It’s been five years since, 32-year-old Tia Canlas established a non-profit organization that provides legal aid for domestic violence survivors. Originally, Alipato Project had been founded in Oakland in 2012, taking on both civil and criminal cases. Before Canlas started her non-profit organization, she traveled beside her mother at an early age.
Born in New York City as Tia Katrina Taruc Canlas, she attended briefly at a public school in Los Angeles. At age nine her mother divorced and moved back to the Philippines, where Tia remained for the next couple of years. Canlas grew among her relatives, learning Tagalog and the family’s heritage. Her great-grandfather, Luis Taruc, was a leader from Hukbalahap, who took name “small glowing ember that escapes a dying fire’’ or Apilato. Tina returned to the states to attend community college in Santa Monica. Transferred to Berkeley State University in 2005 where she continued to study law and remained in the East Bay.
“I feel my roots have been implanted in Berkeley and Oakland,” said Canlas.
After meeting her partner, Christopher Myers, owner of newly established café. Tina’s office is now located right above Alchemy Collective café and Roaster in South of Berkeley. The project continues to operate under Canlas supervision, ideally, she wishes to run project full-time. However, with 100 intakes a year, rent space and expenses, it has cost feminist entrepreneur to take on legal contract work from other firms.
To continue representing disempowered battered victims from their perpetrators. The Alipato Project launched, Rad Fem coloring book, sketches were drawn by Canlas with a close friend who helped format the booklet. Occasionally she participates in events in East Bay, such as Oakland First Fridays, to sell the coloring books for twenty-five dollars to donate to the Alipato project.
Without the assistance of lawyers volunteering to take on cases, most clients will remain on a waitlist. Tina explains that is not a long-term commitment, but it’s useful “for someone to help process a case. To commit an hour per week.” Canlas works part-time at Apilato Project, taking clients from outside zip code, and providing free consultation. Normally legal aid is free for Berkeley residents, “if were contracted it’s between fourteen to one-hundred dollars an hour depending on the client’s income,” said Canlas.
Initially Tina had been concerned that if a victim filed a legal suit, it would escalate the batter more. There also cases of child abuse explained Tina, she realized the batterer often doesn’t let their victim walk away, if a child is involved which goes through family law.
Under the California domestic violence laws, there are penalties and charges depending crime. In certain cases when a victim has enough resources to leave and no longer care if it escalates the perpetrator. According to find law, “California state laws allow victims of domestic violence to apply for emergency protective orders and restraining orders in both civil and criminal court.”
Gratified in her over-all success, “I am glad I have been able to provide the service.”
For more information on donating at Alipato Project, refer to website homepage, or contact
Tina at (510) 393-2723.