A couple of days prior our Seoul trip, I received a letter from the Ministry of Justice about my naturalization approval. I opened the letter to read the contents and can’t help but somewhat feel annoyed. I should be feeling excited, right? But I wasn’t. Not because of anything cheesy such as “losing my Philippine citizenship” but because of the timing.
April 21, 2017 – my oath-taking ceremony schedule read. You see, on that same week was my last working week before my 2-week vacation in Seoul. It also meant it will land on the same week where I would be desperately trying to finish all my workload before I take off for vacation. It was a do or die moment. I have to get things done as there’s no way I am taking my work laptop with me in Seoul – we already had too much stuff!
It was an ironic circumstance. Here I was, holding that piece of paper I have been waiting for close to a year now but can’t muster any feeling of happiness within me to celebrate. Even if my husband is trying to cheer me and reassure me that I can work something out – I only felt stressed.
After a discussion with my manager, I filed for a half day leave to attend the ceremony. She was OK with it so long as I finish my deadlines. I expected that much. But it also meant I can’t go on celebration mood as I go finishing my tasks!
Days (and nights) before the oath-taking, I kept working to meet my work deadline. I can’t even think of tidying up the apartment before we leave for Seoul at that point. Needless to say, I saw the oath-taking event and my naturalization “a pain” instead of a blessing.
The day finally came – April 21, 2017. It was a day to include in my history books. Apart from finishing everything for work, it was the day I earned my Irish citizenship. That morning, I felt that extra surge of energy. I felt giddy, like a child about to earn a “star” for being good in class. And after feeling restless and stressed days leading to it – I can finally say that I was truly happy my naturalization application was approved!
Unlike my husband’s oath-taking ceremony where I attended as his plus one – I decided to go there alone. We have our designated seating areas and so, we were not together inside the hall anyway. On top of that, I preferred he goes home early to look after our son – in case the ceremony goes overtime. I wore a white summer dress for the event, which quickly turned out to be a poor choice of clothing because it was freezing. It wasn’t me trying to be a true local – I just thought it was warm because it was sunny. Boy, I don’t learn anything about the weather after all these years, do I?
As I entered the hall, I had a glimpse of the rest of fellow “new Irish”. I saw a lot of African and Asian people inside – there were a good number of Filipinos, too! There were also those originally from South America and Australia. The hall was filled with different race and nationalities it was like an event for the World Youth Day or United Nations.
Attending the ceremonies for the second time has its disadvantages, I realized. The element of surprise wasn’t there anymore as I somehow knew how the program would go – the Garda band playing, the entrance of Irish colours, speeches, and even the jokes! But the major difference this time around is that I knew the event was for ME. I wasn’t just a mere spectator. I could relate every time the Judge would say “new Irish citizens” or “new citizens of Ireland” and knew in my heart I was included in that phrase.
Becoming a naturalized citizen is a new chapter in my life for sure. I look forward to receiving my Irish Passport, which was one of the driving forces for my naturalization. As well as receiving all the benefits of an Irish citizen. I take my oath seriously and would do everything I can to make sure that the approval given to me will not go to waste.
Despite becoming Irish legally, I do not wish to forget about my roots. I am and will ALWAYS be a Filipino by heart and blood. And as the Judge said in his speech, I will try my best to “bring and share my Filipino culture within the Irish community” – because that’s just who I am after becoming Filipino-Irish!
So for my fellow Expats in Ireland that received naturalization like me – cheers to all of us! I hope we all enjoy the benefits Ireland gladly welcomed us with. And uphold the values they honor as a true Irish citizen.