Thank you for making my day (Feedback on feedback)

Thank you for making my day… I am always thrilled to read that (1) I actually have readers .. And my running joke is there are maybe 20 or so readers out there who keep my blog from slipping into oblivion. Those who have read up my posts about blogging per se know that I don’t really write to cultivate readership, so I am happy with my small group of readers!  In addition, I love to know that (2) what I write actually resonates with others– more so the younger generation. I know I have been given a gift to write like I do but to be able to do more than pull the words together — to actually be able to speak to someone out there– that, to me, is a blessing.

There are emails and comments that I cut and paste, but others that I prefer to just respond to.  This will be one of the latter.

Thank you, A, for writing.. for speaking your heart out, and for reminding me that I was a tad harsh with the reference to doubting in my previous post, “To each his own (So you made it!)“.  Please do not give up no your dream because there is that doubt present in your heart and mind.  That was not my intention, but I do realize it might have come across differently.

It appears that one particular paragraph I had written had struck a cord and had caused A to second guess her doubting heart.

Any half-hearted effort will land you someplace you wouldn’t want to be.  So ask yourself now if you’re up to it, because if there is even an iota of doubt in your mind or deep in your heart, you should seriously think of changing paths.  It is never too late to back out of a dream or a pursuit or a journey — whatever you may want to call it, for as long as you do it out of your own choice.  Do not put yourself in a position where your circumstances force you to change direction.  Put your heart and soul into it, give it 110% (everyday!), and pray, pray, pray!

Ah, those persistent doubts that hound you forever and will keep hounding you unless everything starts going and staying in your head that you are the best without a shadow of a doubt.  (Yes, the doubts will disappear when you start thinking and believing you are THAT good..)

You will always have doubts in anything you do, and that is good, because it means you haven’t lost touch with the real you. It means you have your feet still rooted on the ground.  You know that even if you’re 90% genius, there is that 10% that gives you space to doubt and make room for modesty or humility or both.  To doubt is to recognize that you are not perfect, and that should challenge you to better yourself, while at the same time preparing you for those times when you actually take a fall.

I often have doubts, too, and there were times when I was lost and weak in the knees — to the point of giving up.  And I tried to make those doubts work for me, and not against me, by reminding myself that I have a dream I am working to achieve.  It is when those doubts creep up behind you that you need to remind yourself how badly you want this dream, and when you must take stock of the fact that you probably did something right, because you are now in law school.

Keep writing.. Keep believing and keep fighting for the dream you have in your heart.. I am still dreaming and believing and fighting and getting disappointed occasionally and I’m 50! But see, I can say I tried.. I got this and maybe I didn’t get that– but I tried..

And I’m still trying.

 

Monday Musings: And Jonathan said hello

One of my dearest and oldest friends just chimed in this morning after I had sent him messages on Viber and Facebook asking about how he was.  He had appeared in one of my dreams (which, superstitious as I am, I take as a call or nudge of sorts from the universe), and I sent him the usual “How are you?  Hope all is well.. dreamt about you” kind of e-mail.  It took him a while to respond but I was relieved to hear things couldn’t be better.

He’s probably one of the few guy friends I have who have known me for decades and still know everything that is current about me. Well, almost.  Our lives make it hard to catch up in real time, but when we do, we update one another as if we just spoke yesterday.  He was also one of the few friends I saw during my last trip home in December 2013.   He is not only one of my closest friends but has been designated my personal lawyer and executor.  (Reminder to self: Finish that holographic will.)  We never miss each other’s birthdays because we were born just 2 days apart — so when he greets me, I greet him.  It has become a race of sorts as we try to beat each other to greeting the other one when our birthday month comes.  So how can we forget?

He was there during the most painful time of my life where I didn’t know where else to turn.  When I shunned seeing most of the other friends I would have run to, the one guy I called straight from New York was Jonathan.  There are certain people who we know will catch us when we fall, no matter how long ago it was that we last spoke with them.  They will always be there.  Jonathan is one of those people in my life.

