A native of Madagascar, who will soon leave Saipan for work in Africa, got herself a great going-away present after joining 16 others yesterday in a naturalization ceremony in the U.S. District Court for the NMI
“I did it. And I thank my family and my husband, who brought me to this new culture,” said Christina Abeare, who is currently studying at the Northern Marianas College taking up business administration, with a major in accounting. “I’m much relieved. I’m happy and excited to be American.”
Abeare said this does not mean that she is going to lose her culture; rather, she said she is she is going to be embracing another culture.
Abeare, 37, met her biologist husband, Dr. Shane Abeare, in Madagascar in 2019, where he worked as director of a marine conservation non-profit group. They later moved to the U.S. mainland and were married there. After four years, the couple flew to Saipan after Dr. Abeare got a job at the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Dr. Abeare said he has another job in Africa and that they will be leaving Saipan in two to three weeks.
For Pamela Olivia Villadores Walsh, she is thankful to her husband and America for the new opportunities that await her.
“Today is the first day I am using my husband’s last name,” said the 39-year-old teacher at Saipan International School.
Walsh, who hails from Quezon City, the Philippines, said with her citizenship, she and her husband can travel more or move to the U.S. mainland. She actually did not expect to take her oath yesterday as she just had her naturalization interview last week.
Walsh worked as a teacher in Japan for 13 years. She moved to Saipan in 2015, where she met her husband. The two were married in Japan and they have two children.
Dr. Alberto Banarez Ventura, 72, is excited to be a U.S. citizen. Ventura, a dentist who hails from Makati, Philippines, first arrived on Saipan in 1978. He was a dentist at the Commonwealth Health Center for 33 years. He is currently working in a private dental clinic, Smile Marianas.
Ventura obtained his citizenship after one of his four Saipan-born children petitioned him.
Former press secretary Peter A. Callaghan, who is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, served as the guest speaker at the ceremony.
“I am a veteran and, since last Monday was Veterans Day, you got me,” Callaghan told U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, drawing laughs from the people in the courtroom.
Callaghan, who served the U.S. Air Force for 20 years and spent almost a year in three different prison camps in Hanoi, believes his experience in Vietnam gave him a much deeper appreciation of the freedoms that people enjoy as Americans and that the new citizens enjoy as new Americans. “As new citizens I think that it is something that you will appreciate also,” he said.
Callaghan recalled that he was also in the same courtroom 12 years ago when he watched his wife took her oath as a U.S. citizen.
Callaghan said they don’t ask the new citizens to give up their tradition where they came from, or to give up their families or values.
“What we do ask is bring the best of your culture to us. And in return, we will give you the best of our culture. Congratulations and welcome to the United States. I’m proud of all of you,” Callaghan said.
Callaghan is active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and CNMI Crime Stoppers Program.
Aside from Abeare, Walsh, and Ventura, the other new citizens are Norman Lugtu Arda, Anita Bendana Barce, Cecilia Cabute Batallones, Renato Prado Batallones, Lolita Valino Catap, David Acain Cuevas Jr., Lorito Dominico Feria, Rosalina Del Rosario Garcia, Ma Leo Ann Derla Hix, Ernesto Nabong Lopez, Yan Che Magofna, Angelito Dela Cruz Sandig, Fe Sinfuego Sicad, and Miguel Capanas Sicad Jr. They are mostly originally from the Philippines.