8 Unforgettable

Humans of New York Stories

that Touched Our Hearts

By Tynne De Leon

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What started as a simple blog by Brandon Stranton about portraits and stories of people living in New York has turned into a Facebook phenomenon that has inspired millions of people across the globe. Yes, we’re talking about the famous page Humans of New York, which as of this writing, has over 18 million likes on Facebook. And if you haven’t heard yet, they will capture stories here in Manila by the end of this month! They’re also looking for a local interpreter to help with the interviews. What an amazing surprise for 2018!

With its supportive and engaging community, the page has definitely moved us in different ways with its stories—from heartbreaking to inspiring. Here are some of the most unforgettable ones:

8. This story of undying love (February 24, 2013)

“When my husband was dying, I said: ‘Moe, how am I supposed to live without you?’ He told me: ‘Take the love you have for me and spread it around.'”


7. This tragic war story and its unexpected plot twist (July 30, 2014)

We fled to the Philippines, which was under American occupation at the time. But it wasn’t long before the Japanese took over the islands. We were living in Manila, and when the Japanese occupied the city, they began to teach us to read and write Japanese. When the Americans came to retake the city, they invaded from the north, and the Japanese blew up the bridges and barricaded themselves in the southern part of the city where we lived. Shells were falling all around us because the Japanese had stationed a gun encampment across from our house. One morning, we decided to make a run for the hospital, so that we could put ourselves under the protection of the Red Cross. Our neighbors were running in front of us, pushing their belongings on a pushcart, when they stepped on a landmine and the whole family was killed. We kept running, but when we got to the main street, there was a checkpoint and we weren’t allowed to cross. So we hid beneath a house, and soon we were discovered by Japanese soldiers. They lined us all up against the wall to be executed. We begged and begged and begged for our lives. They finally allowed my mother and the children to step aside, but they told my father to stay. My mother dropped to her knees and asked the Japanese commander to imagine it was his family. And he finally let all of us go.”


6. This badass woman who proved that you don’t need to depend on another person to be happy (January 4, 2014)

“When I was 19, my girlfriend and I were going to study in Paris. Our boyfriends came to the docks to see us off. Right as we were getting on the ship, my friend’s boyfriend said to her: ‘If you go, I won’t wait for you.’ So she turned around and decided to stay. My fiance saw this and told me: ‘I won’t wait for you either.’

I said: ‘Don’t!'”


5. This three-part story of a man and his unconditional love for his wife (November 22, 2016)

I was nineteen. She was sixteen. Our dates were normally on Sunday. We didn’t do much of anything. We were conservative. I was a farmer. We weren’t those swinging type people. But every date was a little more cuddly. Then she took me to her senior prom. It was just ten miles from here—in Richmond. I was the only one there without a tuxedo. All those city folks didn’t know what to make of me. I can’t tell you when we fell in love. I can’t even tell you when I asked her to marry me. It was just natural. I think we were just sitting in the car and I gave her the ring. I don’t have many big moments to share. We were simple people. They were all happy days.”

“We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in Branson, Missouri. On the drive home, she kept telling me that we were going the wrong way. She was very insistent. I didn’t fight her. I kept letting her turn around because I knew that eventually, we’d hit the main road back to Michigan. I knew then. Her father had dementia. And so did his father. So I knew what was happening. Soon she started forgetting names. When it started getting really bad, she wanted to walk away. She was always trying to leave the house. I’d have to lie in front of the door to keep her from going. One morning I woke up and I couldn’t find her. I freaked out: ‘Where did she go? Where did she go?’ I ran outside and it was totally dark. Down the road there was a streetlight. And I could barely see her—crossing the road. I ran and I got her. But she fought me. She didn’t want to come back home.”

“I miss that we can’t go out and dance. Or visit other people. We used to volunteer at the senior center every Wednesday. She’d play the piano, and I’d turn the pages for her. The hymns were some of the last things she remembered. Music was her life. But one day she wouldn’t play anymore. And I told the staff that they’d need to find someone else. So we stay here now. But I don’t see this as a curse. It’s an honor. This is what the Lord has given me to do. She has served this family her entire life. And now it’s my turn to serve her. I might not have her mentally. But I have her. I can still make her smile. I can make bubbly noises, and blow on her, and she’ll smile. Every morning we’ll sit in this chair and we’ll cuddle until noon. I rock this lady more than I rock my grandchildren. She likes to slip her hand under my shirt to feel my skin. And she still likes to kiss. Every once in awhile she’ll reach up and give me a kiss. Sometimes she starts ‘yakking.’ She doesn’t say actual words. And it doesn’t make any sense. But I never tell her to be quiet, because it’s better than nothing at all.”

4. This ER nurse that remind us that it’s okay to admit that we’re hurting (October 18, 2016)

“I don’t communicate my feelings. My entire family was like that. We’ve always sort of just swept things under the rug. I think that’s what makes me a good ER nurse. I don’t take things home with me. I can separate myself emotionally and just focus on what needs to be done. But it also makes me pretty bad at relationships. I met Gavin while traveling in Europe last year. We traveled together for two weeks, then he came home and met my family, and then we went to Mexico for a week. After that, we talked every day. Gavin was the opposite of me. He was warm and happy and touchy. He’d even tell random strangers that they looked nice. But I pulled back the moment we got too close. Because I don’t like the feeling of being dependent on someone. Gavin was killed in a car crash at the end of January. He was alone in England and I didn’t even find out until days after it happened. I’ve tried to handle it like I always do. I try not to think about it or talk about it. But it’s not working so well this time. I’m taking things more personally at work. If a patient comes to the ER with similar injuries, I always ask myself: ‘What if this was Gavin?’”


3. This writer who inspired us to pursue our dreams (March 23, 2016)

“I graduated fifteen years ago with a degree in theater, but I wasn’t really doing anything with it. I was working at a theater box office. I was writing just enough so that I could tell people I was a ‘playwright.’ I’d tell my wife I was going to the coffee shop to write, but I’d end up just staring at the screen. I was about to give up completely. The city has a way of crowning young geniuses that makes you feel old. But my wife always had an unending belief that I had something to offer. It got to the point where even that belief was hard to hear because it made me feel like I was letting her down. Finally, a friend of mine convinced me to do a small reading at his theater. He just kept bothering me about it. And when I finally agreed, so many other people stepped forward to help. I wasn’t living in the vacuum I thought I was. Once I lit the fire, people came and sat around it. So many people were willing to lend their craft to my idea. I’ve put on four plays in the past three years. They’ve all been very small productions. I’m much more frantic and stressed now. I lay awake at night wondering if I’m going to sell any tickets. But at least my life has urgency and purpose. My wife is proud of me. Though now I’m sure she wishes I wasn’t so absentminded. And that I’d remember to close the front door. And that our living room wasn’t always filled with props.”


2. This kid who just might become a president in the future (October 24, 2016)

“I was born in Venezuela. I moved here two years ago. I want to be President of Venezuela to change things and make better the world. Did you know that sometimes in Venezuela people shoot each other on purpose? I will change that. Also, there will be rules against pushing people or thinking bad thoughts about people. I will make a rule so that there will not be too much cutting or killing of trees. And there will be a rule against killing too many animals because animals eat insects, and we can’t have too many insects. I will also make sure that we don’t waste water or food. Or if there is food left over, we have to be sure to put it in the trash. I can’t be president now because I’m only eight. But I did skip first grade.”


1. This piece of advice from the former President of the United States (November 10, 2016)

“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ – then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”


What’s your favorite HONY story? Share with us in the comments section below!

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