His counsel is one I value not just because the advice he gives is deeply thought out and deliberate, but because I know I will always hear it straight, coming from him.  No matter how the truth may hurt, he will give it to me but with the gentleness and compassion of a brother at heart.  I remember around the time I was hoping to settle down just over 15 years ago, I had gone out with him and our usual group of boys from college — half of who were already lawyers like him and me, and others equally successful in their chosen careers.  I was seeing someone who seemed to be “the one” but was not quite nestled in my comfort zone the way I wanted him to be.  Jonathan never met him, but when I told him about this one who made my eyes twinkle, he flat out told me this guy was no good for me in plain and simple terms.  (The reason for which I will keep between Jonathan and I.)  And that was that.  It was like the truth was revealed and I took it as just that: the truth.  As bull headed as I can be, the truth is not always something I take to hearing kindly, more so when it runs contrary to what I hold it to be.

But not from Jonathan.

Happy to hear that all is well with you, my friend.  I have missed you but you are always in my heart.  I hear your voice and laughter in the background when the memories come, more so when I feel alone and needing your counsel.  There are so many things I want to tell you, and in time, I will.  Very few people know the whole story and because you do, no explanations are necessary.  You know because you know my heart.

So maybe we will get to do a joint birthday celebration next year, even if belatedly.  And we can laugh and drink and catch up then..

 

When you don’t make it to your school of choice

First of all, apologies for the tardy reply.  I had started drafting this in early July and it has lain untouched in my draft box.  Life has taken me over as always, and sometimes, dishing out my two cents’ worth by way of giving advice is not always as easy as I normally would write something spontaneous.

I got an e-mail (actually, two emails) but didn’t quite catch the e-mails in a timely manner because I hardly check the email account associated with the blog.  Please e-mail me instead at pinaynewyorker@gmail.com.

I didn’t get much details except that someone was hoping to get to law school, didn’t get to the preferred school because of a fraction of a point difference in the required average.

Depressed and sad, what to do?

I had to let out an audible sigh after writing that question. It’s something we must all consider when we set our sights on landing in a particular university or college and we miss the mark. This is not only true for those seeking higher education but also for those trying to get into college (or had tried to get into college). Take heart!

So what do you do when you don’t land where you want to be, or get what you want… I have had to deal with that question many times over in epic proportions over the last two to three years.  And as the years went — it seemed to me that the disappointments became bigger and bigger.  The heartbreak became harder and harder to bear.

But I moved on.

Without pinning my hopes on ‘luck’, I instead pinned my hopes on ‘faith’ and ‘the universe’.  What is it that we say in the vernacular?  Kung para sa iyo talaga, magiging iyo.  Kung ukol, bubukol.  (If it is meant for you, it will be yours.  It is mean to be, it will happen.)

We have to determine what it is that means the most to us.  What it is that we truly want to achieve.  If one thing doesn’t work out, then move on to plan B.

Simply put, if your first school of choice doesn’t accept you (just as UP decided I wasn’t to be part of their student pool), move to another choice.  (And I embraced the blue..)  It doesn’t mean having to give up your dream — it just means adjusting it.

If it really means a lot to you to actually go to law school, the fact that you did not land in your school of choice shouldn’t shatter that dream.  It changes how you realize it, but it doesn’t mean that dream is now unreachable.

A former high school classmate (who is now 48 like me) with three grown children, a public service/media career she was appointed to, endorsements and an actor/husband who the ladies in our generation would not mind waking up next to every day, and whose celebrity has help spread cancer awareness and the message of hope to the public recently posted she was going to audit (observe/sit in) classes in law school.  Then followed the comment that she had always wanted to go to law school, and was wondering if she could do it.  Kaya kaya?  she asked.  We all pounced on the question and words of support chimed in from all over.  OF COURSE! Kayang-kaya!

First, age is never a detriment.  I’ve related this many times that when I took the bar in my mid-twenties, I was in the midst of adults old enough to be my mom and even be my grandma. Never too late to dream, or pursue a dream.

Secondly, her health challenges notwithstanding, she has the money and more importantly the brains.  Need I say more?

And that applies to everyone.  We have different ‘gifts’ and abilities. Our financial stretch differs from one person to the other, but the financial burden of pursuing ones’ dream can be adjusted.  If you can’t afford the more expensive school, go to the one that fits the budget.

