The Senate recently passed a bill granting citizenship to 100-year old American Jessie Lichauco who has spent 75 years of her life in the country as wife of former Philippine Ambassador Marcial P. Lichauco and philanthropist for various causes.
Jessie Josephine Lichauco is an American who was born in Cuba in January 10, 2012 and who grew up among relatives in Florida after she was orphaned early in life. She met then-lawyer Marcial Lichauco while studying at Washington DC. Lichauco invited her to visit the Philippines in 1933 and married her in the same year. Since then, she has considered the Philippines her home and raised her family at their recently declared heritage house in Sta. Ana, Manila.
Working for Filipinos
During her 75 years in the country, Jessie Lichauco has contributed through various foundations and in her own personal capacity towards the enrichment of Filipino lives.
During World War II, she suffered along with the Filipinos trying to flee from the Battle of Manila by moving homes eight times. She and her husband also opened their home as a refuge and emergency first-aid clinic to thousands of Filipinos.
After the war, she joined the Asociacion de Damas de Filipinas and dedicated a huge part of her life towards the Settlement House for orphans and neglected children, serving as president for nine years.
Jessie Lichauco is also a founding member of the Red Feather Agency, now known as Community Chest, which raises funds to be distributed among member charitable agencies.
In addition to these, Lichauco, in her own capacity, has also enabled over a hundred Filipinos to complete their education.
While husband Marcial served as Philippine Ambassador to countries such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, Jessie fulfilled the role of Ambassador’s hostess with much pride and dignity for the country. She also kept open the Ambassador’s home at the Kensington Palace Green to Filipino students, businessmen and other Filipino workers and travelers as a protective umbrella.
After her husband’s death in 1971, Jessie Lichauco spent some years in the United States where she continued to open her home to Filipino students and scholars who needed a place to stay.
Aging with grace
Having recently celebrated her hundredth birthday, Jessie Lichauco can only be described as someone who has aged gracefully, and she attributes this to her optimism and love for an active life. She came to the Philippines, she says, because of “curiosity, adventure and love.” And throughout her years here, these ideals have guided all her actions.
She embraced the Philippines as her home and demonstrated a love for the Filipino people even better than other Filipinos have. Jessie Lichauco has always given a lot of herself to the people. Her candor and charm have touched the hearts of many Filipinos especially the ones she has helped with her generosity.
Now in her advanced age, she continues to be actively involved in society. Last year, she graciously received into her home officials of the Peace Corps and US AID, fifty years after she hosted the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in the Philippines. In 2010, at age 98, she also accepted with an energetic welcoming message the markers given by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declaring the Lichauco home in Sta. Ana as a Heritage House.
Jessie Lichauco continues to believe that she still has a purpose here on earth, and she tries to fulfill one of them by sharing her memories with the younger generation. She also hopes that her home, having been declared a heritage house with a heritage banyan tree, will continue to provide joy to people and serve as part of a reminder to future generations of how life used to be during her time.
Describing her life as like a feather, Jessie Lichauco is always ready for the right wind that will carry her away to yet another adventure, Interaksyon.com reported.