Remember September 11

9-11: Mrs Dulcedehlia Almoradie, mom of Neyney '73 and Daydee '76, tells INQ7 her account of World Trade Center tragedy.  Other articles by Mrs Almoradie: New York (an introspective look at NYC living); and A Fil-Am Life (where she compares a Filipino’s life in the Philippines vs. life in the US.)

Freedom in our hearts: an oil painting by Lorna Molina Sanchez '82. All profits from the sale of limited edition prints went to the Families of September 11 Fund and America's Fund for Afghan Children. Lorna donated the original work to the Fort Bragg Fire Department in North Carolina on 11 Sept 2002.

Sept 11 through the eyes of artists: INQ columnist Romina delos Reyes-Saha '77 features Lorna Molina-Sanchez '82.

A virtual memorial: 11 Sep 2002 INQ7 Connections column by Romina delos Reyes-Saha '77. Read past issues.

SPC Sisters visit New York City

22 Nov: Wash DC

30 Nov: Norwood NJ

7 Dec: Los Angeles

SPC Dream Project

More at SPCM HS'80

More at SPCM HS'65

In memory of 9-11

Ground Zero Tour

1 Dec 02, New York City. Hosts: Mitzi Ambion '75, Cherry Pedro '76, Daydee Almoradie '76.

At the Ground Zero wall -- panels around what used to be the World Trade Center list names of 2801 victims killed in the 9-11-01 attacks. Mitzi wrote: "It was a bright sunny day but it was very cold with temperatures in the low 30's and a wind-chill factor of almost 0. I was a little worried about the nuns but it would not have been a very memorable NY tour if we just stayed in the car... so kahit sandali lang, we decided to walk around Ground Zero... took pictures and let the Sisters check out some souvenirs and mementos of 9-11..."

Sr Mary George contemplating and praying for victims.

Sr Nieves and Sr Mary George at the viewing deck.

Definitely a cold Manhattan morning... wind chill factor was hovering around zero.

Checking out Ground Zero souvenirs.

Near Ground Zero's Saint Peter's Cathedral -- New York's oldest Catholic Parish.

At the Rockefeller Center (l-r): Mitzi Ambion '75, Daydee Almoradie '76, Linda Tobias '66 (Staten Island host), Sr Nieves, Sr Mary George and Cherry Pedro '76; Mitzi's hubby was the day's volunteer driver-photographer. In addition to the Ground Zero walk-through, the group also did a drive-by visit of legendary New York City landmarks including a sunroof look-up tour of popular skyscrapers like the Empire State Building. A memorable day indeed.

(Photos and text courtesy of SPCM HS'75 East Coast Coordinator, Mitzi Ambion-Hocson. Thanks!)

9-11

By Mrs Dulcedehlia S. Almoradie, mom of Neyney '73 and Daydee '76; published in Editorial and Opinions’ High Blood section of www.INQ7.net. on 11 Sept 2002. (http://www.inq7.net/opi/2002/sep/11/opi_highblood1-1.htm)

SEPT. 11, 2001 was a very nice day at 8:45 in the morning. Breakfast was on my desk on the 25th floor of The Bank of Nova Scotia, One Liberty Plaza, New York, when I heard a noise like a bomb blast. I looked out the window and was surprised to see debris falling down from the World Trade Center just across the street.

A big commotion started in the office and someone said an airplane had hit the WTC. I did not believe this and wondered how that could happen. I started to tremble and cry. An officemate came over and held me, then asked me to grab my pocketbook and led me down the stairs. Other people from the building were doing the same. They were all excited and ran as quickly as they could down the stairs to the lobby. My officemate kept asking them to pass us by as I could not walk very fast. She held and guided me as we went down. I had just recovered from a carpal tunnel syndrome operation and had gone back to work a week earlier. I also had had three angioplasties the year before and had another one in January of 2001.

Pandemonium reigned in the lobby. I sat at a corner coffee shop to call my daughters, Divinea who works midtown, and Dilleana who works at the Financial Center, a building on the opposite side of the WTC across from ours.

