When you don’t make it

I had been checking the net for the 2018 Bar results almost daily for all of April, in anticipation of happy news because of a dear friend of mine who took the Philippine Bar exams in November. This is a friend who has stood by me through thick and thin, and whose resilience and industry inspired me and continues to inspire me.

We met back in college in UP Manila and we became fast friends. We even had pet names for each other and were literally like brother and sister. We were so close and terribly fond of each other that his girlfriend then (who is his wife now) sometimes got jealous of how close we were. Then and even now, we remain to be close at heart even if we practically see each other once a year if I’m lucky– and we greet each other for our birthdays because it falls on the same month. Not quite right after mine like our mutual bestie, but still within. We have a lifetime of stories to tell between us.

Although he entered law school ahead of me, he started working soon after and became a casualty of the dreaded quality percentile index or QPI requirement of the Ateneo School of Law. I knew it wasn’t for lack of smarts, because even in college, he was one of the smartest persons I knew. He didn’t have the Manila private school pedigree of most of us, having grown up in the province, but he could hold his own in the August halls of the state university.

He chose to focus on his career which led to many trials and tribulations, but in time, he rose through the ranks.

Perhaps it was the fact that his children were now about to or had gone to college, or that life, in general, finally slowed down enough for him to return to his pursuit of the law, but he went back to school and finished, then enrolled for the bar review. He had the fire in him and I had complete faith in him. Developments at work allowed him more flexibility to devote time and effort to the review, and I know I was one among many praying for him.

On the evening (here in New York) when the results came out earlier in the day in Manila, I had gone out with some friends and had turned in rather late. The lights were out and I was already in bed making my way to la-la land when it hit me that I had not checked for the results. And I saw that the list was there.. I scoured the alphabetized list and hit the letter of my friend’s last name. I looked again.. and again.. but his name wasn’t there.

My heart sank.

I reached out to our mutual bestie to be sure I wasn’t wrong and I asked him how our friend was doing. I was eager to reach out but was afraid that doing so might hurt more.  This is one of those times when you have to be mindful of the effect of what you say or do to someone going through something.

We finally connected.  He says he is taking it again.  I told him we will pray harder.

I have been deeply saddened knowing how he had wanted this so badly. I know how it feels wanting it — but I was fortunate enough to have gotten it with only one try. I don’t know why I’ve been so emotional about this whole thing, as I find myself being enveloped by mixed feelings.

While I am deeply saddened by his inability to make it, I am also being swept up with this sudden, albeit much delayed, realization of how truly fortunate I was to have made it when I took that leap of faith many moons ago. This was one of those long ago life events that impacted me back then in a different way — and is making me look back with a deeper sense of appreciation so many years later.

I never took it lightly and looked upon that achievement as just run-of-the-mill or just another step forward. It was not something I ever deemed inevitable. It was a big prize I had coveted most of my young adult life. When I bagged it, I knew, even way back then, that it was mostly luck that I managed to achieve what I did: pass the bar on my first attempt, with hardly a structured review. It was, literally, a leap of faith.

It is a humbling thought that once more reaffirms my belief that a higher power is watching over me. While I never took that achievement of passing the Bar with a cursory review and with pure faith in luck and the power of prayer lightly, I have never put that much stock in having done it. To me, the stars just fell into place and that was that. I humbly accepted that it was nothing quite that special beyond the fact that I got some help from above. Looking at it now, though, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the enormity of it as against the loss I feel for my friend.

I am grateful. I always will be. I was blessed then, and I am blessed now. Many years later, that achievement and that gift has been given to me yet again, in a different form. I have been reminded.

Like always, we move on. I pray for him. For all those who suffered the disappointment of not having passed this bar examination. There will be another time.

Good luck, Toks…

The Pinay New Yorker passed the Philippine Bar in 1995 when the passing average was 30.28% with 967 passers making it out of 3,194 examines. This year’s passing average was 25.5% with 1,724 passing out of the 6,748 who took it.
More posts like this one on trying to become a lawyer or thinking of being one can be found in the Lawyer Wannabe tab on the header menu.

