Saturday, May 4, 2013

America The Beautiful

By Chiqui Raveloski

After many years of living as a permanent resident alien here in the USA, I finally decided to apply for my American citizenship last November 2012! It is a decision 27 years in the making and I can honestly say that I am ready to become a full fledged American. 

I love being a Filipino. I love the heritage, values, beliefs, what we stand up for, the Bahala Na attitude, most of all, and the food. There is no doubt about that. I believe that I, as a Filipino is who I am and what I am all about. No one can take that away from me. Yet, is that really all there is to it? Does citizenship define a person?

I remember growing up in the Philippines, values and traditions are taken so much into consideration in everything you do. The spirit of closely knit family unit, eating together for supper, praying together every night are a few things we value the most. Respect for the elders, honor your parents, love your family, as well as your extended family, are integral part of everyday life.

The fear and love for God and your country is taught and cultivated at an early age. Catholicism is the main religion in the Philippines and this is also taken very seriously by Filipinos all over. I can still hear the Sunday mass we go to every week, the priests preaching about the Lord , Our Savior, the nuns in schools, teaching theology,  and reminding that our body is the  temple of God.

Then, I came to America 27 years ago, wondering if life will be better, same, or worse. As much as I miss the Philippines and its traditions, America, I believe is better when it came to opportunities. It was the same belief when the pilgrims came to America in the 1600 and 1700's, that life will be better here for everyone. I found a vast amount of opportunities to get hold of, take care of, and enjoy the fruits of my own labor. This is one of the beauty of this country that makes it unique and attractive to the rest of the world.

Another beauty that this country possess is freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to be successful, freedom to make a difference not only for themselves, but also for the country. There is freedom everywhere, and people either utilize or abuse it.

Like freedom to vote. We still hear about low voter turnouts. It is unfortunate to see how this can really affect the democracy of this country. Voting is not just a right, it is what this country’s forefathers fought for, so future generations can have a voice in the political system. At the same time, abuse of freedom through sense of entitlement is far too rampant that the country suffers from unfair use of resources meant for the ones who need them the most. But then again, this is what freedom is all about right? Everyone has a take on it.

I found myself adapting to the American life quite easily. I believe that my upbringing had a lot to do with it. Respect one another, love yourself and your family, honor the elders, and worship the Higher being. These mantras have helped me overcome obstacles that came through my life when I came to America. Each day brought many challenges, and learning was and is still a vital part of the equation. I have learned that wherever I maybe, being a Filipino is more than a citizenship; it is my heart, my mind,  my soul, my place in this universe. 

My heart and my soul belongs with my family. The family my husband and I started is here in America. This is my new home, my life, my future. We have been raising our daughter for the past 16 years and it has been a true blessing from the universe. My husband and my daughter let me be who I am, Filipino or not. It is amazing to see that my Filipino culture, attitude, and traditions, are still present in our everyday life. It is a true marriage of not only culture and traditions, but also hearts and minds. 

I graduated nursing school here in America. I have been practicing this remarkable profession since 2008, and I have to say that it has taught me so much about myself. I blogged about my personal nursing philosophy, and I have written, "Nursing is an empathetic heart, a sincere touch, listening, and advocating. It cannot be measured in terms of an educational degree. It is only measured in the scale of one’s humanity to others".  And just like who I am, I cannot be measured  by my Filipino citizenship. This does not define who I am. It is my heart, my mind, and my soul that counts. 

With this in mind, becoming an American citizen made more sense. I am not just a Filipino with a place in the universe, but also a future American with a family who loves and supports me no matter what.

So, as I went for my interview on April 22, 2013, the United States Immigration Officer asked me how I met my husband. And I told him that it all started 20 years ago at a small hospital in Georgia where I met someone with the bluest eyes I have ever seen.........

I passed the oral / written English test, as well as the  US history and government exams. My application has been recommended for approval. I will be sworn in on May 15, 2013. 

As I wait till then to be sworn in, I cannot help but to continuously admire all the beauty that America has to offer. At the same time, Philippines as my country of origin will remain as my roots, my foundation, my core, my backbone. Two different countries, two continents, East and the West. One cannot argue that its citizens remain proud of who they are wherever they may be. 


  1. Well, gee Chiqui, what wonderful news. You know how much I respect you for who you are and represent yourself to be and the standards you maintain.

    On 5/15/13, this country will gain a remarkable person. Congratulations!

  2. Thank you so very much for your kind words, Rebekah. I've always loved the support and encouragement you have given me. Because of that, I can tell that you are a genuine person indeed. I am so thankful that I am finally becoming a citizen of this country and also gained a friend like you in the process.

    Have a great day and Happy Birthday.