The Charleston that I remember

I spent more time in Charleston than under the Atlantic Ocean, so this observation is more than a limited periscope view. This historic town is well preserved, classic as Gone With the Wind.  Fort Sumter faces the Battery Park, but in the heart is the Market Place, where the only surviving building  is about human exchange.

Now a museum, it is the slave auction gallery where the black slaves were auctioned  fresh from the port more than hundred years ago.  It is estimated that over a third of African slaves came through the port of Charleston.

The main street is King Street, where the City Library provided good reading; mostly the sports pages about Roman Gabriel.  The street parallels Meeting street and both run to North, toward the Charleston Navy Shipyard. I drove down it many times, crossing the railroad track, near Calhoun Street where the racist Dylann Rowe shot the church goers. The rail crosses King and Meeting street. The great divide, the proverbial saying “born in the wrong side of the tracks.”  North of the line was the dodgy slum were the black community lived.  Farther north, the Navy Liberty town, Reynold street, drunk sailors would strolled every night from bars and taverns catering to the Navy Main gate.  I was there when racial segregation manifested into the anti-miscegenation laws. Filipino sailors could not marry whites, or even shack up with one. Live together in a trailer and you will get a visit from the vice squad. I found it interesting that some Filipinos would go to North Carolina to marry their white girls, since they had different  anti-miscegenation law for Filipinos after WWII. It might be the loophole that the father of Roman Gabriel found.  He married an Irish girl and settled in Wilmington, NC where Roman grew up and became All-American.

The H.L. Hunley was a Confederate submarine that played a minor role in the US Civil War, but she demonstrated the advantages and the dangers of undersea warfare.  She was sunk in Charleston harbor where she remains.  After I left the submarine force, Hunley was salvaged. It is now on display on the north of Charleston not as Confederate triumph, but She was the first combat to sink a warship that change naval warfare.  As segregation law changes, for some the culture might remain. I was surprised when I met an African American.  When he told me that he graduated from Citadel, I immediately asked if he was the first black cadet. The Lilly-white military school in Charleston was the West Point of the South.  I remember the Cadets; they were all white; I hate it most for they had the great advantage in pursuing the southern lass 😉

Charleston is city of Rivers, it fuels the economy around it.  Southern politics learned after reconstruction to send the same representative to bring home porky bacon. Mindel Rivers became one of the most powerful men in Washington.   He was re-elected multiple times, eventually gaining the chairman of the Armed Forces appropriation. Nuclear submarine flotilla turned the city into a military-industrial complex.  The Southern Democrat Party that once controlled  the house now had their fortunes reversed.  Mindel Rivers had the makings of the perpetual drunken sailor, friend of the military, but an ardent segregationist of his time.

Rizal and the dog inside the execution photo 12/30/1896

Focus on the sitting dog in the middle of the picture of the December 30, 1896 execution.  An eye ball account from a 20 year old witness, “Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a small dog appeared and ran in circles around Rizal’s fallen body, barking and whimpering. (This incident would much later be the subject of our talk in our quarters. To some of my comrades, it was an omen of a coming misfortune.)”
This is more than interesting trivia to me. The unleashed dog awakens the sleeping Filipino nation. barking and brewing the historical revolution in the cradle. Hilarion Martinez’s narration was published in the Sunday Times Magazine on December 25, 1949 when he was already 72 years old.
Another enhanced version:

“Then suddenly, as if if from nowhere, a small dog appeared and ran in circles around the body of Rizal, barking and whimpering. The Capitan Militar de Sanidad, or medical officer, knelt before the fallen man, and felt his pulse. Looking up, the medical officer beckoned a member of the firing squad to come forward and give the body the ‘tiro de gracia’: a shot done at close range. I thought I saw a faint haze rise from Rizal’s coat, but it might have been a wisp of morning mist. Seeing the body before me, I felt faint. I wanted to see the face of the man for the last time. Rizal lay dead on the dewy grass. The day had started and little- did I realise that I was gazing on the face of the greatest malayan of them all, that I was witnessing history in the making.”

“When I saw him. I know he was Jose Rizal. He was of regular built, unshaven and quite pale perhaps on account of his confinement, but was visibly composed and serene. Amidst the silence, Rizal began to move his head very slowly up and down, his lips moving as if in prayer. Then the commanding officer, by means of means of a saber, signalled the firing squad to aim. The saber dropped and there was a simultaneous crackle of rifle-fire. Jose Rizal wheeled in one last effort and toppled forward with a thud;his face turned toward the sky and his derby hat thrown forward. He fell facing the bay.”

What exactly immediately happened with the body of Rizal that day reminded me of José Martí (1853-1895), the Cuban patriot. Just one year earlier,May 19, 1896,  he was killed in the battle against Spanish troops at the Battle of Dos Ríos,  The Spanish took possession of the body, buried it close by, then exhumed the body upon realization of its omen. They are said not to have burned him because they were scared that the ashes would get into their throats and asphyxiate them. He is buried in Cementerio Santa Efigenia in Santiago de Cuba. Many have argued that Maceo and others had always spurned Martí for never participating in combat, which may have compelled Martí to that ill-fated suicidal two-man charge. Some of his Versos sencillos bore premonition: “No me entierren en lo oscuro/ A morir como un traidor/ Yo soy bueno y como bueno/ Moriré de cara al sol.” (“Do not bury me in darkness / to die like a traitor / I am good, and as a good man / I will die facing the sun.”) Maybe the two Masons compared notes on May 1888 when the two were in Manhattan.
Hilarion Martinez’s complete account at the age of 72 of Bagumbayan Field:

“It was six o’clock in the morning of December 30, 1896, when we woke up at our quarters at the corner of Sta. Potenciana and Magallanes Streets, in Intramuros, to attend the execution of Jose Rizal, about which we had already been briefed the day before. We were theLeales Voluntarios de Manila, a semi-military organization under the command of Capt. Manuel Leaño. Our immediate officer was a youthful Spanish lieutenant named Juan Pereira. I was twenty years old then, and a member of the drum corps.

We marched out of Intramuros through the Puerta Real, or where Nozaleda (now General Luna) Street out through the walls on the south, clad in our camamo uniforms and with our cajas vivas(or drums) strapped around our waists. We proceeded to what is now Padre Burgos Street, under an overcast sky and in a chilling December morn.

As we rounded the corner of P. Burgos and General Luna Streets, we got a glimpse of thecuadro, a square formation of about ten companies of Filipino and Spanish soldiers. The former occupied the inner portion of the quadrangle, while the latter were at the rear. This formation was strategic because the Filipino soldiers’ position with-in the cuadros ignified that the Spanish authorities wanted Rizal to die in the hands of the Filipino soldiers. If the latter disobeyed the command to fire upon Rizal, the Spanish soldiers positioned at the rear would fire upon them.

There were civilian spectators, too. The side of the cuadronear the bay was open.

As we approached the quadrangle, we saw some Spanish military officers earnestly talking in low voices. Rizal was not yet anywhere to be seen. Not having had a glimpse of the man before, I began to wonder what he looked like. I remembered what my mother had told me about Rizal: that he was so learned that he could not be poisoned by anybody because he always carried with him his own spoon and fork, by means whereof he could detect whether his food was poisoned or not; that many other legends had started to be woven around him; and that he was fighting for the cause of his country and countrymen.

Soon the small crowd heard the muffle sound of our approaching vivas(or drums) draped with black cloth during execution ceremonies. A slight commotion broke out at the right end of the cuadronear the bay as some soldiers with fixed bayonets entered, followed by a man in black suit, his elbows tied from the back, on his head achistera(or black derby hat), on one side a Spanish officer and on the other a Jesuit priest.

When I saw the man, I knew he was Rizal.

A group of Spanish officers who were standing nearby opened into amedia luna(i.e., a semicircular formation). Then a Spaniard (we would learn later he was Lt. Luis Andrade, one of Rizal’s popular Spanish defenders and sympathizers) affectionately shook the latter’s hand. When Rizal was near the center of the quadrangle, themayor de la plaza, a colonel, announced at the bandillo:‘En el nombre del Rey, el que se levante la voz a favor del reo sera ejecutado’(In the name of the King, he who raises his voice in fovor of the criminal will be executed).

A deep silence enshrouded the whole assembly.

The commanding officer accosted us and gave us this injunction: ‘Should Rizal attempt to speak aloud, beat your drums so hard as to drown his voice’.

