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Women dominate the 2019 Philippine Bar Exam

The passing rate this year is much higher at 27.36% relative to 2018 Bar exam’s 22.07%, where only 1,800 passed out of 8,155 candidates.

Today, Supreme Court spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka confirmed the 10 people who topped the 2019 Philippine Bar Exam, 7 of whom are women.

Mae Diane Azores of UST Legazpi, formerly Aquinas University, had the highest rating of 91.0490%.

In an interview, Azores said she did not expect to emerge with the highest overall rating because topnotchers usually come from Metro Manila universities.

“Hindi ko ine-expect na top 1 kasi parang iniisip ko suntok sa buwan ang maging topnotcher. Kasi common notion kasi ang mga topnotchers galing sa Manila.

“The initial plan was to take up law in Manila kasi andun nga ‘yung sinasabing best law schools… Dun din lumabas ang results.

She realized universities did not really matter when one former student from her institution also made it to the top 10 in previous years.

“I’m not exactly sure of the year, pero first time na may nag-topnotcher sa Aquinas. Top 7. So naisip ko, ay hindi naman pala sa school. Kaya naman pala kahit sa probinsiya lang. Nasa estudyante talaga ‘yan kung gugustuhin maging topnotcher.”

Her parents couldn’t be more proud as her father Diosdado is just a jeepney operator, and her mother has a job as a cashier at a clinic.

Azores currently works at the Commission on Audit in Legazpi City, and is still contemplating her next career move.

Azores was followed by Princess Fatima Parahiman of the University of the East, who had an overall rating of 89.5230%. It’s been a while since the institution made it to the top 10. The only Muslim on the list, Parahiman hails from Maranao, Lanao del Sur, and she has without question, made her people proud.

Myra Baranda of UST-Legazpi came in at third with a rating of 88.8250%. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who graduated from Bicol University, Baranda wants to remain an auditor at the Daraga City local government.

Becoming a lawyer was always her dream, but the last five years with the Commission on Audit (COA) made it evident to her that interacting with people was more fulfilling.

“Ang gusto ko sa pagiging state auditor, ‘yung interaction sa tao, naririnig mo ‘yung mga hinaing nila, every time na nagte-thank you sila, fulfilling sa ‘yo na nakatulong ka in a small way.

“Kami naman, ‘yung mga nire-recommend namin para sa kanila, para okay ang leadership nila, para sa constituents nila, para ang funds ay ma-disburse within the legal bounds and efficiently, to make sure there’s value for money.

“We can check kung ‘yung funds na pinagpaguran ng taxpayers ay may napupuntahan,” she added.

After officially becoming a CPA, she decided to work for COA, following her father’s footsteps as a former public servant.

Baranda never had the confidence, and her anxiety got worse when she was reviewing in Manila.

“Ako kasi ‘yung taong walang tiwala sa sarili, lahat ng tao sinasabi sa akin, kayang-kaya mo ‘yan, pasado ka na, ako pakiramdam ko babagsak ako,”

Baranda was constantly doubting herself.

“Noong nag-review ako sa Manila, maiintimidate ka rin talaga, may tinatanong ang lecturer, may sasagot, alam niya ‘yung enumeration, ako walang idea. Sabi ko ‘ang gagaling naman ng mga ‘to’ sabi ko ‘paano na?'”

Just like any other working student, Baranda had difficulties balancing school and work as her audit reports needed to be ready before coming to school at night.

Dawna Fya Bandiola of San Beda College-Alabang is at fourth place with a rating of 88.3360%. Bandiola told herself, “Baka hindi ko pa po time, hindi pa po will ni Lord na ibigay sa akin iyong pinagpi-pray ko.” when remembering the time she flunked the 2018 bar exam.

She rationalized her failure, saying that success is not just given.

“Hindi naman pala lahat talaga ibibigay sa ‘yo kung kailan mo gusto. Mayroong times na kailangan maka-experience ka ng rejection para mas mabigyan mo ng importansya iyong mga bagay na hindi mo binibigyan ng pansin.

“Inano ko na lang po lahat kay Lord, siya na lang po ang bahala sa ‘kin. I will do my best, I will do my part and then He will do the rest,” Bandiola told DZMM.

“Tanggapin mo lang kung ano iyong ibibigay sa ‘yo. Gawin mo iyong part mo. Magsipag ka, magdasal ka nang maigi. Ibibigay sa ‘yo kung talagang para sa ‘yo iyon,”,

The 2019 bar exam did not intimidate her, unlike the one back in 2018.

“Malayo po iyong exam noong 2018 sa 2019 Bar exams. Hindi ko rin po masasabi kung mas madali o mas mahirap kasi depende naman sa tao iyon… Relaxed lang po siguro ako this time,”

Jocelyn Fabello from Palawan State University had an overall rating of 88.2630% which landed her in the fifth spot. She made history by becoming the first student from her institution to make it to the top 10 list.