Suddenly there was another loud blast when the second plane hit. People then rushed out and I was carried along by the crowd, losing my cell phone in the process. I ended up across the street, still shocked and disoriented. I walked away, not knowing where to go and what to do.

I passed by a public telephone and joined the long line to call my daughter Divinea, to ask if Dilleana was okay and to tell her I was at the corner of Maiden Lane and Nassau. She asked me to stay where I was so Dilleana could come and get me.

I was aware of people screaming, yelling and running wildly especially at the sight of people jumping out of the windows of the WTC where a lot of smoke and fire was coming from.

It was about 30 minutes before Dilleana found me. Meanwhile my son, Joel and another daughter, Desireena plus my husband, Joe, tried to call Dilleana and me on our cell phones. Even my daughter, Dignalea, who lives in the Philippines, and relatives and friends also tried to call us but I had lost my cell phone and Dilleana's was not working properly like all the other cell phones in the area.

We then walked away from the WTC and met an officemate of mine who was coming to work. While we were talking, Dilleana saw ashes falling from the WTC coming toward us because one of the twin towers had collapsed. She tried to pull me away and asked me to run. She did not realize it had collapsed and thought we were being bombed. The ashes overcame us because I could not run as fast as the other people due to my condition. The soot blinded us and it was so dark we could hardly see. It was so thick we could hardly breathe. I covered my nose with my sweater's sleeve. Dilleana held me as we walked away. If she didn't I would have fallen down and people would have trampled me because they were running madly in all directions and would not have probably noticed anyone lying on the ground.

I was so scared that I thought of just cowering in a corner to die. Dilleana, though, had the presence of mind to look around for a place to get into when she saw the ashes coming. With the help of God she found a Citibank ATM enclosure, and knocked and yelled to the people inside to let us in. Other people did the same, and, thankfully those inside let us in.

Thank God, we were finally able to breathe, although our hair and bodies were covered with ashes. Dilleana tried to brush them off, to no avail. After 15 minutes, we tried to get out but were unable to do so because ashes were still raining down from the WTC.

In another 20 minutes we were able to walk out along with the others although ashes were still raining all over us but not as strongly as before. People walked in all directions to get away from the disaster area. Dilleana asked me every now and then if I was okay because she was concerned with my condition and was afraid I might get a heart attack. My adrenalin was pumping so high I just walked with her without heeding where we were going. We ended up in Chinatown, about a mile away and entered a Chinese restaurant.

I complained of my churning stomach so she ordered soup and gave me a small cup to ease it. Afterwards I put my head on the table and fell asleep for about an hour due to exhaustion and excitement. Meanwhile Dilleana saw herself covered with ashes and tried to brush them off again.

After my deep sleep we walked toward midtown for about two miles because subway stations were closed and trains were not working. People along the way offered glasses of water and cookies or sandwiches as they saw people with ashes all over them walking away from the WTC.

A lot of charitable organizations, like the Salvation Army, helped and offered passersby food and the use of facilities when needed. Help was everywhere. It is said that New Yorkers are rude and aloof, but proof that they are not was all around us. You could not have found nicer people anywhere else in the world during those moments, when help was needed.

We walked to 14th Street, went down into the subway and waited for about 30 minutes before an E train arrived. We got home about two o'clock in the afternoon. Dilleana and I were both so exhausted, with all our bones aching, that it was hard to move the next day.

To this day whenever anything is shown on TV about this terrible event, I still tremble and cry. And having to recount the story to relatives and friends is also traumatic for me.

We were not able to go back to work for weeks after the terrorist attack because it was not safe to go into the area, especially inside the buildings. Scotia Bank transferred office to our Wall Street branch and opened other offices away from the crumbled WTC.

When I was asked to go back to work after three weeks, I could not and told them that my terrible experience was too much for me and that I would not be able to get back especially in that area of the twin towers. I e-mailed them and applied for retirement.

I have not gone back to the WTC area since. I still feel very bad when I see things on TV about the attacks. I also want to remember the WTC towering above other buildings in downtown New York. It was my favorite hangout. A good friend and officemate and I went there almost every working day. We would take a quick 15-minute lunch and then take the escalator from our building to the WTC. We would go to shops like The Gap, Victoria's Secret, Banana Republic, Duane Reade, etc.

