‘9/11 was the scariest, darkest moment’

Ryan: Suffered depression

By Cristina DC Pastor

Ten years after 9/11, FilAms look back on that day recalling the confusion, the disbelief, and the fear. Those emotions resurface — along with the smell and taste of a petrified New York — as they talk about the “worst day” of their lives.

Ryan Songalia, boxing journalist
I was 14 and about to start the first day of sophomore year of high school. I missed the bus and went to the Board of Education to ask them what happened, and all the people were talking about were the attacks. We were all hoping that it was an accident.

I rushed home and looked out the window and the second plane had already hit. It was such a terrible sight, so I hopped on a bus heading to Cliffside Park, New Jersey to escape to the library.

Halfway there, the Spanish radio station started blaring horrifically about the Twin Towers, though I didn’t understand. The bus driver told me he had to leave and that I would need to get out of there. I walked a few blocks and heard the horrible news over the loud speaker passing by an elementary school, only then did I understand what happened.

That night was the darkest night I can recall. The streets of Union City were filled with people, lost and in disbelief. There were prayer vigils on the streets. The one thing I could recall was hearing someone playing Enya music out of their window, which was out of place for the surroundings.

It was the worst day of my life, and for a long time I suffered from depression as a result. The streets were filled with the worst smell of burning that aggravated my asthma. It was the end of the innocence of my childhood.

Jocelyn Gonzales, multimedia producer


I was in Lower Manhattan, on my way to work at WNYC.

I dunno really. It was probably the scariest, most confusing, but busiest moment in my life as a New Yorker. I’ve never really figured out which thoughts or feelings to focus on amidst all the noise surrounding 9/11. The tiny details start to fade away when I try to remember the day exactly, but the fear, the smell, the taste and the helplessness — I get flashes of that all the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s September or not.

I always think the anniversaries should be quiet and dignified out of respect for the dead and the families. But I suppose that’s not really the American way, is it?

Ledy Almadin, accountant


I dropped off my kids to school in the morning, then took the PATH train to work. When the Twin Towers fell I was in my office. We saw them both fall, from the window of our office on 43rd and Madison. My mom had to pick up my children because I was stuck in the city. It took forever to get back home. I walked to the ferry to Weehawken and from Weehawken back to Jersey City where I live. It took a while for me to get back to my normal routine, including my mindset. Wow, brings back memories.

Luis Pedron, filmmaker


I was at home that day. I didn’t know what woke me up that morning to watch 20 minutes before 9 a.m. I was just zoning out on the TV, and lo and behold the whole world was collapsing in front of the screen. Flicking the channels it was all like that. Tower One fell, I screamed. When Tower Two fell, I just froze.

I remember flicking the channel and seeing Pinoy Am ABC TV correspondent Nina Pineda jumping as she reacted to the explosion from one of the towers. I was glued to the TV for perhaps the whole day. I taped everything on my VHS machine. I knew the world would stop, and yes it did stop for me.

I ended up not working for six months as my gigs were mostly in that area. It was the worst year of my life.

Dennis Josue, floral designer


I was opening up my shop on 74th Street and got a long distance phone call from my parents in the Philippines asking me what was happening in New York and if I was ok. Apparently they were watching the news live in Manila. By 10 a.m., I decided to close the shop.

The 18 Filipinos who died in 9/11 will be honored at a Tenth Anniversary Vigil on September 9 at the Asian American Writers Workshop office at110-112 West 27th Street. The public event is being sponsored by 15 community organizations, spearheaded by the Filipino American National Historical Society Metro New York Chapter.

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