Top 2013 woman bar passer advocates for women’s rights

Buena Bernal
Raised by a single mother, Wilwayco says it is important that a woman 'feels empowered to do great things'

MANILA, Philippines – Dianna Louise Wilwayco, the highest-ranked female lawyer in the 2013 Bar Examinations, was in a coffee shop with her best friend and almost in tears when news on the bar exam results came out. (READ: UP tops the 2013 bar examinations)

The top woman bar passer herself advocates for women’s rights. 

A member of the Lex Athenia Victoria (formerly Victoria in Lege) sorority in the Ateneo de Manila Law School, Wilwayco has been actively participating in charity events and fashion shows that support the cause of stopping violence against women (VAW).

The 25-year-old believes the struggles of women should not go unheard. 

“It’s important to get the message out there…That there are women trapped in these relationships and situations,” she said in an interview with Rappler.

Wilwayco is ranked 2nd in the 2013 Bar Examinations with a grade of 85.45%, tied with Mark Xavier Oyales of the University of the Philippines College of Law.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help…There are people who will not ostracize you for what you’re going through. It’s not the end,” said the young lawyer, when asked what her message to women who are victims of violence is.

Raised by a single mom

Wilwayco was raised by a single mother. 

“It was always just the two of us,” she said of her mother, while acknowledging that she always felt her dad guiding her. 

Her dad Wilmer died in 1996 of lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. He has taught her, Wilwayco said, to “always prioritize family, stay spiritual, and stay simple and humble even with success.” 

Her mom, Rowena, fueled her passion for the law. Rowena is herself a lawyer, who passed the bar in 1992 and is currently working as a legal officer for the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company.

Growing up as a kid, Wilwayco would often attend hearings with her mom. She said she shared with her mom a sense of “frustration with the justice system.”

“I want to join the system not to aggravate the problem,” she said, but as a catalyst for change.

Wilwayco’s journey to the law profession started out as a form of rebellion against her mother, who wanted her to work first.

Her relationship at that time with Rowena was in a state of flux, given the “pressure” she felt to always garner awards during her student life .

“She just wants me to excel,” Wilwayco said, who is now thankful for her mother’s constant push for her to be the best.

Wilwayco graduated with an honorable mention award in high school and in college, taking up AB Management Economics at the Ateneo.

Women empowerment

Wilwayco was conceived while her mother was in law school.

Her mother, Wilwayco said, is not the type of woman who is “forced to commit to marriage just because she was bearing a child.”

She considers Rowena as her role model. Rowena has taught her the value of independence, that a woman does not need to “lean on someone to be strong.”

It is important, she said, that “a woman feels empowered to do great things.”

This lesson has steered her in the right direction and has kept her strong, especially during the first semester of law school when she felt like giving up. 

Wilwayco is currently part of the Gatmaytan Yap Patacsil Gutierrez & Protacio, formerly known as Caguioa & Gatmaytan (C&G).

She said she has yet to figure out her specialization in law but is keen on considering Intellectual Property and tax practice. –


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