I looked at Rizal. He was regularly built, unshaven, and quite pale, perhaps as a result of his detention. But he was visibly composed and serene. A Jesuit priest approached him, prayed, and blessed him.

Then a colonel approached Rizal likewise, as the commanding officer ordered us to move two paces backwards. The firing squad, composed of six Filipinos, came forward and took our former position behind Rizal.

I saw Rizal exert effort to raise his right hand, which was tied at the elbow, and take off his chistera.” (the darby hat)

My heart beat fast, and as in all other executions I had witnessed before, I felt tense and nervous. Amid the silence, I saw Rizal move his head very slowly up and down, his lips moving as if he was praying.

Then the commanding officer raised his saber – a signal for the firing squad to aim. Then he dropped his saber to a fuego position. The simultaneous crack of rifle-fire shattered the stillness of the morning. Jose Rizal exerted one last effort to face his executioners and toppled down with a thud, his face towards the sky and his derby hat thrown ahead. He fell dead at his feet in the direction of the bay.

Many of the reos or offenders had been caused to kneel and be hoodwinked before they were shot on the head. But Rizal was spared that humiliation.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a small dog appeared and ran in circles around Rizal’s fallen body, barking and whimpering. (This incident would much later be the subject of our talk in our quarters. To some of my comrades, it was an omen of a coming misfortune.)

Then the capitan militar de la sanidad (i.e., medical officer) stepped forward, knelt before the fallen man, and felt his pulse. Looking up, he beckoned to a member of the firing squad to come forward and give the final tiro de gracia (i.e., another close-range shot to the heart), probably to ensure that Rizal could not come up with the miracle of life anymore. I thought I saw a faint haze from Rizal’s coat, but it might have been a wisp of morning mist. Seeing the body of the fallen Rizal in front of me, I felt very weak.

The officers began to show animation again. They fell in formation and marched to the tune of the Spanish national air, the paso doble Marcha de Cadiz.

As in previous executions, we members of the drum corps filed past the body to view it for the last time. When I heard to command “Eyes left”, I did not shut my eyes as I had done at the sight of the several roes whose heads were blown off by rifle-fire. I really wanted to take a close look at the man one last time. He lay dead on the dewy grass. The day had already progressed, and little did I realize then that I was gazing at the face of the greatest Malayan, and that I was witnessing history of in making.”

Hilarion Martinez was, indeed, lucky to have lived in historic times. He subsequently joined the Philippine Revolution. During the Filipino-American War, he was a member of the “Batallon de Manila” under General Pantaleon Garcia and Col. Rosendo Simon. He distinguished himself in several engagements, so that he was promoted later to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. In an assault on the American cavalry stationed in the church of Tondo, he was captured and imprisoned for about eight months in Intramuros and later in Cavite, where he was released shortly after the cessation of hostilities.

Pinoy in the War of 1812

This nation is celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 – the war that inspired the Star Spangled Banner and echoed the climatic volley of cannon fire and ringing chimes, the 1812 Overture.   The US was a young boot nation on a protracted revolution matching up against the daunting British Royal Navy, the most powerful sea power of the era.  But, equally daunting is to have a Filipino serving in the War of 1812.
 The decisive battle of New Orleans actually happened in the swampy St Bernard parish. A large British fleet had anchored in the Gulf of Mexico to the east of Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borne. Defending the US was a ragtag military of slaves, free black militia, creoles, Choctaw Indians and band of pirates and sailors. A separate legend would be passed on among the various ethnic lines. One the stories of Filipinos fighting against the British invasion were about the early Filipino strugglers from St.Bernard Parish.
 This would remain apocryphal until Agustin Feliciano came to my radar.  Over a hundred years ago, a Filipino student magazine based in Washington DC received a strange letter from New Orleans.  “The Largest Colony of Filipinos in America”, The Filipino, March 1906, pp.19-20.
“We received a subscription from a Filipino living in New Orleans, and as we did not know there were any Filipinos in the southern part of this country, we were very much surprised, and wrote to him, asking that he send us some details concerning himself and any other Filipinos that there might be in his neighborhood. The Filipino whom we addressed was Mr. Eulogio Yatar, and he sent us some most astonishing news; in fact, we feel almost as the ethnologist does who discovers a new race of people, for we find that there is a colony of 2,000 Filipinos in that Queen City in the South.”
This community had been established for about a hundred years; the first one who landed there being a Bikol by the name of Augustin Feliciano, who later served in the American navy in the war of 1812.
Filipino sailors landing in New Orleans can be traced as far as 1763, but we are only all familiar with Filipe Mardriaga and the Burtanog Sisters. Felipe married an Irish girl, Bridgette Nugent. One of their three daughters Elizabeth, born in June 1857, married Valeriano Baltic Borabod. This couple’s second daughter, Othelia Lilian Borabod, was born on Jan 7, 1881. Eulogio L Yatar was born on Dec 7 1877 in Malinao, Capiz and moved to New Orleans where he married Othelia. Rhonda Fox,a 6th generation of the Madriaga family and now the mantle of historian connected us to Eulogio Yatar, died on 1928 and was buried at the  Yatar Family Crypt, St Vincent Cemetery No.2.
The War of 1812 is more than the classic overtone, it is the rise of the United States Navy around the world. It inspired Teddy Roosevelt’s Naval War of 1812 and changed the course of history, he was probably thinking about Manila Bay already.  Alex Fabros calls Agustin Feliciano, the first Filipino in the US Navy.  On the lull of the thundering 1812 overtones, we can hear the name of Agustin Feliciano, the Bicolano in the bayous of this bicentennial year.

Taking Liberty with Rizal – Valentine’s Edition

Navy Liberty in the French Riviera is among the best I have experienced. I remember going there when Cannes was still unknown, nor the place called Villefrance, after DeGaulle pulled out of NATO because of France’s love and hate against the United States. One summertime, I looked up the periscope from Gulf Juan, scanning the beach and my usual taking Liberty with our hero and the French Connection and the love songs of  Whitney Houston. Elevating the Periscope I can see the train running on the mountain side and rewinding back my memory, many summers ago.
On July 1, 1887, Rizal rode the train along the French Riviera from his Italian journey and was treated with much amiability by an American couple who invited him several times to dine and drink with them
They brought fruits for Rizal before saying good bye in Monaco. “. . . aboard the train from Marseilles; he (Rizal) swears he will never forget the American couple on the Euro rail to Monaco. The man, a banker, was nondescript’ but his wife had blue eyes and ‘ a smile as chaste as a Christian virgin’s’. One thing he had not lost was his eye for the girls.  As Leon Guerero (First Filipino) would later write:
“We shall hardly see each other again,” Rizal said when they parted.
“Who knows?” the Christian virgin replied. “I should certainly hope so.”
“I am in the hands of fate.”
“Really? I believe it, “she said, and waved to him as the train pulled out.
Rizal was never lost in the words of Shakespeare, but he was merely smitten in brief passing fascination. He  was on his way home to the Philippines to his childhood sweet heart, Leonor Rivera  the real life Maria Clara of his novel but more of Shakespeare ‘s Romeo and  Juliet tragedy .  She prevented Rizal from falling in love with strangers in his travels.  Rizal was coming home to reclaim the love of his life.
Unfortunately, the affair was doomed in the very beginning. He was boarding in his uncle’s house in Intramuros just starting college,  when he met just the  11 years old Eleonor. She was a “pretty woman with a high forehead, soft and wavy hair, almond eyes, small and pensive mouth, and engaging dimples. She was described as a talented, mature, and intelligent lady. She played harp and piano and had a charming voice. She could write and read Spanish. The puppy love blossomed into secret love letters written in different languages including English.  Hidden communications because Leonor’s mother was against Leonor pen pal lover. Friendly spies of Rizal informed of her activities from Camiling to Dagupan.  They were also distant cousins.
Rizal went back to Manila via Suez Canal on August 3, 1887. He tried visiting Leonor; but his parents did not allow him to go to Dagupan.  By then travel to Dagupan was on the fast track, but without a word of anger or even a protest, he bowed his head and said, “Very well, father, I will not go.”
A year later, Rizal, the fugitive his country, was on his way to America. The American lady in Marseilles closer, but just distant memories on his long railroad travel from San Francisco to New York.
Leonor  immortalized in Noli Me Tangere made Rizal the subversive in the eyes of Spanish authority. The mother fearing safety succeeded in convincing her daughter to forget the young Bohemian rebel. Some wrote that the mother even persuaded Eleonor that Rizal was only interested in Dr Blumentritt daughter. Leonor was forced to marry Henry Kipping, an English engineer working on the Manila railroad to Dagupan. She agreed and she would never sing again for her mother. The engagement broke Rizal heart on the chugging sound of locomotion, the pair of a long iron tracks always abreast, reaching final station would  never touch. The greatest love was on the wrong track, Noli Me Tangere always on an arm’s length.
 Rizal wrote to his friend Blumentritt, “The first hammer-blow in the railway has fallen on me!”
He had political explanation; “I do not blame her for preferring Englishman is a free man, and I am not.”
A year later, Rizal, the fugitive his country, was on his way to America in 1888. The American lady in Marseilles just  distant memories on his long railroad travel from San Francisco to New York. He saw the beautiful statue in the harbor, the gifted  Lady Liberty from France. The lady became the symbol of freedom and liberty.
Rizal boarded across the Madison Square Park. He has a view of the famous MSG before it moved uptown at 34th Street.  The lover was not only genius but possessed legendary physical prowess.
Maybe his athletic attributes could be enough to play the point guard for the Knickerbockers.   😉

