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Home Articles Feature Story The Untold Story of a Bar Passer

The Untold Story of a Bar Passer

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The Untold Story of a Bar Passer
by Joy Falceso Dungca
April 15, 2009

 

The 2008 Philippine Bar Examination results was released on April 3, 2009. Eager and anxious faces await the results in front of the Supreme Court, hoping that their names will appear in the monitors that were set in front of the gates. Out of 6,300 only 1,300 passed the said exam. The Supreme Court had to lower the passing rate from 75% to 72.5% otherwise only around 7% new lawyers will be inaugurated.

 

I am Joy Falceso Dungca and I am blessed to be one of those who belonged to the chosen few who passed the exam. I am third among the four siblings of Engr. Jesus Infante Dungca, son of Pablo and Pioquinta Dungca, and Ms. Evangeline Manliclic Falceso, daughter of Salvador and Carmen Falceso. I graduated Bachelor of Laws from the University of Santo Tomas and Bachelor of Arts Major in Philosophy at the University of the Philippines.

 

In the thanksgiving party held at Macabacle, Bacolor Pampanga, my mother asked me, “Anong sasabihin mo sa speech mo? Sasabihin mo ba kung paano at kelan mo naisipang mag aral ng batas? My answer was short and non sensical, “Mag papasalamat lang naman ako sa mga taong nag ayos para maging successful ang party.” I was walking up the stairs when I gave her that answer. When I reached the top of the stairs, I realized that she wanted me to do more. The people did not want to hear the words “thank you” plain and simple. What they wanted to hear were stories about my experiences as a law student, what I felt during the four Sundays of the bar examinations, what I did during the long wait, and what was may reaction when I learned that I finally passed the exam.

 

Actually, although I did not prepare any speech, that was the exact story I wanted to tell them but I thought that would be a very very long speech since I would have to start in Grade 6 or 1995. So I decided to write this article so that my family, especially those abroad, will know the hard, long but fun experiences I have had when I decided to take the road less taken.

 

I first had the inclination that I wanted to become a lawyer when I was in Grade 6 Section 6-Pula at Miriam College. I remember then that I hated the subject Aralin Panlipunan or History. Fortunately, I had a teacher named Ms. Layug who made me appreciate the beauty of Philippine history. If my recollection is working at its normal pace our topic on that fateful day was the procedure or process of recruitment of Andres Bonifacio’s KKK. As much as I want to elaborate on the said system, I am afraid this article would become more of a history lesson. She explained the system so well that I realized I was missing so much about Philippine history. Her explanation was eloquent, short and very convincing. That afternoon, during dismissal time, I learned that Ms. Layug was a law student at the University of the Philippines and she had to take a teaching load to support herself to law school. From then on, aside from that the fact that I learned that the world is bigger than myself, I became curious about what lawyers do and how come they speak so well.

 

A lot of things also happened in high school. It was then that I became more deviant and rebellious about the norms of society and the rules and regulations inside the house. It was the time when there existed a cold war between my parents and I. I could still hear the words of my father scolding me every single day just like the song of a renowned singer Freddie Aguilar. “Pagising sa umaga sermon ang almusal bago pumasok sa eskwela…” He did not know then that at the back of my mind I wanted to experience everything because in that way I could keep my eyes open about what’s happening outside. I thought then that if I went straight home after school and vice versa I might as well take up home economics instead of law.

 

My father saw it fit that I follow my sister’s footsteps and enrolled me at the University of The Philippines. My mother wanted me to transfer from Philosophy to Business Administration. I think she wanted me to become an accountant. So during my first year first semester I took Math 17. The only Math subject for Philosophy majors are Math 1 and 2. Math 17 was advance Math. I took the subject just to please my mother. But at the back of my mind I wanted to stick to my course and forget about shifting to another course because that would only be a cause of delay. Eventually I dropped Math 17. I wanted to finish college so much that I took it for three and a half years. I am a Octoberian but I had to wait until March 2004 before I could march for graduation. I really intended to graduate early because I wanted to scout for a good law school.

