Updated: Feb 23
By: Archiebald Faller- Capila
“Maybe the universe got tired of seeing me write stories of others that it made one for me.”
I have been wanting to use this line since time immemorial. I have prepared a handful of phrases and quotes if and when I pass the Bar. It was as if I was so sure that I’ll make it. But, as always, nothing goes exactly as planned.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I dreamed of becoming a doctor. There was something in the aforesaid profession that made me think I’ll be an expert in medicine someday. I would join a handful of contests related to science—whether the same be written or oral competitions. I told myself that if I want to become a doctor, I should familiarize myself with the field I want to dwell in.
However, things changed. In high school, I had a hard time in biology and chemistry. The subjects were so foreign that I had to rethink my options for the future. Maybe the field of medicine is not for me.
“How about writing?” I asked myself. I have been a writer all my life. I have participated in activities that involve technical and creative skills pertaining to words. I have been reading a handful of authors and trying to emulate them even though I know I can’t reach their respective levels. From that point forward, I told myself that I could be a journalist if and when I choose a career track.
But people around me insisted that I was meant for something bigger. “Why don’t you become a lawyer instead?” Some of my parents’ friends and colleagues would say. Some of my relatives are in the profession—why not try the same? At first, I thought I could not be in a profession where the field requires rigid technicality and know-how. But I told myself—why not try both? I could in fact continue my venture as a writer and eventually pursue further studies in law in the long run.
Which I did.
Entering college, I was hell-bent on becoming a lawyer while I pursued my love for writing. I took up a course in Public Administration while I applied to be a part of my school’s official student publication. Everything went according to what I expected. Being a man who loves when things go according to plan, I was happy that I was on my way to becoming a graduate of a pre-law course, ready for what is to come.
But before I entered law school, I needed some experience as to how things work outside the four walls of our classroom. Eventually, I took the time in working for the Provincial Government of my hometown. There, I was able to see the ins and outs of local government—an aspect I have been eager to study since my course was related to the same. The experience, although a handful, strengthened my will to become a lawyer—an experience that told me that I can contribute to the greater good of the profession.
Luckily, I was able to pass the entrance exam. From that point forward, I set my goals and dreams to fulfill my destiny of becoming a member of the legal profession.
People in law school have this idea. The title “ATTY.” comes in five specific steps. The first four letters represent the entire journey in law school. Although the same looks short and easy on paper, the experience begs to differ. Finally, the “dot” represents the culmination of all things—the passing of the Bar.
While I was advised that the study of the law will never be easy, I was already decided that I will and I must finish the course and eventually pass the Bar. I was confident that I had the right amount of knowledge in order to overcome the struggles the law would eventually throw at me. I was in my element. I felt invincible. I was so sure that I will become a lawyer soon.
But fate had a different plan. In just a few weeks into my journey, I was dragged to a reality that I am not special.
For the first time in my life, I felt incompetent. The taxing process of studying at least 10 hours a day was so much of a task that I had to cry myself to sleep every night. The requirement of having to be able to read and understand kilometric provisions, cases, and annotations were so daunting that I was shocked to my core. The fact that this was the first time I was away from my family did not help.
Indeed, to say that the study of the law is hard is an understatement. Not only did I fail to take care of my body. I also experienced the gap in my heart that I may not be able to finish this course.
Almost every day during my life as a law student, I asked whether or not the study of law is for me. I was performing poorly based on what I have set for myself. I was like a lost kid in a candy store, only to find out that I cannot find my way back home. More often than not, I was not able to understand in full our assignments. I kept seeking answers on why I was performing the way I performed. I tried to motivate myself from time to time, but to no avail.
Law school is and will always be the hardest timeframe I had to endure. It was a place I hit rock bottom more than once. It was a place where I saw the worst in me. It was a place I would never want to go back to. The horror and terror the experience brought me were at par with none. It was in a league of its own when it comes to draining the body and the spirit. It was a place where I even questioned my will to move forward.
