By MAX FILBY
Members of the Abubo family have been part of the Findlay community for years, but this week they made it official.
The Abubos attained their U.S. citizenship Wednesday afternoon during a naturalization ceremony at the University of Findlay. It was an experience that all four members of the family described in one word — “exciting.”
“It’s very, very exciting,” said Vevalyn Abubo, a student at Owens Community College. “Being official makes us feel much more comfortable here.”
Vevalyn, her brother Lester, her dad Medardo and her mother Felisa all received their citizenship at the ceremony.
The Abubo family traveled from the Philippines almost seven years ago, after deciding the U.S. was where they wanted to emigrate, she said.
“My mom’s family all got together and decided this was where we wanted to gather,” Vevalyn said.
The Abubos were among 20 people who were granted their citizenship during Wednesday’s ceremony.
One additional person became a citizen but opted not to attend the ceremony, said Vernelis K. Armstrong, magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court in Toledo, who presided.
The new citizens and their guests heard from multiple speakers and took the oath of citizenship.
U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, spoke about Paul Revere and the American Revolution, the costs people paid to establish the United States, and the lengths people have gone to become citizens.
“The people back then and the people here today had a desire for something different,” Latta said. “This is the greatest experiment the world has ever known in freedom.”
New citizens and guests also heard from high school seniors from Findlay, Arcadia, Arlington and Riverdale schools, who talked about the benefits of citizenship.
Findlay High School senior Boden Fisher spoke about the history and policies that people have to learn before officially being granted citizenship. Prospective citizens typically have to go through a class, pass a test, and a number of other procedures.
“We take the things we learn in our government classes in school for granted,” Fisher said of those born in the U.S.
To close the ceremony, Judge Armstrong encouraged new citizens to go out and learn as much as they can about their new country. Armstrong said they should take time to explore historic sites and the nation’s capital, and gladly accept the call to jury duty.
“I welcome you into the mosaic, or rather the melting pot of our country,” Armstrong said.
Vevalyn Abubo said she’ll take the comments to heart and hopes to take advantage of the opportunities referred to by Armstrong.
“It’s like she said, we have that freedom now,” Vevalyn Abubo said.