US Citizenship and Naturalization

For many Filipinos, being in the United States is a great privilege. You cannot please everyone and there are also a few people not happy in the United States and opt to go back to the Philippines. But most like here mainly because of the financial benefits and what they can give to their family and loved ones.

I was a natural born American Citizen but grew up in the Philippines since the age of 5. For many years a lot of people kept telling me why am I in the Philippines? With what you know you can make a fortune in the United States. True or not, what I am earning here is nothing compare to what I was earning in the Philippines. And many of us still consider ourselves underpaid compared to the industry standards.

Last June 9, 2005, I had to drive my mom-in-law to her oath taking ceremony for her awarding of her US Citizenship together with my dad-in-law that was awarded his citizenship a little bit earlier. With all the online maps for the US, looking for the place was not hard at all.

As I was thinking that this thing is a ceremony in a small room with a handful of people, and I was so wrong. There was a very very very long line just getting into the Hall where the ceremony will be held. And I said to myself “What? A hall? How many people are here?”

As expected in this part of the country, you will hear the native Filipino language everywhere. And when we were allowed to enter, me and Papa, went up to the viewers area and the venue looked like a big college graduation to me. It was announce that there were 1,057 people who were there to be declared as US Citizens and that the current venue will be the last time the US Citizenship and Immigration Services will be using that venue and the following oath takings in the future will be at another venue. So that specific batch was called a special one. Aside from that, the Judge who officiated the oath taking was also his last year before he goes into retirement. They said that venue alone has already made 122,000+ US Citizens already ever since they have been using that venue.

The ceremony started with this musical sing and dance number by the Music in Motion Choir of one of the nearby high schools, which is their pride of being Nationally known in various choir competitions. I’m not a big fan of musical, theatrical arts, although I think I’ll enjoy watching ballet and symphony orchestras. So for me I first thought this thing would be boring.

As they performed, their songs progress into various tunes you recognize, common everyday songs of the past that caught my attention. They really did not have the original background music of the songs, but the choir’s voices was good enough. And even if the tunes were delivered in a somewhat happy tempo, upon listening to the lyrics, they have so much meaning into it. I cannot remember each specific song and lyrics but it was all about family, hard work, hope, living a better life. It reflected the main reason why all these 1000+ people were all there for. They worked soooo hard for where they are right now. Which reminds me of the many Filipinos that would go the extra mile just to get here, top doctors study nursing, which is just a few more units since that is more in demand here. Ordinary people or oven people with various successful professional careers go into caregiving. Teachers take their chances teaching here too. IT people apply directly online. Some try joining the US Navy. In some cases of a promised job there are placement fees, so expensive, they even sell their houses in the Philippines, which is considered a suicide move because if whatever happens fails, you have no more house to go back to.

And as the choir performed, I was panning the whole hall looking at all the 1000+ participants from all over the world, from left to right of the hall. And I started to feel the emotion these people have. The happiness they have with all the hard work they have gone through. The emotion started to build up but this choir was performing in a very happy mood that I think most people were not paying attention to the lyrics at all. I felt like tears wanted to roll down but I just closed my eyes and did not let that happen.

When that was done, there was a ceremony thanking all the volunteers of the event and who have been helping out throughout all the years at that venue. Many NGOs, school organizations and sections of the armed forces helping out from year to year. After that, was the time for the Judge to officiate the oath taking. He did express that what was happening is an official court hearing stating that all of them will be citizens of the country, but he still said that everybody should be lose and be happy since all screening was done already and all present will be declared as citizens.

With the emotional mood I had, so did this Judge, he gave his short life story and just could not hold his emotions. He told everyone how hard his parents worked just to get to America. Even if he was a natural born American citizen, he saw the progress of his parents from being immigrant aliens to US Citizens, and has witnessed how important that event was to them as a family. How everything will be easier. His voice was crackling up with a few tears running down. He is quite old already and his parent have already passed away. And as much as he was happy for his parents in the past, he was just as sincere in saying that he was really happy for everyone present at the ceremony.

