JRM chief Menoni speaks at naturalization ceremony

IT&E general manager Soledad, 19 others take oath as newest U.S. citizens

Twenty new U.S. citizens exhibit their certificates of citizenship in a group photo with U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy, and Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Adm. John V. Menoni outside the American Memorial Park’s Visitor’s Center Theater in Garapan after a naturalization ceremony yesterday. The ceremony was held in commemoration of the U.S. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Adm. John V. Menoni was guest speaker at yesterday’s naturalization ceremony at the American Memorial Park’s Visitor’s Center Theater in Garapan in commemoration of U.S. Citizenship Day and Constitution Day.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona presided over the naturalization ceremony for 19 Filipinos and one Korean.

Citizenship Day and Constitution Day are observed in the United States each year on Sept. 17 to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.

In his remarks, Menoni recalled being at a similar naturalization ceremony in Chicago 40 years ago, when her mother spoke the same words as the 20 who became U.S. citizens. Menoni was only 10 years old at the time. His mother grew up in Belize, which is in Central America. Menoni’s father was in the U.S. Peace Corps and was helping build a school in Belize, where he met Menoni’s mother, who is a teacher. Two years later, the two got married.

He said his mother, who was also naturalized like the 20 new citizens, wanted to become part of a country that defines itself by the guarantee of individual rights, the opportunity for its children to be whatever they want, regardless of religion, race, creed, color, gender—“a country that judges you by your actions rather than your name or who your parents are. A country that truly is the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Menoni advised the new citizens to never be afraid to stand up for what they know and believe is right.

“But, at the end of the day, always remember that we are all citizens of this great nation and of the world,” said Menoni.

One of the new citizens, Roselily A. Soledad, said her new citizenship now allows her to participate in the democratic process. “I can vote now,” she said, adding that this will open opportunities for her son’s access to grants and scholarship. “But the most important thing is to participate in the democratic process.”

Her 21-year-old son is a student at the Northern Marianas College.

Soledad first came to Saipan from the Philippines on May 10, 1989, when she worked as accountant for the late business tycoon Larry Hillblom.

“I’ve been here for 30 years,” she said.

At present, the 57-year-old Soledad is the general manager and managing director at IT&E, where her husband, George, also works.

It was IT&E that petitioned Soledad to get a green card in 2000. She expects her husband’s oath-taking for citizenship to be next year.

For Un Hui K. Babauta, a Korean, she is just so happy to obtain her citizenship. She said she will stay on Saipan, that she loves.

Babauta first came to the island from Seoul in 1988, when she worked as a garment factory worker. She then met Kevin Babauta, and they got married in 1990. They have three children.

The 52-year-old Babauta now works as an assistant branch supervisor at the Bank of Saipan.

Aside from Soledad and Babauta, the other new citizens are Estrella B. Aguon, Grace P. Atalig, Lornet D. Bangot, Kevin John E. Barros, Zachary K. Cepeda, Arsenia F. Dasalla, Robert D. Dasalla, Pantaleon P. Dejillas, Buhay F. Deleon Guerrero, Rito B. Doca, Wildreda B. Hofschneider, Maria Teresa S. Jayaweera, Rowell C. Pamaran, Marissa N. Pinlac, Hormedas A. Puspus, Teresita L. Restum, Roderick B. Sagucio, and Gregorio C. Santiago Jr.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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