Fifty years ago on October 14, 1967, I stepped out of a Philippine Airline flight from Manila into a new country with a third preference visa for professionals. I was a CPA from the Philippines. I arrived at Honolulu International Airport with my vanity case, my handbag with my Philippines passport and a hundred dollars in cash. I also had with me my third preference visa, my US certified medical x-ray and a form that stated I had financial support guaranteeing that I will not be a public charge in the United States. My big suitcase was checked in to go straight to New York.
It was a bright sunny day when I deplaned in Honolulu, feeling in awe of the place as a welcoming Hawaiian lady placed a lei over my head and thankful that I made it across the Pacific after a long flight. I don’t know anybody when I arrived on U.S. soil but with the grace of God and an ardent ambition to go abroad, I was on my first leg on my trip to New York.
I reached NY early Sunday morning at 6 am after traveling for almost 24 hours when I left Manila Saturday night. It did not take me long to land a job in New York. Exactly three days after I arrived in New York, I got an offer from ITT Corporation. They wanted me to start right away and I said I would rather start a week later so I could get acquainted with the city first.
I became a U.S. Citizen in 1973 after being a legal immigrant for at least five years which was the requirement for naturalization. I love my new country and have stayed for 50 years. I’ve only been back to the Philippines four times – in 1993 when my parents had their 50th wedding anniversary, in 2006 when both my parents were hospitalized at the same time, in 2007 I made two trips, when Dad passed away in May and then in November 2007 when I was able to talk Mom into coming to New York but she demanded I picked her up. So I did. It was the last time I was back.
It has been a memorable journey and will keep on going. The United States has been good to me and I am grateful. God bless America!
Until Next time. Stop and Smell the Roses.