the bar account

In a few weeks, the results for the Bar Exams will be released. Soon, the long wait will be over. Finally, the 4,000+ Bar-hopefuls will either realize or frustrate their dreams. On my end, I would like to believe that I will make it a reality.

As I wait that fateful day, I have realized that I have not made an account of my Bar experience. An email sent to a friend is the closest account I wrote. Perhaps, I thought that the experience was too much to be reduced to words. I just did not know where to start. Yet, I surely kept it forever etched in my person. 

The Bar season changed me. It was a time where I was pruned, stretched, and disciplined. It was a time of planting, perseverance and surrender. It was a season filled with grace. 


Preparation wins half of the battle, they say.

Four or five years, for some including me, in law school is ample time preparation for the Bar Examinations. But the heat of it will sink in the moment the bar review season begins. More than the academic preparedness, one must likewise be ready physically (you can’t afford to get sick), psychologically (you should be tough enough to hurdle your own doubts), emotionally (it was surely draining, man!) and spiritually (humility and faith aren’t just spells. They are virtues—solid foundations—that you hang on at this very trying time.)

These six months were exciting, boring, challenging, lonely and fun for me.

It may be short or long depending on how you view it. For me it was both. It was short because I had to review all eight major subjects which I studied for the past five years in law school. I had to apportion the little time in my hands wisely so as to maximize it. It started to feel long though because as I started poring over my books and other review materials, I began to realize that am spending 8-10 hours of my day just by myself and my books.

See, I chose to be alone during that season. I studied in the library of my previous University which is a few hundred meters from my house. For me, that was the best choice because I will surely be less distracted and economically effective. For comfort, I chose the very same spot in the library where I used to study very effectively while I was there.

At that phase of my bar-review-life, I realized that this feat towards the Bar is a personal battle. Nobody will understand exactly how much you want it and how tiring the task is. Everybody else are just on the sidelines, cheering on you--some don't even mind.  

When things started to become arduous, a priest-friend reminded me of St. Thomas’ spirituality towards study. He said in a letter, “When St. Dominic de Guzman insisted on assiduous study as intrinsic to the life of the brother-preachers, he envisioned it as "spirituality," i.e. something which takes hold, grabs, and grasps our whole life, our entire being.” I held on those words. I told myself that time, “For now, this is my life. I will let it take hold of me as dear precious life depends on it.” and it kept me going.

It was then that I realize the value of cooperating with Grace. I knew and felt that God’s grace followed me day in and out, all I needed to do was to do my part of the preparation—study.

I also learned from those who had crossed the bar ahead of me. I drew my own schedule which suited my habits, convenience and pace. It served as a compass for me and keeps me on track. I did not force myself following my calendar to the dot. Instead, I respected my pace. I thought it was wiser to learn  and remember than to actually finish the materials.


Tim Cahill said, “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” Although I have decided to isolate myself during review, there were a handful of people whom I sometimes huddle with to maintain my sanity. The Ward 7 people were there. We’d attempt to study together in coffee houses, which oftentimes fail. To distract ourselves a bit we’d shared bottles of beer, meals, and have a few trips to the movie house. Our friendship grew knowing that we are going through the same thing together. (Oh! We were the ones who went to Coron before the review started.) Carlisle was a consistent hope-giver. Phone calls at night were imperative for us each day, at least just to release. Erwin would be a faithful study buddy especially during the Bar month. We pushed, supported and encouraged each other at this very crucial time. I was also lucky to have my closest friends, Gen and Zeny study with me at this time, while they were also preparing for their own medical board exams.

Apart from these people, there were others who unselfishly supported me. My family was there of course, my barkada, friends from law school and LOJ Family. It felt lighter and easier knowing that there are people believing in you.


My priest-friend and I would describe approaching September as “Nearing Calvary.” One, because it is becoming tougher as the days turn in and out—emotionally that is. It was the time when doubts would trickle. Perhaps it will take hold if not addressed. Two, we’d like to both see it as thorny yet behind Calvary is the fulfillment of God’s plan. Lastly, although it was seemingly “death” in truth, it was victory.

During this time, I would weep in prayer and seek Divine succor that I need.


I remember the day I climbed Mt. Pulag. Then we took the Akiki Trail (Killer Trail) ascending. It was the more challenging trail according to mountaineers because of its steep slopes. And certainly it was VERY CHALLENGING. Somewhere halfway through the climb, I courted the idea of aborting climb. It suddenly occurred to me that it was too difficult that I wanted to give up. Yet the fighter in me spoke and said, “The moment you stepped foot on this mountain, you knew there was no turning back.”

Sometime in the middle of review, I began doubting my intentions of taking the Bar. Which was explained to me as normal. When I weighed my motives, I made my decision. Then, I was sure that upon setting foot in La Salle, there was no turning back.


Four Sundays.

Normally, I would have an internal clock which tells me time. But on September 2010, I lost it! All I knew were Sundays and subjects. First Sunday: Poli and Labor; Second Sunday: Civ and Tax; Third Sunday: Merc and Crim; Fourth Sunday: Rem and Ethics. My life revolved around this schedule because dear precious life depended on it. The day after Sunday would be rest day. Forced that is, because no matter how much I push myself to read, I cannot. So, I just opted to sleep or see a movie. During the rest of the days, I would gobble up my review materials till my eyes fail me. 

...To be continued


on love for the love month

Love is when you wish the best, do the best and offer to serve your best for the object of your love. - francis kong