I first landed in NYC on a cold winter day on February 1994. It was freezing and I had never experienced cold weather. Back where I was born in the Philippines, we do not have weather that New Yorkers refer to as “brick”, meaning frigid ass temperatures. For the first time in my life I had to wear a jacket and boots. It was this powder baby blue oversized coat and boots I absolutely despised. I was not a fan of the first iterations of these staple pieces in cold weather I received. Looking back, I do owe my mother and my family a huge thank you for having those clothes for us ready to be worn before leaving the airport. Back in this time there was no TSA and our relatives from all of my mother’s side of the family were there to greet us at the gate, which consisted of my grandfather’s siblings along with their families. It was a lot of first experiences and I was overwhelmed, yet excited.
My first sports car ride was also my first glimpse at life in one of the best cities in the world. Since there was no room in the two vans, my mother, sister, and myself were to ride in her younger brother Rommel’s car. The car was a 1987 Saab 9000 Turbo SE in a light roasted coffee color. I never been inside a proper sports car. I have just been inside jeeps or tricycles. It was an automatic and had such a gorgeous brown leather Pelle Pelle jacket soft interior. I thought this kind of luxury was only seen in homes. I lost my sense of time during the car ride from JFK to Jackson Heights. What I do recall was the crisp roasted autumn leaves falling in a beautiful array of yellow and green tones that dropped as the acoustics of the turbo roared.
Later on in the afternoon, my Kuya Rommel, asked if “I wanted to take a drive to Manhattan?” He needed to pick up something at his job in OCS (A Japanese shipping courier company based in NYC in the 1990s). I didn’t hesitate to say no, but I needed my mother’s permission. It was cold, but I was so excited to stick my head outside of the sunroof once we got to park around 2nd or 3rd avenue. To this day I remember that first glimpse of the gigantic sky scrapers and hustle energy of New York City. I saw people from all shades, shapes, and sizes all in this controlled chaos operating with their daily routine. It was because of these first experiences I vividly remember that shaped a lot of the things I love, which I put into my work.
The pictures below are a gift from my Kuya Rommel before he moved to California in 2012. They are from the auto show here in Jacob Javits Center from the Spring show in 1991 and 1992.
I want to give you a special shot out for the gift and for putting me onto many other passions I have that we will get into later. Thanks for pushing this love to me UNC!
Peace & Love,