The Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Northern Samar Chapter conducted a 3-legged affair just this afternoon. Being a new member of the IBP, I was invited to deliver a testimonial on my experiences, on how I did pass the Bar. I was challenged, so I willingly accepted it. Now, please do me a favor, and take time to read. Here it goes...
"Good evening, Your Honors, Counsels, may I respectfully enter my appearance as a new member of IBP-Northern Samar Chapter."
Forgive me but I don't want to speak anymore about the 2014 Bar Exams. Even with the suggestion of the sitting Chapter President Atty. Cuyco that I give a "reload" of the testimonial I made during the opening of his review center, I am very sorry but really I cannot give in to his request. However, I am very much willing to tell you another story.
During our childhood or grade school days, i am very sure that almost all of us here had been asked about what to become someday. One upon a time in my life, when I was in grade 1, we were asked by one of my teachers. “What is your ambition? What do you want to become when you grow up?” The most common answers of my classmates then, especially the boys, were to become a pilot, a soldier or an engineer. Most of the girls would like to become a teacher or a bank employee. My classmates roared in laughter when I answered, “I want to become a magician.” My teacher wondered and asked, “Seriously? Tell my why? Do you want to change the world? Do you want to make money out of your magic?” I said, “Yes, I want to learn magic. I want to learn tricks on how to file masterfully the mah-jong tiles. I want to learn tricks on how to hide and change deck of playing cards, so I could always win in any mah-jong or card session. I want to learn tricks on how to flip “hantak” coins the right way. I want to gamble and win big through magic.” That’s how I saw the world at 6 years old. You know I grew up in this gambling neighborhood and all I saw everyday was gambling. Playing cards were our daily bread. I lived, slept and dined at the mah-jong table. I did not regret that, not because I could do nothing about it, but also because that helped me grow to what I am today.
My teacher, being so concerned about me, tried to change my view. She constantly reminded me that such was not a good dream for me. “You must become a priest instead. You must someday be called Fr. Clarence,” she said. She was constantly prodding me. And being young at that, I was persuaded, oh yeah, I said, "I should become a priest. I will be called “Father.” So to start achieving that dream I mingled first with altar boys at age 8 and became one for 10 years, serving 3 strict parish priests. However I did not forget about becoming a magician, alongside with being an altar boy, I had mastered the art of gambling, memorized the edges of our 4 mah-jong sets. Learn a lot of card tricks. I practiced my tricks using my fellow altar boys and the priests’ nephews as dummies, and as a result I easily collected their Sunday service allowances via card games. I made my personalized “Bicycle” playing card and won big during wakes or lamay. With hard work, I did become a little magician, while on the tip of becoming a priest. On one side, I had memorized novenas, as well as the sequences and recitations of religious rituals. I follow religiously and literally the footsteps of my priests.
However, when I was about to finish high school, one gambler in my neighborhood had this irritating influence on me. The late Judge Emma Balite, a professional gambler, but who suffered great defeat in my hands while I was still 15 years old, was being serious in reshaping my destiny. Almost every day and almost every time she lost, she would always tell me. “You cannot be a priest. But you can be a lawyer. There is no way you cannot be a lawyer. Enrol in law school after finishing college.” I wondered why, so I asked her. She retorted, “You will become a lawyer because your memory is good. You can even memorize your tiles. You can memorize your cards. You are good in logic, you can very well guess my next pass. Moreover, you outwit a Judge.” I did not quite understand her, so I would just answer, “OK I will try, are you gonna play tomorrow, Judge?”
That constant joke of Mana Emma lingered in my mind. Why wouldn’t I try becoming a lawyer? So, by the next school year, I found myself enrolling in political science class. I graduated from college. However, things became more complicated because after graduation, or even years before that, I had already felt that becoming a father was more of a reality than becoming a lawyer. The girls’ feelings were always mutual. I could not anymore contain it, so that the feelings won over ambition. But I was never out of track of my listed dreams. I did follow my teacher’s dream for me. Instantly, I became Fr. Clarence. I became a father to my three gorgeous children.” I hit two birds with one stone, right?
A few years into family life, I spoke with my wife. “Can I still be a lawyer?” And she would just answer, “You will have your chance. You can follow your dream but first never forget your responsibilities.” That being the case, I construed her word "chance" as one that was synonymous with the word "wait." I believed, I couldn’t make it now, so I contemplated a 15-year goal then. After 10 years I said, I will enroll in law school. So, that happened. 2009, I was in first year. A year after, I quit, but you know, this ambition won over feelings. I continued after I took a leave for one year and here I am. Still, the feeling is mutual.
I know my story was boring, because all of you here have much more exciting stories to tell. I am sorry but I have the floor so it is me at this moment who have the honor to tell and retell my life. You may reject it, but honestly all I want to share is the lesson I learned from my journey to the IBP, and also to warn you that once in my life I became a magician.
I have learned that there is no harm in dreaming, and in trying to reach your dream. I know my good friend and coach Attorney Albert Yruma always dreamed of walking straight (he is a folio victim being confined to his wheelchair), so he may reach far places. He may not be aware of it but he has already walked straight. Look at him, a straight family man, straight legal professional, and someday a straight and righteous judge. Moreover, pag lasing na kami, siya na lang talaga ang straight maglakad, lahat kami hindi na maayos yung lakad namin. I know my good friend and mentor Atty. Jonathan Loberio has dreamed of having a child, we may not be aware of it but he may already has fathered a child. Oi Sir, ha? (Joke lang) No. Really, as Dean Marlon always reminds us and I quote, "There is nothing in this world that is impossible. For the word impossible could only be found in the dictionary." Let us therefore continue to dream but just make sure to wake up. Sleep with emergency kits then.
In closing, I want to thank everyone here, my IBP family for welcoming me to your club. I know you have no better choice. To the Honorable Judges and Prosecutors, please forgive my errors, I am a new lawyer you know, and you all know that court litigation was never the focus during law school. To my fellow lawyers, especially if you happen to be my opponent in court, please, please do not take advantage of my being a neophyte. I must admit I have so many flaws. I have so many lessons still to be learned, and I do not know everything yet with respect to the intricacies of court practice. Please to all of you here, please, be calm, I am a new lawyer.
Thank you and I love you all."