“The Best” is not always for everyone.  Whether it’s because you cannot make it to that school because your scores or grades didn’t make the cut, or because you are otherwise constrained by other limitations, those are mere challenges that you should find a way around to get to where you want to go.  Those of us who are able to get up after a fall do so because we know how to make the most of what we have, and we never lose the hope that things will get better.

And while “better” is relative to how you perceive the world, it is never too far away if only you would look close enough to see how there is so much you have been blessed with.

So four or five years from now, don’t  be surprised if this once child star now celebrity mom and public servant in her own right, wife to the once heart throb and cousin to another, is addressed “Attorney”.  I know I won’t be surprised — I’ll just chime in and say “It’s about time.”

Related posts on the pursuit of a legal education can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE in the navigation bar.

My Future History Professor

My ten-year-old and I have two favorite mommy-and-me topics: first, he enjoys hearing about how he was when he was much younger, and second, how things will be when he grows up. Somewhere between that is “the now” of my soon-to-be fifth grader and mommy trying to keep him from growing up too fast.

I am just grateful that he never passed the “I want to drive a dump truck/garbage truck” stage which my youngest brother, Nikki, swore to in his early years. (And we were all relieved that he eventually did become a licensed Physical Therapist now working in one of the bigger hospitals in Manila!)

These days, my little boy is fascinated with Social Studies and the American Revolution in general. At the end of his fourth grade, he got the Social Studies Expert award with matching cheers of approval from the rest of his class. We, as the proud parents, beamed with pride, but he glowed with the recognition of his expertise and that was the most precious of all.

You can imagine how heartening it is to hear him say he wants to be a History Professor when he grows up.  He wants to study History and teach History.

I’m trying very hard not to let my dreams and aspirations get in the way of him forming his own. I want him to set his own goals in life– and I want to just be on the sidelines cheering him on. I want to see him get himself to a university of his choosing and pursuing his dreams to fruition. I don’t want to be the parent living her dreams through her child. That would be most unfair because we bring our children up to be their own person and not to be who or what we couldn’t be. If we couldn’t live our dreams, we should make new ones for ourselves instead of burdening our children with the pressure of succeeding where we failed.

We always want what’s best for our children, of course.  Well, most of the time.  I don’t want to be that parent who pins their future hopes and dreams on their children’s success.  I want to stick around for as long as I can and maybe watch him become a family man eventually.  But I see myself growing old around him, but not being a burden on him.

It would be great to hear him say “I want to be a lawyer like you, Mommy,” but for now, the fact that he is thinking of college and doing something fruitful afterwards is good enough. Maybe in time he will think of the legal profession.  That would be nice, but it wouldn’t be the death of my hopes and dreams if he chooses to be a rock star instead.  (Well, he doesn’t have the rock star voice although he has the swag.  Plus, there’s the prerequisite that a rock star career be preceded by a college degree.)

I was never goaded by my parents to pursue a legal education.  The one and only goal was to go through and finish college.  That I landed in the University of the Philippines was an added plus but would not have been the be-all and end-all of my post-high school life.  The choice to go to law school was totally mine, and a dream I had set my heart on as early as I was choosing my college course or the university I was going to attend.  At that point in my life, I was going to college with the end in view of eventually going to law school.

I have come across many young people who had thought about law school much later, or not even with such a long thought out aspiration as I did — and that doesn’t surprise me, and that doesn’t make it any less a valid dream or goal to aim for.  We go through life learning about what we can do and what we want.  These things change as our personality changes through our life experiences.  Sometimes we grow in ways we never thought we would, and we find ourselves suddenly thinking of things we never thought we would consider, like being a lawyer.

I’d like to think that my own life experiences will have some bearing on my little guy’s own life choices, but when it comes to the career or direction he will want to take when he is older, I’d rather leave the decision to him.  I won’t try to influence that one way or the other, except perhaps to convince him staying closer to mommy instead of moving to the other side of the country would be just as good.  (I’m trying to bribe him to actually stay here until he is ready to stand up on his own two feet AFTER college.. wishful thinking, I know.)

