MANILA, Philippines – What went wrong?
This was the question that hounded a tight group of 6 law graduates after finding out that none of them passed the 2018 Bar. They studied law at the Dr Vicente Orestes Romualdez Educational Foundation (DVOREF) in Tacloban City, Leyte.
Babayne Tan, Jovany Damayo, Rosalie Almaden, Mae Conde, and KT Acerden have been close since college. They were in the same section in law school, where they met the sixth member of their barkada – Dennis Abril.
The 6 of them dreamed of becoming lawyers at the same time which they eventually attained, but not without suffering heartbreak on their first try at the Bar. (READ: Before acing 2019 Bar, topnotcher recalls not getting into dream school)
“It was heartbreaking and in a way, embarrassing. Our world came crashing down. It was difficult to comprehend why not a single one of us made it in the 2018 Bar exam. Kulang sa aral? Nope. Kulang sa effort? Super hindi. Petiks lang? Absolutely not. (We didn’t study enough? We didn’t put in enough effort? Super no. We were just lazy? Absolutely not),” said Tan.
For the 2018 Bar exam, the group flew all the way to Manila to spend months preparing for the tough licensure exaam. They spent 13 hours a day studying. Despite the exhaustion, they continued studying hard after their review classes.
“Inisip lang namin that time was to give the Bar Exam our everything so that whatever happens, wala kami regrets. Nagbasa lang talaga kami nang nagbasa at sobrang binawasan ang tulog at oras para mag-unwind,” Tan added.
(We were thinking that if we give our everything to the Bar exam, we won’t have any regrets regardless of whatever happen. We just studied and reduced our time for sleep and breaks.)
Devastated by the 2018 Bar results, the barkada sought comfort in one another and constantly talked to each other in their group chat to process what they were feeling. Still dumbfounded as to what happened, they even changed their group chat name to “What Went Wrong.”
“We kept asking kung saan kami nagkulang. We did our best and gave our everything pero bakit bagsak pa rin? We first asked each other kung anong gagawin namin. We all agreed na magtetake kami pero hindi rin kami sure how we’ll prepare for it since all of us were working that time,” Tan said.
(We kept asking what our shortcomings were. We did our best and gave our everything but we still failed? We first asked each other what we’ll do next. We all agreed to retake [the exam] but we weren’t sure how to prepare for it since we were all working at that time.)
Journey to redemption
In 2019, the barkada found themselves back in Manila to prepare for the Bar.
“Sabak agad sa giyera (We went straight to the battlefield) because there was no other option…. Notwithstanding our best efforts and sacrifices, we knew that failure was still a possibility which made it all the more terrifying,” said Tan.
This time, the barkada made sure to take breaks instead of going all out and overexerting themselves. they reduced their minimum 13 hours of reading time to at least 8 hours. They also allotted Mondays as free days, and took breaks when they were tired.
“We basically just chose to love ourselves more and listen to our bodies, contrary to what we did the previous year na halos patayin na namin mga sarili namin. Kung noong 2018, work and pray lang ginawa namin. Noong 2019 work, pray, and play na,” Tan shared.
(We basically just chose to love ourselves more and listen to our bodied, contrary to what we did the previous year when we nearly killed ourselves. If in 2018, what we did was all work and pray. In 2019, it became work, pray, and play.)
While preparing for the Bar exam, the barkada would often talk about their fears and worries over a few cans of beer during their free days.
Tan shared that even if they were broken, they lent each other a helping hand when needed.
“Sama-samang bumagsak at sama-samang bumangon (Together we fell and together we’ll rise),” Tan added.
When the results of the 2019 Bar exam came out on April 29, their group chat went quiet until it suddenly exploded with congratulatory messages.
This time, all of them passed.
“We may have effed the first try but that dark and painful part of our lives made us realize how strong and determined we are. It molded us into the kind of person we are today, and taught us that those who never gave up on their dream despite the hardships and failures must also be accorded recognition and respect,” Tan said.
Tan’s advice to aspiring lawyers and Bar takers to always go back to the reason they wanted to enter the profession whenever they feel hopeless.
She also highlighted the importance of listening to your body and understanding what you’re reading.
“Kailangan talagang magsakripisyo para sa pangarap (You ereally have to sacrifice for your dream). If you’re tired, rest but never quit. Never forget the reason why you wanted to become a lawyer. It will motivate you to keep going,” she said.
When times are tough, she advises how it’s important to keep going and keep hoping for better days.
“Laban lang lagi and tell yourself, ‘Magiging abogado ako (Just keep fighting and tell yourself ‘I’ll be a lawyer),’” Tan said.
After achieving their goal, the barkada finally changed their group chat name: “From What Went Wrong to #PumasaNa.” – Rappler.com