Dr. Jose Rizal: Liberty in New York City

The Statue of Liberty in the Hudson River greeted our Navy ship to New York City fifty years ago.  My eyes eagerly scanned the New York skyline as I was waiting for the Liberty Call announcement.  The panoramic view from the water was incredible, I would swap it to a view of the water as I stepped ashore, Liberty Call, Liberty Call…..
Manhattan Island is a liberty paradise for any sailor. In just few hours, I would be staring at the bottom of my beer glass, feeling refreshed, a common experience for sailors after few days at sea.  A few more glasses were enough to rewind my memory back to another time in the same zone.  “Bottoms up” easily put me in the mode for taking more liberty of my past life.
Over a century ago in the spring of 1888, Lady Liberty first stood on the harbor, joining the Brooklyn Bridge as an icon of New York.  I met Dr Jose Rizal on my liberty tour in Mid-Manhattan.  Other icons I encountered include the first equestrian George Washington monument historic in Union Square in 1856 and another statue located in Greenwich Village.  These were part of the landscape near Madison Square Park where Rizal lived.
Rizal said: “Was in New York; big town, but there everything is new. I visited some memorials to Washington, the great man who, I think, has no equal in this century.”
I was surprised to hear his admiration to the revolutionary George Washington rather than Jefferson. Rizal would distance himself from violent revolutions. Rizal has many gifts however; he supplemented his numerous writings with almost instamatic sketches of the places he visited. At the time, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and became the longest suspension bridge in the world.  The architecture remains a marvelous sight in East cityscape. Charles Adams Platt, a prominent NY etcher, painted the Bridge in 1888, but I have been looking for the copy of the rough sketches by Jose Rizal.  It took me years, and I finally found a copy of his sketch.
I sober up as I saw the Gothic twin towers and steel suspension cable. I drove over this bridge many times as I lived in Brooklyn  later in my life. It is the same as it was when Rizal left in New York onboard the City of Rome, the Titanic ocean steamer of the 1880s.
The portrait is worth thousands of words without language to understand or speak. “The City of Rome” is said to be the second largest ship in the world. On board the ship they published a periodical at the end of the voyage. “There I became acquainted with many people, and as I carried a yo-yo with me, the Europeans and Americans were astonished to see how I could use it as a weapon of offense. . . I was able to speak to all of them and understand them in their own languages.”

He has many gifts, and I was fortunate to have his company on my Cinderella Liberty excursion in the Big Apple. There will be more port of calls, let me share it with you.

Lady Liberty 125th & Rizal 150th Anniversary

On an island on the entrance of the New York Harbor stood the copper colossus that celebrated its 125th anniversary last Friday, October 28th. The towering Lady Liberty is the symbol of America, she is score and five years younger than Dr Jose Rizal. An estimated 3.5 million people visit Liberty Island every year. On average, 204 people climb to the crown of the mother of exiles every day.
On this 150th Rizal anniversary, he wrote his date with the famous lady.
We left New York on 16 May 1888, Wednesday, at 9:30 in the morning. The crowd waved white handkerchiefs, mingling with the numerous red ribbons of the hats and neckties. Some were crying. We saw the Brooklyn Bridge. The Statue of Liberty rises majestically on the island. It produces a most beautiful effect. Many passengers came on board.
Few days earlier, Saturday, May 12.On board train from Chicago he wrote, We shall arrive at the English territory in the afternoon, and we shall soon see Niagara Falls. We stop for some time to see the points that are beautiful; we went at the side below the Falls; I was between two rocks and this is the greatest cascade I ever saw. It is not, so beautiful nor so fine as the fall at Los Banos; but much bigger, more imposing and could not be compared with it. The cascade has various falls, various parts. We left the place at night. There is a mysterious sound and persistent echo.
Sunday, May 13. We wake up near Albany. This is a big city. The Hudson River which runs along carries many boats. We crossed over a bridge. The landscape is beautiful; and it is not inferior to the best in Europe. We are going along the banks of the Hudson. They are very beautiful, although a little more solitary than those of the Pasig. There were ships, boats, trees, hills; and the major part is cultivated. The Hudson is wide. Beautiful ships Sliced granite rocks were paved along the railroads. Some points widely extended. There were beautiful houses between trees. Day fine. Our grand transcontinental trip ended on Sunday, May 13, at 11:10 A. M. We passed through various arches in tunnels.– the Art Age, 75 W. 23 Street.
Originally, the statue was supposed to be an Egyptian peasant girl that would have stood at the entrance of Egypt’s then-new Suez Canal, historians say, but plans would later evolve into the Roman goddess that would instead adorn New York harbor. Had the original plan happened, Rizal would have seen this peasant girl in Egypt. He passed the Suez Canal five times in his lifetime, his last journey on October 1896 when he was recalled to Manila for his final martyrdom.
He even sketched Suez Canal but I am looking for the other famous New York icon that he saw in New York. He penciled the oldest suspension bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge connected the island of Manhattan to Long Island in 1883.
Webcam has just been installed, Lady Liberty is going high tech on his 125th birthday. You can now get virtual panoramic view of the island online but this is what 27 years old- Dr Jose Rizal witnessed in the Spring 1888. The Lady was just on her second year in America.

Remembering the 9/11 Filipino American victims

Remembering the Filipino American victims of September 11 is by telling their stories, from the words of a humble cleaning lady to the to the professionals writers. They all have that common denominator- the World Trade Center and equating in parallel, the same tragic time of their lives on that day. It is also the unique experience of Filipino American, mostly recent immigrants whom I am certain we can share and certainly connect.

“By coming together as a community, it is important for us to remember the lives that were lost on that day and to pay tribute to them. We must also remember and honor the 17 Filipino and Filipino Americans, who we lost. Many of them immigrated to this country in search of a better life. Many of them were young professionals who were just getting their lives started. All of them left friends and family behind.”

The event is being sponsored by 10 Filipino American community organizations, including:

  • Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS)
  • Metro New York Chapter, Filipino American Human Services, Inc. (FAHSI),
  • Kalusugan Coalition, Inc.,
  • Damayan Migrant Workers Association,
  • Collaborative Opportunities for Raising Empowerment (CORE),
  • Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE),
  • UniPro,
  • BaranGAY,
  • NYU International Filipino Association (IFA),
  • The Outstanding Filipino Americans (TOFA) in New York Committee.

My good friend,  Maria Embry provided the biographies below from her compilations. Hector Tamayo’s is just of the typical Pinoy, but he is the closest one that I have encountered among all the victims.  My longtime friend, Alton Famarin remembered Hector as the President of the Aklan Association. He told me that Hector return to the floor at the World Trade Center,  because he left the Engineering Report that he just prepared.

At home in Queens, he had a karaoke machine with thousands of songs. “He had a lot of friends, most of them are relatives, and on Friday nights and Saturday nights and sometimes weeknights they would drink together and sing together,” said his sister-in-law, Sylvia Mercene.

Many of those relatives lived with Mr. Tamayo at some point, because he opened his house to family and friends when they came to the United States from Aklan province in the Philippines, as he had in 1980. “As a joke we call his house the Ellis Island,” Ms. Mercene said.  

His family remembers him as a happy person who loved jokes, his family and, of course, to sing: “A million tomorrows will all pass away/Ere, I forget all the joys that were mine today.”

