Monday, 20 May 2019
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Message from the Executive Director
Atty. Arnold F. De Vera

SALIGAN’s first 20 years, which we celebrate today, is a tapestry continuously woven from diverse narratives. It is at once a story of triumphs and challenges, beginning in 1986, when a group of ordinary people – friends – heeded the call to participate in the empowerment of marginalized Filipinos. They broke the mold of traditional lawyering by bringing themselves into the lives of those who were willing to accept them as partners.

 

 

What started as a spartan office in Caritas, Manila has since then expanded into three – one inside the Ateneo de Manila campus, another at the Abonal-Soria Building in Naga City, and, most recently, one at Door 1, Champaca Street, Juna Subdivision, Matina, Davao City. From a staff of five working on labor issues, SALIGAN has grown to serve and address the concerns of diverse sectors – women, labor, peasant, urban poor, and local governance – with a competent staff. The Mindanaw branch has brought SALIGAN into environmental, indigenous peoples and peace issues as well.

SALIGAN’s goals and strategies, too, continue to evolve. For the period 2007 to 2010, SALIGAN has decided to intensify its current advocacy programs, committing itself to find a home in law schools, law communities and focus groups. A Visayas office is also being planned.

As it is a story of growth and expansion, SALIGAN’s first 20 years is also full of uncertainty. Many of us have learned to regard that last payday as just that – the last, what with the perennial contingency of funding. And yet for two decades, SALIGAN persists. With at times meager resources, fueled only by the faith of its staff, SALIGAN has, as seen by the narratives of the different units and branches, been able to hurdle one difficulty after another.

And yet, no matter how SALIGAN’s unfolding narrative is told, it is certainly one which is deeply personal. Inevitably it leads us to re-examine our role and place in the society of which we are part. It asks us to renew our commitment to SALIGAN’s purpose and vision. And as we tell its story, SALIGAN continues to inspire, as well as to challenge, each of us to give ourselves, despite the apparent difficulty and seeming insignificance, to the mission of shaping society and giving voice to those who would otherwise not be heard.

Though much abuse, inequality and poverty remain, we are grateful for the obstacles that have fortified us and triumphs that sustain us. We thank those without whom the past 20 years would not have been possible. With continued faith in the vision of a just, peaceful, compassionate and liberating society, and hope in the human spirit, SALIGAN’s story will go on.