Pero bago ko gawin ’yong vlog na ’to eh nasabi ko na sa kanila, pati si ate ko. Nothing to worry.”
“Pero mabigat sa dibdib lang noong time na ’yon. Hindi ko sinasagot ’yong tawag ng nanay ko, ng tatay ko. Nag-isip ko na iniisip nila na ‘Ah, busy si Iyah. Baka may work, baka may taping, guestings.’ ganoon. Gusto ko lang mag-sorry sa kanila.” she tearfully added.
She concluded her vlog by saying she is finally recovered from COVID-19 and declared she wanted to go back to work to help her family.
“Laban tayo, guys. Lumaban tayo. Mag-ingat lalo,” she said. “Ingat lang tayo. Manalig tayo sa Panginoon kasi nandiyan siya to guide us. [...] Happy lang ako for the results. Salamat po talaga, Lord. Thank you.”
And now that she is negative from COVID-19, Iyah vows to make videos with her friends, whom she misses so much.
“Please support me to my journey sa YouTube at kung saan man, dahil na-cancel na ang mga shows natin. Sana maibalik pero okay lang. Sabi nga nila ’pag may nawala, may mas darating na bago at mas bongga. Siksik, liglig, umaapaw. Thank you. I love you all. Salamat po!” she said.
By Friday, October 16, Iyah posted a touching and supportive message from her friend, comedian-host Vice Ganda, who was emotional while watching her video and offered her help just to see her be fine.
“Madaming nagtatanong lagi sa mga messages ko.. Diba close kayo diba ganito,” Iyah wrote in the caption. “Hindi kasi ako pala message saknya at nahihiya ako.. never akong humingi ng pabor saknya. Pinaiyak mo ko kagabi.”
[G]rabe tong pinaramdam sakin [ngayon] ni Meme. Kahit di na kami nagkikita eh Mahal nia parin ako..Mahal din kita Meme.. Salamat po ng Marami Meme Vice..” she added.
Madaming nagtatanong lagi sa mga messages ko.. Diba close kayo diba ganito blah blah blah..... Hindi kasi ako pala message saknya at nahihiya ako.. never akong humingi ng pabor saknya.. Pinaiyak mo ko kagabi.. Pero grabe tong pinaramdam sakin ngyon ni Meme.Kahit d n kami nagkikita eh Mahal nia parin ako.. Mahal din kita Meme.. Salamat po ng Marami Meme Vice..@praybeytbenjamin . Sa mga nagtatanong kung kamusta ako... Okay na po ako... Negative na po lahat sa tulong ng Panginoon....Salamat sa mga nagalala..nagsend ng virtual hugs,messages comments I LOVE YOU ALL.....
Iyah has been one of the primary figures of the comedy bar scene in the Philippines.
She is also best known for her lead role in the 2018 Cinema One Originals film festival entry Mamu, And A Mother Too where she portrayed an aging transgender sex worker who takes care of her transgender niece after her sister’s death.
On the awards night for the aforementioned film festival, Iyah made history by becoming the first transgender to bag a top actress award in an annual film festival, winning Best Actress for her role in the film.
We are glad to know you are recovering, Iyah! Stay safe.