United States of America was one of my dream places when I was young. But, to wake up one morning, seeing snow falling outside your window, realizing that everything seems to be true was extremely unexpected. During that time, I told myself, is this true or just a dream? Let me check, but yet, everything is true. Harriet Tubman once said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Last February 1- 11, I traveled in the United States of America for the International Visitor Leadership Program project entitled “U.S. Perspectives on Legal Education”. It is for the Philippines and administered by Meridian International Center and with the help of United States Department of State and Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines.
In my journey, I met a lot of people from different places in Mindanao, Palawan and in US. I learned a lot from them. It helped me to develop my interpersonal skills. I acquired additional knowledge’s based from their experiences and skills.
Beforehand, I want to share my Shalom experiences with my co-volvis participants. It was Sunday night when I first met them. Being with them for almost a month was unforgettable. I enjoyed being with them. We roamed around the city. We celebrated a birthday party and we ate together. They were like my brothers and sisters. Though it was my first time to meet them, but, it was like we have been together in the past.
Going in Washington was a bit challenging. We were stranded in Hong Kong and one of my colleagues was brought to the hospital. She was hurt because a heavy bag fell down to her neck from the cabin when the airplane landed in the airport. It was sudden and we worried a lot about her health. Thank you to our Almighty, and she was okay. Other than that, we lost our luggage’s for two days. Despite of those challenges, no one will stop us. We stayed strong together.
We arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in the afternoon. We were welcomed by Ms. Lily May Bayley, Ms. Teresita Bernales and Ms. Jacquelyn Costa-Horsey. After that, we went to the Meridian International Center. At the center, we met Ms. Rhonda Martin, Mr. Mark Rebstock and Mr. David Chestnut. Although we were tired from a long trip, we felt so happy because of the warm welcome shown by them who waited for us and prepared the activity, and we arrived safe in the capital.
Tuesday was our first meeting day, and that was February 3. First, we went to the United States Department of Justice. Mr. Charles Ex, program manager, explained the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) roles in providing technical assistance to countries in support of the transparent and fair judicial system.
Second, Ms. Jo-Ann Wallace, president and CEO of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) explained the resources and programs to support and encourage access to legal aid and defense services. Third, our next appointment was the Pro Bono Institute. Mr. Sri Katragadda, Esq., Ms. Eve Runyon, Esq. and Ms. Tammy Taylor, Esq. made clear to us how the organization support the pro bono efforts of law firms to identify new approaches to the provision of legal services to the poor. Lastly, we went to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). The different programs of USIP and how they help other people in other countries were expounded to us.
February 4 was our second day in Washington D.C. On that day, we visited the highest tribunal in the nation for all cases and controversies in the United States. It stands as the final arbiter. Do you know that court? It was the United States Supreme Court. We went around the Supreme Court. We learned a lot about its history and how the trial was conducted inside the court room. Furthermore, we received our IVLP certificates in that place. We were so happy and thankful while receiving the certificates given by Ms. Rhonda Martin.
Washington D.C. was remarkable. It is a beautiful city surrounded with vast museums, iconic monuments and historical buildings. My experience was worth remembering, and I acquired new information’s from the people that I met in that place. I just want to say, thank you for the blessings that I had received because it is more than what I have expected it to be. Now, our second place is Dallas, Texas...
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Liceo Legal Aid Center (LiLAC) doing business under the name and style of Center for Alternative Lawyering of Liceo is the legal aid center of Liceo de Cagayan University, a privately owned university based in Cagayan de oro City. The group is composed of law students, alumni of the College of Law of the University, and lawyers who are passionate in the practice of alternative lawyering. LiLAC is guided by its vision of a holistic formation of law students committed to the transformation of society by promoting justice, empowerment, unity and peace, through helping the marginalized sector of the depressed areas here in Mindanao, in the Philippines and in the world. While the group was registered only this year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it has been providing services to marginalized communities in partnership with NGOs for more than 8 years now. LiLAC has more than 50 members, 15 of whom are taking the active role of running the group’s activities.
The Mindanao State University Legal Aid Clinic or Mindanao SULAC for brevity, is the Legal Aid Clinic of Mindanao State University College of law. It is the first and currently the only one of its kind to be established in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It strives to cater the legal needs of the underprivileged and/or indigent clients of the Region and to help promote the proper administration of justice as a key to lasting peace in the region and in the country as a whole.
Office Address: 1F MSU College of Law Bldg.,
MSU Main Campus, Marawi City 9700 Philippines
Mobile No.: (+63) 907 336 7762
The Notre Dame university is a Catholic Institution in Cotabato City run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and member of the Notre Dame Educational Association Philippines.The Notre Dame University Legal Aid Center started sometime in 2009. Its members are the officially enrolled students of NDU-College of Law.
The following are the official pages and e-mail address of the group:
The Palawan Cradle of Rights is a unified composition of law students from Palawan State university school of Law, established last August 26, 2013 after the culminating activity of the Basic Orientation Seminar by the US Embassy in partnership with the MYVC.
Through our linkages and with the help of the different Government and Non-government organizations we aim to provide free access to people who need legal assistance.
The University of Mindanao Legal Aid Network (ULAN) is a non-stock, non-profit, and service institution of the University of Mindanao. As a service institution, it provides legal assistance, advocates human rights and social justice, and facilitates the formation of law students for alternative lawyering. It consists of law students and alumni of the College of Legal Education of the University of Mindanao committed to provide an adequate and greater access to justice of the community through its programs.
The CENTRO ADVOCACIA LEGAL is organized exclusively for charitable, socio-cultural and educational purposes, more specifically to serve the needs of the marginalized communities specifically children and youth and the minorities in Zamboanga City through Legal Aid Assistance and Human Rights Based Advocacies.