Estefania Clarito was 57 years old when she migrated to the United States. Forty years later, she decided to apply for dual citizenship — making her the second oldest dual citizenship applicant in Chicago.
But due to her advanced age, going to the consulate was challenging. The Philippine Consulate General in Chicago decided to go to Clarito’s house, where the oath-taking ceremony was held.
“Napakasuwerte, hindi ko ma-describe,” she said. “Hindi mo matatawaran ‘yung bait at ‘yung dali ng pag apply,” said Clarito.
Since the 2003 implementation of what’s popularly known as the Dual Citizenship Law, the Consulate General of the Philippines in Chicago says it has been able to process a total of 14,468 approved applications from September 2003 to May 2017.
“Ang batas ng Pilipinas ay puwedeng ilapit sa mga kababayan natin na hindi na kumportableng makapunta sa konsulado,” said Gene Galonge, Philippine Consul General of Chicago.
The Consulate expects to surpass last year’s record of dual citizenship applications by the end of 2017.
Jerry Clarito, son of Estefania, said it is reassuring to have options, which not too many Filipinos are privileged enough to enjoy.
“I think it’s a good program ng government to give ‘yung mga first generation an opportunity to reclaim their citizenship, to give back,” he said.
For Lola Estafania, having lived in both countries, she says they’re no different from each other.
“Pareho lang. Kung hindi ka nagtatrabaho dito, wala ka rin. Sa Pilipinas, kung hindi ka magtatrabaho, wala ka rin.”
For a $50 processing fee, one can become a dual citizen which allows Filipino Americans to enjoy full civil, economic and political rights under existing Philippine laws.
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