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How I hurdled the Bar exams

posted September 22, 2013 at 12:01 am by Eduardo Felipe

Next month will be a battle month for thousands of barristers. And why wouldn�t it? Next month,
they will face the foe they have been up against since entering law school. Let me tell you about my
journey. My undergraduate course was AB Sociology from the University of San Carlos. I was never
introduced to authors like Hector de Leon, Willard Riano, and Desiderio Jurado. But when I entered
law school, my life became increasingly complicated. Further, in my second year, I married my
girlfriend who was also a law student. My two daughters were born during my law school days and
my son was conceived during my review. I survived the gruelling exams, quizzes and oral recitations
during law school by taking the advice of my professors. In our criminal law class, Judge Anacleto
Debalucos told us that law student is synonymous to a runner. If a runner has the capacity to run a
distance of 10 km., then it is easy for him to finish a 5 km marathon. Conversely, if he only practices
to run 5 km, he will surely collapse in a 10 km marathon. A law student must make it a habit to have
long hours of studying. We must not complain reading voluminous books and jurisprudence. Every
day, I set aside six to seven hours for my readings. Dean Jonathan Capanas taught me his concept
of mind mapping, making some mind illustration about the subject matters of the law or our textbook.
In Sun Tzu�s Art of War, he said, the control of a large force is the same as the control of a few
men; it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers. In studying, a 932-page Melencio Sta.
Maria book in Persons and Family Relations is the same with the 203-page Antipas Catipay Guide
Notes in Labor. Just divide it according to subjects and put your own markers. Atty. Jude Fernandez,
my professor in Civil Procedure, always reminded me to read the basics and master it, and that
answers should be simple and concise. From him I learned how important it was to understand the
substance of the law. During my Bar review, I did the following: I evaluated myself. I assessed what
my strengths and weaknesses per subject were. My cousin Atty. Gezzez Giezi G.�Granado told me
it was important to determine and accept our capacity. I backed out of the plant to rent a house with
my friends so that we could focus on my review. I would miss my family, I was not familiar with
Manila, and I did not want to change the routine that I had established during my law school days. I
was enrolled in the Recoletos Bar Review but only attended one session and that was only to let
Retired Justice Nachura affix his signature in my book. I would only go to the review center from time
to time to get the handouts. Although I did not rely on them so much as I was armed with my own
outline and notes. I arrived at a conclusion, after self-evaluation and in consultation with my wife,
that what I needed was time and space to read. We had one room in our house which we made into
a library and that was where I locked myself up and studied. Sometimes my daughters would knock
at the door and cry �Where is our Tatay?� We really miss our Tatay, please come play with us
Tatay.�� Now, that was the time for me to have a break. Playing with my children was my break
time. I did not go to Starbucks or Bo�s or any coffee shop to study. Aside from being expensive, the
people passing by would distract me. Not attending the review was a hard and risky decision. It was
a gamble on my part. Here�s a caveat to all barristers. Have a realistic study plan. My review
started on the first day of April. The bar exam was scheduled on October 2012 so I had only six
months to read my textbooks and notes. It was also the reason why I did not go to the review center.
My study plan was not in consonant with the review center�s schedule. I divided the 6 months
review period into two: Phase I and Phase II; and October being the bar exam month as the Phase
III. In Phase I (April-May-June-July) my reading started with the following order: Political Law and
International Law, Labor Law, Civil Law, Law on Taxation, Mercantile Law, Criminal Law, Remedial
Law and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises. In Phase II (August-September) I reversed the order
of readings of Phase I. I read 10-11 hours a day. By the last week of September, I was reading
Political Law and International Law and Labor Law which are also the first two bar subjects in the
First Sunday exam in October. I only stayed in Manila from September to October. I did not deviate
from my study plan. No outing and no drinking sessions. Not even family affairs like birthdays and
anniversaries. I told myself that after the results and when I am already a lawyer, there will be time
for partying. Indeed, the bar review is not a party. During the pre-week review of the Bar exam
month, I did a fast reading of my textbooks and notes; and despite the grievous questions in
Taxation, my son was conceived after the third Sunday exam. I read only my textbooks, the codal
and notes. In essence I made my own reviewer because I made an outline of my books and notes. I
put paper/plastic markers as a guide in dividing the subject matter or topics. For example in Legal
ethics, I read only my Pineda textbook, codal and my project under the class of Judge Kit Enriquez:
Compilation of Cases in Legal Ethics. My guiding principle was and I quote Chairman Mao Zedong:
to read too many books is harmful. I would only get more confused if I had too many sources. There
is the presumption that all the examinees know the law and its intricacies. It is now a matter of how
the examinee will put into writing his legal knowledge and in such a way make it understandable to
the examiner. Hence, a handwriting that is neat and legible is a must. Write in a fast but careful
manner. Since I was not confident with my handwriting, I ensured that it was capable of being read,
so I occupied 3 lines in my answer notebook instead of the traditional 2 lines and used a black sign
pen with heavy stroke. I used Pilot techpoint V10. After the exam, I thought it was time to relax and
enjoy, but I was wrong. There was this question in my mind: when will the Supreme Court release
the results? There were several instances when I would wake up in the middle of the night,
sweating, after a dream about the bar exam. The almost six months of waiting was pure� agony. In
fact, a month after the bar exam, I started studying again. Not as vigoruosly as during my review, but
a good 2 hours a day spent reading my books. As the judgment day was nearing, there were many
talks going around that the passing rate was very low. Everytime came upon a news article or any of
the numerous rumors as to the results, my self confidence sank. The feeling was indescribable.
Indeed, the whole waiting period was the hardest. When the results finally came out, I just shouted
and cried tears of joy and relief. My children were puzzled and had no idea why their mother and I
were jumping and hugging each other at the same time. I felt like I was the only child of God, for two
reasons: 1. My wife and I were having a son; and 2. I passed the bar. It was the sweetest victory.
Eduardo Felipe is now working as an associate lawyer in Batuhan Blando Concepcion and Trillana
Attorneys-at-Law. He is from Luna Compound, Brgy. Jugan Consolacion, Cebu.