At the most serious moment of his life, Maher Mohammed Al Raee cracked up the room as he fumbled through the oath he had waited so long to take.
“Swear to God,” he ended his oath, improvising as he followed the judge’s words “So help me God.” He spoke better Filipino than English.
His family, along with court staff members who had seen for years how much Al Raee wanted to reach this moment, suppressed their laughter, hands covering their mouths.
It was not that they were laughing at Al Raee; they were taken by the joyfulness of the occasion. For even at that solemn moment, the man of the hour was his usual self: effortlessly funny.
For Al Raee, a jovial man with an almost permanent smile on his face, the struggle through the final few polysyllabic words—“fidelity,” “Constitution,” “reservation”—did not matter. It was what the words meant.
New Filipino citizen
In that courtroom in …