2018 Bar topnotcher wants to be 'voice for people who need a voice'

MANILA, Philippines – When the results of the 2018 Bar examinations were announced at the Supreme Court grounds on Friday, May 3, Sean James Borja decided to hole out in his home, where he just waited for updates from a designated friend. 

Borja said in an interview on ANC that as soon as he received the call that he topped the exams, he started shouting. His parents soon came out of their room and joined the apparent ear-busting celebration. (FULL LIST: Bar Exams 2018 passers)

It might not have come as a surprise to those familiar with Borja that he would top the hardest licensure exams in the country. After all, he was the 2018 class valedictorian of the Ateneo Law School, where teachers reminded him of that expectation right after their graduation rites.

‘Top the Bar, ha (okay)?” he recalled faculty members telling him.

Borja told ANC that while he shared the dream of most other aspiring lawyers to top the Bar exams, he said he was driven not by pressure from others, but because of his personal desire to achieve it.

When he was younger, Borja said he wanted to become a detective, a goal that transformed into becoming a criminal lawyer. Now that he had passed the Bar, he said he was looking at his options. 

Asked what fascinated him about the law profession, Borja said, “I think it’s about being able to provide a voice to those who don't necessarily have it, in the sense that not everyone might have the courage or the bravery to speak up on what their rights are, or what they want."

“I thought I could be the voice for people who need a voice,” he added.

On July 15, 2018, Borja delivered a memorable graduation speech as Ateneo law class valedictorian where he spoke about how being a member of the LGBT community –  being “an openly homosexual law school student” as he had put it – had motivated him to excel in his chosen field.

“When I got to law school, I promised myself that I would push it to the very limit. I promised that if there was ever a path where I could become my best version, I would take that path and see how far someone like me could possibly go,” he said in his  2018 speech.

In the ANC interview, Borja said he was “bullied for being different” when he was in grade school, which made him doubt himself, but he later overcame such doubts and insecurities.

“I’m just happy to be me right now,” he said.

As for his plan after topping the Bar, Borja aid that he would “really keep pushing the limits” as further proof that “people from my community can achieve so much if people would just listen.”

Borja also thanked his parents for their support and hoped that he had made them proud.

Of the 8,158 exam-takers in 2018, only 1,800 passed the Bar exams, for a passing rate of 22.07%. – Rappler.com