Initial reflections upon finishing the 2015 Bar Exams

November 30, 2015. I have just hurdled the infamous “bar exams,” the licensure examinations for aspiring lawyers in the Philippines.

Besides actually passing the exams, successfully concluding the eight (8) examinations scheduled over the four (4) Sundays of November is a significant milestone for all law school graduates, having gone through four or five years of law school, in itself a struggle and a feat. It is the culminating point of the journey taken by many young and aspiring lawyers. As with any culminating point or climax, it is treated with much significance by those who share the same epic narrative and by those who share our aspirations.

This conclusion is of great relief for me, in particular, I would dare say, because it did not take me four or five years—it took me seven years of arduous study which I began back in 2008, as an idealistic 20 year-old fresh graduate from film school. Wide-eyed but terribly unacquainted with the intensive study necessary, I got myself dismissed from the University of the Philippines (UP Law) after a year and a half for failing two basic subjects. I took a break for a little more than half a year, and began another parallel journey in the University of Santo Tomas (UST Law), where it took me many more failures and five more years before I finally made it to graduation day.

I would normally attribute my lackluster academic performance to my many involvements beyond the classroom from the student council to national politics, and the many distractions in between, but that would sound like I am making excuses—I am making none. All my involvements were conscious decisions, and some were mistakes, and I live by my failures not with pride but with a badge of honor. After all is said and done, I graduated law school and I finished the bar exams! I’m over and done with it.

All that is left now, is the anxious and hopeful yet guarded optimism in awaiting the results. I would never wish to have to go through it again and prepare to re-take the exams in the unfortunate circumstance that I don’t pass. Just the thought gives me daytime and conscious nightmares, if there were even such things. Perhaps it is borne, too, of the exaggerated significance Philippine society and Filipino families have placed on this certain profession (a congition I do not agree with, by the way, but that is for another blog entry for me to discuss).

It is time, now, for much needed rest.

Hanging on in the meantime

Last Saturday, I still took my midterm exams in Insurance. The previous night, I struggled to muster enough enthusiasm to review. At the back of my mind played the thought that staying up that late and re-reading piles of cases was worthless, because at the end of the day, it wouldn’t matter if I pass or if I get a high score in that particular exam because I won’t be able to enroll next semester anyway.

However, I’ve decided to just go on. I will try to attend classes in the coming days while I await the final advice form the UP Law administration, in the rare and slim chance that I get through by some miracle–without being too hopeful, of course.

Sure, it may be a waste of time and energy if what’s supposed to happen is inevitable. I just try to think of it as a way for me to take advantage of my last days in Malcolm Hall, and perhaps, for the pure desire to learn, regardless of the fact that I won’t earn any academic credit for it.

In between reviewing for the exam at a coffee shop, I was also hopping over next-door for my undergraduate college organization‘s anniversary night, being held at the restaurant beside the coffee shop.

It was great seeing my contemporaries again, and catching up on their careers. Most of them are in media companies, for obvious reasons. As for myself, I told them I’m still in law school, though I left out the part where I was supposed to say I’m struggling to stay in law. It wasn’t a time to dampen the mood of people.

Last night I also went to another party, it was Inter-B, the inter-batch party of UP Law’s block B’s. The sophomores, that’s our batch, organized the event. Since I’m about to be out of the college soon anyway, I might as well attend the last inter-batch party I can attend as a student. I will miss my blockmates. They’ve been so supportive all along, ever since we all started out last year.

Past academic shortcomings continue to haunt me

Just when I wrote about trying to start anew by chronicling my experiences in UP Law, my academic shortcomings last year come back to haunt me. I felt very distressed this afternoon after an unfortunate re-test of one of my freshman subjects. No matter how much I try to recover from my past mistakes or to reform from my, admittedly, poor performance last year by being much more diligent with my studies this year, they will continue to haunt me.

There’s no use regretting to have taken up a lot of extra-curriculars last year and not offering my jealous devotion to law. My renewed enthusiasm in studying may well be for naught. I don’t know what to do now. To quit, I may, to transfer I might consider, but for now if it’s not meant to be, I shall take the break and surrender to my unfortunate academic fate. I apologize to everyone I might be disappointing. I am thankful to those who understand. Admittedly, I felt terribly upset a while ago. All’s well now. But that’s probably it. Goodbye UP Law.

