TO the best of my recollection, I survived two traumatic events but enjoyed myriads of good times in over 42 years of my sojourn in the Big Apple.

Set forth below are my two bitter memories which I will never forget:

1. My traumatic midnight arrival in New York.

I arrived in New York City on a sizzling night on Aug. 3, 1969, landing at JFK Airport from Los Angeles.

It was nearly midnight, the streets were deserted.

Wobbly from jet lag, I looked around desperately for a familiar face as I lugged along two bulging suitcases.

With $400 in traveler’s checks and some cash in my wallet — my only material possessions as I sauntered into a strange, eerie new world.

But the only two friends in New York who enticed me to leave my homeland with visions of fame and fortune were nowhere to be found.

They conveniently disappeared when they learned that I was coming to New York.

I wrote them months ago, telling them the exact date and time of my arrival but neither bothered to answer which was all the more depressing because one of them is a compadre having stood as a sponsor for my child, a relationship not to be taken lightly in Philippine society.

When it became obvious that no one would turn up, I hauled my heavy suitcases and boarded a Carey bus to Manhattan.

I got off at the old 33rd Street terminal where I hailed a cab and asked to be taken to the YMCA at 34th Street, Westside, wherever that was, which was a stone’s throw away, I found out later.

I was shocked when I found out the YMCA was teeming with junkies!

I did a double take at the first glimpse of a supposedly Christian inn, a queue of long matted haired drug addicts, dressed in psychedelic costumes massed outside the building.

Instead, I asked the cabbie to take me to a hotel a block away.

Cheap, run-down but without the phalanx of shady and menacing characters outside the door.

I was checked in by a black clerk who charged me for a double room.

About $10 to $15.

The room was so spooky it kept me up all night.

Several men and women streamed into the hotel, looking drunk and ready to rough it up.

There were junkies all around — slouched against building walls, filling every nook and cranny, casting ghostly shadows beneath street lights.

There were knocks on the door, loudly demanding I don’t know what — probably a chance to mug, rob or rape me.

How I regretted coming to New York.

I wanted to go home to Manila right then and there.

I spent the evening sitting on the toilet seat cover agonizing over an application form for a writing job in Rochester and wondering what will happen to me next.

When morning came, or so I thought, I went to the reception desk and asked the man there to help me dial a Queens number, to talk to the wife of a co-employee.

She was totally irritated.

She ought to be for, as it turned out, it was only 4 a.m.

At 6 a.m., I was in a cab bound for Elmhurst and relieved that I had survived my first night in New York without a mishap — save for the fact that I hadn’t slept a wink.

I stayed there for a night for she would not take me in because all her boarders are women.

2. Sept. 11, 2001 attack at the World Trade Center.

It was a gorgeous morning on Sept. 11, 2001.

I arrived on the sixth floor office of the Filipino Reporter before 8 a.m. on that fateful day.

Patrick Pelayo came in a few minutes later.

Sept. 11 must be a Tuesday for I started the day by writing my column for the Friday edition about the shenanigan of my second cousin, former governor of Quezon, Eddie Rodriguez, son of Engineer Felimon Rodriguez, chairman of the Board of National Power Corporation.

Two or three paragraphs later of my column, Patrick turned on the television set at the editor’s office.

On the screen, the breaking news flashed about a plane crashing into the first building of the World Trade Center which I surmised must be an accident.

After another 30 minutes, we saw a second plane crash into the second building of the World Trade Center.

An alarm sounded at the Empire State Building and I rushed out to check.

Then I saw several students at the English school on the sixth floor running to escape.

I calmly followed suit by walking down the stairs.

Out in the street at 34th Street, there was pandemonium.

I quickly walked to Madison Avenue and boarded the No. 32 MTA bus to Woodside.

At the Queensborough Bridge, I saw the two buildings of the World Trade Center burning, engulfed in thick smoke.

Many passengers in our bus started panicking since they noticed that the subways were shut down.

At the Queensborough Plaza our bus stopped and unloaded all passengers.

From Queensborough Plaza, I walked for more than two hours to Woodside.

Many days and months later after the Sept. 11 attack, we were all prisoners in a wounded city.

Sept. 11 is an infamous day which all Americans and people of goodwill will never forget.

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