This proceeded with a speech from a female school administrator that was basically there to acknowledge the presence of the choir that also served as an advertisement for the school which had various races present in their high school. And she herself could not hold her emotions as she recalled the day she also became a US Citizen. She was sitting in front and her students were also performing that time.

It was just a very emotional day, and it ended with the Judge calling out each country of the world in alphabetical order having the participants stand up if their native country is called out. It was a very long list as people clapped in the audience as well when their countries were called out. Majority of the countries had like about 1 to 5 people. A few were just barely more than 10 people. But as the list of countries went on… two countries were skipped. And when the Judge finished the list, he said “Did I miss anything?”

A shout from the audience came out, Philippines! and he then said “Did I hear Philippines? Ok Philippines, stand up.” And every Filipino cheered and clapped that it looked like 40% of them were Filipinos. As the Filipinos were clapping and cheering, continuous shouts of Mexico! Mehico! were heard. And when all Filipinos sat down, the judge said: “What’s that? Mexico? Ok Mexico!” And it was like 50% of the participants were all Mexicans.

There are so many Filipinos here in the US, it is like you did not leave the Philippines. During the whole ceremony, I can’t help but imagine the day like that, where it would be my family up there in the hall as I cheer for them.

Pictures in your Blogs – For my Wife and Daughters

This posting is basically for my wife and daughters who are running their own blogs right now.

First problem they had was a breaking up page with pictures too big. Now their problem is some pictures are replacing others and they are starting to have the same pictures.

I told them to email me the pictures and I will fix them as I give tips to them as well through my own blog.

Here are the tips.

  1. I can see babe, you tried resizing some of Jamie’s pics, which was good. Looks like you got the right size. But also try changing the resolution. All images should be 72dpi (or dots per square inch, also called pixels per square inch) Since monitors cannot display beyond 72dpi (monitors can display up to 96dpi, but the 72dpi and 96dpi make a negligible difference) In that way you get the maximum image quality the monitor can display and the smallest file size so that downloading is faster too.
  2. In some cases the images are small and when resized to fit in the page makes the image even smaller to appreciate. If the picture has a lot of space around it, background that is not important, you can crop out the background and not just resizing, so your image it still big.
  3. Generally a big image that you shrink down still has good quality, but a small image that you stretch to be big, starts to become pixelated, you start to see big squares, jagged edges, and generally blurry. And I understand you have been scanning some pictures there at home. If ever you want to make a picture bigger, it is best to scan at a higher dpi, like 150 to 200 will do, then as you resize you also change the resolution to 72dpi. So there is not much image lost in making it big.
  4. Resize the actual image, and do not use Blogger to resize it. This is for Ate Dawn naman. Her images are resize through HTML with height and width attributes of the image tag or using CSS width and height styles to the image. It does resize it, but the image is really big and the file size is big, thus downloading takes longer. When you resize the actual image, you also adjust the resolution to 72dpi as well for better downloading.
  5. You now have problems in your blogs with new pictures replacing some of the old pictures. Why? Simply because all your pictures are all in the same place and when you upload a picture with the same file name it replaces the old one. A picture that is always named jamie.jpg or dawn.jpg will always replace the picture with the same name. It is better to name the pictures of what the topic of your blog is about like swim1.jpg. swim2.jpg. For me, just to be sure I do not overwrite my pictures and I feel lazy making folders on the server, I name my files: yyyymmdd-eventx.jpg, where yyyymmdd is the date I uploaded the picture and event will be replaced with the event name of the picture and x is the picture number. So if I have 3 pictures during a picnic today June 5, 2005. My pictures will be named: 20050605-picnic1.jpg, 20050605-picnic2.jpg and 20050605-picnic3.jpg.

To my other blog readers, hey I know this is like kids stuff to you, but this is for my wife and daughters. I already gave them the tips and their next lesson is how do they it in Photoshop.