From the regions: Meet the bar topnotchers


Posted at May 03 2017 07:30 PM | Updated as of May 04 2017 12:45 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) -- From prestige and the fulfillment of a family's dream to cash and cars, this year's Bar exam topnotchers are set to reap many rewards. But just who are some of the youngsters behind all the glory?

#1 and #7 - Karen Mae Calam and Anne Margaret Momongan

Karen Mae Calam and Anne Margaret Momongan, schoolmates and best friends, credit faith for their topping of the Bar exams. Joworski Alipon, ABS-CBN News

Success is sweet for Bar topnotcher Karen Mae Calam, but it was made even better as she was joined by her friend Anne Margaret Momongan in the Top 10. 

Calam and Momongan were from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, and landed in the 1st and 7th spot in the exams, respectively.

Calam topped the exams with a grade of 89.05 percent, while Momongan got 87.80 percent.

According to Calam, her "secret weapon" was faith--she prayed to pass the Bar exams since she entered law school.

The Bar results, she said, was a "merciful and amazing" gift that was beyond what she prayed for.

Aside from prayers, Calam also credited the importance of working hard for one's dreams in her success.

Momongan, a close friend of Calam, echoed the topnotcher's surprise at the exam results.

"We feel so blessed. It's like a dream come true," Momongan told the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Calam and Momongan are both devotees of the Child Jesus, and currently work at the same consultancy firm.


#2 - Alana Gayle Ashley Khio

Registered nurse Alana Gayle Khio did not expect that she would land in the Bar exam's top 10. 

"I was even doubting if I could pass. It's a very good surprise," she told ABS-CBN News.

All she wanted was to live up to her aunt's dream, Khio said.

Her aunt dreamed of being a lawyer, but died during the Batasan bombing in 2007.

“We were very close. She was the only sister of my mother. The family was very devastated. I was a freshman in college...It (aunt’s death) helped me get to this point,” she said.

Khio, a graduate of Siliman University, garnered a grade of 88.95 percent.

Silliman College of Law Dean, lawyer Shiela Lynn Besario, said that their alumni will give Khio a new car and P200,000.

The university will also refund her school expenses, from her first year to her fourth year of studies.

Other topnotchers from Silliman will get P100,000.


#4 - Allana Mae Babayen-on

Law students are always under pressure, and even more so when it is time for the Bar exams, said Allana Mae Babayen-on. However, it is best not to let the pressure get to you.

“Gamangkot sila nga ti na-pressure ka? Everytime nga may maghambal nga 'Uy, ma-top ka gid na' and all that... Ang expectation sa mga tawo. Honestly wala ko ga ka-pressure sa iba because ako pa lang, sa self ko pa lang na pressure, OK na,” said the Bar 4th placer.

(They ask me if I was pressured [to do well]. Everytime someone tells me that I would top the exam and all that…Honestly, I was not affected by pressure from other people, because I also pressured myself to meet my own standards.)

She doubted her answers in the exam, and thought that she could have done better, but was glad to see that her hard work paid off in the end.

Apparently, her fears were unfounded, she said. 

In the meantime, while she has yet to take her oath as a lawyer, she will celebrate her passing of the Bar exams with her family.

Babayen-on, a graduate of the University of San Agustin, got a grade of 88.75 percent in the Bar exams.


#6 - Mark Dave Camarao

Mark Dave Camarao says he is proud of his fellow topnotchers for showing that graduates of provincial law schools have what it takes to top the Bar. Denis Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

While Mark Dave Camarao wanted to pass the Bar exams, he did not imagine that he would be among the topnotchers. 

"Hindi mo siya maiisip, basta pasado. Iyon lang 'yung aim mo...Kayabangan [ang] mag-expect," he said.

Camarao, who garnered 88.10 percent in the exam, also credited God for his feat.

"The Lord is merciful. The Lord is awesome. He is a living God. Naniniwala ako na binigay niya ang karangalang ito," Camarao said.

He is the first graduate of the Northwestern University in Laoag City to land in the Bar exam's top 10. 

The honor has made him proud of his alma mater and other provincial law schools, he said, as he and his fellow topnotchers proved that even students from schools outside of Metro Manila can aim high.

"Kahit saang law school ka pa nag-aral, kasi the bottom line is iisa ang batas, iisa ang pinag-aaralan na batas," said Camarao.

He currently works as a teacher at the Currimao National High School.

#10 – Andrew Liu

Time management is key in studying for the Bar, said exam 10th placer Andrew Liu.

Law was not Bar exam 10th placer Andrew Liu’s childhood dream. It was not in his plans—he only decided to enter law school after working for a business for 5 years. 

“I thought that maybe there was more for me. With the encouragement of my friends, I tried law school and found that I loved studying it,” said Liu, who garnered a grade of 87.45 percent.

“I was just praying I would pass the bar, so I guess making it [into the top 10] is just icing on the cake.”

However, while he liked law, it was not easy to prepare for the Bar. He studied every day for six months for the Bar, Liu said. But it is not enough to study just before the exams—aspiring lawyers should take to heart everything that they went through during their four years of study, instead of cramming for the exams.

He also stressed the importance of prayer and time management.

“Just time management. Know your priorities. You are there to study, and then have time for other things like your family, your extracurricular activities. Just study and remember why you are there sa law school, and just keep your eye on the goal, all the time,” he said.

-with reports from Joworski Alipon, Denis Agcaoili, Jenel Baclay and Jude Torres, ABS-CBN News