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Opinion: Surviving the earthquake, the eclipse and Emil Amok. |

Opinion: Surviving the earthquake, the eclipse and Emil Amok.  |


Written by Emil Guillermo

I'm from Northern California and staying in New York City for the next few weeks, presenting my one-man show, “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host, Wiley Filipino, Vegan Transdad.”

Gotta love performing in the wake of Mother Nature.

Last Friday, a 4.8-magnitude earthquake shook New York City, and it was reported as the “largest earthquake centered in the New York City area since 1884” when a 5.2-magnitude quake struck. A little bigger. The last earthquake similar to Friday's, with a magnitude of 4.9, was in 1783.

Alexander Hamilton felt it 241 years ago.

That's why New Yorkers were panicking on Friday. They were in the room where it happened.

This doesn't happen very often.

Beyoncé sings country music frequently.

When I felt New York shake last week, it reminded me of the time I spent in a San Francisco television newsroom when editors worried about a lack of news an hour before showtime.

Then the office carpet moved for ten seconds, and the news gods gave us our lead story.

When this happened on Friday in New York City, I noticed the lines in the carpet in my room vibrating. But I thought it was from a noisy hotel attendant who was vacuuming nearby.

I didn't even think about the earthquake. in New York?

I continued my work as if nothing had happened. After living near fault lines my whole life, I took things for granted.

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Given the age of the structures in New York, I should have been more concerned about things falling inside (shelves, things on the walls) and outside the buildings (signs, scaffolding), and the fire risks from potential gas leaks, and so I should have researched Others are on my floor and in the hotel lobby to confirm, help, or tell stories.

Of course, as a Californian who has lived through and covered magnitude 4-6 earthquakes, I tried to comfort any traumatized New Yorkers I encountered by taking full responsibility for bringing the earthquake from the Bay Area.

I reassured them that things would be okay, then told them that 4.8 was nothing.

And then I invited them to my post-earthquake comfort show called “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host…”

It was the night of the eclipse.


In New York City, the eclipse was about 90 percent visible. That is enough for me. Although a total solar eclipse is a rare occurrence in the sky, obstructions of any kind are generally not celebrated. My solo play is about growing up with the disappearing history of Filipino Americans and how I struggle to break through all of that.

For example, did you know that the first Filipinos actually arrived in what is now California in 1587? It was 33 years before the Pilgrims arrived in America on the other coast, but few knew of the Filipino history that had been completely erased.

I was in Battery Park sitting on a bench and there was a sense of community as people all came looking for them. There was a young woman sitting next to me holding a filter for her cell phone camera. We started talking and she let me use it. This filter enabled me to capture a photo of the main event using my iPhone.

To help me with the vision, I invited her and her boyfriend to come see my show.

Coincidentally, she was from Plymouth, Massachusetts, near the rock that marks the year the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

In my presentation I learned the truth. The pilgrims came in second place.

History has been unblocked. But it took a solar eclipse.

Next in 2044? We have a lot to do to undo the ban.

If you're in New York, come see my show, Saturday. April 13, 5:20 PM ET; Friday. April 19, 8:10 PM ET; And the sun. April 21 at 5:20 PM ET.

You can also stream the show live. Get tickets at

About the author

Emile Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He hosts a mini talk show on He wishes all his readers a Happy Easter!




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