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Feedback on Feedback from M

I have been meaning to respond, but that is taking me forever and a day. So before this “gets away from me” and I am left with a half finished post, I thought I’d share with you a heartfelt and most heartening shout out from one of my 34 readers. The email below is unedited and cut and paste from his original comment.

Before you read on, I just want to say it’s emails like this that makes me feel I am doing something beyond feeding my need to journal online, and write for myself. That maybe– just maybe– I am helping someone else and paying forward what good has come my way and spreading positivity and love around.

Response coming soon.. promise.

M wrote:

A glorious new year to one of the most influential people who helped me change my life and shape my inner self 4 years ago. You pushed me to become the person that I am today, and for the person that I will become in the future.

It’s been a while, Attorney. I have countless of things to thank you for, but I think there’s going to be a perfect time for that (fingers crossed). Right now I just want to tell you how much I appreciate everything you said here in your blog including your personal message to me, and that all the things you said about life (law school in particular) were on point. It kept me moving forward even in roads I never thought I could possibly survive. So thank you. Thank you so much for bringing out the best in me. It’s been years since I read your blog and right now I could only wish that I should’ve visited this during my times of struggle. To bring you the good news, I’m now in my senior year in law school, a full-time regular student, still in San Beda Mendiola, struggling to have the best of both worlds since 2014 (full-time work and school so I could afford my fees). You really made a huge impact in my life (and you still are). Among others, I pray for your happiness and good health this 2018. Should the stars align soon, I hope I can help you publish your inspirational book for lawyering hopefuls in our country. You are truly a gift, a gem given to this world by our ‘big boss’ above. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING!!!

My inner fire burns again: huge, fiery hot, in crimson red! same as what I had when I went through my 1st year in law school like an eagle diving to get his prey with absolute precision without dropping his focus!”

Thank you, M.

More posts like this one on trying to become a lawyer or thinking of being one can be found in the Lawyer Wannabe tab on the header menu.

Dream and Live the Dream

I am happy to welcome those legal hopefuls who manage to stumble into this space in their quest for answers or enlightenment, neither of which I claim to offer — but I am happy to share my two cents’ worth based on personal experience.  Some queries I end up answering straight away in an email, and others I try to postpone for a blogpost here. While some end up unwritten or unpublished, there are topics and questions that I just have to share.  How many times do we find ourselves reading something that we identify with, because we hear our voice in another person’s story?

Several weekends ago, this came my way. Reading it before my morning cup of coffee and being fully awake would’ve normally merited only a cursory reading, but it came out so loud and clear that I read it from start to finish right there and then.

“I am N, a  24 years old probinsyana who found her way to Manila in her pursuit to be in the legal profession. I stumbled upon your blog through searching online about the feasibility of working and studying law at the same time. That was the first post I read from your blog. It inspired me so much that I started to work on my application at ALS.

There are many things that I have to consider in my pursuit to become a legal eagle. One, is the financial stretch. I also came from an Ateneo school in the province but my legal pursuit is something that I do not want to be my family’s financial responsibility anymore as my single mother is already old and gray. And so, I am currently on a job that pays me 20 thousand a month with the pressure of achieving a monthly quota not to mention the almost three times a week fieldwork.

I’ve read in your post that you encourage us the hopefuls to try to apply in different schools as well, I’ve thought of UP and PLM but my heart really belonged to the Ateneo. And so, I applied for jobs nearer in Makati and eventually got an offer to become a compliance officer somewhere in Ortigas, the pay is 50% higher but the risk of giving up my current job to embrace an altogether different job with no assurance yet that I’ll be accepted in the Ateneo scared me.

Now, I find myself in the crossroad and the what ifs. I know deep in my heart that the l am meant to pursue law. But it feels like with all the moves that I can possibly make to get there, the risks are too high. I do not have a safety net in case things don’t work out the way they should be, and that is the main reason why up to now I have not made a career move yet.