I shall write more about my law school experience

I shall start to attempt writing down chronicles of my stay in law school. Perhaps it can be a way for me to totally imbibe the law school routine. Sometimes I feel like the reason why I don’t blog much about my experiences in law school is that I feel like everything is just some negligible routine which I don’t bother remembering for posterity. Up until now, I still don’t feel like I totally want to become a lawyer. I just struggle my way in the College of Law one day at a time, without fixating on the finish line or the thought of graduating too much. It’s difficult enough to think about getting by each week, after all. But that’s not right. I’m on my second year, and there’s no turning back.

Anyway, certainly there are things you don’t appreciate till they’re gone. This won’t be another Cory Aquino-related blog entry, though. (God bless her soul as the nation escorts her to her final resting place today).

Yesterday the entire air-conditioning system of the College was down. It was like some inconvenient server crash. Some people know how much I sweat, often more than others. Needless to say, I was sweating profusely in my two classes. To make things worse, I got called for recitation and I was largely unprepared. And even more unfortunately, it was one of those sessions when I was the only one who was called to recite during the entire two-hour lecture. It was just one of those days. I got by, nonetheless, with lucky guesses and my classmates’ “radio coaching”.

In another matter, I’ve recently discovered the convenience of studying at Malcolm Hall’s student lounge. For the longest time since my freshman days, I always went to the library or to some coffee shop outside school to study during long breaks or after class. There seemed to be no other choice if I didn’t want to go home yet. However, the past weeks, since I lost my ID and the guard has blacklisted me from the library, I was forced to find an alternative academic hang-out, where I don’t have to buy anything. And then there was the student lounge at the ground floor. I always thought it was an exclusive tambayan for some law school cliques. Not quite, really. It was a homey, air-conditioned lounge complete with couches and other fixtures. Pretty neat.

Wow. This entry sounds quite mundane! Well, it’s a start. Hopefully if I get the hang of this, I shall write about some (academic) lessons learned, too, not only so that I could share them with everyone, but so I could recall them more easily, perhaps, (because I would be forced to digest legal doctrines and cases, unless you want me to write lengthily about them).

A quick note before going back to the books

I’ve been trying to be as diligent as I can with my studies right now. I rarely hang out in school after class anymore, unless there are really important meetings, activities or errands. And when our internet connection was cut a few days ago, I didn’t quite mind it, as I was too busy reading cases and textbooks when I’m at home. Right now, I’m just finishing this entry before going back to my readings.

Anyway, last night, since all the other cinemas were booked because of Transformers: The Revenge of The Fallen, we found ourselves rediscovering the cinemas of Metro Manila’s first mall (okay, apparently, Harrison Plaza claims to be the older mall).

The last time I was at the cinemas of Ali Mall was two or three years ago, when it was still all dingy and dark. It was the opening weekend then, I think, of The Da Vinci Code, and my friends and I gave up upon seeing the humongous crowd at Gateway Mall in Cubao. Upon my suggestion, we walked to Ali Mall and watched the movie in its large, decrepit, and largely empty cinema.

Last night to our pleasant surprise, however, it’s a lot, lot better now. Together with the rest of the mall, the cinemas have been renovated. The large cinema has been divided into three smaller and cozier modern theaters that look like the cinemas at Gateway. And since I don’t think a lot of people are aware of Ali Mall’s recent transformation, the box office lines were pleasantly short.

Transformers was a great visual treat. Nothing artsy-fartsy. Funny how I think like a law student sometimes even when watching movies. The moment Sam’s family home was destroyed my first thought was, damn, I wonder if their house is insured (or if the insurance policy will cover destruction by robot).

Academic woes get worse

I’ve been quite distraught the past days over my academic standing in Law. I’m in the brink of being kicked out because of my grades. Kicked out temporarily, at least.

Since I was already on probation during the second semester of my freshman year, I am not allowed to get any more failing marks, but after enrollment two weeks ago, our Criminal Law 2 grades came out and unfortunately, I got my first 5.0 ever. That should effectively dismiss me from UP Law.

