Eclipse, earthquake and Emil Amok in New York
Emil Amok!

Eclipse, earthquake and Emil Amok in New York

For Filipino American history from colonization forward, and how it impacts all of us, it’s almost a total eclipse—of history
/ 03:36 PM April 08, 2024

New York skyline

FILE – The skyline of midtown Manhattan is visible from a room at the Millennium Hilton New York Hotel in New York City. Officials say an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 shook the densely populated New York City metropolitan area. Residents reported they felt rumbling across the Northeast on Friday morning. The quake was centered in New Jersey about 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

The eclipse is supposed to last four minutes.

My “gongular” eclipse, “Emil Amok’s Takeout, Lost NPR Host…” part of the New York City Fringe festival lasts at least an hour.

That’s a lot longer than that digital billboard that flashed over Times Square last week. If you blinked and missed it, something is scheduled to run again this week.

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It’s all about spreading the word of the NYC Fringe Festival this year, featuring a number of AAPI shows like “Yoga For Billionaires,” “Curry and Catharsis,” “Mulan and Now,” and “No F*s Given, None Taken, All Done,” as well as my “Emil Amok” monologues.

In fact, Monday after the solar eclipse is visible, all or in part to more than 30 million Americans, my “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host , Wiley Filipino, Vegan Transdad,” has its second performance at Under St. Marks Theater in the East Village at 8:10 pm. (Ticket info below.)

I must like performing in the wake of Mother Nature.


Last Friday, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake shook New York City, reported as the “biggest earthquake with an epicenter in the NYC area since 1884” when a 5.2 quake hit. A bit bigger. The last quake similar to Friday’s was a 4.9 in 1783.

Alexander Hamilton felt it 241 years ago.

That’s why New Yorkers were freaking out on Friday.


They were in the room where it happens.

It just doesn’t happen that often.

Beyonce singing country music happens more frequently.

Last week when I felt New York’s earthquake, it reminded me of a time in a San Francisco TV newsroom when editors fretted about a lack of news an hour before showtime.

Then the office carpeting moved for a good ten seconds, and the News Gods gave us our lead story.

On Friday when it happened in NYC, I noticed the lines in the carpeting in my hotel room wiggling. But I thought it was from a raucous hotel worker vacuuming nearby.

I didn’t even think “earthquake.”  In New York?

I just went about my business as if nothing had happened. Considering the age of structures in New York, I should have been more concerned about falling objects inside (shelves, stuff on walls) and outside buildings (signs, scaffolding), fire hazards from possible gas leaks, and then I should have looked for others on my floor and in the hotel lobby to confirm or aid or tell stories.

Earthquakes are great for stories. Was it more bongo board or hula hoop?

Those are the things to watch for next time.

For New Yorkers, that may be in another 241 years—2265?

Of course, as a Californian who has lived through and covered quakes in the 4 to 6 magnitude range, I tried to calm down any traumatized New Yorker I encountered by taking full responsibility for bringing in the quake from the Bay Area.

I reassured them things would be all right, and then let them know that 4.8s are nothing.

And then I invited them to my consoling post-Earthquake performance of “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host…” where I bang the earthquake fears away.

A Filipino store in Manhattan

It’s nice to have a billboard flash the name of my show for less than a New York minute, but it’s less effective than actually meeting New York Filipinos in person.

There I was at Johnny Air Mart on Avenue A and E. 14th St., where a woman at the register named Evelyn declared it the only Filipino store in Manhattan.

Next to what looked like my mom’s conchinta and bibingka pastries, stood Evelyn, the youngish looking woman in her 50s who managed the store. She came to America less than ten years ago from the same Philippines province as my father, and travels by subway from the Bronx to her job every day. She’s also typical of the new Filipino American community, whose fate is tied up in U.S. politics and history.

She shared local news like the story of the Filipino man whose face was slashed in the subway during the pandemic. She pointed to the stop where it happened in the neighborhood, a few blocks from the store.

But how much Filipino American history did she know?

Could she tell me when the first Filipinos arrived in America and were struck by a javelin?

Did she know of Filipinos from my father’s era who came in the 1920s?

She just shrugged her shoulders and smiled.

And that’s what I find is the case for most of our community. When I started doing my show, which describes how my life is determined by American history, I thought it was the majority—mostly whites–who were ignorant.

It’s actually everyone who is in the dark about this history.

For Filipino American history from colonization forward, and how it impacts all of us as AAPIs, Filipinos and Americans, it’s almost a total eclipse—of history.

Come out of the darkness. See my show on Monday night, April 8.

No eclipse glasses needed. You won’t be blinded by the truth.

A portion of profits from my five-show run will be donated to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a force for the AAPI community the last 50 years.

Go to this link, scroll down to the calendar and pick a date: The next screen gives the option for a live in-person show, or a “Watch from home” option for live streamers.

See you post-eclipse for “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host, Wiley Filipino, Vegan Transdad.”

My friends keep asking: “Transdad?” Is that a Mrs. Doubtfire thing?

You’ll have to see the show!

After Monday the 8th, there’s just three more to catch my un- eclipsed history of American Filipinos

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for’s US Channel. See his micro-talk show on

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TAGS: Fil-Am history, Filipino American history
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