Chasing a dream is not only challenging but sometimes a lonely road to take. Reading your blog kept me from focusing on why I decided to endure this job and live in Manila despite a comfier life back home. To be admitted in ALS in itself is an almost impossible feat for me; taking into consideration my finances and TOR. But the thing about dreams is that when it hits you, it hits you hard.

I hope to hear from you, Atty.

Kind Regards,

N”

And the Pinay New Yorker says..

This reply took a long while and for this I apologize. I have always been careful Ispeaking about life in general because I am aware that it reaches a deep note within those who read what I write here. But here I am.. and here goes..

I have always said each of us has our own story to tell, and while I do not judge the way emails are written or how a message is conveyed, there is much that is said by the way a legal eagle wannabe writes me. I told N that this was one of the best emails I have received, for being clear, to the point and well written as a whole. It is by no means perfect, but if you’ve gotten this far in reading this post, then you know what I mean.

The pursuit of a legal education is by no means an easy ride, and the only way to truly survive it is to really want it so badly you will fight to make it to the end– literally. There are many obstacles along the way, on top of the very demanding curriculum in whichever school you choose. To make it, there many sacrifices one has to make.

I was a working student through most of law school. It was not easy traveling around the country and juggling schoolwork and case loads with all that, along with a 9-5 job when I was in town. My work-life balance was non existent but I knew my priorities. I was working not to work and build a career, but to see myself through school. So the paycheck was relevant, because it allowed me to pursue my dream.

Switching careers or jobs is never an easy choice. But you have to consider that a job offer means the hiring party saw potential in you. Sometimes, the most unlikely field choices turn out to be life changing moves that bring us closer to where we want to go. Or, and I say this with caution– the switch makes us see a different picture altogether, pointing us in a totally different direction.

I know that you would’ve made your choice by now. I know, too, that is likely that you chose to stay. If you ever come across such an option again, I would grab the higher pay. Law school is a very expensive undertaking even if you can borrow books, get hand me down reviewers or have the time to live in the library to study there in person. It is not only an intellectual and emotional investment, but more importantly, it is an economic one.

If you ask me, work in any shape or form is a distraction from school. If one has no choice but to work and study at the same time to pursue law, then let’s make the distraction that work is, worth the aggravation. Goose the one that pays more. You don’t want to be saddled with the rigors of work on one hand, and the expense and mental weight of memorizing and reading all those books and cases on the other. To make it, you have to make it clear that work is just the means to get to your dream.

And again, the choice of school matters not just as far as which one is the best. You have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and see what works best for YOU. Not what works in the eyes of your family or in your view.. but what actually works for you.

Schedule wise, financially, standards (QPI be damned), location. If Ateneo can work and granting that you do make it, then go for it. But if it doesn’t, the Ateneo is not the only road to making your dream come true. Being a working student means being able to make both schedules work. It means working with half the time a full time student has to study– and cramming everything into what pockets of time you find. It also means working on finding a way to make the expenses of law school fit into your budget. And I’m talking about every day expenses, not even the tuition fee.

I can feel the heaviness on your shoulders as they sag reading what I am writing here. I am not trying to discourage you– I just don’t want to sugarcoat the situation because it is far from a joyride. If it is a lawyer that you want to be, then you focus on that dream and everything else will have to be a means to get to that. There will be a lot of stumbling blocks and wrong choices made. But if you are focused on that dream, you will be able to pick yourself up from each fall and keep going.

Choose your schools and take the entrance exams. Let’s see which one(s) accept you and then you lay down your options. Look at things objectively from all viewpoints. Do not let the financial consideration be your only parameter. What if Ateneo accepts you? What are the other options open to you?

I wasn’t the only working student and you will not be the only one. There were even others who were working and who had families to take care of. Dads and moms. And it wasn’t just in the Ateneo. Other schools offer executive classes which mean going to school Saturday and Sunday. I have many friends who are now teaching in non-Ateneo schools and they are imparting their Ateneo and UP legal wisdom in schools like Arellano and FEU. Those students should be proud to be learning about the law from these distinguished lawyers– and I say that not because they are dear friends from even before law school, but because I know the length and breadth of their expertise and legal experience speaks volumes of their worth.

