25 new US citizens sworn in

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TWENTY-FIVE new U.S. citizens were sworn in at a naturalization ceremony in the District Court for the NMI on Thursday.

They are Salve Barbacena Bahillo, Charito Gatmaitan Bautista, Henry Pedroso Bautista, Elden Haygood Buhay, Francisco Soriano Buniag Jr., Marites Cruz Cabaltica, Jeneth Zinampan Cortez, Teresita Manarang Fernandez, Luz Achas Gapor, Danilo Natividad Gaza, Nelson Hernandez Gopez, Hong Shi Hanley, Jocelyn Yacan Joyce, Ronnie Carreon Manaloto, Maria Fe Salunga Miranda, Josephine Taguiam Palacios, Maria Espiritu Pensader, Celina Encarnacion Rivera, Edna Perater Ruluked, Emalyn Caras Santiago, Cleofe Saul Santos, Simplicia Solicas Sunio, Florencia Danlag Taitingfong, Rochelle Enriquez Tomokane, and Tianshuai Zhou.

Aaron Johnson, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services officer, made the motion in court to accept the applicants as new citizens.

Presiding over the special session, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted the motion and welcomed the new U.S. citizens to the American family.

Northern Marianas College Interim President Frankie Eliptico, the guest speaker, spoke about how having an immigrant father shaped who he is today.

“I learned so much from him about the value of hard work, of being committed to the family, and probably most notably, learning how to be resilient in the face of adversity and discrimination,” he said.

Eliptico’s mother was born and raised on Saipan, but his father was born in the Philippines.

“And that, my fellow citizens, is what I want to share today. This story of America. For my story is her story. And my and my father’s story was a testament to the promise of this country. That is what you are becoming a part of, this great nation built by immigrants has diversity and inclusivity as part of its foundation, its very DNA. And that your naturalization makes our country stronger.”

Eliptico encouraged the new citizens to be actively involved in the community.

The new American citizens pose for a photo with District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, Northern Marianas College Interim President Frankie Eliptico, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services immigration officer Aaron Johnson following the naturalization ceremony on Thursday in the federal courthouse.  Photo by Bryan Manabat

“We need your participation, your insights, and your vision to fuel the growth of our Commonwealth,” he added.

Marites Cabaltica, a resident of Saipan since 1982, said she was a household employee of Rep. Tina Sablan’s family when she first arrived on island.

After being a green card holder for 24 years she finally decided to apply for U.S. citizenship.

“I will register to vote this election year,” Cabaltica added. She currently is the credit manager for Express Financial.

Kanoa Resort maintenance staffer Nelson H. Gopez said he is proud and happy to become a U.S. citizen. He also plans to register and vote in this year’s elections.

Gopez arrived on Saipan in 1978, and was a construction worker.

Press Secretary Kevin Bautista’s parents Charito and Henry Bautista were among the newly sworn in U.S. citizens.

Mrs. Bautista, who has an engineering degree, said she arrived on Saipan in 1992. After acquiring her green card she applied for a job at the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality where she now works as laboratory manager.

Henry Bautista said when he arrived on Saipan in 1990, he worked in construction. He is now employed by the Department of Public Works.

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