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Bar passer from Sarangani lacks eyesight but has clear vision  

Rommel Rebollido

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Bar passer from Sarangani lacks eyesight but has clear vision  

NEW LAWYER. Martsu Ressan Ladia passes the 2023 Bar exams despite his eyeshight problems.

Martsu Ressan Ladia, FB page

New lawyer Martsu Ressan Ladia has retinopathy of prematurity, a condition characterized by the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – In June of this year, after completing his law degree, the technically blind Martsu Ressan Ladia posted on social media, “I want to be a lawyer because I love to be. And hopefully, in Allah’s will, I shall become one.”

The 28-year-old Ladia took the Bar exams in September, and when the results were released on Tuesday, December 5, his name appeared on the list of 43 Bar passers from the College of Law of the Mindanao State University (MSU) in General Santos City.

His recent achievement has left many in awe and has sparked curiosity about how he overcame the challenges posed by his physical condition.

Book, Indoors, Library
TRIUMPH. Martsu Ressan Ladia passes the 2023 Bar exams despite his retinopathy of prematurity condition. Martsu Ressan Ladia FB page

Ladia has retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a condition which manifests in infants born prematurely or weighing less than 1.3 kilograms at birth. The condition is characterized by the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye.

In advanced ROP cases, the retina may detach, leading to potential vision loss or blindness. Signs of ROP-related damage are wandering or shaking eyes, abnormal movements, lack of object tracking, white pupils, and difficulty recognizing faces. There’s also an increased risk of subsequent eye issues such as retinal detachment, nearsightedness, lazy eye, and crossed eyes.

A champion debater since he was in college, Ladia said it was his dream to be a trial lawyer that pushed him to overcome obstacles and challenges that many saw impossible for him to achieve due to his condition.

“My left eye is completely blind and my right eye can barely see,” he said.

He said his vision, at best, allows him to count his fingers at a distance of two feet.

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FULL LIST: 2023 Bar exams passers

FULL LIST: 2023 Bar exams passers

Ladia, a resident of Alabel town, Sarangani province, told Rappler on Wednesday, December 6, that the Supreme Court (SC) was accommodating and allowed him to use a computer reader app called NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) which aided him to “read” the Bar exam questions in audio format.

The application is a screen reader for Microsoft Windows, and it is both free and open-source, with portability features.

“I read with my ears,” Ladia quipped as he revealed how technology and the kindness of people around him have been of great help in his achievements.

He said the Bar exams’ transition from handwritten to digital exams made it easier for him, but it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park experience.

At the time when he did not have a personal computer, his sister Zenia Mae, whom he fondly called Patek, served as his reader, going through piles of books that he wanted to “read.”

A gifted writer who had written literary articles, Ladia wrote on his social media account on December 27, 2021, a story about himself and what was behind his dream of becoming a lawyer that began when he was a young child in a daycare center.

He recalled a scene in his daycare center days: “‘Ano ang gusto mo maging paglaki mo?’ (What do you want to become when you grow up?) I could still remember the modulation of Teacher Neneng’s voice – beating rhythmically like a child’s play. I was eager to recite. ‘Ang gusto ko paglaki ko (What I want to become when I grow up),’ I said in a loud and high pitched tone, ‘ay maging isang abogado para matulungan ko ang mga mahihirap’ (is to become a lawyer so I could help the poor).”

The next time he stood up to answer a similar question was when he was in 5th grade in special education school, recalling his teacher who asked him to tell the class about his greatest dream in life.

“Replying to Teacher Sharon, my English teacher in fifth grade, I said my greatest dream in life is to become a lawyer because I want to stop all the injustices in the world,” he recalled.

At the Holy Trinity College, Ladia was asked why he took up political science and he replied, “Kasi naniniwala ako that taking up political science can give me an ace in the college of law.” 

(It’s because I believe that taking up political science can give me an advantage in the college of law.)

He said the degree he earned in 2018 trained him well to practice a reading habit and, just like in Law School, to recite all the time.

At law school, Ladia said he was asked why he took up law and he replied, “Because I dream to be a politician, I want to be part of the Philippine legislature, and studying law and becoming a lawyer would mean doing my job better.”

But without the machinery needed to be a successful politician, that dream will take a back seat as he will first be a trial lawyer, Ladia said.
Congratulating him for passing the Bar exams, lawyer Leonard Mann said Ladia’s story “stands as a beacon, guiding aspiring legal minds towards a future where determination, innovation, and a robust support system converge to redefine the boundaries of success.”  –

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