 

From October 2003 until March 2004 I started my job hunt. I was not sure whether my parents will still support me in my pursuit for further studies that is why I wanted to have a good and decent job so that if their answer will be in the negative, I could have something to support myself. I applied employment with various companies. However, during contract signing I always failed to appear. I was reluctant to take a job that requires 8 hours of my time everyday. That would be suicide for law students.

 

The moment I had the courage to tell my parents that I wanted to pursue further studies, I approached my mother and asked her if she could support me. I could not go straight to my father because I’m afraid the answer will be a resounding “no.” I was happy to hear that she was willing to support me in my studies.

 

I attended law school at the University of Santo Tomas. We had what we call the “nine-unit rule” which means that the moment we failed one or two subjects and the total units failed was 9, goodbye UST. The units per subject ranges from 3 to 5 so you better be careful with the 5 unit subjects. Aside from which, we were also required to maintain a general average of 79 every semester except during your first year which is 78. The average is relatively high compared to other law schools which requires the standard general average or 75.

 

The most difficult year was my first year. It was probably because I had to make so many adjustments. First, because it was my first to time attend a school that was outside Quezon City (you know how traffic is in the Philippines) . Next, compared to my high school and college years my study habits drastically changed in law school. For the first time in my life I was compelled to read 5 to 6 hard bound books coupled with two feet high photocopies of cases per semester. I tried reading at the library but eversince college that did not work for me. I always always tend to sleep at the library probably because of the air conditioning system.

 

I remember vividly that I almost did not make it during my first year first semester because all my grades were 75. Good thing my teacher in Political law gave me 89 in my final grade and that pulled my general average to 78 flat. I was section “1-G” in first year and we were more than 40 students inside the room during the first semester. But during the second semester we started calling ourselves “1-Gunaw” because our number was drastically reduced to 12.

 

My second year was a breeze. I became used to the voluminous books and photocopies I have to read everyday. I became used to the terrorizing tactics my professors put up everyday.

 

My third year was my memorable year because that was the time I failed 2 subjects 1 subject with 5 units and the other with 3 units. I was 1 unit away from getting kicked out of school. I could still remember how I felt that afternoon when I learned that I failed Evidence and Wills and Succession. My initial reaction was to call my father and tell him the bad news. I went out of UST to look for a pay phone in a sari-sari store. I started crying at that sari-sari store. Tears just kept rolling down my face. I think I cried so hard that the saleslady inside the sari-sari store asked me, “Meron po bang namatay?” I went straight home that day and cried my way to sleep. I overheard my father and mga Kuya Jon talking down stairs. My kuya asked, “Bakit umiiyak si Joy?.” My father’s answer was very simple,”Bumagsak kasi sa eksamen.” Honestly, I felt a little bad with his answer because I think at that time my father has not yet realized how much I wanted to become a lawyer. He did not understand yet that I felt that if I failed a subject I will not make it in the bar exams. The matter is something of life and death for me. I got over it eventually. In fourth year, I had to take an overload subject to make up for the subjects I failed in third year. I had to write to the Dean and asked permission to allow me to take overload subject. The UST Dean then was Justice Alfredo Benipayo, my mentor and idol. My request was granted and eventually finished law school in four years. I graduated in March 2008.

 

Amidst all the smiles and happenings during the graduation rites my classmates and I knew that our not so better days are about to begin. It was the start of the review. I started my review on April until August of 2008. That was the time I gained so much weight because of lack of exercise. I read as if I have never read a book before. I enrolled in UST for review. However, I think I attended the review only five times. It was more of self review for me. First thing I did was to gather all the materials I need. I took out all my books I used from first to fourth year. Unlike most of my classmates, I did not focus on the compact review materials, instead I used my hard bound books during my first reading. I only used the compact memory aids during the second and third readings.

 

The Bar examination is held during the four Sundays of September. There are two subjects per day. The examination is from 8 to 5 in the afternoon with a 2 hour break (12 to 2). That was the most difficult examination I took in my life.