I usually took the E train to work, getting off at the WTC to take the escalator to Scotia Bank. After work I took the same train and got off at the Union Turnpike station to get home.

My family loves New York. We have lived here for a long time and still do to this day. I tell everyone that New York grows on you. The twin towers were a part of New York, so they are a part of us, too.

It is unbelievable that those towers are gone forever. People all over the world will miss them. Tourists used to ride the elevators to the top of the buildings day in and day out to view New York City from the top.

The twin towers will remain in the memory of most people. The tragic event was a horrifying experience to New Yorkers and people everywhere and that horrible action of the terrorists shook the whole world. May God have mercy on their souls and forgive them for the terrible thing that they did and may everyone who suffered in the disaster forgive and forget. Lastly, may all the people who lost their lives there rest in peace.

Mrs Dulcedehlia S. Almoradie, 66, used to work as an administrative assistant at the Bank of Nova Scotia in New York City.

     

New York
By Mrs Dulcedehlia S. Almoradie, mom of Neyney '73 and Daydee '76: originally published in Editorial and Opinions’ High Blood section of http://www.inq7.net, 20 Nov 2002 (http://www.inq7.net/opi/2002/nov/20/opi_highblood1-1.htm); reprinted in Editorial / Opinions section of San Diego CA-based http://www.filipinopress.com, 17-23 Nov 2002 (http://www.filipinopress.com/112302/editorial-writers.htm).

"IF you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere ... New York, New York." My family has lived in it for 22 years, and feels and believes this to be true. It grows on you and you learn to love it and cope with its challenging pace and fast life. By dint of hard work you will get the opportunity, fun and excitement that it is famous for. New Yorkers are known to be rude and unruly, but as you get to know them better you find them to be compassionate, loving and helpful.

Subway stations are full of people rushing to work every morning and coming home in the evening. While waiting for a train, chances are you will be pushed into one by the crowd as everybody tries to get in. You are entertained, though, by singers who perform in some stations for cash. In the trains some rock and roll with their boom-boom boxes for money. Religious fanatics preach, trying to get the attention of people who are reading or sleeping.

Housework awaits people after work, and husbands, wives and children help one another with these chores. Americans are independent and children learn it at a very early age and then they get more independent as they grow older. At 18 they usually already live by themselves. They rent apartments that they share with roommates to save money and men and women do so without any embarrassment.

New Yorkers usually have breakfast at their office desks. Quick lunches are taken at cafeterias or fast-food restaurants (or upper scale restaurants which are all around) because companies don't close during lunchtime and employees take turns. When the weather is nice you would see a lot of people out in the streets taking a walk or window-shopping. Nassau Street in downtown New York is closed to traffic because it gets very crowded. People sit on the steps of big buildings like the New York Public Library, eating or watching people passing by. At night they walk and socialize, especially people in Greenwich Village who are active and out after sundown. They are called the "night people." On Halloween they have a night parade wearing their colorful costumes. Children go "trick or treating" also wearing their costumes.

Americans are health conscious, exercise and eat wisely. They go to gyms that are always busy and crowded. They run, walk, or bike even during winter. Scuba diving, skiing, golfing and tennis are some of the sports they love. Smoking is no longer allowed in buildings, restaurants or on any form of public transport so smokers have to go out for a cigarette.

New Yorkers value their weekends and go out to dinner Friday nights, or watch a movie, a concert or a Broadway play afterwards. Malls and department stores are usually full of people, especially teenagers. They also love to travel. Women are not fashion conscious per se and those who are overweight wear whatever suits them.

New Yorkers say "soda" for "soft drink" and "pocketbook" for "handbag," and "To stay or to go" to order food from restaurants. "A dollar twenty" or "a dollar fifty" instead of "one twenty" or "one fifty." Americans are amazed at how Filipinos speak fluent English and we tell them that it is our second language and is taught on the first day of school.

