Australia Day on Sunday will be extra special for 70 Penrith residents, who will officially become Australian citizens.
It will be a momentous occasion for many Penrith families like Jon Castillo and his four-year-old daughter Carmela, as they make the pledge to become citizens.
Back in 2011 Mr Castillo followed in his brother’s footsteps and came to Australia from the Philippines as an international student, where he studied a nursing degree at Western Sydney University.
Now, he currently works for Nepean Hospital on the Penrith Community Mental Health team and said he feels a great honour serving the community.
“Australia has been very good to me and my family, we are living a comfortable life here,” Mr Castillo said.
“It feels good, working for Nepean Hospital because it kind of feels like I get to give back to the community because Australia has been good to us.”
Mr Castillo first moved to Thornton in December 2017 after living with family in Liverpool.
He said he feels that Penrith is a great place to raise his young family.
“We love Thornton, it’s very family friendly, everyone thinks things about Penrith being too far and so on but we love Penrith, everything is close, the people are nice and I work only three minutes away from home, everything is here,” Mr Castillo said.
Mr Castillo currently lives with his wife and two children with another baby on the way.
His eldest, four-year-old Carmela, will also be becoming an Australian citizen at this weekend’s citizenship ceremony in Penrith.
“I met my wife in the Philippines and we married in 2015 but she has to go back home to have surgery because they discovered she had ovarian cysts when pregnant,” Ms Castillo explained.
“Because of this she was gone for 18 months so now she has to wait until next year to apply for citizenship.”
Being born in the country, his youngest child is automatically an Australian citizen.
Mr Castillo said he feels excited and proud to be making the pledge this Sunday.
Members of the community interested in becoming Australian citizens can contact the Department of Home Affairs on 13 18 81.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.