I would be on cloud nine if one day he tells me he wants to be a lawyer, too.  But that’s many years away, and I can wait.  For now, I’d be happy to encourage the dream to be a History Professor. After all, History is a good pre-law degree.  =)

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

So I’ve been very busy..

Inspired! Worked on this last night!!!
I can’t believe my last post was over the weekend yet. I usually would have said something here somehow in the middle of the week but work has been crazy (short week and all with the long weekend..) — and I guess my focus has been elsewhere.  I’ve been creating.. and creating.. sometimes sitting in my little corner well into 1am and dragging myself to bed just because I know I needed to sleep somehow before the next work day.  I would go on and on and on if there wasn’t work to worry about the following day.

Maybe it helped that I’ve been having some bad dreams.  So there’s that part of me that dreads lying down and maybe being visited again in my dream by those dark thoughts and evil persona that I don’t want to see.  Don’t you hate it when you see the last person you want to pop out in person in your dream and you wake up feeling all agitated and there’s a heaviness in your heart that you cannot shake.  Even now as I write about it, it’s tough.  So I distract myself — and creating takes me to another place.

Fotor_20140530202429149

It’s funny how I had started working on these agate beads in another way — and now I’m deep into creating pieces using the beads differently.  And I love how it has come out.  I have to literally make a conscious effort to stop myself from getting more of the beads –at least until I make a sale  (None yet!) or I finish all the beads up and get them posted in the shop.

I try to post one item a day, following that up with posts on my other social media channels like Pinterest and Twitter.  Nothing beats seeing a heart (or two) pop up when I post a piece — or when I find a new follower or a retweet.

But back to the project at hand.  I’ve had a busy night and day making the bracelet above and disassembling it because the stopper on the huge fuschia pink slice (see the picture lower right hand corner), so it was whole and now it isn’t.

Fotor_20140530211235049

The six bracelets in the next photo have been posted, and I have around a half dozen others to be listed in the next couple of days.  I must say I like the sense of accomplishment — and more importantly, the feeling that I’m actually finally seriously putting the shop up again.  It helps that there are now apps that enable me to work on the store even when I’m on the bus.  Beyond the photos that I need to shoot and edit to help sell the item, one of the things that gets me stumped is naming it.  (Yes, I do get stumped.)  I’ve also put my “stamp” on the photos now, instead of just uploading them.  (Thank you, Fotor!)

A day at a time.. have to get back to work.  Waiting for dinner and my dinner date.  (Japanese delivery and someone’s still on the bus.)   While the prospect of a good night’s sleep is actually something I look forward to, there’s a sense of dread about unwanted visitors in my dream.  But it’s the weekend.  And maybe I’ll be too tired to even dream or remember it when I do.

 

(Of Never-ending but very welcome) Law School Inquiries – A reply to Concerned Citizen

This is a much-delayed response to a long e-mail I received from someone who strayed into my blogspace last April. I apologize for the delay but it was not exactly a question I could answer with a “yes” or a “no” and I had totally lost track of which account the e-mail originally was sent to. (Reminder to self on e-mail / contact info widget.  And just for everyone else’s info, best e-mail to reach me at is pinaynewyorker@gmail.com)

First of all, I want to thank “Concerned Citizen” (CC) for having taken the time to write the e-mail and share with me his dilemma and ask me for my two cents’ worth on the matter. I am humbled that you found me worthy of asking, and no, I don’t find it nerve-wracking — on the contrary, your asking me the question was a compliment to this blog’s very existence.

CC would have graduated or is about to graduate from a prestigious university in Manila and is asking me what I think his chances of going to law school are, and if it is prudent to give law school a try given that it is something that came to him only in very recent weeks. He gave me a good background on how he landed where he landed, and I must say I found myself “talking back” as if in conversation as I read his e-mail.

CC, for whatever it’s worth, please bear in mind my advice here is just that: MY advice. You have quite a good head on your shoulders, and I take my hat off to your parents for having raised you as they did. Trust your instincts.

