XUCLA celebrates 25 years of human rights advocacy and legal assistance.
by Amer-Al Sayed B. Manaros, XUCLA Junior Intern
Xavier University Center for Legal Assistance (XUCLA) celebrated its 25th Silver Anniversary on July 6, 2021. A virtual celebration was held to mark this milestone and carried the theme, “Pagsaulog sa Kagahapon, Pakiglambigit Padayon”.
The anniversary celebration was formally welcomed by its current Executive Director, Atty. Ernesto B. Neri. In his opening remarks, he mentioned that the 25 years of existence of XUCLA signify a milestone. It marks a generational shift, and it is a testament to the durability or the strength of the purpose of the center. Furthermore, he added that celebrating the Silver Anniversary of the legal center, in line with the theme, is recollecting what has happened in the past, seeing the various generations that have been part of XUCLA. At the same time, it is also celebrating the present and charting the future for a stronger and vibrant XUCLA. The young director thanked Dean Silvia Jo G. Sabio, Dean of Xavier University College of Law, for being such an instrumental person in redeveloping XUCLA, together with Fr. Ismael Jose III V. Chan-Gonzaga who has been the supervising lawyer and partner. The event was also joined by The Asia Foundation, XUCLA’s partner in redeveloping CLEP and the legal aid center.
Commissioner Josefa C. Sorrera- Ty, Commissioner representing the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS) in the Legal Education Board (LEB) delivered the keynote address. In her speech that was entirely delivered in Visayan to amplify the theme, she mentioned that a person shall always have a special moment that sets the trajectory of his or her life. As a person who fell deeply in love with the “balaod” or law, one of the most special events of her life was working with the Office of Legal Aid in the University of the Philippines Diliman. Aside from being a servant of the law, she is enjoying another special event in her life which is devising the Clinical Legal Education Program or CLEP of the Supreme Court under the Revised Student Practice Rule. With these life experiences, she expressed how honored she is to be part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration of XUCLA and how it reconnected with her own personal journey in helping the marginalized sector of our society through legal aid and empowerment.
Atty. Ray Paolo “Arpee” J. Santiago, current Executive Director of Ateneo Human Rights Center shared the long-existing bond between XUCLA and its “parent” legal center. In his message, he shared how XUCLA and AHRC’s life are interwoven by the same mission and values. He shared further how both have the same core mission which has always been geared towards nation-building, keeping the Catholic and Jesuit values of faith that does justice for the marginalized and most vulnerable sectors of our society – all for the greater glory of God.
As the anniversary special progressed, RTC Judge Ma. Corazon B. Gaite-Llanderal, XUCLA’s very first director, gave her experiences and reflection during her time in the legal center. She is humbled to be part of the birth of the legal center, knowing that it has reached Silver Jubilee. According to her, XUCLA had gone so far and seen how it has progressed, the people it has formed still gave time to come back. She hopes that XUCLA continues with what it has been doing and spreads its wings even more. She ended her speech by quoting St. Ignatius of Loyola’s words: “Go forth and set the world on fire.”
The online gathering was also joined by XUCLA’s former Executive Director, Judge Jarley Sulay, also fondly called “Mama Jang” by XUCLA interns. Mama Jang narrated her experiences as she witnessed the birth of the legal center. She is happy that XUCLA has continued to keep its light burning and still abide by its passion to serve the people after a short hiatus. Atty. Lariza Ugsod, a former Intern and currently a PAO Lawyer, also narrated the more recent experiences of fellowship and service.
Kimberly Elaine G. Tan, a senior intern and batch representative, ended the program with her closing remarks. She narrated how XUCLA helped her become a well-rounded law student. Above all things, XUCLA has taught her to love the law, not only for career purposes but for the goodness and positivity it can bring to society.
The anniversary celebration ended with joyous activities and fun games. A rendition of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” was performed by senior and junior interns which aptly captures the “light” the center hopes to contribute to the community. The 25th celebration indeed serves as a marker for another generation to work forward towards a just, sustainable, and humane society for all. To access the event’s video recording, click here: https://tinyurl.com/