I had just been nominated to become a member of the Young Lawyer’s Association of Cebu (YLAC). As a nominee, I had been given an assignment to write an article about last week’s YLAC legal aid activity which is to be included in the organization’s publication called the “Consiglier.” I love being nominated for YLAC because even if I don’t get to be a member a get a funny tshirts.
Here is my contribution to the publication which will come out by the end of June.
The great President Ramon Magsaysay once wisely said “He who has less in life should have more in law.” I do not know if this has been achieved in our current judicial system. With high filing fees, slow movement of the judicial processes and a system that seems to work only for those who have more in life, I doubt that this gives justice to the often quoted saying of President Magsaysay.Despite the frustrations that one can encounter in practicing law, a group of young and energetic lawyers decided that president Magsaysay’s statement should not only be highlighted and enshrined in speeches or articles. The Young Lawyer’s Association of Cebu (YLAC) has once again rendered free legal in the hope of giving truism to President Magsaysay’s statement.The Free legal aid was done in cooperation with the University of the Philippines Cebu HIGH SCHOOL Alumni Association and ABS-CBN. This is the fourth year that YLAC has been rendering free legal aid in ABS-CBN’s Halad Kapamilya, an annual activity which gives free services including dental, medical and legal aid among others.The whole day activity was held at the University of the Philippines – Cebu High School grounds. More than a hundred people became the beneficiaries of free legal services. Problems that were being presented range from very simple ones, such as change of name to more complex ones such as land disputes. There were also people who had already sought legal advice from other lawyers but they merely wanted another opinion on their problem so they decided to avail of the free legal service.
This is the first time that I have ever been to a free legal clinic ever since I became a lawyer. I use to think that doing a free legal aid clinics will somehow not make a difference to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich when it comes to the law and justice.
But when I remembered this story, it helped gave meaning to what I did. The story goes like this, a wise man was walking down the beach and saw a young lad reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He asked the young boy what he was doing and the young lad replied “I am throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”
Even if a bunch of free legal aid clinics may not make a big dent to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor when it comes to justice and the law, I hope that YLAC made a difference to each single individual that has availed of its service in that free legal aid clinic and hopefully in more future clinics to come.