Again, look at what works for you. After all is said and done, it will be your choice, your dream.

Ps. Related posts can be found in LAWYER WANNABE where there is a list of previous articles on the topic.

Monday musing: Creative frenzy

I started writing this at half past six and the sun hadn’t quite awakened just yet. I had tried to wake up my brain with my usual cup of Joe and my quarter of a cup of oat bran. And I started writing.

Creating for the #GiftOf50.  I’ve had a productive  weekend with my tools. I’ve been busy sorting my beads (Saturday) and creating (Sunday and most of the nights preceding it). I usually string the beads onto headpins before assembling the actual earring dangle then I finish this as a second step in a batch. I only put the ear wires when I’m sure I’m done, with no other finding or component or additional gemstone or bead to add. Last night, I did the last step.

Here’s the thing.. I had started creating basically with the idea of making a batch of earrings to give away as part of my #GiftOf50 push. After assembling the earrings, I am now torn about actually giving them away and posting them in the shop. Did I just create a problem for myself here?
I’ve also been busy with my Marian necklaces which deserves a post altogether.  Three (make that 4) pendants and necklaces in production.  I have the pendants done (finally), but I am in a design quandary.  (again, have to write about this separately.)

Giving in to the challah bread craving. I love bread but I’m trying so hard to stay away from it.  The week prior has been good in the area of trying to keep my weight in check, so I thought I’d give myself a break over the weekend with a “bread run”,  even if only for one loaf of challah bread from my challah bread source in my area, Le Pain Quotidien.  I meant to make some French toast, but congratulate me for resisting the urge.  I did eat it throughout the weekend..  grilled cheese dinner on Saturday, and this simple yet hearty breakfast of tomato scrambled eggs for Sunday breakfast.

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Sunday breakfast of tomato scrambled eggs and challah bread.. brings me back home to breakfasts in Manila with the “tasty” sliced bread or better yet, pandesal. .

I’m not worried about the scale tipping a tad higher because I know saying goodbye to my carbs beginning today will correct that.  For me personally, I have learned that weight loss is best managed by weight control– and at my age, I am not killing myself over a slight weight gain (nothing over a pound), more so when I’ve succeeded in keeping my weight down.  I am at my usual plateau and the only goal now is to break it and even go lower.  Soon!

My happy mailbox..I have never stopped collecting postcards even if I haven’t been actively trading them, and it always brings a smile to my face when I find a postcard in the daily mail when I sort them at the end of the day.. what more when I get 3!! Thanks to my friends from Postcrossing Philippines who continue to keep my collection growing with their postcards from home.  Keep them coming!

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#HappyMailbox: Thank you for the postcards, @mumwrites and @skyorange … for the mail smiles you brought my way with these cards from the Philippines. 🇵🇭 Such wonderful additions to my collection! Mail coming your way.. 💌

More lawyer wannabe questions.  I haven’t forgotten and I am not ignoring them.  Thanks for reaching out via email — I always appreciate hearing from the people who stumble into my corner of the web.  Again, I am getting to the questions soon.  Keep dreaming..

Gotham chick recommends.  Sometime in 2015, I thought I’d create a specific account for Gothamchickshopper for product and service recommendations.  I created an Instagram and twitter account, and yes, a blog.  I’ve always had the account on my smartphone but haven’t really been writing about it.  (I hardly get to keep up with this one!).

So I’ve started being more focused with the new hashtag #GothamChickRecommends and hope to keep the social media accounts more active as well.  I am even thinking of doing a weekly roundup here.  My restaurant posts have become short blurbs that can be an entire blogpost and I really should focus on some of that.  (That’s me talking to myself.)

I think I’m off to a good start and will hopefully get at least one of these blurbs into an actual post here during the week.. plus one or two or three.

Happy Monday!

In My Mailbox: Beda Law Entrance Exam on Friday — what now?

