Accountant takes citizenship oath before former boss

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, seated second from left, Veterans of Foreign Wars Saipan Post 3457 commander Brad E. Ruszala, seated left, and Immigration Services officer Teresa Vega-Murietta, seated extreme right, pose for a photo with 14 flag-waving new U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony in the District Court last Friday. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Mario Magora Cabalza’s first boss with MS Villagomez Inc. on Saipan in 1991 was Ramona Villagomez Manglona.

After 27 years, Manglona, now chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the NMI, presented Cabalza with a certificate as one of 14 new U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony last Friday.

Manglona, who presided over the naturalization ceremony, hugged the beaming 61-year-old Cabalza after she handed him the certificate.

In her remarks, Manglona said she is “very grateful” that Cabalza was at the naturalization ceremony, noting that he has been an accountant with MS Villagomez Inc. and the Villagomez family for 27 years.

Cabalza said it was their daughter who petitioned him and his wife to become U.S. citizens. Cabalza, a native of Cagayan Valley, the Philippines, first arrived on the island in March 1988 to work as an accountant. In 1991, he transferred to MS Villagomez Inc. “Up to now I’m still with them, with the family…27 years,” he said.

Aside from being an accountant, Cabalza also supervises some of MS Villagomez’s properties and helps the family with their taxes.

Cabalza and his wife, Lucille Sison Cabalza, have two children.

Yu Wang, a former Chinese national, said it is a wonderful feeling to take his oath as a U.S. citizen. Wang, a tour agent, first arrived on the island in 2009. He has been married to a local resident for seven years.

Brad Ruszala, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Saipan Post 3457 and a public affairs specialist for Joint Region Marianas, served as the guest speaker at the ceremony.

Ruszala said it is a great honor for him to be among the first to welcome the new citizens as “my fellow Americans.”

Ruszala related that, except for one, his great grandparents immigrated to the U.S. at the turn of the century to “chase the American dream.”

“All of my father’s grandparents made the journey from Poland, while my mother’s grandparents came from Hungary and England, save for my great grandpa Neal, who was a native American of the Cherokee tribe,” he said.

Ruszala said the new citizens have a lot in common with his great grandparents. “You’ve found the courage to leave your homeland in search of something new, something better.”

Ruszala called them adventurers—explorers who are not content with what was given and intrigued by the challenges ahead. “Today is a big step, but it is just the first step of your American journey,” he added.

Ruszala said that, as the sons of immigrants, each of his grandparents served in the U.S. Army, and his father followed suit when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. When his turn came, he enlisted with the Army.

Manglona stated it’s truly a wonderful feeling to see fellow Americans, even those who live far from the CNMI, showing care to the CNMI after Super Typhoon Yutu’s fury. The judge said people from the military has come forward to assist the CNMI in its recovery efforts.

Twelve of the 14 new citizens hail from the Philippines. Two are from China and Japan.

Aside from the Cabalza couple and Yu Wang, the other new citizens are Severo Rivero Avila Jr., Susana Reyes Castro, Teresita Aureo Dela Cruz, Mary Ann Canzado Epley, Ma. Rayda Alcara Ferrer, Rosita Duazo Galvan, Candida Parasdas Mabaet, Carlos Prado Mabaet, Alfredo Bayangos Paras, Tessie Fami Santos, and Isamu Takagi.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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