Sachi Lapitan - Green Card Voices

Sachi Lapitan

Occupation: Student

Country of Birth: Northern Marianas

Current: O’ahu, Hawai’i

“I could just tell that it was like a different place, I think a sudden realization came up to me that I’m not in the Philippines anymore. I’m in a new country. I’m going to experience new cultures.”

Sachi Lapitan is, on one hand, a typical teen—attending high school, hanging out with friends, and making plans for her future. However, a closer look at her family story reveals interesting turning points that make her story anything but typical. 

Sachi was born on the island of Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. Thus, she is an American citizen by birth. At the time of her birth, her parents were working in the visitor industry on Saipan. Soon after, however, the young family returned to their hometown of Laoag in the Philippines. There, younger siblings were born. Sachi remembers wonderful times playing on the farm, getting dirty in the mud, and swimming in the river and at the beach. 

While Sachi remembers the fun of childhood, she also recognizes that making ends meet can be difficult in the Philippines. It is not uncommon to seek employment abroad, as her parents did before she was born. Similarly, her grandparents left home to seek work in Hawai`i. Early in 2020, they invited her to join them and attend high school in Honolulu. Then, the COVID pandemic hit, putting a two-year pause on the family plans. Finally, in 2022, she was able to join them. 

Now, two years later, Sachi is an honor student, an avid reader, and comfortably adjusted to life in Hawai`i. She helps her grandparents with weekend errands including sending care packages back to the family in Laoag. However, she faces another disrupting move because her grandparents have decided to retire in the Philippines. She must return with them because there are no other family members to care for her in Hawai`i. She is remarkably sanguine about the situation, saying she will graduate from high school there, then use her U.S. citizenship to return to Hawai`i for university, and, when she is settled, petition for her parents and/or siblings to join her.