We parents always want what’s best for our children, but you will have to pardon our tendency of sometimes making the mistake of living vicariously through you, our children.. They mean well by trying to imbibe in you that goal of becoming a doctor one day. We try to set lofty goals for our children, because we dream of a good life and a good future for them. We seek affirmation of our success as parents in the hope that they will become successful. We always want our children to apply themselves, and be the best of what they can be. You are fortunate that your father seems to have the flexibilty between the two most cherished titles parents wish for their children (Doctor or Attorney), so that means you have retained the prerogative to choose. So setting aside what your family may want for you, let’s focus on what YOU want for yourself now.

The pursuit of higher education is a daunting task. Whichever way you go, it will mean hard work and a different brand of perseverance and persistence that you will need to see you through. Your father’s dream of you having a title and for the two of you to have something to be proud of is neither trivial or selfish even if it appears to be on its face. In a sea of graduates that join the job market year on year, a four year college course is now the norm. Of course having DLSU on your resume gets you more than just a foot in the door, but you need more to get you up the ladder.

I think I can see what your father and the rest of your family sees in you, that is why they keep goading you on to pursue higher studies.

Do not give in to self-doubt. You say you don’t think you are as smart as they think you are — I believe you’re short-selling yourself in this respect. That you lost your fervor for studying in college is not indicative of how intelligent you are.

My choice early on was DLSU. My father, however. wanted his daughter in UP. I have written about this several times that even if he decried the hardships that the (then) construction of the LRT on Taft Avenue would cause, I ended up on the other side of Taft Avenue in UP Manila.

I saw my college years fly by as a time of seeing the world with the eyes of a grown up. While I started out taking copious notes and studying diligently, an English professor was telling me she knows I deserve a 1 but she couldn’t give that to me if I was never in class by my sophomore year. I was still pretty tame compared to most — I never smoked, and while I went out with friends who went drinking on most afternoons, they ordered me a coke for every round of beer. (This same group produced at least 4 lawyers besides myself, by the way.). I could have made the Dean’s list if I really put my heart and soul to it, but it just wasn’t in me. I had other things that kept me busy.

I was also hit by that “I’m not as smart as they think I am” early on when I sat in one of my classes with my freshman “blockmates”. I couldn’t help but wonder if I really belonged in that class with what seemed to be a motley crew of freshmen from different parts of the country — but despite appearances, accents and all that — I felt they were all smarter than me. It took me a while to realize I did belong, and what’s more, I could actually hold my own. 

“Passion” and “Motivation” are two things that only you can find.  If it is not where you are right now or in what you are doing, then you have to accept that and move on from there.  You will only find those two if you continue to search for it.  We can only cheer you on, but the motivation must be there in you, or there will be nothing that will move you one way or another.

From this point forward, I hope that you will think only of you.  Let’s take the “family” equation out of the way.  I kept hearing you go back to “what would make (your) family happy,” and while I think that’s a major part of the equation, I don’t think that’s what should weigh heavily on any decision you make about yourself.  You appear to have done them proud and have been a good son up to this point.  You will always be — even if you choose to be a rock star.  Remember that no matter what you choose to be, and no matter how you end up in the future — whether you become a politician, an activist, a lawyer, a doctor — they will always be your family.  Your future, however, is in your hands.

I know only too well the pressure that thinking about one’s future brings.  No matter how independent-minded you are or want to be, there are always things that come into the picture, like people who depend on you or whose state of mind is intertwined with your course of action.   You always try to do things in the now in preparation for a goal or a dream about tomorrow.  But you have to keep in mind that it all devolves around YOU.   You can only be good at something that you truly enjoy or love, no matter how you may be able to learn and pick up things in a snap. You can only be truly good at something you like and enjoy doing. That is why you should decide based on what you want.  Do not be afraid to think about new ideas — so what if you just thought about pursuing a legal education in recent weeks?  What I think you should focus on is, as you wrote: “When I thought of this option, unexpectedly, I felt quite relieved for some reason.  I knew that somehow, my heart has found peace in the midst of all the anxieties I’m feeling because of the apprehensions the future bring me.”  CC, I would read that aloud and I would listen to my voice.

