Mr. Ariel Casilao , ACD High School batch 1996 will be representing the poor sectors of the workers, peasants, fisher folks, and urban poor communities to the Lower House of the Congress as first nominee of Anakpawis Partylist which garnered one seat in the 2016 national elections. The partylist system is a provision in the law that reserves 20 per cent of the seats in the House of Representatives to partylists, in principle, for the marginalized sectors to have direct representation in the country’s legislature.
Casilao spent his formative years molded in Marian virtues at Assumption College of Davao from Senior Kinder until graduating in High School.
As a student in ACD, the young Ariel Casilao was active in solidarity movements with those in the fringes of society as a member of the Student Christian Movement, Vice-Chairperson of the Catechist Club, and Vice-Chairperson of the Junior Missionaries.
“We would go together to urban poor and Lumad communities with our Religious Education teacher, Sr. Eupy Bandigan of the Missionaries of the Assumption, to immerse and integrate with the grassroots sectors and the poorest among the poor,” recalls his classmate, Mr. Jopriz M. Bueno, who now heads the Research and Planning Office of ACD.
The constant immersion with the grassroots sectors while he was in ACD made a mark in his heart as he became more socially involved, directly participating in the parliament of the streets and political movements in his tertiary years at Ateneo de Davao University where he studied Political Science. He became one of the founding members and Vice President for Mindanao of Anakbayan, a national comprehensive youth organization established on November 30, 1998. He also led and co-founded local student organization Samahang Mag-aaral ng Agham Pampulitika ng Ateneo (Samapula) as well as College Chapters of Anakbayan.
After earning his Bachelor’s degree in 2001, he helped establish Anak ng Bayan, the first youth party to vie for a Congressional seat via the partylist system. As a human rights advocate, he became a spokesperson of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, a leader of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-SMR and finally becoming the spokesperson for Mindanao of the independent labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakpawis Partylist.
During the discussion on the prospects under the Duterte government last May 26 at the High School AVR where he was the main discussant, Ariel Casilao expressed his gratitude to ACD for his formation. He said that ACD contributed much to his growth in understanding and providing alternatives and solutions to the many social dilemmas and ills that the Filipino nation is affronted with.
Casilao is currently consulting with various people’s organizations to craft policy recommendations with local chapters of Anakpawis. He is also helping in the facilitation of informal talks between incoming President Duterte and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines for the resumption of Peace Negotiations, and was present as an observer during the signing of the Oslo Joint Statement by the incoming GPH Peace Panel led by Atty. Silvestre Bello III and the NDFP Peace Panel headed by its Chief Political Consultant, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, in Oslo, Norway on June 14-15, 2016.