Press Release
November 5, 2012

Senate grants citizenship to feisty American

The Senate today approved on final reading a local bill granting Filipino citizenship to American Jessie Josephine Lichauco for her outstanding service to the Filipino people.

Earlier, the House of Representatives adopted a similar bill filed by Rep. Kimi Cojuangco (5th District, Pangasinan), granting Lichauco, 99, a Filipino citizenship.

Sen. Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, has sponsored the counterpart bill on Lichauco, HBN 5277, in the Senate.

According to the House version of the bill, Lichuaco has spent the last 75 years of the life in the Philippines which she claims is her home. She speaks the Filipino language and has embraced the Filipino culture.

Born in Cuba and raised in Florida, United States of America, Lichauco came to live in the Philippines when she met her husband, Marcial Lichuaco in Washington, D.C. in 1933, the House bill said.

An orphan, Lichauco joined the Asociacion de Damas de Filipinas, an orphanage in Manila and devoted her work towards the Settlement House of the orphanage and became its president for nine years, according to the House bill.

She was also one of the founding members of the Red Feather Agency, later known as the Community Chest, an organization that raises funds and distributes them to member charitable agencies. Lichauco helped over 100 young people in completing their education. During World War II, she aided Filipinos, sheltering them in her home and supporting efforts to reach prisoners of war.

"She and her husband opened their home in Sta. Ana to the public during liberation and cared for 2,000 people in their make-shift hospital," the House bill said.

"When her husband became an ambassador to the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under the administration of then President Diosdado Macapagal, Lichauco served as the Ambassador's hostess, representing the Philippines with pride and dignity in international organizations, social events and activities involving the diplomatic corps," the House bill added.

After her husband's death in 1971, Lichauco spent some years in the United States of America, again opening her home in Massachusetts to Filipino students and scholars needing a place to stay, according to the House bill.

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