By Rodney Jaleco and Don Tagala ABS-CBN North America Bureau
WASHINGTON D.C. Filipina nurse Menchu Sanchez will get a rare vantage view of President Obama’s State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress tonight.
Sanchez, a nurse at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, will sit in the balcony as one of the special guests of the First Lady Michelle Obama.
She is being hailed as one of the heroes of the Hurricane Sandy disaster that devastated large parts of New York and New Jersey last year.
She devised a plan to transport 20 at-risk infants at the Langone Medical Center to intensive care units around the city. She organized the nurses and doctors to carefully carry the babies down eight flights of stairs with only cell phones to light the way.
Even as her own home was flooding, Sanchez thought only of protecting the babies in her care, the White House explained.
Menchu was born, raised, and educated in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.
She has worked as a nurse in New York for more than 25 years, and has been at NYU since 2010.
Sanchez currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children, both of whom are in college.
In an interview with Balitang America this morning, Menchu said, “Being helpful and respectful of other people is part of being a Filipino and no matter where we are, we bring those values with us.”
The other guests of the First Lady include Alan Aleman, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico City.
In high school, Alan watched his friends come of age – driving around town with their new licenses and earning some extra cash from their summer jobs at the mall, knowing that his status prevented him from those activities.
But when he heard about news that the Obama Administration was going to provide Deferred Action for undocumented youth like him to emerge from the shadows, he was one of the first to sign up, the White House said.
Alan is in his second year at the College of Southern Nevada. He’s studying to become a doctor and he hopes to join the Air Force. Alan is currently working at Hermandad Mexicana, where he is in charge of final review for DACA applications.
Also with the First Lady are Cleopatra and Nathaniel Pendleton, whose daughter Hadiya was murdered on January 29, 2013, when she was shot and killed in Harsh Park on Chicago’s South Side.
Hadiya had participated in President Obama’s public inaugural celebration on January 21, 2013. The honor student and band majorette at King College Prep High School has become another symbol of the victims of gun violence in the country.
Mrs. Obama attended Hadiya’s memorial service last Saturday.