But in those difficult times—at the brink of me giving it all up, are the people who surrounded me and people who believed that I can stand back up and eventually reach the end of my destination. My family always reminded me how much they love me and how much they support me even though they are away. My loved ones stuck by my side, bearing the pain and agony along the way, wishing me all the best. My friends continued to build a support group that eventually gave me hope. The people around me wept with me but helped me get back on track.
They say that no one becomes a lawyer alone. It takes a village to raise a member of the legal profession. Indeed, as cheesy as it may sound, I was able to prove that the same was not just a phrase. It was an act of honor. It was a testament as to how other people can help you succeed in whatever venture you choose to take. It was a statement.
And with all that I have left, I mustered in me the energy to make a comeback. Hard as it was, I tried to endure the pain a little longer and believed that this was the journey I am destined to claim. After all the pain and after all the struggles, I was able to surpass the letters and eventually graduated.
It was indeed an experience worth noting. Among other things, I learned that law school is not only a test of brilliance but of character. Along the way, I learned things that eventually shaped me the man I am today. Humility and acceptance that you cannot and will not always be the best in the room are needed in order to surpass. Keeping the faith and moving forward are necessary steps in order to reach your goal. Enduring the pain a little longer is a necessary sacrifice in order to stand where I stand today.
But as mentioned, I only surpassed the four letters needed. The next step was claiming the dot. And based on what I have learned and experienced, I knew that the review proper was not going to be an easy task.
And so it was.
Being in the middle of the pandemic, nothing came easy during the review sessions. Away from colleagues and friends whom you are used to exchanging ideas with, Bar takers were not able to fully grasp the essence of the review. To add to which, several changes pertaining to the schedule of the Bar and the syllabus affected every taker in their preparation.
The final stretch toward becoming a lawyer was as hard as the process in graduating. Several circumstances were present that affected not only the study habits and measures of the Bar candidates. The agony of waiting for the Bar and the adverse effects of the pandemic was too much to handle.
But amid all that has happened, the Bar pushed through. With several reforms that were made for the betterment of the candidates, more than 11,000 takers braved the storm and eventually took their chances at the #BestBarEver2020_21—me included.
After the exams, I did not know what to expect.
I did not know whether or not I did well. I did not know if my answers would eventually please the examiners.
Looking back, all I know was that I did my best and I had nothing left to prove. I was able to stand tall and be proud that I left no stones unturned. Indeed, I gave it everything I got. However, a part of me was worried about how the results would come out.
At times, I would ask myself whether or not my best was enough. I would rethink some of my answers although I did not want to. I would look at some points where I could have gone wrong. I would tell my friends and loved ones that I am not sure what the future holds.
But they always reminded me that for as long as I did my best, I do not have to worry. They said that I cannot control everything. They reminded me that for as long as I gave it my all, other factors will eventually follow.
It was heartwarming to hear that people around me believed in me. It was nice to hear motivational speeches coming from others. It was nice to see that even at the end of the day, people continued to believe in what I can do and that I have a chance to succeed in the venture I chose.
At times of distress, I would remind myself of a quote I wrote in my thesis paper. “To my future self, may you be reminded that everything that you do, you must do for your family.” I wrote the line knowing that my future self, being the dreamer that he is, will eventually find ways in order to become successful on a path he will choose.
As of writing, that future self is me.
For as long as I can remember, I have braved so many storms that I became numb. I loved stories so much that I eventually became one. I wanted to prove to myself that eventually, I will achieve something not for myself but for my family and loved ones.
And on the day the results came out, I found myself weeping in church—waiting for the news to sink in that I eventually passed the Bar.
To all those who stood behind me, thank you for all your support.
To my past self, I hope I made you proud.
To all those who took the risks and eventually made it through the Bar, congratulations and I am proud to say that you are my batchmates.
To my future self, I hope that you use this achievement not for yourself but for the betterment and greater good of the people.
They say a story ends with a DOT.
Mine starts with one.
* Atty. Archiebald Capila is the Content Director of Barrista Solutions.