How typical can he be? I have the privilege sharing the Ellis Island Filipino connection with Maria and just can’t help noting the metaphor of his house and Ellis Island. This is draft and I will welcome anything that you might want to share and I will incorporate it.

Grace Alegre-Cua: Romance and the Towers

Grace Alegre and Ildefons Cua found romance at the south tower. Fresh out of graduate school from the University of Massachusetts, Ms. Alegre applied for a job as an accountant at Metropolitan Bank and Trust on the 17th floor, where Mr. Cua was the accounting manager, in 1986.

“She didn’t get the job, but she found a husband,” Mr. Cua said. They married shortly after the interview and she became Mrs. Alegre-Cua. They have two children, Nicole, 13, and Patrick, 9.

Mrs. Alegre-Cua did not have any trouble finding employment elsewhere. Two weeks after the interview, she was hired at Chuo Mitsui Trust & Banking Company, where she worked for 14 years, most recently at 2 World Trade Center.

The only reason she did not get the job at Metropolitan was that the position had just been filled recently and Mr. Cua had conducted the interview as a favor to the general manager, he said.

“She was very smart,” he said, “but I couldn’t hire her. I don’t know if we were in love right away, but I was interested because of her beauty and sweetness.”

CESAR ALVIAR: A Lifetime Romantic

Cesar Alviar used to tell his wife, Grace, that everyone is born with a fate, and “your fate was to marry me.” He saw her dancing, long hair swaying, at a party in their native Philippines and asked where she lived. He was quiet and modest, she said, but very handsome.

It took him three years to win her heart. But he stayed romantic. After 28 years, he still brought her flowers and opened doors for her. He loved to take her ballroom dancing. Three years ago, they renewed their vows. Mrs. Alviar wore an embroidered Filipino wedding dress. Their friends teased them “You still answered `yes,’ in spite of everything?” Mr. Alviar pointed out that they had been married three times, in a civil ceremony, the religious service, and then this one.

His wife always drove Mr. Alviar, 60, to the bus station in Bloomfield, N.J., so he could get to his job as an accountant at Marsh & McLennan on the 94th floor of 1 World Trade Center. “He always kissed me before he got out,” she said. But on Sept. 11, he hesitated after the kiss. “It was like he wanted to say something, but because I was rushing, I just said goodbye.”


Rameses Bautista said the cleaning crew at Marsh & McLennan loved his wife, Marlyn. She was the kind of worker who kept her cubicle and everything around it so neat “that they didn’t have anything to do,” he said.

Mrs. Bautista, 46, was a born organizer. She worked in the accounts payable department and liked to get there early “just to get things started” and stay late “to make sure everything was finished all right,” her husband said. “That was her style, always making sure everything was in its place.”

When she was a girl, Mrs. Bautista helped sponsor a town festival in Dagupan, in her native Philippines. Mr. Bautista was visiting from another part of the country, saw her, and they became childhood sweethearts, he said. Ten years ago, she became his wife. They moved to Iselin, N.J., and just last year, she received her naturalization papers. When she was not working, Mrs. Bautista enjoyed nature walks. “She was always amazed by what God could do,” Mr. Bautista said. “She’s with him now.”

Cecile M. Caguicla: Preserver of Flowers

At the house in Boonton, N.J., that Cecile M. Caguicla shared with her friend Maria Luciano, there are flowers everywhere — dried hydrangeas and other delicate varieties, suspended in time. Miss Caguicla knew how to preserve them so their beauty would never fade.

She chose them from the buckets filled with blossoms at the farmers’ market that was always outside the World Trade Center on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She was a steady patron of the market, buying baked goods from one vendor, cheese from another, stopping there on her way to morning Mass at St. Joseph’s Church. On Sept. 11, “we separated at 8:10, and she was paying for a blueberry muffin,” Miss Luciano said. “She always bought pastries for her office mates. It was a happy morning.”

Miss Caguicla, who was 55 and had emigrated from the Philippines in 1975, was a vice president in the corporate accounting department at Marsh & McLennan. Her friend is planting a garden in her memory, with hydrangeas and sunflowers and geraniums &emdash; some of the flowers she liked best. There will also be evergreens, to last forever.

JAYCERYLL DECHAVEZ: Dreams in the Clouds

Jayceryll deChavez never came across like a know-it-all. He was smart but soft-spoken. Still, he had his ambitions. For the longest time, he had dreamed of working in one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. He even told his mother that he wanted to build his own tower. Mr. deChavez got part of his wish. He worked as an assistant to the portfolio manager at Fiduciary Trust, a job that his parents said he loved, in Tower 2. He was 24 and had just passed the first level of a test to become a financial analyst. He was eager to take a review class for the next level next month. He lived in Carteret, N.J., with his parents, Bibiano and Asuncion deChavez. Despite his humble manner, his parents said, Mr. deChavez never had to struggle to ace tests. He had been at the top of his class from elementary school through Rutgers, where he studied finance and economics.

“He was a very ambitious guy,” his father said.

BENILDA DOMINGO: Bus Ride to Romance

Benilda Domingo was heading home to Laoag City in the Philippines from Manila after two years of menial work in Singapore. Relatives introduced her to the bus driver, Cefar Gabriel. While she had been working abroad, one of her brothers had married one of Mr. Gabriel’s sisters. By the end of the nine-hour bus trip, they were in love.

The couple had three children &emdash; Daryl, 11, Yvonne, 5, and Lucki Angel, 2. But for 14 years they kept postponing their wedding, said Dorothy Gabriel, Ms. Domingo’s sister- in-law, because Ms. Domingo’s parents, living in Hawaii with their eldest son, were petitioning United States authorities to allow Ms. Domingo to immigrate, and a spouse would have slowed the process.

Last year Ms. Domingo’s visa finally came through, and she brought the three children to America. She planned to return to Laoag City to marry Mr. Gabriel and to bring him over, too.

She left the two younger children with her parents in Hawaii, and took the oldest with her to New York.

Ms. Domingo, 37, found work with an office-cleaning company. “She was so proud that she was hired at the W.T.C.,” her sister- in-law recalled by telephone from Canada.

Now Mr. Gabriel, still a bus driver in the Philippines, is even more desperate to come to New York. “He was so devastated,” Ms. Gabriel said. “He wants to come to see the place where it happened, and just to be with his kids.”

Judy H. Fernandez: Hard Worker, Hard Player

Judy H. Fernandez was not supposed to be at her office in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. She was scheduled to leave for a business trip later that day, and could have taken the morning off. But she went in to take care of a few things.

For Ms. Fernandez, 27, being conscientious was a way of life. She worked as a benefits specialist in the human resources department at Cantor Fitzgerald, and made a habit of using her skills to help friends with their careers, even landing her cousin Maria Santillan a job at eSpeed. She was so organized that she made lists of all her goals and preferences: everything from her favorite flower to her desire to marry her boyfriend, Jon Plamenco. “She knew what she wanted in life, and she was going to do what she had to do to get it,” said her sister, Emma.

“She wanted to be on the go all the time,” said her mother, Corazon. “She loved anything exciting.” Years after her brother, Rich, taught her how to ski, Ms. Fernandez took up snowboarding and taught everyone she knew. She had a large and tight-knit group of friends, and her organizational skills would often be put to use planning parties and ski trips.

Ms. Fernandez and her friends had a tradition: a monthly girls’ night. There was a girls’ night scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12, but because she was supposed to be out of town, her friends moved it up to Monday the 10th. Nearly all of Ms. Fernandez’s friends were there, and her family has a photo of all of them, snapped at 10:45 p.m.

Ramon Grijalvo

Sister of Ilonggo engineer killed in 911 attack speaks out
By Florence F. Hibionada
Senior Reporter, Philippine News Service (PNS)

ILOILO CITY, PHILIPPINES – “We prayed hard and now our brother got justice in heaven.”

Words from Dr. Emiliana Grijalvo – Carmona, younger sister and one of the surviving siblings of Ilonggo mechanical engineer Ramon Grijalvo.

Engineer Ramon was among the 2,948 confirmed deaths in the September 1, 2001 terror attack in American soil. Perpetuated by suicide bombers under Muslim extremist Usama Bin Laden, Engineer Ramon’s American dream was cut short ten years ago.

As much of the world rejoices in Bin Laden’s death in the hands of American forces, for Dr. Carmona, “actual closure” came way before the master terrorist’s killing.

