bar exams

Relationship goals: How this couple topped the Bar together

Patricia Kahanap

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Relationship goals: How this couple topped the Bar together
The challenges of law school did not stop Rockylle Balisong and Mark Vivit from building a meaningful relationship

MANILA, Philippines – Love and law? No problem!

This couple was in for a surprise when they found out on Tuesday, December 5, that they both passed one of the country’s most difficult licensure examinations with flying colors.

Mark Vivit, who got his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, is the No. 2 passer of the 2023 Bar examinations.

Rockylle Balisong, a law graduate from San Beda University and Vivit’s girlfriend of two years, is among the top 20 passers, at 18th place.

The couple met at the University of Santo Tomas where they were both political science students. They officially became a couple in 2021, although they have been dating for over four years now.

What is their secret to acing the Bar? According to Balisong, they never really went out for study dates.

“Alam namin na hindi para sa amin ‘yon…. Alam namin na kapag after Bar naman, mababawi namin lahat noong times na nawala sa amin during law school at saka Bar review period,” she told Rappler.

(We know that it’s not for us…. We know that we can make up for the time we lost during law school and the Bar review period after the Bar.)

Balisong and Vivit are two of 3,812 who passed the 2023 Bar examinations, which had a passing rate of 36.77%. 

The three-day examination was held on September 17, 20, and 24, in 14 testing centers across the country.

Eyes on the prize

The challenges of law school did not stop Balisong and Vivit from building a meaningful relationship.

“We know our priorities, so our relationship was never a hindrance to our success. We knew when we could go out, or when we should focus on studying,” Balisong said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Vivit said in an interview with CNN Philippines that it has always been his dream to become a lawyer. Balisong, on the other hand, told Rappler that she applied to law school on a whim when she felt unsatisfied with her government job, although she “knew deep inside” that she would eventually enter the law profession.

As time went on, both of them had their eyes set on one goal, which is to become a lawyer.

Law as a ‘jealous mistress’

According to a popular saying by former United States Supreme Court justice Joseph Story, law is a “jealous mistress that requires long and constant courtship.”

Balisong recalled that spending time together was a big challenge during Bar preparations, as they had only two months to review.

“Siguro may once or twice na pinag-awayan namin ‘yon pero never siya naging deal-breaker sa amin kasi alam naman namin na kailangan [at] mahirap talagang humanap ng time ‘pag nasa law school,” she said.

(We fought about it maybe once or twice, but it was never a deal-breaker because we know we need to review, and that it’s hard to find time while in law school.)

How can romance work while pursuing a career in law? For Balisong, it’s important “not to work on your relationship too much,” find compromise, and to focus on preparing for the Bar exam.

She also advised future Bar exam takers to set a schedule and create a study plan ahead of time in order to study more efficiently.

Balisong and Vivit, along with over 3,000 successful Bar examinees, will sign the roll of attorneys on December 22.

They are both currently employed in separate law firms.

Let our response be: Sana all! –

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Patricia Kahanap

Patricia Kahanap is a digital communications specialist at Rappler.