While most of the crowd were armed with umbrellas and water bottles, Johanna Malang and Jose Epifaño San Jose were lugging around their luggage inside the Supreme Court complex.
They traveled for eight hours from Naga to see their names flashed on the LED wall with other bar exam passers. Arriving in Manila at 4 a.m., they napped at a nearby hotel, attended mass at Baclaran then went back to the Supreme Court.
As soon as they saw the results online, San Jose kissed Malang on the cheek. They were still waiting to see their names on the LED screen.
Both said they were happy, now that their life is no longer in limbo.
“Happy and nawala yung pressure. Kasi yung pagiintay namin parang naka-pause ang buhay mo,” San Jose said.
(We’re happy and the pressure is gone. While we were waiting, our lives were on pause.)
“Parang you’re hanging for six months kung san kami pupunta, anong plans for the future. At least ngayon natuldukan na rin,” Malang said.
(It’s like you’re hanging for six months. We didn’t know where we would go, what are plans would be for the future. At least now it is done.)
San Jose, who has a degree in electronics engineering, said he was inspired by his aunt, Court of Appeals Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob.
“You really learn a lot that will help you in your every day life,” he said, as he talked about law concepts.
For Malang, it was her past that made her strive to become a lawyer.
“My father is a lawyer. He didn’t support me kasi anak ako sa labas. I think hanggang elementary school. High school I went through schools na scholarships lang. Except law school, si Mama na nagpaaral sa akin,” she said.
(My father is a lawyer. He didn’t support me because I was an illegitimate child. I think he supported me only until elementary school. I survived high school through scholarships. But it was my mom who supported me through law school.)
Malang said she took up law at first because of the anger she felt towards her father. She wanted to prove herself, that she was just as smart as her father.
“Noong una, gusto ko talaga yun. Na pag nagtabi kami, ‘Hi Pa, lawyer na po ako. Even without your help.’ Pero ngayon okay na. Wala na akong sama ng loob,” she said.
(At first, that’s what I wanted. That when I see him, I’ll tell, ‘Hi Pa, I’m already a lawyer. Even without your help.’ But now I am okay. I no longer feel bad.)
She said going through the bar exam review was a journey of self-discovery for her.
It made her more spiritual and allowed her to become happier with her life.
She said she still wants to talk to her father and tell him she has forgiven him.
"I am already at peace,” she said.
Malang’s mother was a caregiver and is now living in the United Kingdom with her second husband. But Malang said she has no plans of going abroad.
“Gusto ko mag-serve dito. I really want to become a PAO lawyer. Talagang dream ko siya,” she said.
(I really want to serve here. I really want to become a Public Attorneys Office lawyer. That’s my dream.)
San Jose said marriage is something that they have already talked about but they still need to save up for it.
Both are hoping to practice law in government, with San Jose eyeing a job at the Department of Information and Communications Technology because of his background in electrical engineering or the Intellectual Property Office.