By Alex P. Vidal
“In New York, you’ve got Donald Trump, Woody Allen, a crack addict and a regular Joe, and they’re all on the same subway car.”—Ethan Hawke
A US-based friend on a vacation in the Philippines to campaign for a cousin in the recent election, has asked me to “avoid the (New York City) subway right away.”
He gave the phone numbers of his uncle and aunt based in Brooklyn to contact “just in case you need help.”
My friend, who knows I travel regularly via subway, panicked when he learned that a Goldman Sachs executive, 48-year-old Daniel Enriquez, was shot by a stranger at point-blank range riding the subway May 22 to mid-morning brunch, dying in the Q train car.
The news frightened my friend who was miles away in the Philippines.
It was also in this controversial Q train where I was verbally attacked in March 2021 on my way to Brooklyn’s Coney Island.
The latest murder in the Big Apple’s splendid subway made headlines and became viral all over the United States and in some parts of the globe.
For a while, it became the hottest crime topic until it was overshadowed by the shocking school shooting in Uvalde, Texas where 19 elementary pupils and their two female teachers were massacred by an 18-year-old wacko on May 24.
We can’t stop crimes from happening everywhere and anytime if they are bound to happen even in the sounds of silence.
According to Simon and Garfunkel in the Sound of Silence, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenements halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.”
The source of fear of New York City subway was actually a result of the constant violence and murders that happened these past two years involving mostly Asians.
Even if we want to, we can’t avoid the subway if we live and work in the Big Apple’s five boroughs—the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island—which are all connected by rapid subway system.
I can’t avoid it, I mean I can’t use the other modes of transportation (bus or taxi) if I hop from one workplace to another especially during rush hours.
What happened to Enriquez can still be considered an isolated case; here we go again—he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, so to speak, or in the wrong train at the wrong car (the train has 10 cars).
Since March 2020, there have been 18 victims of subway homicide, each one a preventable tragedy, according to crime watchers. And each one a message to the rest of New York that it’s unsafe to ride the rails.
Enriquez was minding his business on a ho-hum ride while traveling across the Manhattan Bridge from affluent Park Slope to affluent Manhattan, according to New York Post’s Nicole Gelinas.
Then a person on the train car, pacing up and down, picked him.
“Whether the suspect was motivated by racial animus, a perceived slight, or nothing—who knows?” Gelinas asked. “There’s nothing Enriquez could have done to prevent his own death — except not take the subway.”
In 2016, several pocket celebrations in the streets erupted anywhere in the Philippines when Rodrigo Duterte was elected as Philippines president by 16,601,997 voters.
In 2022, not even a single street celebration has occurred when Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected by 31,629,783 voters.
Philippine Star columnist Federico D. Pascual Jr. asked in his column dated May 29, 2022: “Many are wondering why Marcos’ majority win did not trigger rejoicing all over. Where are his supposed 31.6 million voters? There was not even one busload of festive followers waving celebratory banners in front of the Marcos campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong. And why the unusual drop in the output of BBM social media trolls?”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)