Fabello did not expect to have such a high rating, let alone be a topnotcher.

“Actually, ‘yong pumasa pa lang sobrang grateful na ako kasi a few hours ago and a few days ago ang buong pamilya talagang [anxious] na sila na lalabas ‘yong result.

“Ako sa sarili alam ko kung mga mali ko at ‘yong pangit ang handwriting ko ‘yong mga ganoong stuff that could influence the result of the bar kaya hindi ko talaga in-expect ‘yong sa Top 5. Talagang sobrang dagdag na lang dahil yong prayers ko is to just pass the bar.”

Having experienced being a consistent honor student, Fabello also graduated as the valedictorian of the PSU Laboratory Elementary School. Fabello also took the chance to take a diplomatic course in cultural development in Turin, Italy.

She has been a local disc jockey, and most recently worked for the Puerto Princesa City government at the City Planning Office for three years.

“Ngayon sobrang gratitude sa Taas ang nararamdaman ko kasi more than happiness yong talagang gratitude ko dahil ang hirap ng napagdaanan namin at the same time maraming pagsubok, nagkasakit during the bar exam pati yong sa mata ko nagkaka-eye strains ako ka pag nagbabasa pero dahil sa Taas at support ng family and sa Palawan State University sa aming dean at sa associate dean at sa mga school mates namin na support natapos po namin yong bar at ito ang naging resulta.

“Sa Taas, sa aking pamilya lahat ng sumuporta na kino-consider na po namin na family sa lahat ng nag-pray para sa lahat ng nag-take na taga-Palawan kasi talagang tinataguyod din na not just yong mga Manila schools pero kaya rin ng mga provincial law school, yong school, bar operators during our bar review, at syempre sa boyfriend ko na nagtiyaga sa loob ng anim na taon na sumuporta sa akin at umunawa.”

Kenneth Glenn Manuel from University of Santo Tomas is at sixth with an 88.1730% overall rating. Online, people refer to him as Sir K when congratulating the topnotchers, and interestingly, this keyword is trending on Twitter.

Manuel is also a CPA,  and was a former Instructor at Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he taught Basic, Cost and Management Accounting, among others from 2015.

Manuel started working as CPA reviewer at the Review School of Accountancy in 2018.

UST  and Colegio de San Juan de Letran  showed how proud the institution was of Manuel on social media.

Manuel leads UST’s 2019 bar passers, ranks 6thAtty. Kenneth Glenn L. Manuel, an alumnus of the Juris Doctor program of…

Posted by University of Santo Tomas on Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Manuel trended on social media early last year when he detailed the daily struggles of being a working student.

I survived another day.It was a typical Monday afternoon – hot, humid, and heavily tiring. My classes in law school…

Posted by Kenneth Manuel on Friday, June 7, 2019

“This is for all of us who struggle to survive every day. This is for the people who continue to believe that there’s a good tomorrow in the sorrows of today. This is for all working students who take the burden of living double lives. This is for those who have less but strive for more. We turn our struggles into success. We make the hurdles our opportunities. We transform our fears into power,” Manuel said.

Manuel himself couldn’t believe he made the top 10.

His anxiety was through the roof waiting for the results.

The four other topnotchers are the following:

7th place – Rhowee Buergo – Jose Rizal University – 87.8710%
8th place – Anton Luis Avila – Saint Louis University – 87.5820%
9th place – Jun Dexter Rojas – Polytechnic University of the Philippines – 87.5765%
10th place – Bebelan Madera – University of St. La Salle – 87.3795%

The Bar exams are never easy, as it covers political law, international law, labor law and social legislation, civil law, taxation law, mercantile law, criminal law, remedial law, and legal and judicial ethics and practical exercises.

According to Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, out of 7,685 examinees, only 2,103 passed.

Bernabe told the passers “to not only become learned experts but more so to fight for the cause of the oppressed, to advance the pleas of the helpless, and to inspire others as a living example of integrity above all.”

The passing rate this year is much higher at 27.36% relative to 2018 Bar exam’s 22.07%, where only 1,800 passed out of 8,155 candidates.

Bernabe added that the passing grade of 75% was lowered to 74% “in light of, among other considerations, the discerned need for more younger and technologically adept lawyers to help different fronts of society as we meet the peculiar challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and transition to the new normal.”

Women leaders around the world have also proven that they are better than men at handling the COVID-19 crisis. Countries with the best COVID-19 responses are led by women. Taiwan, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Finland, and Norway can thank the leadership of their female leaders, as these countries have provided models for other nations on fighting off the virus.


These countries also have relatively low confirmed cases and deaths. The measures implemented have been nothing short of effective, as certain restrictions respectively are starting to loosen up.

Written by JO-EST B. TAN

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