In the Philippines, the bar exams always draw a festive mood around the building where thousands of bar examinees were sweating inside cloistered rooms anxious to become lawyers after four weekends of writing legal prose morning and afternoon that cap their 4 years of grueling law studies.
Unlike in the U.S. where bar examinees have go to the exam site mostly unaccompanied or simply hurriedly dropped off in the parking lots by relatives or friends, Philippine would-be-lawyers come to the exam location complete with “kamag-anaks”, their friends, classmates, sorority sisters and fraternity brods and their professors thinking that their “moral support” outside the building, would be a big factor in their passing the bar. It is not. You either come to the exam ready to pass or to fail.
The “wishing-you-luck” pleasantries and hooting outside from everyone who stayed behind until you write your last opus at the end of your bluebook will not add up to any knowledge drilled into your mind for the past 4 years. But if you were the kind of a student who come to the exam room with the idea that “dacion en pago” is a woman in love with a turtle and “damnum absque injuria”, is that water is incapable of no injury, or “de minimis non curat lex”, some kind of a band-aid strip, then you need a serious brushing up with your assignment before taking up the bar.
Our very clannish culture justifies the clutter of humanity outside the edifice where restless and nervous examinees begin to write their masterful composition on every freaking 8 legal subjects from political law on the first day to legal ethics on the last day.
The same sea of humankind that called themselves “bar-op groups” loiter around the area ready to pass some kind of late-breaking bar like question “leakage” to their fraternity and sorority colleagues which only heightens their anxiety specially if it was the first time that that they come across with the question.
Basically, you have people inside the building undergoing a tremendous pressure in their lives while there were highly excitable spectators outside. While some remain unaffected and in jovial spirit, others have their humor thinned out to gather enough dread to lob a pillbox. You may ask, what’s wrong with these people? But again, you may ask, what’s wrong with us gathering outside the building when we can simply wait for our bar candidates right in our homes – with smiles and freshly baked bread and melting yellow butter on top of it, a hot choco and a sauce-drenched steamy pork barbecue?
My own concept of the bar, is a footnote in my book:
“My four years in college of law was not a walk in the park. It was an arduous uphill path to Jericho. I tread the road hungry with the law and our professors unselflessly guided us in understanding the majesty of the law. Hungered in its concept, I devoured anything that I thought would feed my appetite for the law. Some students looked at their law course as a ticket towards earning big money; as a student coming from a poor family, it was my goal too. But now, I shared the same quest as others of why so many people love the law but lawlessness permeates almost every human endeavor in our land.”
“I took the bar examinations in September 1978 and after the last Sunday of the test, I went directly to a catholic church in Tayuman and thanked the Lord for making me a lawyer. I said, Lord I am a poor man but you have allowed me to finish my law degree and write my exams. I see no reason to fail.