This as she vividly recalls the day it happened and shares with Philippine News Service (PNS) the family’s ordeal thereafter.

“I was watching television when the news on the attack was reported…I did not realized then that it was the building where my brother works,” she began.

Engineer Ramon first set foot in America in 1963 following the petition to migrate made by their eldest sister, Dr. Gloria Grijalvo Madoramente. The years in between were good to the Grijalvos with Engineer Ramon and wife Nenita Baldago of Banate, Iloilo blessed with two children.

“When the attack happened, my brother Ramon was already employed with Empire Blue Cross/ Blue Shield which was in the World Trade Center “Twin Towers” building,” she continued. “Minutes into the news, I got a call from a niece informing me that their Tito Ramon was in the World Trade Center. But nobody really knew then for sure.”

What followed thereafter was to be the greatest shock for the Grijalvo clan as Dr. Carmona and her siblings back here in Iloilo City stayed glued on television for any news.

“That morning of the attack, my sister in law was telling my brother not to go to work. She asked him to stay home and wait for a delivery. But he said no..he wants to report for work. And we are all early risers, we are all punctual when it comes to work so he was there when it all happened,” she said.

Engineer Ramon’s office is on the 9th floor of the north Tower of the World Trade Center.

“My brother was brought to the hospital. To this day we do not know who helped him. Maybe it was the first responders, the New York City firemen. And we were told he was badly burned but was able to identify himself to hospital personnel. He told them his name was Ramon Grijalvo and someone kept his wristwatch and the wedding ring for safekeeping. He was in great pain so they have to sedate him deeply,” Dr. Carmona’s story continued. “While in intensive care, a Chinese-American family claimed him as their family member. We don’t know too why or how they did that but three days after, my brother died due to the severity of his burns. And that Chinese-American family got his body and buried him. They got closure thinking it was their family member as my other brother, Engineer Aurelio was presented with another body identified as Ramon. ”

“He’s not my brother, he told them and for days we were at a loss…finally we knew of the mistaken claim and eventually, that body wrongfully buried as a Chinese-American man was exhumed and there we got the confirmation, our brother Ramon was returned to us,” she said.

Since then, the Grijalvo siblings took turns in joining thousands of other grieving family members in New York as America remember all those who perished in the September 11, 2001 terror attack.

“My first impression when I was first got there in Ground Zero – grabe man sila…nga-a gin-amo gid ni nila (How could they do this? Why did they have to do it this way?)…’s complete devastation,” Dr. Carmona shared saying it was an overwhelming sight to be with young mothers, young wives, parents and like them, bereaved siblings.

“Bin Laden…he will now meet with his creator….I did not really think it was possible to find justice because the cause of my brother’s death and the others, it was a terroristic attack and the enemy is not easy to get,” she said. “With Bin Laden dead now though, what is next?”

Engineer Ramon’s homecoming to Iloilo happened every 2 to 3 years where they would all stay at the family home in Sta. Cruz, Arevalo, Iloilo City.

“We came from a modest family. My brothers Aurelio and Ramon grew up with our uncle-priest, Monsignor Panfilo Brasil. Ramon was closest to Aurelio. He loved Ilonggo songs and Filipino music. One of his favorites was Yoyoy Villame. He was a happy person, loving family man,” Dr. Carmona said of her brother.

Engineer Ramon left behind his wife who has since remained unmarried. He has two children, one now successful lady lawyer based in New York.

“My sister-in-law after the attack had difficulty moving on. One year after it happened, we visited her and everything was still in place, untouched. My brother’s beer bottle still there on the table where he left it. Even the peanuts he loved to eat, left untouched. His pajamas under his pillow, still there and when we asked her to keep it away, to move on, I remember how my sister-in-law cried and begged us not to do that,” she said.

Engineer Ramon was 58 years old when he lost his life that fateful day.

He was a Mechanical Engineering graduate of the University of San Agustin here in Iloilo City. He was one of the 12 Grijalvo siblings who hailed from Guimbal, Iloilo.

In one of the memorial set for the victims and heroes of 9/11, Ramon’s daughter Rachel honored her father in words spoken from the heart.

“Ramon Grijalvo was much more than the title under his name could ever tell you. He was a devoted husband, married 23 years. He was the father of two children, 18 and 16 at the time he was taken away. I’m his daughter. I’m 20 years old now, and no matter how much time has passed, it is still so hard to see his picture here. I wish he was still here with us, but now I only have the wonderful memories he has left me.

I’ll always remember your laugh, Papa. And how you would clap your feet when I would play the piano. I miss you so much. I love you. ”

And yet another message for the world to see posted back in February 8, 2005.

“Ramon Grijalvo was my father, and he was taken away from we when I was only 16 years old. He was the most amazing father and husband to my mother, and we will never forget him. He lived a full, happy life and knowing that eases our pain. What I miss the most about him is his laugh. Rest in Peace, Papa. I love you.”

Frederick Kuo Jr.

Part of Church’s Soul Is Gone

At the Community Church of Great Neck, Frederick Kuo Jr. was always at the center of everything. His parents had also been active there and so he just grew up with it. “He poured a lot of everything he has into the church,” said Fred Kuo, the oldest of Frederick’s four children. “So many people were dependent on him for everything.”

Frederick’s contributions ranged from helping to set up for services to giving occasional readings to arranging for members to get there, even when it meant enlisting his children or driving them himself.

Recently, the church merged with a Chinese congregation, to bring new young members into its aging congregation. As usual, Frederick, whose mother is Filipino and whose father is Chinese, was right there to help bridge the gap. His son said that the new members identified with his father even though he was Asian-American and didn’t speak any Chinese. “I’ve often thought to myself,” Fred Kuo said, “that church wouldn’t run without him.”

Profile courtesy of THE NEW YORK TIMES.
Posted by jessa on 05/10/2011 12:56 PM

Arnold A. Lim: Man on the Verge

Arnold Lim, an analyst with Fiduciary Trust Company International, had promised his mother that he would be married by the time he turned 30. He was close to making good on his pledge.

He was engaged to be married to his girlfriend of seven years, Michelle Leung, and her family gave an engagement party for the couple two weeks before the attack on the World Trade Center, where Mr. Lim worked. He was 28; the marriage was planned for September this year.

“He was so happy,” said his mother, Amparo Lim. “He told me, `I’ll buy a big house, and you will live there, too.’ And I told him, `No, you will live your own life.’ ”

Mr. Lim, the youngest of her three sons, lived with her in the apartment in Stuyvesant Town where he was raised. She misses him terribly.

Jorge Lim, the eldest son, said that because he was almost 10 years older than Arnold, their relationship was often more like father and son. “I remember changing his diaper, cleaning up after him,” Jorge said. “I would take him everywhere. I remember the first time that he went to kindergarten, everyone had fun because I was the one who used to go on a lot of school field trips with him. One of his classmates remembered recently that there was always an older person going to these trips with Arnold. They used to think I was a parent.”

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on May 5, 2002.

Manuel L. Lopez: Craving Greens and Gadgets

When Manuel Lopez was not putting in long days as a corporate tax manager for Marsh & McLennan in 1 World Trade Center, he liked to tend the big garden he and his wife had in Jersey City. The backyard plot bore beans, tomatoes, mustard greens ‹ the last an important ingredient in sinigang, a tangy soup of Mr. Lopez’s native Philippines.

But while Mr. Lopez, 54, liked vegetables, he was crazy about gadgets and electronics. DVD players, laser discs, cameras ‹ “Everything that came out, he had to be the first to get it,” said his daughter, Minnie Morison. “We have five or six televisions and there’s only three bedrooms in this house.”

Mr. Lopez often trawled the Internet in search of hot deals. “There was this DeWalt drill that kept being auctioned on uBid,” his daughter said. “He wanted it so bad, but he was stubborn and he was always outbid. I was like, `Why don’t you just go to Sears and buy it, and I’ll pay the difference?’

“A couple days after the World Trade Center, a drill showed up in the mail. It was really weird for us.

“No one’s opened it.”

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 4, 2001.

Manuel Lopez, 54, home was his palace

After moving to Jersey City from the Philippines in his mid-20s with his pregnant wife, Manuel Lopez found his passion in creating a comfortable place for his family.

In recent months, he organized the remodeling of the family’s duplex, paying close attention to light fixtures and other details. He also filled with house with plenty of electronic gadgets, from DVD players, stereos and cameras to a TV set in each bedroom, his family said.

