For Dalia Raqueno Agulto, acquiring her U.S. citizenship after being on Saipan for 32 years means no more hassles during off-island travels.
Agulto, 53, is a native of Cavite, the Philippines. She was married in 1981 to District Court security officer Ramon Agulto. They have three children.
“I'm happy. I'm very proud to be a U.S. citizen,” Mrs. Agulto told Saipan Tribune shortly after she and 16 others took their oath to become U.S. citizens during yesterday's naturalization ceremony.
Mrs. Agulto first came to Saipan on May 3, 1980, working as a housemaid.
She recalled that when they traveled before, her family would patiently wait for her at the airport because of all the questions and processing.
“Now my travel is easy and fast,” said the beaming Mrs. Agulto.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona administered the oath to Mrs. Agulto and 16 other petitioners.
The 16 other newest citizens are Yuk Tak Wong, Hermogenes Yumol Camiguing, Dalisay Bederio Cepeda, Ethel Liza Medina Daproza, Eduardo Miranda Guinto Jr., Lizabeth Bocatot Hofschneider, Mary Jane Atchico Maratita, Anna Lee Sanchez Mendiola, Wilma Manalastas Miller, Leonardo Dollente Pascua, Teresita Supnet Pascua, Remedios Generalao Ritumalta, Lualhati Moreno Sanchez, Sol Consuelo Cabrera San Nicolas, MD Momen Sarker, and Mary Ann Salvoro Tenorio.
Four other successful petitioners-Mikie Mihara Chong, Angelina Lumabas Pacala, Roberto Panotes Pacala, and Loreto Millano Presto-failed to attend the ceremony.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer Diane Zedde presented the names of the 17 petitioners, all of whom were Filipinos except for one from Hong Kong and one from Bangladesh.
For 60-year-old Wong, getting U.S. citizenship provides stability in his stay on Saipan and the U.S. mainland.
“I want to enjoy my retirement benefits,” said Wong, who along with wife, Carol, own Canton Restaurant. The couple has two children.
Wong and his wife came to Saipan in 1983 to open the restaurant.
U.S. Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan, who served as the guest speaker at the ceremony, said he is very honored as the first person to call the petitioners “my fellow Americans.”
“Just like you, America is my adopted country.My fellow Americans, congratulations,” said Sablan, drawing applause from family members and relatives of the newest U.S. citizens.