by Randy Pierce
TROY — Chona Jones of Troy, concluding what she describes as a five-year journey, has become a citizen of the United States after having been sworn in at the southern Illinois district federal court in East St. Louis on Saturday, Dec. 2.
The occasion marked a cause for celebration the evening before at a business in downtown Collinsville then again at a reception the afternoon of Dec. 2 at Edwardsville Ancient Free and Accepted Masons Lodge 99 on Kriege Farm Road in Glen Carbon.
Earlier this year, Chona, the wife of former Madison County network administrator Joseph Jones, passed her citizenship test then waited until she was informed of the time and date for taking her oath.
Strongly devoted to her cultural roots from the Philippines, Chona has formed an organization for which she is awaiting approval of its 501c(3) status. That group, called Amore Jones Filipino Cultural Outreach Inc., will serve as an advocacy agency for matters related to those with similar backgrounds and heritage.
Last May, Chona was the host of a Pista Sa Nayon, a festival focusing on the Filipino culture and traditions, at Tri-Township Park in Troy which included dancing by a group that has subsequently received an invitation to perform at the event center at Scott Air Force Base.
As irony would have it, Chona was sworn in as a United States citizens by a federal magistrate judge, Gilbert C. Sison, who was appointed to his position in the district court in early 2019 and also has a heritage connected to the Philippines.
Chona Retiro Jones’ roots are embedded in the town of Bayog in the province of Zamboanga in the southwestern Philippine Islands, a community of about 35,000 people where the cultivation and production of rice is a major component of the economy.
Her dedication to non-profit undertakings has been something Chona has been involved in for the past 22 years, beginning with her time in college then extending beyond that to her current life, prompting her to comment, “One of the core values I was taught by my parents was to help others in need, from the elderly to underprivileged children” who need such necessities as medical supplies and items for school.
Chona has also been active participant in Rotary International, a worldwide organization that has an influential motto focusing on “Service Above Self.”