September 4, 2005 (Sunday)
11:40 p.m., New York
I had a good time in New York.
I went around Times Square on Friday evening after watching “Lion King” and had a feel of “the city that never sleeps.”
On Saturday I met Merpu Roa, a journalist from way back in Mindanao who is now based in New York with his family. He brought me to this camera store, which was unfortunately closed, to the Rockefeller Center, to Greenwich Village and to the Union Square where I watched people do all sorts of “raket.”
“Basta marunong ka lang, mabubuhay ka dito,” Merpu said. He’s into video editing and independent video production aside from babysitting his children. His wife is teaching.
Merpu took pictures of me in front of the Associated Press office beside the Rockefeller building, in front of the HBO office, the MNSBC, News Corp and all sorts of buildings.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” he said. “Just do it.”
He brought me to Strand Bookstore and left me there to be on my own. I bought books on journalism and literature before I had my first adventure in the subway, losing myself several times on my way back to the hotel.
I walked around the block in the middle of the night and browsed books sold on the sidewalk at past one in the morning.
Today I went to Greenwich to meet independent filmmaker Fruto Corre. He surprised me when he said Lav Diaz is in town and will meet me after lunch.
Lav brought me around the village and introduced me to Filipino artists based in New York. There’s Blue who’s fascinated with shoes, said Fruto. There’s funny Alex, an artist who said he can’t just leave the United States because of the “United Nations” of beautiful girls, although Lav said Alex is afraid to talk when his wife is around, and there’s Lex who Alex said was affected by the 9/11 incident “at medyo lumuluwag na minsan.”
We went around the village. We went to this place where rock and roll stars used to play and to a place where actors and actresses rehearse. They showed me where poor and struggling artists live supported by the La Mama Foundation, where Alex evacuated his computers after the building that used to house his studio was demolished and they showed me the bookshops.
Lav pointed out to me a tree, which he said was very small when he started shooting “Ebolusyon” 15 years ago. “Ebolusyon” runs for more than 10 hours. Lav said he did not even include the scenes shot in America. He showed the places where he shot many of his films, including the place where he once saw a Filipina selling books who became the subject of an unfinished project.
This evening I visited Sari Dalena and Keith Sicat whose film “Rigodon” was shown at the Montreal Film Festival the other day. They just arrived from Montreal this afternoon with their six-month old baby.
There were many stories. How I wish I could write more now but I am overwhelmed and I still have to pack my luggage for my flight to Tampa, Florida, early tomorrow morning.
It’s a fruitful stay in New York, a melting pot of people. I will be back here to listen to their stories. Yes, listen to stories because that’s what I am here for.