It was on a morning during which Mr. Lopez, 54, known as Manny, exercised that passion for nesting that his life was cut short. Moments after arriving at work on the 98th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, he called his wife, Rosalia, to go over some details of their remodeling project.

Ten minutes after he hung up, the first jet struck the World Trade Center. His wife, hearing the news on the radio, tried to call back, but she was not able to get through to him.

“He wanted to provide a better life for his future family,” said his daughter, Minnie Rose Morison, also of Jersey City.

Mr. Lopez knew hard work would provide a better future for his family, they said. He was vice president of the federal tax department at Marsh & McLennan, his employer for 15 years, and often arrived at work early.

On the fateful morning, Mr. Lopez was driven to the PATH station in Jersey City by his son, Mannie Jay Lopez, who had returned home from an overnight work shift before heading out to a class at New Jersey City University.

“He always had a joke to tell,” his son said. Mr. Lopez was fond of electronic gadgets, and was an avid reader of Stereo Review and other magazines to keep up with trends in electronics.

In addition to a new TV in each of three bedrooms, Mr. Lopez kept a classic TV in the kitchen, a Sony from the 1980s, for “sentimental” reasons, his son said.

“He joked a lot and he loved to go shopping,” his wife added.

It was the example of hard work, done with a sense of humor, that his son remembered. “He wanted to show me a better life,” his son said.

Mr. Lopez’s remains were not positively identified until more than two months after the tragedy, on Nov. 16. Officials made the identification using DNA tests, his daughter said.

In addition to his wife, daughter and son, Mr. Lopez also is survived by two sisters, Jovita “Betty” Lozano of New York and Avelina Cabal; and two brothers, Geronimo Montero and Benjamin Montero, all of the Philippines; and other relatives.

A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. today in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny.

Carl Allen Peralta

5th Filipino 9/11 victim is identified
Silvestre, Edmund M. Filipino Reporter 10-03-2002

The New York City’s Office of the Medical Examiner has positively identified Filipino-American Carl Allen Peralta of Staten Island, N.Y., as among those who died in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the Filipino Reporter has learned.

Peralta, 37, a broker with Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of WTC One, was identified following the standard comparison of nuclear or mitochondrial DNA from remains with samples provided by relatives.

The medical examiner did not specify what Peralta’s body part was recovered from the rubble that killed more than 2,800 people.

Profile by George Berkin published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

Maria Theresa Santillan: Busy With Wedding Plans

Maria Theresa Santillan, known to her family as Maritess, was the meticulous, well-organized type. A customer service representative with eSpeed, the Cantor Fitzgerald subsidiary, she had been busy since last November planning a wedding scheduled for next May.

Her mother, Ester Santillan, said her 27- year-old daughter had filled up a binder with information about every detail — music, reception, flowers, photographer, wedding gown, church — and by the time she disappeared from the 103rd floor of 1 World Trade Center everything except for the invitations was set. “She was smart, beautiful, a very loving daughter,” said her mother. “She had the kind of smile that lit up a room whenever she walked in.”

Ms. Santillan, who had two younger brothers and still lived in the family home in Morris Plains, N.J., planned to invite 250 people to celebrate her wedding to Darren Sasso, a civil engineer who had been her boyfriend since high school. The wedding was to have taken place at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

Ms. Santillan had wanted to release doves after her wedding to symbolize love and peace. After her memorial service, six doves were released into the sky.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 6, 2001.

Maria Theresa Santillan, 2 vibrant cousins loved working in New York

Maria Theresa Santillan and Judy Hazel Fernandez had always been close so the 27-year-old first cousins welcomed the chance to work together at the World Trade Center.

Miss Fernandez got a job at Cantor Fitzgerald about three years ago, and when a job opened up at the company’s eSpeed subsidiary, the first person she thought of was her cousin.

“It was always a dream of my sister’s to work in the city,” Miss Santillan’s brother, Victor, said. “I think it was just New York and the prestige of actually working at the World Trade Center.”

Working with her cousin made the dream even better.

“They were closer than cousins,” recalled Ms. Santillan’s father, Ex. Some people even thought they looked like sisters. Both majored in biology and were Rutgers University graduates. Miss Santillan attended the Newark campus; Miss Fernandez, New Brunswick.

Also very close to her family, Miss Santillan lived with her parents in Morris Plains. Her father dropped her at the PATH station a few times a week — Sept. 11 was one of those days.

“We carpooled that morning together,” said Ex Santillan, who is the brother of Ms. Fernandez’s mother. She worked in the North Tower on the 103rd floor, her cousin on the floor above.

“The North Tower was the first that was hit,” Santillan said. “She called me about 9, after the building was hit. She had a frantic, high-pitched voice and was crying that the building was hit by a plane. I thought it was a small plane, and I told her to get out of there, to keep cool and not panic.”

He didn’t hear from her again.

Just two months earlier, the families celebrated Miss Santillan’s engagement. Everyone was looking forward to the May wedding. Miss Fernandez was to be maid of honor.

“She was very smart, very intelligent, very loving, very witty — everything you can think of,” Miss Fernandez’s mother, Corazon, said of her daughter who lived in Jersey City but was a frequent visitor to her parents’ Parlin house. “Whenever she came home, she said, ‘Mom, I’m here,’ and kissed me and asked for her dog (an American Eskimo named Brook).” Miss Fernandez could not have pets in her apartment.

The weekend before the tragedy, Mrs. Fernandez told her mother she was going on a business trip on Sept. 11.

In a Sept. 10 phone call, Miss Fernandez mentioned she would go to work before leaving. She told her mom a limousine would pick her up at the Trade Center.

“I asked her why she was going to work when she had such a long trip, and why not stay home and have the limo pick her up at the apartment?” Mrs. Fernandez said. Her daughter said she had things to do. They exchanged, “I Love Yous.”

Mrs. Fernandez said her daughter and her niece “were full of life, full of ambition.”

Rich Fernandez of Pennsylvania, Miss Fernandez’s brother, said his sister had talked about a future with her boyfriend, Jon Plamenco.

“The four (the cousins and their boyfriends) spent a lot of time together — they were inseparable,” Rich Fernandez said.

Ex Santillan also recalled the engagement party.

“They had about 90 guests — friends and relatives — everybody was happy and looking forward to the wedding next year. We considered her fiancé part of our family. He and his parents have been with us almost every day since Sept. 11. He is like a brother in our family.”

“We were together since my sophomore year in high school,” Darren Sasso of Parsippany said of Ms. Fernandez. “We were together like 91/2 years through thick and thin.”

The 26-year-old added, “There was just something about her . . . her personality . . . she was obviously a beautiful girl . . . she had a great family. There was no reason I wouldn’t want to marry her.”

A memorial service for the cousins will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 3 at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge St., Newark.

In lieu of flowers, the families ask that contributions be made to a scholarship fund that still is being planned.

Miss Fernandez also is survived by her father, Cirilo Corazon; and her sister, Emma of Philadelphia.
Miss Santillan also is survived by her mother, Ester; and brother, Raymond, both of Morris Plains.

Profile by Lisa Irizarry published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

Rufino Conrado F. “Roy” Santos: Still a Tourist

Roy Santos was a perpetual tourist in the city that he loved. He had lived in New York for nearly six years, but still relished it. His mother, Aurora, called him “a Broadway addict.” He had to get tickets to all the latest shows, loved “The Producers,” loved “The Lion King.” On the memorial Web page Mr. Santos’s friends created, there are photographs of him against the New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center.

Last Christmas, his brother Ronald and Ronald’s wife, Rosemary, stayed with him on the Upper East Side. It was a typical Roy good time. They saw “Cabaret,” had Christmas brunch at the Marriott Hotel’s revolving restaurant, and spent the rest of the day in Central Park, playing in the snow. On New Year’s Eve they were supposed to go to Times Square, but Roy Santos got the flu. It was the second year in a row that he had gotten sick and missed it. “Next year, I’ll be ready,” he told his brother.

On Sept. 11, Mr. Santos, 37, was at the trade center again. This time, Mr. Santos, a computer consultant for Accenture, was working.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 16, 2001

David Marc Sullins

It’s frustrating Every year when the anniversary of 9/11/01 comes, we see the horrifying images and sit through the documentaries about that day. Some of us watch them, unable to look away, even though doing so brings back memories and emotional scars that may only be starting to heal from the previous year.

In a way though the scars get a tiny bit better and while never forgotten, these memories will be a part of us that were at 9/11 forever.

