With the recent release of the Philippine Bar Exam results, newly-proclaimed lawyers shared on social media their stories towards that journey in getting that title before their name. It’s no easy feat, as many takers went through many grueling days and nights surviving law school and preparing for the bar exams.
Some took the exam once, twice, or three times – but never stopped pushing and believing themselves. One of them is Atty. Camille Jaojoco Villasin who passed the Bar Exams on her third try.
For each examination taken, was a different set of emotions and experience for Villasin.
First, she shared that her over-confidence made her realize that it was a reason why she didn’t pass the Bar Exam on her first take, as she feels that her educational background made her comfortable about preparation and taking the exams.
On her second take, she shared that she did not just hurdle law school preparation but also wrestled with battles in her personal life.
She felt her foundation was “shaking” and she was “barely surviving law school” because she felt she “lacked ammunition” and had a “flawed strategy”. She went home to her province and isolated herself from her law school batchmates, pushing herself to study 8-13 hours every day. It came to the point that she pushed herself too hard by “punishment” – which includes giving up comforts of hot showers, make-up, watching TV, surfing the web and her phone.
“I only came back to Manila a month before the November 2015 Bar. I was not confident. I was not emotionally stable. Deferring crossed my mind but my pride would never allow me to go that route,” she confesses.
Eventually, she ended up leaving three pages of the exam blank. She knew that she was “exhausted, thin and extremely underweight”. Needless to say, her mental health took a toll on her physical health.
On Villasin’s third try, her preparation for the 2016 Bar Exams served once again as a roller coaster ride of emotions. Both her siblings won the elections (she was helping out with campaigning/elections for them), preceded by her grandmother’s death a few days after, and her cousin’s wedding that followed where she was maid-of-honor. She had realizations as these events passed through.
“In between all these [times], I didn’t lift a single page but had been assessing and reassessing in my head my strategy and what I needed to change about it (for preparing). I reflected on my study habits, my attitude, my disposition, the way I presented my answers – maybe I was too verbose, maybe I didn’t write the keywords, etc. Maybe God was teaching me HUMILITY. I decided to TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY SURRENDER to a system that I thought would help me through.”
With that, Villasin researched on well-known personalities who had failed, tried again, but succeeded. This pushed her to tackle on a “don’t give up on the goal, change the strategy” mindset.
She enrolled in bar review classes, took mock bar exams and took it easier on herself this time around.“For the first time since I started law school, I had my way of answering exam questions scrutinized by a person other than myself,” she shares.
She started building her confidence by giving herself retail therapy such as pampering. She also gave her preparation strategy a 180-degree turn – by “studying smart, not hard”. She also gave herself breaks, as well as a certain period for her to hustle and study. She had everything more balanced out. Unlike before, she did not “feel sorry for doing these things that would feed her soul, albeit superficially”.
“I studied and I made sure I enjoyed doing it. I felt much lighter, open and ready to take in any blessing. I let go and blamed no one for my fate, even myself.”
It didn’t really sink in for Villasin that she would take the Bar Exam on her third take by the time the big day came. She felt nervous, that she had breakdowns on the spot with the fear of thinking that “it could be her last”. Her fervent prayers throughout the examination period allowed her to gather her composure and finish the exam. Thankfully, her name finally appeared on 2016 Bar Examinations List of Successful Examinees.
Villasin shares to WHEN IN MANILA how much of a big support system her parents have been ever since.
“The support of my parents and partly, expectations, kept me going. My success is theirs as much, if not more, as it is mine,” she humbly shares. “They never wavered in giving me more than what I needed for me to achieve my goals. My dad was a former vice-governor of Leyte. Had he continued law school, he would be a better lawyer than me and my brother combined. My mom was and still is my prayer warrior. She’s not as expressive as my dad, but I knew how much and how often she stormed the high heavens with prayers to give me the strength to move forward.”
Villasin admits that she is not ashamed to say that she took the Bar Exam three times “for knowing and being reminded that those experiences kept her grounded”.
She shares advise for Bar Exam Takers and hopeful lawyers.
“To you who haven’t made it yet, don’t give up. Seek and welcome help. There’s is no harm in acknowledging that you don’t know everything about the law, about life, about decoding “Pass Philippine Bar Exams 101”. Do not mind the stigma. Those who will judge you for not making it the first time or the second time are those who know nothing of the rigors of studying law. In the end, it WILL NOT MATTER whether you made it on the first, second, third, fourth or fifth try, what will matter is what you will make out of that title WHEN (not if) you get it. We who have been there will tirelessly remind you that YOU ARE WORTHY OF THAT TITLE.”
This is such an inspirational story! This really teaches us the value of working smarter, not harder, and rewarding ourselves for our dire efforts. Atty. Villasin will remain an inspiration not to aspiring lawyers but to everyone else who are facing hurdles in life!
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Disclaimer: WheninManila.com does not own any of the photos above. Credits go to Camille Jaojoco Villasin.