Sunday, September 24, 2006

Voila, American Me

On Wednesday, I trekked to downtown Oakland's Federal Building to take my immigration test. Remembering the last time I tried to get my citizenship in SF, I was worried. The SF federal immigrations building in the 1990's was hot, humid, filled with humanity. It almost felt like the US embassy in the Philippines.

At any rate, I was informed by the sister that I need to pass this test because next year, the fee will be $900. Damn. It used to be $90. Then it went to $300. That $300 was so expensive, it was not until I could get a real job at a real company that I could afford it.

I spend about an hour studying inside the atrium of the federal building. I sang the star-spangled banner many times. I read the study brochure multiple times. I was ready!!!

I dropped off the appointment notice and waited. It does not take that long, maybe fifteen minutes. A gentle, quavering voice called out my name. The interviewer did not know how to pronounce my name. It's alright. He could have called me a Chinese name and I would have responded.

He checked my information. I had to be doubly alert when it came to the crime section. What with all those double negatives that sometimes pop up in questions.

Nope, never been arrested. [That's why I missed the demonstrations in Berkeley.]

Nope, never had a felony. [I'm a delicate rose petal. I don't do the dirty work.]

Yes, I will bear arms for the United States. [Who do I have to kill for America? For my citizenship, I'll do it.}

Nope, don't know any Communists. [American communists are living off the fat of the capitalist market. Filipino Communists were turned by Marcos into businessmen who live off the fat of the people. Chinese communists are capitalists hiding behind a communist flag. Nope, no communists in this world. Communists only live in the books.]

Nope, Never been outside of America. [Only once in Canada, but that is part of America. Why would I need to go to Mexico? It looks like the Philippines. It's also a lot poorer. And with that leftist guy trying to become president, you never know how stable that place is.]

Nope, never had the desire to travel outside of the US. [I got warm water in the plumbing. I got toilets that work. I got tissue paper. What else do I need to see in the world? They won't have tissue paper or you will have to squat to use the toilet. I'm just not that flexible.]

So yeah. I will be an American. Now, I just have to choose which background I'm going to be:

Southern evangelical. Knocks on doors of neighbors. Tries to bring the kingdom of heaven for only $199.99. Can't get heaven any cheaper. Well, the Catholics offer heaven for free, but they always collect during Mass.

Finnish Midwesterner. I could then represent the Philippine team for the 500 meter speekskating event.

A Texan Cowboy. I am a Republican. So if I choose this, I can be just like George W. Bush. Hoo-hah!!!

An Asian from California. Wait, isn't that what I am already?


basagulo said...

Is the $300 fee tax deductible? Darn, it was $50 when I applied for citizenship.

ibalik said...

good lawd! magiging $900 na ang fee next year? tsk, that's waaay more than how much it was when i became eligible 18 years ago. kelangan na talagang maging blue passport holder.

milkphish said...

didn't know the testing fee is that high . . . but why?

29 years ago, my dad made up his mind that getting an american citizenship was not a necessity since we would all go back home after martial law was wiped out. but going to manila for a visit in 1984 during the turbulent coup attempts scared the heck out of him . . . he didn't want his family getting stuck in the philippines with green passports, and the u.s. embassy unwilling to help . . . the thought of not having enough toilet paper and no supply of budweiser were indeed scary thoughts. so, off we all went to take the citizenship test.

my tester was an elder filipina lady. 'good' i thought --- she'll be lenient with me because after all, she was a kababayan. wrong! she made me answer all 50 questions --- she went down the list one by one. good thing political science was still fresh in my brain.

i got to wave my flag --- woohoo!