Back in 2001, Feyma and I decided to buy a franchise of a shipping/logistics company. The company was based in Manila, and we intended to have our branch of the company in General Santos City, where we lived.
As part of purchasing the franchise, I had to go up to Manila for one week for training. There were training sessions to be held in two different locations in the greater Manila area, based on what the subject of the training was. Our first day of training was to be held in Paranaque, in part of the NAIA airport area. Of course, as a shipping company, air transport was used extensively, and that is why part of our training was held at NAIA.
Feyma’s brother, Chito, used to live in Paranaque at that time, just a few miles from the airport, so it was all arranged that I would stay at Chito’s house during that part of the training. The second part of the training was to be held in Quezon City, and I had a good friend who lived in that area, so I gladly accepted his invitation to stay at his house when that part of the training came along.
The first day of our training, a Monday, was interesting and uneventful. I enjoyed the learning, and picked up a number of things from the training. That night, I was tired from a long day at the airport, and I went back to Chito’s house and rested. The next day of training was again at NAIA, so I rose early and headed for the airport. My habit while there was to ride FX taxis (like an SUV that would take a number of passengers along it’s route) to the Airport area where I was heading. Another day of training, nothing unusual.
When I got home on Tuesday evening, though, something happened that would change my life forever. It would change the lives of virtually everybody reading this article. My brother-in-law called me. I was upstairs, he was downstairs. So, I went down to ask what he needed. He told me, “Bob, you better turn on the TV.” “Why?” I asked. “Just turn it on and look at CNN, there was a plane crash in the States.”
So, I did go watch the TV, and saw that a plane had crashed into one of the buildings of the World Trade Center in New York City. The first reports were that a small plane, they said maybe it was a Cessna, had hit the building. I watched for a while, and was having a hard time figuring out how a small plane could have caused such devastation. After 15 or 20 minutes of watching, right on camera, a second plane, and certainly not a Cessna, hit the other building of the World Trade Center. Oh my, this was obviously not an accident. We all know the story. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC. Then a 4th plane crashed in Pennsylvania. The USA was at war. I don’t need to go into detail on this. Anybody who was alive and old enough to understand what was going on on September 11, 2001 will remember the details for the rest of their lives. This was, after all, our generation’s Pearl Harbor.
It was shocking. Horrifying.
I stayed up late that night watching the coverage. The next morning, though, I had to continue with my training at the airport, so off I went. I was truly shocked at what happened that day. On September 12, 2001 here in the Philippines, when I went out in public, people would come up to me on the streets and ask me if I was an American. When I said that I was indeed an American, they would offer their prayers to me, and their sorrow for what had happened. Some people, when they approached me that day were crying. It was quite shocking to me, because although the event had saddened me greatly, I really didn’t think that people here, thousands of miles away would really care all that much. I was wrong, though, people in almost every part of the world cared, and mourned for the USA.
I still think about what happened in the USA on 9/11/2001. There is hardly a day that would pass without my thinking about 9/11 at least once. I did not lose any loved ones that day, but I did love every person who lost their lives in the attack. In the past couple of years I have seen a couple of documentaries about the events of that day, and it can easily bring a tear to my eye, and I am not ashamed to admit that. I think that is probably true for most of us.
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is coming up in just a couple of days. I hope that the era of terror around the world can end within my lifetime, although that is probably a pipe dream. But, I do want to take a minute to remember those victims of the tragedy. And, it makes me think about how my life was impacted those days in Manila.
Oh, so some of you are probably wondering… what ever happened with that shipping company that we purchased? Well, things did not really work out on that, but it’s a story for another time.