The anomaly and the confusion, however, is that I’ve already enrolled before the grade came out and that classes have already started, and I’ve signed my class cards and all the first-day shiz.

Another thing is that the cause of my probationary status last semester, a 4.0 in Persons & Family Relations, is still unresolved. Now I don’t know if my enrollment is voided, if I can remain enrolled conditionally pending the resolution of my unremoved 4.0, or what? I still have to talk with our College Secretary to clarify my status and negotiate something.

Over the past days I’ve been thinking of my choices whatever the outcome will be. Perhaps I can start working? Some of my friends don’t like this attitude of mine, always thinking of the worst scenario in order to be emotionally and psychologically prepared for it. True, I do have the tendency to dwell on the worst scenario. Nakakabaliw nga siya. But it really is just my way of coping up with the stress. I always seek security from preparing for the worst. If the outcome is anything but the worst, then all the better. I wish I could just say this is just school, but somehow there’s always a big social price with being in a law school. All the family and societal expectations from aspiring lawyers can be stressful. It’s crazy. It’s not as easy to say to people I failed law school than say I failed… I don’t know, film school? Why? I don’t quite get it. How I miss being in undergrad. Is the law profession worth it? I know it is, I just don’t know how to answer the why.

Prepare the Plan B’s and C’s

I don’t remember feeling so distraught after an exam. Usually, especially as an undergrad, I’d always feel liberated after an exam. Not this time. I just walked out of Malcolm Theater after my Criminal Law 2 exam looking dazed. Did I just seal my future in Law, or the lack thereof, with that exam?

I couldn’t believe how, after all the sleepless nights cramming and studying crimes, I could not muster enough legal bases for my answers. To make things worse, I go out of the venue to my blockmates discussing the ‘right‘ answers, which unfortunately, were not the same as mine. And as it turned out, almost the entire exam came straight out of a sample exam that was made available in our block and which I neglected to run through.

If it turns out that I failed this exam, it might really be bye-bye Malcolm Hall. I posted an update at my Facebook wall the day before yesterday, saying that perhaps law isn’t really for me. There are times I feel like all these trouble–the many many sleepless nights, the stress, the lack of time for many things I may be doing–is it all worth it? Thinking about things I’d rather do makes me give in to these bouts of doubts. Now I feel quite uncertain about a lot of things.

Just keep studying

For some days the past two weeks, I’ve been spending half the day at the Main Library in Diliman studying for my exams in UP Law. It’s something I thought of doing just to get away from the usual routine of reading at the Law library, or spending afternoons at fancy coffee shops.

Being among undergrad students bring back a feeling of fondness, and it’s making me look forward to taking my backlog undergraduate subjects this summer. Yes, I wouldn’t be able to have much free time this summer vacation, but I couldn’t care less. There are some things I’m willing to let go of just so I can feel like an undergrad again. Nakaka-miss. Continue reading

Walang puwang

Pagpasensiyahan niyo ulit na hindi na naman ako nakakapag-blog. Mula sa paghahanda para sa Student Regent Referendum noong December mula sa mismong Referendum noong January na sinundan kaagad ng student council elections sa UP, at pinagitnaan ng iba’t ibang gawain sa University Student Council. Mula paggising hanggang pagtulog talaga noong mga nakaraang buwan puno ng mga gawain ang schedule ko. Pagkatapos na pagkatapos ng eleksyon, eto naman ako naghahabol nang todo sa pagbabasa at pag-aaral ng mga kaso. Nawawawalan na nga ako ng gana eh. Pero walang puwang para panghinaan ng loob. Kayod lang nang kayod. At Facebook. Ha ha ha! Sana nasa UP Law pa rin ako sa susunod na semester.

A break from legal provisions

October 24, 2008. Our last final exam is over! By the fourth hour of our marathon written exam in Constitutional Law 1, I was so drained and my right hand was already really exhausted from all the writing, I just ranted off my last answer without much prudence in citing provisions. I barely cared anymore. I wanted it done and over with. I won’t be online for the next few days! I shall blog again when I come back to Manila. See you all!