This story was originally published on TheFilAm.net, an online magazines for Filipinos living in New York.
Nenita Grijalvo walked up the stage and began to wipe a tear even before she could utter a word.
“9/11 is the day that changed our lives forever,” began the widow of Ramon Grijalvo, the devoted Ilonggo husband who worked as a computer analyst at Blue Cross Blue Shield, which occupied 10 floors at One World Trade Center.
Ramon did not die instantly when the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001. First, he suffered severe burns, and then humiliation. He was mistakenly turned over to a Chinese family, recalled Nenita. “He died on September 15; we buried my husband after 10 days.”
Ramon and 20 other Filipinos were among the nearly 3,000 people who perished in 9/11. Their lives were remembered in nuggets of narratives read in a solemn ceremony marked by music and spoken word performances. The Tenth Anniversary Tribute for Filipino American Families was a collaboration by 15 community organizations led by the Filipino American National Historical Society of Metro New York.
“This time of the year is never easy for any of us,” intoned Dr. Kevin Nadal, president of the FANHS-Metro NY, who lost an uncle to the historic tragedy. It is a time, he said, when Filipinos saw their homes crumble and their dreams crushed. “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.”