VOICES: Raenna Mae E. Aldabe

Raenna Mae E. Aldabe, center, poses for a photo with her family after graduating from high school in the island of Rota last May. (Contributed Photo)

Raenna Mae E. Aldabe, center, poses for a photo with her family after graduating from high school in the island of Rota last May. (Contributed Photo)

Editor’s note: In Saipan Tribune’s latest weekly series, “Voices” shares the stories of those in the CW community and sheds light on the humanitarian crisis in the CNMI.

Raenna Mae E. Aldabe, 18, has taken on the role of being a parent for her two younger siblings on Rota. She is worried to leave the island in November for the U.S. Navy after learning that her parent’s CW papers were not renewed. Aldabe now spends her summer days taking care of her family on her own in the southernmost island of the CNMI.

Her father, who worked as a stock clerk and in construction, and mother, a cashier, left Rota two weeks ago. Aldabe’s father and mother have lived in the islands for nearly 27 and 15 years, respectively.

She told Saipan Tribune that when her parents, Mercy and Restituto Aldabe, received the letter of rejection from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “they knew what was coming, which was to exit the islands.” She added, “We all didn’t expect this to happen.”

Aldabe recently graduated from Dr. Rita H. Inos Junior and Senior High School and enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate-Fuels.

“… being the older daughter who has to take on the responsibilities on my parents’ temporary absence for my two other siblings, it came as a shock for me,” she said. “It was hard especially with working because now, I get to have this unexpected opportunity of experiencing what my parents went through especially when there is a lot to balance in such a small scale.”

While sharing her struggles with her younger peers in similar situations, Aldabe noted that they wish to be able to organize their parents’ papers for petition at their age.

“We would have done it because life has been hard on them; my dad spent half of his life here on Rota and it seemed like a long time ago since he went home to Philippines. I salute my parents really for their sacrifice,” she added.”

For her younger siblings, they understand the situation and know that Aldabe will take good care of them for the time being. “They underwent what is happening. At this age, we still look for our parents. There is no doubt that it has been hard on them too, but as the older sibling I want them to know that I am here,” she added.

In the remaining days before Aldabe pursues her next challenge in the mainland, she hopes that her mother and father will return and make their family whole again.

Thomas Manglona II | Correspondent

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