If there’s one person who has seen the struggle of Bienvenido Marañon in getting his Filipino citizenship, it has to be Angelo Kouame.
Both the Spaniard and the Ivorian went through the same process in the House of Representatives and the Senate to acquire their naturalization.
However, when it came to crunch time, it was Kouame’s Senate Bill no. 1391 that was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte and made into law through Republic Act No. 11543 last May 18. During that time, Marañon’s SB no. 1892 had to undergo revisions.
And so when Republic Act no. 11570 — which grants Filipino citizenship to Marañon — passed, Kouame could not hide his delight.
“Really happy for him and really excited for him also. He has been waiting for so long,” Kouame told PlayItRight TV.
In his first tour of national duty for Gilas, Kouame has already put five international caps under his belt. Three games in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, then two games in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament-Belgrade.
Maranon had to miss the 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asia Cup Qualifiers because of the delay, though.
Still, Kouame knows that there are a lot of crucial Azkals games on the horizon for his good pal. And he can’t wait to watch him don the national team colors.
“There’s a lot of competition waiting for him and for them. So, now he has the opportunity to play for the Philippines,” expressed Kouame.
“I’m really happy for him.”
For his part, Marañon knows that there is pressure in being a naturalized player.
Just like Kouame, he vows to go all out in every Azkals game he gets to play in.
“To be a Filipino citizen is a dream that I have since my second year in the country due to the love and respect they show me along the way. I’m sure I will make them proud to have me one of them.”