'WARD 448': Debunking the HIV stigma, sowing compassion and understanding, giving information

Director Rodel Mercado (seated, third from left) with the cast of 'Ward: 448' (Carissa Alcantara) 

Written and directed by Rodel Mercado, ''Ward: 448'' features a trilogy of stories of individuals that have HIV affliction. 

The play depicts the fight or flight response of persons infected with this devastating and life-threatening disease and how discrimination, ignorance, and stigma exacerbate the predicament of the person with HIV. 

During an intimate press conference for the play at the Frontline Production & Training Development Inc. Malate, Manila, Rodel shared the significance of creating "Ward: 448." 

"We want to educate people, ang pag-alis ng stigma ay nagsisimula sa bahay at eskwelahan. That's the reason why our play, nung sinusulat ko ito pinag-isipan ko kung kaninong perspective ba ito? Kaya I decided na gawin perspective ito ng may sakit, ano yung pinagdadaanan nila sa loob," Director Rodel mentioned. 

He also shared that one of his inspirations for writing and directing the play came from his former stage manager, who died because of HIV. 

The three-part play will feature three main characters namely, Carla Mae played by Anna Escobia, and Justine Toralba. Kevin played by Kevin Posadas, Vi Mendoza, and Rey Correjado. Lastly, Francis played by Ronnie Martinez and Roeder Camanag.

"Ward: 448" tends to serve as an intervention program to shine a spotlight on the shadows of mistaken ideas about HIV/AIDS. Focusing on the difficulties patients with HIV have to deal with in order to survive and blend in with society. 

According to Rodel, he wants his play to show the reality of what HIV can do to a person, despite having a life-threatening disease that a person can still live a normal and happy life with the people that matter the most. 

"Ward: 448" will be having its debut at the RCBC Theater on Oct. 29 and 30. (Carissa Alcantara)