‘Serving with a heart; driven to challenge change!’
The forty four years of existence of Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan (SVBB) law offices, during which it witnessed episodes of political turmoil and economic crisis, are a testament to the sterling character and resilience of the partners, lawyers and staff of the firm.
Established on August 1, 1976, the heart and soul of SVBB was forged by the vision and leadership of its founders, classmates Eugene A. Tan and Ignacio S. Sapalo, both of the Ateneo School of Law batch 1967.
SVBB became one of the front-running law firms in the country engaged in intellectual property prosecution, maintenance, licensing, and enforcement.
Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds such as copyright, trademark, patent, utility model, and industrial design.
IP rights give the creator an exclusive right over the use of one’s creation for a certain period of time, ensuring that he is given due recognition or remuneration for his effort.
The governing local law is Republic Act No. 8942, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
SVBB later evolved into is a full service law firm with diversified practice areas in Philippine law, including corporation/taxation, litigation and labor (specifically seafarers’ claims) with branch offices in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro.
Given the important role of Filipino seafarers, SVBB remains to be one of the leading movers advocating seafarers’ rights through initiatives showcasing its commitment to the principle of social justice.
The life of a seafarer is not a walk in the park as they are physically, mentally and emotionally stressed being away from their families and working on board vessels sailing non-stop for months the world’s oceans.
The risks of getting killed, injured or ill are high as seafarers are constantly exposed to several perils and fluctuating temperatures as the ships cross ocean boundaries.
The SVBB cooperates with various stakeholders in ensuring better protection and more benefits for seafarers, including the church-based Apostleship of the Seas (AoS) Philippines.
SVBB also believes that the best way to afford legal protection to seafarers is for them to be informed of their legal rights through nationwide paralegal lectures and through legal publications and radio programs.
“Serving with a heart”, in essence, is an adaptation of the dictum ‘No master but law. No guide but conscience. No aim but justice’ immortalized by the well-revered jurist, nationalist and former Supreme Court Justice Jose Benedicto Luis Reyes.
In some aspect, lawyering is intertwined with “politics” in the classical sense of Plato and Aristotle, viewing it “as the art concerned with what it means to be a human being; what is the best life for a human being; and.., the ways in which we can order our living together so that good human lives will emerge.”
Notwithstanding Shakespeare’s derogatory remarks about lawyers, Atty. Sapalo underscored that lawyering is very much a noble profession. Lawyers apply their knowledge of the law to sort out, settle and resolve the countless conflicts among individuals, families and communities.
He was referring to the famous line “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” from William Shakespeare’s Henry VI. The line has been interpreted in different ways: criticism of how lawyers maintain the privilege of the wealthy and powerful; implicit praise of how lawyers stand in the way of violent mobs; and criticism of bureaucracy and perversions of the rule of law.
Atty. Sapalo stressed that on the lawyer’s shoulders fall the challenging task of ferreting out the truth in every case they handle, carefully balancing contending interests to reach fair and just results, and always staying within the bounds of the rule of law.
“Serving with a heart; driven to challenge change!” is SVBB’s motto that captures succinctly what the firm is, its culture and values in the protection of the clients’ interests with sensitivity, care, and attention.
“Change, indeed, is the rule of the day, but our basic commitment and obligation to protect the interests of our clients remain constant. As good lawyers, we will carefully balance contending interests to reach fair and just results, and always staying within the bounds of the rule of law,” Atty. Sapalo said.
SVBB is committed to perform the noble task of upholding justice with excellence and professionalism, for the good and interest of society, especially the poor and underprivileged.
(Atty. Dennis Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)
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