I love getting mail from those who stray into this corner, and today, one greeted me from a “Lawyer Wannabe”.   (You can email me at pinaynewyorker at gmail dot com). I didn’t get a name exactly so I am going genderless on this, and just reprint the note I got.

“Good afternoon po, Atty. I’ve read your blog po and naisipan ko mag-email. Sana di po ako nakadisturb.. Can you give me some tips on what to study for my entrance exam in SBC? This coming friday na po kasi. Ano po coverage ng exam? 🙂 Thank you!! “

I wanted to be able to sit down and write a full response but was presssed for time as it would be Thursday already by the time my reply was read.  So I sat on the bus and postponed painting my face for until after I had written a reply.  Time being of the essence, I tried to write a comprehensive response anyway.

Here goes:

Thanks for writing and no, I don’t consider emails from the blog readers a bother.
First of all, good luck!

Secondly, I hope that you were able to read the post on preparing for the exams..

Third– you have to keep in mind this is an aptitude test so there is really no general scope. They are trying to determine if you have the smarts for a legal education. There are no set parameters for review because they are probing what’s already in that coconut of yours. ( just a little humor.. I know you’re nervous.)
Fourth- with that said, what tips can I give you?

– Relax and calm your mind. Repeat over and over to yourself you want this — and yes, you can do it. Doubt will slow you down and the test is mostly under time pressure. Say 120 vocabulary terms in 30 minutes which means you need to answer 4 in a minute. They’re not trying to find the speed readers amongst you but it’s simply because if you had the word in your vocabulary, you wouldn’t even have to think about it.

– Pick the first answer that lights up and don’t second guess yourself. Again, they are looking at what’s already in there so even if it’s a guess, your brain is actually wired to pick that which it knows is true or correct. In the same way, your brain will guess wrong if you’re playing darts not really knowing anything. The tests are designed to see those guesses.

– I don’t remember the San Beda exam but if there is an essay question like Ateneo , answer the question and then explain. They are looking at your writing skills here. Can you form a coherent thought? Can you explain yourself clearly?

If the question is why do you want to be a lawyer, be honest. There is no right or wrong answer as they are looking at how you write. If it’s an opinion question, say, on the death penalty, your first sentence should declare your stand, (for or against). Write a complete sentence, do not say just Yes or no. (Yes, I believe in the death penalty.). Repeat the question if you must within the answer. Then explain.

Never start with “because. ”

Do not use “I think…”. Instead, use “I believe..”

Your last sentence should reinforce or reiterate your stand or first statement, even if it’s a repetition of your first sentence.

Lastly, pray.

Trust that whatever the results are, wherever you land, there is a reason for it. UP said no to me, but I am grateful and happy I landed with the Jesuits. Whatever your faith is, whether you believe in God or not, know that the universe has a grand design. Don’t fight it, just go with the flow.

Dispossess your mind of the idea of being in a courtroom because lawyering is beyond litigation. I didn’t realize that until after law school, and I haven’t done any lawyering except for the periodic legal opinion request from friends who know I am one.

Do I feel like I wasted all that effort and time? No, I don’t. I had always dreamt of becoming a lawyer to be one– I didn’t want to be just a college graduate. I love studying the law and fought hard for it, even when it meant working while studying.

Am I ever going back to being one? I always say once a lawyer, always a lawyer– whether I am just being a mom or working up in my little perch in the corporate world where I am totally in a non-legal function.

Let me know how it goes and where you land. Very exciting times for you! I am fasting today and will say a little something to thenBig Boss upstairs soon as I hit send.

Best of luck!

RELATED POSTS:

My Future History Professor

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

Feedback on Feedback: Making it to law school

Legal Education: Where to go?

Dream on (Feedback from someone hoping to be a legal eagle someday)

(Of never-ending but very welcome) Law School Inquiries – A Reply to CONCERNED CITIZEN

Broken Links and Trying to Get into Law School

The Path You Choose to Take

The Dreams we Dream

“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

To all those Law school hopefuls out there..

Another Question on Taking the Ateneo Law Entrance Exam

Thinking about law school?

From a Bar Reviewee

Back when I was in Law School