And here’s another reminder:  .. I decided to shift out, with a conviction that I do not want to be a doctor.  I realized that I didn’t want to become a doctor, it’s just my family pushing me to do something they want for me.”  I copied that verbatim from your e-mail.  I just realized on fourth reading that in one breath, you said it twice – “I do not/didn’t want to become a doctor.”

Okay, so that’s that.

I have always said you will never know until you try — you’ve already seen that the medical option wasn’t for you because you tried. I like that you can actually see that pursuing a law degree is not going to be easy, but you didn’t blink by thinking it was impossible. You actually see it as an easier path to success and stability later on in life.

So what do I think about you pursuing a law degree? I believe you have the smarts, the English (number 1 requirement!) and the proper frame of mind to go for it. You were able to relate your story to me in a very coherent and logical fashion. It was actually well-written, and I would have published it here in full but I felt that too many of the details would make you and your family easily identifiable by those who know you.   If I were to base my answer on whether or not you had what it takes academically and intellectually, I’d say yes.  But more than seeing  that you have the skills and the brains to go for it, I think the fact that you have a very clear picture of what you want to do is yet another reason to give the law entrance exams a try.  You’re just being held back by the notion that everyone wants you or expects you to be a doctor, and the thought that you only started thinking of law school recently kind of scares you.  Don’t let it.

Dreams have no timeline.  You can be a dreamer of many dreams.  What does have a timeline is going for that dream.  And no one says your dreams cannot change.  Let’s say you take the entrance exam, you pass, you go to law school, and you eventually pass the Bar and become a lawyer.  Then during your first year of practice, like me, you realize that litigation is not for you.  You realize that you want to be a journalist.  Or that you want to be a pastry chef.. or you want to be a travel writer.  What’s there to stop you?  Only you can really put a stop to any dream that crosses your mind.

I’d go for it.  And if, after the exams.. or even after a year or two in law school you realize it’s not for you, go and dream another dream.  Some people judge those who can’t seem to make up their minds about their pursuits as being whimsical or being irresponsible and living a life without direction, I say that perhaps they just have the guts to go after what hits their fancy at any given time.  Not everyone is as brave.

You know what you want.  I say go chase that dream and see where it takes you.

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

Searching for that open door

Have you ever found yourself  dreaming that every door you walk towards is locked shut, or the ones you see open close at your face when you finally hit the doorstep?  Every turn seems to lead to a dead end, and no solutions are in sight.  Then you find yourself knocking on those doors, and frantically searching for the one that is open.  There is a promise that when a door closes, a window opens — or something like that.  I’m having one of those days.

I’m usually the eternal optimist.  I don’t give up easily.  There are days though when I feel defeated even before I go to battle.  When you open your eyes  and know that you won’t see the sun shine —  on those days,  I arm myself with prayer.

I try to remind myself everything happens for a reason.  It’s what makes me so afraid when I get so happy — thinking every peal of laughter exacts a price.  The I remember I have a forgiving and loving God.. He wouldn’t give me happiness just so I can have a reason to cry again.  Yet door after door closes.  So I pray again.

“From all the evil that surrounds me, defend me.  And when the call of death arrives, bid me come to thee, so I may praise thee with thy saints forever.”

I prayed the rosary on the way home, then I realized that I keep praying the sorrowful mysteries.  I should have prayed a different set of mysteries the other day, but perhaps because it’s been so long since I last prayed, I forgot when each set was supposed to be meditated upon.  I know Mother Mary will understand.. she hears me, she will know I meant to pray the right ones but missed out.

I’m just exhausted.  Just when I thought I find the solution, another problem pops out of nowhere.  So I scramble.  I keep praying for a break that just won’t come.

I’m supposed to be busy sorting a few things amongst my craft supplies.  I’ve started creating rosary bracelets again — at least the decade of beads (numbering 10), and then I will work to finish them all at the same time.  They’re meant to be gifts.  Tonight I think I’ll work on freshwater pearl bangles.  I’d do art journaling but I don’t have the energy even for that.  Maybe over the weekend.  I brought home my watercolor pencils but I think I’m out of paper to work on.  (Forgot about that..)