New York never sleeps and shops are open 24 hours on 42nd Street. Theaters, restaurants, and movie houses are all around. You can get expensive or inexpensive and imported or local items in stores. Fifth Avenue is the elite shopping area. 42nd Street, downtown and Fourteenth Street are other places for shopping. Oriental items are found in Chinatown. There are outlets like Tangiers or Woodbury Common (a lot of Filipinos go to these shopping areas). You can find all kinds of Mideastern, Caribbean, South American, European, Asian, and American food.

New York's famed 42nd Street used to be a depressed area but former mayor Rudy Giuliani did a good job of making it a better place and closed all the pornographic shops there. Crime is no longer as rampant. He did a wonderful job after the World Trade Center disaster and was well acclaimed by the whole world for it. It is rumored that he will be asked to run for president in 2008.

There are times when you get mugged or your wallet may get picked in New York like in any other city or place in the world. In Paris, my husband was a victim of a pickpocket. In Milan, gypsy boys surrounded him and took his wallet on our way out of the subway station. In Florence a gypsy carrying a baby in her arms tried to pick his wallet too. It goes to show that these things happen, not only in New York as people think, but anywhere in the world.

New York's worst disaster was the terrorists' attack on the World Trade Center. It will stay in my family's mind forever because my daughter and I almost died that day. New Yorkers showered love and compassion on one another during that unforgettable time of sadness and horror, which goes to show that although evildoers exist, there are also good people who give help, support and love to those who need these, especially during a catastrophe.

During summer people are happy to see the sun that shines until nine o'clock at night. They go to beaches, have picnics in the parks and stay outdoors to get tanned. The streets to beaches are full of cars moving bumper-to-bumper. Fall comes after summer. Trees and plants lose their leaves and you have to rake bags and bags of them from your lawn. After fall comes winter. Then you need winter clothes, shoes, boots, and underwear. The sun shines later in the morning and sets at about three o'clock in the afternoon. Snow is welcome when it comes. Everybody, especially children, enjoy playing in it. They ride snowmobiles and create snowmen, go skiing, snow surfing, etc.

My family needed to make a lot of adjustments when we came to New York. On our first work interviews we were asked for a "New York experience." We all took the first job that we were accepted to and looked for better ones after a year or two because by then we had the needed "New York experience." We had housemaids here in the Philippines and had a hard time adjusting to cooking, washing clothes, and cleaning the house after our hard day's work at the office.

That's life in New York. My children, husband and I love living in it. It is the city for fun, love, excitement, opportunity, and very hard work. But over and above our love for this big city, my family looks forward to coming home to the Philippines once or twice a year for vacations. We enjoy places like summer resorts and go to provinces that we have not been to when we lived here. If dual citizenship is approved, we will apply for it when it becomes a law. My husband and I are now retired so we can stay for longer vacations. The Philippines is our first home and we love and enjoy it as much as New York and can never forget that it is the land of our birth.

Dulcedehlia S. Almoradie is 66. She worked at The Bank of Nova Scotia, New York and is now retired.

A Fil-Am life

By Mrs Dulcedehlia S. Almoradie, mom of Neyney '73 and Daydee '76: originally published in Editorial and Opinions’ High Blood section of http://www.inq7.net, 12 Nov 2003 (http://www.inq7.net/opi/2003/nov/12/opi_highblood1-1.htm)

 THE PHILIPPINES is a country of beauty, love and joy, a great and wonderful place to live in even with the downfall of our economy. A Filipino is hospitable, friendly, knowledgeable and ingenious. He is creative, industrious and hard working and survives, lives and makes the most of what he has under most conditions. A Filipina is a thing of beauty. She is petite, cute and charming. There is always a feature in her, like her eyes, her lips, her hair or maybe her complexion that is lovely to look at. She is brown and beautiful. During the time of Jose Rizal she was shy, unassuming and demure, a good and religious wife or a mother who loved deeply and devoutly. For these modern times she has become more aggressive and up to date. Not the shy Maria Clara-type anymore, but still a Filipina of beauty, with plenty of devotion to the one she loves.

