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TNT

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"TNT" is a term I heard constantly growing up. It means "tago ng tago" or "going into hiding" and is usually said in the context of "Nga TNT siya" (s/he has gone TNT). It means overstaying one's tourist visa and becoming an undocumented immigrant.

I was really struck by Jose Antonio Vargas' essay on coming out as an undocumented immigrant. It was one of those stories that struck too close to home - a Fil-Am around my age, a fellow Californian, and an accomplished resident of the Washington DC area. In fact, I'm sorry that I never met him while he was at the Washington Post.

I'll always be grateful for my parents' decision to immigrate. I know from my own experience and Mohamed's that citizenship is a long, hard, and expensive haul. I can't begin to describe the enormous relief I felt when Mohamed finally became a US citizen. We are both Americans now, even though M didn't grown here - and yet Jose's assertion that America is his country as well jarred me. What does a piece of paper mean in the end? I'm proudly American, but I'm also proudly Filipina - I didn't become a US citizen until I was 23 (because I'd applied for Peace Corps), and held my Filipinas passport in my hand when I swore in. When I'm in the Philippines I feel the most American. When I'm in America I try to keep my Filipina side. But when I'm overseas, ultimately it's the passport that counts.
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