Content and media strategy director by day and photographer also by day (and sometimes at night) Tammy David is fun to be around. But if the pandemic has taught me—one of her thousands of casual Instagram followers—anything, she’s also a hilarious presence online (some might even argue more so on Twitter). She’s a no-holds-barred sharer who’ll willingly let you into her everyday life, from her day-to-day interactions with her dad and their kasambahay to her musings about the internet by way of her self-deprecating humor. And as her recent trip to New York proves, Tammy is just as comfortable with her own company sans an ever-present audience.
She spent the entire September in Manhattan primarily to attend the opening of Silverlens Gallery’s outpost in the Chelsea Arts District. “It was a proud moment for me, who has been a part of the gallery as an artist and as their first media manager.”[READ: Silverlens Gallery has a new space in New York City]
But as luck would have it, what extended her supposedly only two-week stay to a month-long affair was getting COVID. “I have fully recovered and I’m thankful I have a sister who lives in New York. I am also grateful my office allowed me to extend my vacation leave.”
It felt surreal to do things that I used to take for granted before the pandemic.Tammy David
In this feature, she shares her experience traveling in the middle of a pandemic and being counted as one of its “casualties” along the way, from missing Harry Styles’ week-long residency at Madison Square Garden (“Natutulog ba ang diyos?!”) to having her Solange Knowles moment at the Noguchi Museum and going everywhere admission-free in between.
“My highlight reel from this trip would probably bore many of you. It was a lot of just walking around, sitting in public spaces, reading magazines, or having three-hour meals with friends.
But for me, it felt surreal to do things that I used to take for granted before the pandemic. I didn’t get to go to many places or events during this trip but no regrets. It was one of the best trips.
I just wish I got to watch Harry Styles.”
Even before the pandemic, I’m not big on traveling because of the anxiety and discomfort of being in transit. So imagine when I was preparing for this trip after three long years. My immune system must have shut down from all the stress.
I would check websites and social pages for any updates from the airline or government. I packed all kinds of documentation for health declarations or whatnot. But after getting COVID for the second time despite all the preparation, I decided to surrender and just take it easy.
The last time I visited New York was in early 2019.
One of the changes I noticed was that a handful of restaurants have outdoor dining now. There are contactless payment options in the subway and buses. But other than that, the city is still packed and I still go around with a portable bidet.
I spent a lot of time in Astoria, Queens where my sister lives. It’s a neighborhood I learned to love with a good amount of shops, museums, and accessibility to public transport.
Where to eat and read
A handful of establishments did not survive the pandemic so please support small businesses. Tipping, giving feedback and reviews, and sharing them on your socials I learned help them a lot.
Elevenses Cafe is worth the trek if you live in other boroughs. Proudly low carbon footprint, their baked goods and coffee are all lovingly prepared by its Greek American owner Georgia Koutsoupakis and her staff.
The West Village is where I like to hang out. All my favorite places in one pretty neighborhood: Casa Magazines, the iconic magazine stand, or “New York’s best-kept secret”, according to the New York Times. Casa is like my home base because the guys are like family to my sister and me.
Another is La Bonbonniere. The diner just a few doors away has the best and most affordable brunches (cash only though, and please tip the wonderful staff).
Both neighborhoods are relatively quiet but have lots of good places if you want to chill and not be bothered by jerks or the stench of sewers in the Lower East Side.
Where to go for long walks, for the culture
Clockwise, from top left:
- The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Modern Art
- The Island as seen from the Whitney Museum
- The Apple Store a.k.a. “The Cube” at Fifth Avenue
- The High Line
- International Center of Photography
- Silverlens Gallery at 505 W 24th St., New York
At the risk of sounding basic, I really loved the High Line, a reclaimed historic freight rail line turned public park located on Manhattan’s West Side. I will vote for whoever will build something similar in the Philippines.
For museums, apart from the usual, I recommend Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District for the rooftop and shows. Edward Hopper fans will have a great time there this season. Go visit the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, too, if you love sculpture and beautiful gardens.
And if you know me, the Apple Store is my Louvre. If you want to trade in, repair, or recycle your old Apple devices, check their website for the many beautiful branches around the city. Wait time is manageable compared to xx number of weeks waiting for repair and parts in Manila. My personal favorite Apple Store is “The Cube” along Fifth Avenue. Yes, I have no culture.
If you have more time to plan ahead, check the online channels of each place (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Radio City Hall, etc.) for upcoming shows, in-store events, sample sales, exhibits, or ticket deals. I learned this the hard way when I wasn’t able to get tickets to Harry Styles.