You can’t help but notice during these special reports and documentaries the constant remembrance of the FDNY and NYPD yet no mention of EMS. You see hand written signs that say “God Bless FDNY & NYPD”, the pictures of flags being raised by FDNY members, and the clips of speeches thanking these agencies for their sacrifice.

Of course the loss of the members of these agencies was tragic and they are heroes – one and all. It is no fault of the FDNY or NYPD that the 8 EMS professionals who died that day did not get the same hand written signs or public mentions. As bigger organizations they are better known, and perhaps our society simply sees EMS as an extended part of the emergency services community.

The question is was their sacrifice truly unnoticed?  Take one EMS member David Marc Sullins.  David was an EMT with Cabrini Medical Center who was working a double shift when the first plane hit. Without thought for his own safety he raced to the scene – his peers noticed.

David pulled several people with various injuries from the South Tower and transported them to the hospital – these patients noticed.

He returned a final time to the base of the South Tower and went back in to help more people, despite the growing concern that it may collapse – his partner noticed.

It has been written in several other tribute articles to David that he was a dedicated EMT, just getting into paramedic school; a person who loved his job and the people he worked with. Often he would give small toys to his pediatric patients to ease their fear and anxiety – those writers and children noticed.

David did not make it home that day; he never made it out of the South Tower when it collapsed. His partner awoke in a hospital bed wondering what happened, alive – but noticing David wasn’t with her.

At 30 years old, being an EMT in the greatest city in the world on a day that is one the greatest tragedies of the United States. David didn’t go to the Towers looking for recognition. Neither did the other 7 EMS professionals, 341 firefighters, 23 police officers, 37 Port Authority Officers and so many other rescue workers that perished that day.

They went for their love of the job, their sense of duty to the people, and from a calling few others can relate to. Those of us who reflect each year on the sacrifice of these emergency personnel, and who are inherently connected to the 8 EMS professionals like David Marc Sullins, know this love, this dedication and hear the call. But most of all – we noticed.

David’s remains were recovered on March 23rd 2002 in the South Tower rubble. Perhaps this gave some closure to his wife, family and friends – a group of people who do not have to “notice”.  They know David’s ultimate sacrifice, his heroism – and this writer hopes – their own.


I always think of Marc as an obedient and hard-working son. He was a gifted musican who can play the piano by ear with my favorite song “right here waiting” by Richard Marx. He would do his chores around the house without complaining. He would make us laugh with his good sense of humor especially everytime he impersonate actor Jim Carrey.I can still remember how happy he was when I bought him his first car and I named it “yellow boat” coz the color was yellow. We travelled to his homeland (Philippines) together. Although I am not his biological mother, Marc recognized me as his own mother and never fail to call me on mother’s day and my birthday (June 12). His birthday is a day after mine, June 13. Now, I missed those calls. I found his biological father in Sioux Falls, SD and also his biological mother in the Philippines. Although it was a bittersweet reunion, he was happy to finally met both of them. I can never forget his face when he hug me and thank me for finding his biological parents and sister because he knew that I worked so hard in finding them because at that time adoption papers were sealed in Washington, DC.

I always think of Marc and still cry everytime I look at his picture. I will always miss him and will never forget and cherished our conversations together (the promises he made to me, his goals, and the happy times we share together as a family.

*** Posted by His adoptive mother on 2006-09-07

Hilario “Larry” S. Sumaya: The Ski Club Ambassador

Larry Sumaya’s friends and family had a lot of names for him. Like Phil, short for Filipino, his ethnicity. Or Horatio, because Hilario was the first name on his birth certificate. Or Gooch and Clem, for reasons no one can quite recall.

Then there was, um, Christie. He got that one after showing up on the slopes wearing a black-and-pink skiing outfit. Unfortunately for Mr. Sumaya, the color scheme was a tad too unisex. “There was a nice-looking girl wearing the same jacket,” said Bob Sitar, a friend and fellow member of Mr. Sumaya’s ski club. “It was pretty funny, and we teased him about it.”

But the good-natured Mr. Sumaya, 42, took the kidding in stride, always ready to tackle the steep fast curves of the mountain, the rolling greens of the golf course, the waves of the Jersey Shore, the social currents of big-city bachelor life. “He was always smiling, very outgoing,” said his sister Charito LeBlanc.

Mrs. LeBlanc and her husband, Joseph, miss him the most on Sundays, because that was the day Mr. Sumaya would spend time at their home near his in Staten Island, watching sports, smoking a cigar in the backyard, firing up the barbecue.

Mr. Sumaya, a technology manager at Marsh & McLennan, liked to talk politics and knew how to press home a point. “He was tough to argue with,” said another friend, Tom Todaro. But he was also slow to anger, and played the ambassador in his ski club, putting newcomers at ease.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 19, 2001

Hector Tamayo

Hector Tamayo loved to sing: Engelbert Humperdinck and Elton John, country music and campfire favorites, especially the one that begins, “Today, while the blossom still clings to the vine . . .”

At home in Holliswood, Queens, he had a karaoke machine with thousands of songs. “He had a lot of friends, most of them are relatives, and on Friday nights and Saturday nights and sometimes weeknights they would drink together and sing together,” said his sister-in-law, Sylvia Mercene.

Many of those relatives lived with Mr. Tamayo at some point, because he opened his house to family and friends when they came to the United States from Aklan province in the Philippines, as he had in 1980. “As a joke we call his house the Ellis Island,” Ms. Mercene said. Five of his six siblings are now in the United States, as are his wife, Evelyn, and their two children, Ian, 20, and Pamela, 16.

A civil engineer, Mr. Tamayo, 51, was working in 2 World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

His family remembers him as a happy person who loved jokes, his family and, of course, to sing: “A million tomorrows will all pass away/Ere I forget all the joys that were mine today.”

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 24, 2001.

Cynthia Motus Wilson: Instiller of Love

Cynthia Motus-Wilson was a people person, according to her husband, William Wilson, and their daughter, Cynthia Motus-Chan. “She was very caring,” Mr. Wilson said. “A small woman, five- foot nothing. But a heart bigger than Alaska.”

Ms. Motus-Wilson, 52 and the head receptionist at International Office Centers Corporation in the World Trade Center, was proud of the culture of her native Philippines but had recently become an American citizen. She was an accomplished craftswoman, creating everything from delicate flower arrangements to wall hangings. She was about to move with her husband into her first house, where she would have a studio, in Warwick, N.Y.

After her death, Ms. Motus-Chan and her brother Braulio Jose found a loving note from their mother attached to a life insurance policy and adorned with a drawing of a smiling face. She had highlighted her request that the two take care of each other. “She really trusted myself and my brother,” Ms. Motus-Chan said. “This is still hard. But it’s easier because she made us independent and strong.”

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 30, 2001

Ronald Gamboa

Age: 33
Residence: Los Angeles, CA, United States
Occupation: store manager, The Gap
Location: UA Flight 175
Related: Partner of Daniel R. Brandhorst
Adoptive father of David Brandhorst tribute
Updated: June 18, 2002

Canovas and Rizal – A connection?

There are certain events that might alter the course of history, and there are heroes and villains who often inspire these events.
Just over seven months after Jose Rizal’s execution in Manila, on August 8, 1897, the prime minister of Spain was assassinated.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times front page edition on August 10.

Golli says it was to avenge the Barcelona Anarchists and Don Rizal.

He confessed that he killed Senor Canovas to avenge the Barcelona anarchists, and the insurgent leader, Don Jose Rizal, who was executed at Manila, Philippine Islands, on Dec. 30 last, as an instigator of the Philippine rebellion. Dr Rizal denied that he was a rebel leader, but he admitted that he had drawn up the statutes of the Philippine League (Aug 10, 1897)

In June 1896, a bomb was thrown at the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona. The anarchist group was blamed and hundreds of alleged revolutionaries were jailed at the Montjuic Fortress. Prime Minister Canovas ordered the cruel repression and torture. Many prisoners died, but some survivors might have shared time with Jose Rizal when he was held at Montjuic by Spanish authorities. Governor General Eulogio Dispujol of Barcelona paid Rizal a visit. Dispujol was the same Spanish military governor who sent Rizal to Dapitan and was now the military governor of Cataluña. He was arrested on his way to Cuba where he was volunteering as an Army doctor. His request was initiated by Governor Blanco and signed by the Spanish War Minister, Azcarraga. He was briefly imprisoned at the Montjuic Castle and brought back to a ship bound for Manila, where he faced the court martial. Governor General Polavieja succeeded Blanco on Dec 13 and oversaw the military trial and Rizal execution on Dec 30, 1896. In another news report, Golli expressed regret that he did not kill Polavieja, for having caused the murder of Rizal.