I like to dream that all the doors closing aren’t real — that all the doors are actually open and it was just a dream that they kept closing one after another.  Just like I dream I’d hear a hello from a dear, dear friend who has decided to keep away.  Or that all the pain is just part of a nightmare and I wake up into sunshine.  Or that tomorrow there won’t be problems, just solutions.  And I dream of getting a “yes” instead of a “no”.  Where pain is but a distant memory.

Then reality hits me and I realize it’s not quite there — all those things that would make my heart settle down to a quiet peace.  So I think and think again.. and I make a wish.  That “okay” or “fine” come sooner than soon, because I don’t know where else to pull the next ounce of strength I will need to move forward.  And it’s not easy to just give up because so many others rely on me for strength.

I dream of going on a long, long drive.. maybe in a bus heading somewhere north.  Or in a car, riding shotgun.  (I don’t drive though I know how…)  The endless ribbon of highways, traffic or no traffic is inviting.  You can just go on and on and on and leave everything behind.  I wish.

To all those Law school hopefuls out there..

I’m writing this post in response to those who have written me and left comments here regarding law school.  I hope that my anecdotes, insights and thoughts in general about the pursuit of a legal career will help you find your way to being a lawyer someday.  Please remember, though, that I am speaking from my own personal experience and am not an authority on the subject matter beyond the fact that I was once a law student myself.

It has been almost 20 years since I took the entrance exam for the College of Law of the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo School of Law. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I didn’t take any other entrance exams. It wasn’t that I was sure I would pass either or both entrance exams, but rather because I told myself that if I didn’t make it in either one, I didn’t feel like continuing with my pursuit of higher studies. (Okay, the truth was, “I knew deep in my heart” as former Dean Cynthia Del Castillo used to say in her lectures, that I was bound to pass at least one of the two.)

I was still in UP Manila trying to wrap things up when I started preparing for the law entrance exams. I made a conscious effort to do word power exercises in the months prior to the exams. My goal was two-fold — to jog my brain and train it to think faster, and to sharpen and enhance my vocabulary because both exams were heavy on this.  With some parts of the tests giving you only 10 seconds or so to think of the word meaning or in some instances, its opposite, it was important to be able to do definitions by context or at least by being able to make an intelligent guess.

Etymology was key.  Many words we have never heard of sound vaguely familiar because some part of it is rooted in another word we know.  Most word powers were focused on attacking vocabulary enrichment by educating the reader on word history.  So for months and months I did word power books, did them again after I had gone through 6-8 pocketbooks and kept reading.

Like most aptitude examinations, this wasn’t really something you could study for.  You could prepare for it, but if you didn’t have the knowledge or inclination they were seeking out, you had a less than fair chance of passing.  The tests are structured in such a way that it would “see” you faking your way through it by guessing the answers.  And how can you possibly go around the essays?  Both required one essay at the end of the battery of exams, and I would think that they are still required to this day.  After all, it is essential for a lawyer to write coherently.  Even sans the legalese, one must be able to demonstrate an ability to write.

I can still hear Atty. Victor Alimurong who gave us our orientation saying “If you have no English, shift to music.”  It was a punchline that sent us laughing, although it had more truth in the guise of something said in jest.  Does this mean that those who are “grammatically challenged” should shy away from taking the law entrance exams?  I think not.  But I do agree with Atty. Alimurong that it is essential, given that the Bar examinations are giving in English.

I have always believed that anything can be learned if you put your heart and mind to it.  If you feel that you do not have the ammunition to hurdle the English requirement, brushing up by reading voraciously and actively seeking out classes or self-help books that will help you brush up are readily available if you seek them out.

The choice to take up Law is one that doesn’t come like a bulb suddenly turning on in the darkness.  It is usually something that one decides on after careful thinking.  The first hurdle is to take the entrance examinations.  If you can make it through that, then you are well on your way to seeking out a dream.  Good luck to all those law school hopefuls out there.. just put your best foot forward and let’s keep our fingers crossed you make it.

Related posts (Links added October 26, 2012)

The Dreams We Dream

The Path You Choose to Take

“Should I go to law school or not, Atty. Dinns?”