Filipinos live spoiled lives with household help, especially when both husband and wife are working. The maids do the cooking, the laundry and house cleaning. There are yayas (nursemaids) who take care of the children while the father and mother are at work. There are houseboys who do the heavier work in the house and there are drivers. Having maids is part of a normal life in the Philippines. When you get home from work, you do not have to worry about dinner because the maids have it ready. All you do is rest and watch TV before going to bed. In the morning you do not rush to make breakfast because everything is served on the table. They clean and wash the cars before you drive to work or the drivers do so. The maids go to the local markets to shop for food. When they have stayed with you for a long time you consider them as part of your family. The children treat them as their second mothers and the other maids as their older sisters. The maids and yayas learn to love the children as their own and sometimes spoil them more than you do.

The big problem in the Philippines is traffic. It is a hassle to go to any place especially if you drive your own car. There is no place to park and it takes a long time before you reach your destination. We went to Baguio by car from Sucat Road, Paranaque on a long holiday weekend and it took us 12 hours to get there and the same amount of time coming back. Traffic was terrible. However, you see beautiful scenic views, and you can get all the fresh fruits and vegetable from the roadside vendors along the way. These scenic views are wonderful. The rice terraces in Banaue are a pleasure to behold; likewise the Chocolate Hills in Bohol. No other country in the world can offer the kind of beaches we have in the Philippines.

American life is also wonderful. The well-to-do have housemaids, houseboys or drivers. Almost everybody has clothes washers, clothes dryers and dishwashers. You can hire cleaning ladies by the day or the hour when you need them. There are all kinds of cleaning materials in the market that are advertised on TV, radio and posters everywhere. You make breakfast at home before going to work or buy it on your way to work and eat it at your desk. You run to the subway stations going to work and do the same going home. At night you make dinner and do the dishes before going to bed. Every second counts in America, especially in New York which they say has the fastest pace of life and where everyone seems to be always on the go.

Our body easily adjusts to any style of living. My husband and I are now retired, and when we go home to the Philippines we have the maids who do our housework. In New York we do everything ourselves. We are now accustomed to having two different lifestyles. We have adjusted to the reality of having maids and not having them. When we are in the Philippines we look forward to going home to New York and when we are in New York we also look forward to going home to the Philippines. We live the Filipino way of life and eat Filipino food in the Philippines and we live the American and Filipino ways of life and eat American and Filipino food in America. It will be good to have dual citizenship now that it has become a law.

There is also a lot of traffic in New York. Going out and coming in is not easy, especially during the holidays when people go on vacations. The Long Island Expressway is called the largest parking lot in New York because it is always congested. If you want entertainment, you go to Manhattan where there are a lot of Broadway shows. The city is 24 hours on the go and it never sleeps.

Today, it is not as easy as before to find work in America because the economy is down not only here but also all over the world. It is now much harder to start life as an immigrant. House renting and buying are not the same as before because you have to show references and bank accounts and your credit standing is reviewed. They are very expensive too. The tenant pays the real estate broker a month's rent instead of the landlord. In spite of all these, small paying jobs will be able to sustain your everyday living and the rich and the poor eat the same kind of food.

In all respects, America is still the land of opportunity and a great place to live in. It is the country to which people from all over the world want to go and start new lives, even those who have good paying jobs in their own countries. It is the land of opportunity and freedom.

Last July 4, 2003, we watched the fireworks from a condo of our friend in Manhattan which were lighted from four barges on the Hudson River. It was said to be the biggest and grandest fireworks of all, and it was.

We had a big blackout in New York and neighboring states last August 2003. In the Philippines this would be taken lightly because blackouts occur very often, but not in America. It happened when the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit and no air conditioner could work and it was a big disaster. Cell phones were not working. People walked over the bridges from Manhattan to go home because no subway trains were running and then they were picked up by relatives or friends or they walked the whole way to their houses. They did so quietly and politely and accepted it, especially when they found out that it was not a terrorist attack like in 9/11. New Yorkers were again very helpful and polite and offered food and drinks to those who were walking. It showed once more how good and helpful they can be in times of need.

The second anniversary of 9/11 was remembered. The names of all the people who were killed were read by some of the children who had lost their loved ones. The occasion was well attended and very solemn. I cried watching it on TV because my daughter and I almost died during that disaster. It will be in my family's mind forever.

Dulcedehlia Almoradie is 67 years old. She worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia in New York and is now retired.

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