Just recently, Rizal was honored with the inauguration of the “Sala Jose Rizal” room the famous Montjuich Castle, atop a hill in Barcelona, which served as military prison. It was part of Rizal’s sesquicentennial celebration this year around the world.  It is interesting that an Ilocano patriot and another Mason, Isabelo de los Reyes, suspected of revolutionary activities was imprisoned in Bilibid on January 1897. His writing similar to Rizal that revolution could wait by exposing friar and corruption.  The arrival of a new  governor in Manila replacing the ruthless Governor-General Polavieja saved his execution but deported him to Spain. He was imprisoned at the Montjuic where he later wrote:

I repeat that the so-called anarchists, nihilists, or as they say nowadays, Bolsheviks, are the true saviours and disinterested defenders of justice and universal brotherhood…. I took advantage of the occasion to put into practice the good ideas I had learned from the anarchists of Barcelona, who were imprisoned with me in the infamous Castle of Montjuich.

The harsh treatment of the Montjuic prisoners might have unleashed the uprising against the Spanish monarchy. The reason for the assassination of Canovas by the Golli might be on the advice of another doctor, Dr Ramon Betances. Just like Rizal, Betances was also was familiar with martial arts, gun, and fencing. He might have provided the training to the assassin and mentioned Rizal on his discussions with Golli.  The assassin’s original targets were the members of the Spanish royal family, but upon the advice of Dr Betances, Canovas was assassinated instead. Betances coordinated support for the pro-independence movement in the Philippines while in Paris but there was no record of meeting Rizal.  He might have obtained a copy of Rizal’s valedictory poem of Ultimo Adios from his Mason friend in Hongkong.  He provided Rizal’s final masterpiece to the Puerto Rican insurgents’ propaganda movement against Spain.

Antonio Canova was immediately replaced in interim by Marcelo Azcarraga, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) law graduate just like Isabelo De Los Reyes. Azacarraga is not only Filipino by definition of the original term being born in Manila but his mother has Bikol blood. He was the thirteenth Prime minister of Spain following the restoration of the Spanish monarchy.  The loss of Canovas upon the Conservative Party became speculation among the Spanish press but General Azcarraga has acquired great popularity through his skill in organizing the country’s resources for Cuba and Philippine campaign. The Liberal Spanish faction prevailed over the conservative after Canova’s assassination. Sagastas recalled Gov Weyler and replaced the Cuban butcher with Governor Blanco.  Ironically, Blanco was the governor who tried to save Rizal from the Canovas’s administration heavily influenced by the cleric in Manila.  The same Weyler expelled the Rizal family from the farm in Calamba that the Dominican friars wanted out. This was Madrid’s desperate move to save the Spanish empire from growing insular unrest and the impending signs of the little splendid war coined by John Hay.

US President Wm McKinley sent condolence to Madrid through his ambassador to London, John Hay. On September 6, 1901 he suffered the same faith when he was shot in Buffalo, NY by Leon Csologosz, an anarchist. By that time John Hay was already the Secretary of State having successfully negotiated the Treaty of Paris. The former Lincoln’s White House intern would be involved in the three famous assassinations in history.  Mckinley died of his gunshot wound, and John Hay would inform Theodore Roosevelt on a telegraph on September 14.  The American empire only accelerated to the 20th century

On the 20th of August 1897, the Italian assassin, Michelle Angiolillos, the avenger of Rizal’s death was summarily sentenced to death. Having at no time during his trial nor during the days leading up to his execution shown any sign of remorse, Angiolillo then walked calmly to his execution by strangulation at the garrote.

Several days later, at a New York celebration of Michele Angiolillo’s heroic actions, the Italian anarchist Salvatore Pallavencini emphatically declared the anarchist position thus: “The man who killed Cánovas was a martyr to the cause of humanity and progress. Anarchists think it is better to kill a ruler who is a tyrant than to have a revolution in which thousands have to die because of his acts.”

My estimation why Dr Rizal might not be in favor of a bloody revolution.

The first Filipino American war veteran

In 1906, the Filipino student’s bi-weekly magazine published in Washington DC received a letter from New Orleans.

“We received a subscription from a Filipino living in New Orleans, and as we did not know there were any Filipinos in the southern part of this country, we were very much surprised, and wrote to him, asking that he send us some details concerning himself and any other Filipinos that there might be in his neighborhood. The Filipino whom we addressed was Mr. Eulogio Yatar, and he sent us some most astonishing news; in fact, we feel almost as the ethnologist does who discovers a new race of people, for we find that there is a colony of 2,000 Filipinos in that Queen City of the South. This community has been established for about a hundred years, the first one who landed there being a Bikol by the name of Augustin Feliciano, who later served in the American navy in the war of 1812. … Other Filipino seamen came, and finding the surroundings agreeable, remained there, and built up this large community. Although the greater part of these Louisiana Filipinos were born in this country, yet many of them are natives of the is-lands, and nearly all Visayans. They speak Tagalog and Spanish, as well as English.”  

The early Filipino settlement in New Orleans has been thoroughly documented by now, but I have been searching for Mr. Eulogio Yatar.  One the stories of Filipinos fighting against the British invasion was about the early Filipino strugglers from St.
Bernard Parish. According to local legend, they were one of the irregular forces of the pirate Jean Lafette serving Gen Stonewall Jackson in defense of New Orlean. Eulogio Yatar gave the name Augustin Feliciano, but who is this Yatar?   Filipino sailors landing in New Orleans can be traced as far as 1763 but we are only all familiar with Filipe Mardriaga and the Burtanog Sisters. Felipe married an Irish girl, Bridgete Nugent. One of their three daughters Elizabeth, born in June 1857, married Valeriano Baltic Borabod. This couple’s second daughter, Othelia Lilian Borabod, was born on Jan 7, 1881. Eulogio L Yatar was born on Dec 7 1877 in Malinao, Capiz and moved to New Orleans where he married Othelia.

How daunting is it to have Feliciano serving in the Continental Navy? Next year the nation will be celebrating the War of 1812 bicentennial. The war that inspired the Star Spangled Banner and echoed the climatic volley of cannon fire
and ringing chimes, the 1812 Overture.

Eulogio Yatar died on 1928 and was buried at the  Yatar Family Crypt, St Vincent Cemetery No.2. in New Orleans. In 1878 the Hispano Filipino Benevolent Society was founded and bought a tomb of 12 vaults and added another row for the members of the Filipino Community in good standing to be buried. This would be known as the Filipino Tomb of St Vincent De Paul. These are stone testaments of the earliest Filipino American Community, engraved with the names and dates of a generation.

The cities of the dead have been New Orleans tourist attraction. The above the ground burial became a necessity as New Orleans is below sea level, creating spectacular museum. It is also a testament to the residents’ loving care for the dead. These cemeteries were heavily damage by Katrina and it is estimated that millions of dollars are needed. There are 42 cemeteries in New Orleans, each with unique stories, but there is no doubt that St Vincent DePaul #2 is where the Filipino Tombs is a shrine, an abbreviated history of Filipino AmericanEulogio Yatar died on 1928 and buried at the  Yatar Family Crypt, St Vincent Cemetery No.2. in New Orleans. In 1878 the Hispano Filipino Benevolent Society was founded and bought tomb of 12 vaults and added another row for the members of the Filipino Community in good standing to be buried. This would be known as the Filipino Tomb of St Vincent De Paul. These are the stone testaments of the earliest Filipino American Community engraving the names and dates of generation.

The cities of the dead have been a New Orleans tourist attraction. The above the ground burial became necessity as the New Orleans is below sea level, creating spectacular museum. It is also a testament to the residents loving care for the dead. These cemeteries are heavily damage by Katrina and it is estimated that million of dollars are needed. There are 42 cemeteries in New Orleans with unique stories but there is no doubt that St Vincent DePaul #2 is where the Filipino Tombs is shrine, an abbreviated history of Filipino American generation.

Note: the 1906 Filipino magazine information are from Eloisa Borah collections of memorabilia and Alex Fabros’ file.  Filipino tomb data from Rhonda Fox, the custodian of Burtanog’s family history. the last picture taken after Katrina.