Feedback on Feedback: Chasing the dream to become a legal eagle

To those in their Freshman Year in Law School in Ateneo

Be not afraid to pursue your dream to be a legal eagle someday  

Another Question on Taking the Ateneo Law Entrance Exam

Back when I was in Law School

Back when I was in Law School

The rivalry between the two foremost law schools in the country has been there since time immemorial.  Funny how we sometimes have a “cross over” professor who has the distinction of being a teacher in both schools.  Both are usually very parochial, sticking to their own roster of distinguished alumni to staff their faculty which is their pride and joy.  While most of us hated our professors for their arrogance and condescension, I later appreciated all that they made us go through when I left school.

Of late, UP has been topping the Bar which is really no surprise at all.  And while I have no access to the passing average, I know that Ateneo remains very consistent in having a higher passing average than the state university.  UP will say it’s because from day 1 on, the Ateneans are taught to answer the Bar, and the state scholars are taught how to be lawyers out in the world.

It’s been a decade since I left the halls of the Ateneo School of Law, and it wasn’t the sprawling grounds in Rockwell then but that solitary building on H.V. De La Costa street.  My choices for law school were only between UP and Ateneo, and I make no bones about the fact that I ended up in Ateneo because they saw something in me that UP didn’t.  (That’s not sourgraping, that’s  a fact.) 

My days in law school saw me inventing study habits that I did not have in UP where I managed to coast through on my gift of gab and my ability to write.  By my sophomore year, I was no longer being chauffered to school but commuting for the first time in my life — a nerve-wracking but humbling experience that eventually saw me skilled enough to cross the Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue end of EDSA in front of Dasma in my heels even late at night.

I entered law school after extending 2 years in college, so I somehow managed to have 2 years of world knowledge over my classmates.  They were surprised to hear me defining what a “midnight decree” was when it was not in the text books — which was simply street smarts combined with my ability to say something coherent which sounded like it was memorized from some text book.

Right about the same time I learned how to commute, I started working part time to help me with the mounting expense of books, photocopying, and dressing up according to the Corporate attire requried by Ateneo.  I also learned how to eat balot to help me keep my strenght up as I studied late into the night, waking up to hit school, then repeating that over again.

By my junior year, I was working full time and traveling to boot.  There were days when I would come to class and would be unable to give an answer during recitation for the simple reason I wasn’t able to read the assignment.  From working as a newscaster on RJFM to ending with a stint in an Advertising Agency before I took the Bar, I managed to supplement the costs of school as well by writing digests or summaries of the cases which were assigned by the professors, typing them up at work and then charging for the photocopying or print outs.  It helped me study for the lessons in advance, write coherently and succintly and find some additional spending money.

One memorable part of being in law school is how I would fall in line in the cafeteria with my dear friends Onggie and Reagan, just to make lambing that Onggie get me the arroz caldo and Reagan get me the puto.  One of the boys was behind us and asked in jest if I didn’t have any money, to which I replied that my payday was still a day away.

Those were humbling days indeed but I saw myself through law school somehow.  Although I finished law school in 1994, I postponed taking the Bar because I did not have the resources nor the time to stop work and study full time for a heads on review.  By 1995, my Mom begged me to take the Bar and told me that she knew God will provide.  And she assured me just as any mother would that it would be alright if I didn’t make it.. the important thing was for me to try..

So I filed my application before the deadline in June, and I took a leave of absence from work only the week before the Bar month of September.  (The Bar exams are 4 Sundays.)  I will reserve the Bar Experience for another post, but suffice it to say that it was not an easy task, but I made it.

I never really practiced law but have dabbled in Corporate Communications instead.  But in my heart and mind, I have achieved what I have always wanted to achieve — pass the Bar, and that is what makes me a lawyer, body and soul.  When I came here to New York, I made an agreement with Alan that I was putting aside any legal aspirations as I wanted to start a family.  Perhaps when Angel is grown up, I can go back to that one love.. for now, I have a greater love I’m nurturing.  After all, I know deep inside me — once a lawyer, always a lawyer.

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.