 

In UST the barrister (those who are candidates for the bar exams) are housed in a hotel on Saturdays. A bus is ready by 6am Sunday to take the barristers to the De La Salle University (which the barristers call the slaughter house) because that is the venue of the exam.

 

First Sunday, September 7, 2008, the morning subject was Political law and the afternoon subject was Labor Law. It was the most memorable Sunday because I did not get any sleep the night before so that during the afternoon exam I felt really sleepy. I had a smint with me to keep me awake. Although the smint was not enough to wake my nerves at least it helped a little. I could still remember that fateful afternoon because everytime I close my eyes and about to enter into a deep sleep, I could see my father’s face. I would not have the courage to face him if I stand up and quit. (Many of the barristers who left the room never came back) I knew that the moment I stand up and walk away I will be barred from taking the bar exams forever and on top of it I will definitely regret the fact that I am quitter. So I stayed behind finished the exams.

 

The second Sunday, September 14, 2008, was my birthday. The morning subject was Civil Law and the afternoon was Taxation. Taxation is the subject which I felt I was not that prepared. I am not good at Math and I think I was swayed with the idea that Tax was difficult. Indeed it was very difficult for me. Fortunately, I was able to pull it off.

 

The third and fourth Sundays were equally difficult. The subjects taken during the third Sunday are Mercantile Law and Criminal Law and for the fourth Sunday Remedial law and Ethics and Practical Exercises. All the exams were in essay form and all of them were difficult. That’s the only word I could think of right now to describe the bar exam. The average for all subjects is 75 and a barrister must not get a grade lower than 50 in any subject.

 

I thought the four Sundays was difficult I did not expect that the waiting period was hell. October 2008 to March 2009, the barrister call this the waiting period. This is the time the examiners check the booklets. This is also the time when you have to double your prayer because the checking is very subjective. Aside from the fact that you have to pray that the examiner appreciates your answer you also pray that the examiner is in a good mood when he takes hold of your booklet. You also pray that the examiner have the heart to understand your hand writing and miss your grammatical errors.

 

During the waiting period I sought for employment to keep myself busy and not think of the results every minute. Everytime I pray I always put my confidence in God and tell myself that He was with me during my four years of study and during the four Sundays of the bar exam. I know in my heart that He will not abandon me now.

 

The results was finally released on April 3, 2008 at exactly 8:30pm. My initial reaction was to look for my parents and personally tell them the good news. I called my mom over the phone and I heard her crying out loud while saying “Thank you Lord! Thank you Lord!” When I saw my father I was already crying. I saw tears also rolling down his face. I made it finally.

 

I am now the person I dreamed I would become since Grade 6. 12 days have passed since the good news was released. I am still at awe. The question now is what kind of a lawyer will I become? Will I be a good and noble lawyer? Will I stand up above the rest? Or will I be just that – a lawyer?

 

I know my story is not that traumatic or dramatic like other bar passers but this is my story. Every bar passer has a story to tell and every story is worth telling. As they say a story never told contradicts itself.

 

To my Daddy and Mommy, I want you to know that I can forget everything that had happened but I will never forget the happiness I felt when I made you happy.

 

To Ate Joan, Kuya David, Kuya Jon, Jake and my boyfriend Atty. Allan Reiz Macaraig, lola, lolo, tita, tito, pinsan, pamangkin, apo, friends, prayer contributors maraming maraming salamat po! I would not have made it without you.

 

I do not know how to reach out to you personally and say thank you especially to my relatives in the United States that’s why I decided to share a part of me to all of you. This is the only way I know, I can and I can afford. (hehehehe because I cannot fly to the states yet). Thank you very much again.

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Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2009 17:59  

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Newsflash

In the list of passers released by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) for the July 2010 Nursing Licensure Board Exam, four alumni classmates from CNHS's Class of 2006 made the roster. The PRC reported that about 90,000 examinees took the board examination this year.