Category Archives: Personal

Response to Kat: Pointers for the Bar Exam

I noticed that my blog had been silent for more than 3 months now. I have been busy back to work since December 2017, and had been (re)answering the 2017 Bar Exam since then. Two months before the release of the bar exam results, I was “interviewed” by my law school classmate who is now a candidate for graduation this June 2018. Having passed by our chat, I decided to post our Q&A. May the reader find this post as source of useful pointers in taking the #Bar2018 [Note: The Q&A is edited/modified to fit this blog-type post.]


KAT: First of all, congrats in finishing the bar. That alone takes a huge amount of endurance, and for that, I congratulate you! :’)

ME: Thank you!

KAT: Second, habang fresh pa sayo ang mga bagay-bagay, nais kong humingi ng mga words of advice or tips like:

Ano ang mga bagay na na-realize mo na dapat mong ginawa pero hindi mo nagawa?

ME: Most of the things I planned were accomplished naman, except for that run on the syllabus. Original plan ko kasi ay gagawan ko ng reviewer each and every subject based on syllabus. But since August 2017 na ako nag-start ng review proper ko (take not I did not resign or totally left work), I realized na I will be losing material time just doing such reviewer than focusing on what statistically may come out. So I abandoned the plan, and instead read as many Arellano Bar Review Program (ABRP) materials I’ve collected since 2012 as a premium for being consistently and actively participating in the Bar Operations.

I realized na, if only I have completed that self-made reviewer, maybe I could have better answered some questions. But take note abandoning it is not a bad idea after all. I just feel I could have answered better.

KAT: Mistakes you did or ung mga pagkukulang, if any? Or
Yung mga tamang ginawa mo na tingin mo hindi nagawa ng iba, if any? Hehe

I am not sure if it’s a mistake when I slightly changed my answering style a few months before the bar exam. Napansin ko kasi, if I will maintain my style, parang pare-parehas na mababasa ng examiner na phrasing (like kung susundan mo yung answering style na 3-paragraph rule). I have to admit I am aiming for the top. Without any professional guidance, I tried to trim down my answer into 2-paragraph super direct to the point “answer-reason then basis” approach. Maybe some portions of the correct answer could have been lost somewhere. But nonetheless, I passed. So baka naman hindi mistake.   

I believe I did my best in answering all the questions. That should be every examinee’s objective. Never leave a question unanswered, and always have a spare time to review your work. In my case, I made sure that I am done answering before the 3rd bell (i.e. 30 minutes before time’s up) so I still have at least 25 minutes (I submit my booklet after the 4th bell, i.e. 5 minutes before time’s up with the exception of Legal Ethics where I submitted 45 minutes before time kasi I am excited to go out before the sun sets). That way, I can review my work for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation. To my surprise, I was able to discover (this was during the first Sunday) that I skipped answering some sub-questions. I was able naman to insert my answers because, fortunately, my answers were (extremely) short and I use 1 page in answering even sub-questions.

KAT: Third, sa dami ng binasa mo, ano sa tingin mo ung best material/s (pnka marami kang nahugot sa pagsagot sa bar) and worst (na dapat ndi na basahin ng isang barrista) for each bar subject?

ME: Honestly, I have not read any reference book in the entire review (I tried to borrow some books, but I never had the chance to read it). In our case (Bar 2017), there is no single best material that you can use to survive the exam.  You really have to rely on the years of preparation you have in law school. In my case, I relied mostly on ABRP materials including our very own Pre-Week materials. My observation is that all other review materials are practically the same. They just differ in the presentation and emphasis on certain topics. But they are just like any other review material.

Take note I did not enroll in any other Bar Review simultaneous with the ABRP. To me, simultaneous schooling is not good at all because you will hear different approaches and answers to the same question, which later on may affect you while answering the bar exam. Just choose one set of materials that you are comfortable with. Stick with it, and just be able to identify which part is “poisonous” LoL. 

KAT: Best material (to read) and worst material (to avoid)
Civil law-
Remedial law-

ME: Following my answer above, I do not recommend any best or worst material for any subject. Given enough value and appreciation, our very own ABRP materials are good enough. You will later discover that some of Arellano barristers are reading “Blue Notes”, “Red Notes”, UP Notes, etc. But you will also be amazed to see some Ateneo, San Beda, and UP barristers reading Arellano Last Minute Tips (LMTs) LoL. Just choose which materials are most comfortable for you to use.

Bar materials and LMTs by itself will not, by itself, save you. They are just intended as reminders to what you should have known already way back law school days.

However, there are some notable exceptions to this like in the case of Political Law and Civil Law. AUSL is known to have very good predictions on Political Law (average 50%) and it was maintained.

Labor Law is likewise fair enough. Using Atty. Chan’s pre-week notes is more than enough arsenal.

In the case of Civil Law, there are a lot of basic ObliCon questions and our very own Atty. Rabuya discussed many of the questions which were lifted from the J.Bersamin cases.

Taxation law is again a killer (to me). I cannot give advice on this. But if you have read enough recent tax cases, it will be less painful.

Commercial law is also a pain in the a**. A handful of questions were lifted from the Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act (FRIA). But the questions were basic, so I suggest reading the law (note, it is lengthy) and at least understanding the terms, just in case a “boomerang” happens in your bar exam.

Criminal Law is also complained as a killer subject, but I disagree. The questions are basic. The problem is its presentation. You will get confused by the manner the questions are presented. But I believe the questions are phrased that way to see if the examinee can discern the issue and use only material facts to arrive at a conclusion applying the law. The exceptional term “doli incapax” can be answered if you are familiar with latin root words “dolus” (dolo).  But never mind.

Remedial law is just a walk in the park (Jurassic park LoL) if you have been under Atty. Brondial’s class. If you have not, I suggest you get a copy of Atty. Brondial’s latest syllabus and start reading the cases there. It will be a smooth ride after finishing it.

Legal Ethics questions were mostly recycled questions in the past bar exams. Be prepared on legal forms because it may drain your time in preparing one if you have not practiced doing it. 


KAT: Your response will be much appreciated hehe.. thank you!

P.S. sa free time mo po gawin. I am willing to wait.

ME: I don’t want you to wait. Start early and feel relieved early. I hope, though, that I have not increased your stress levels by promptly replying to your queries.

Good luck!


14@14th, 17@15th: Open Letter To My Close Confidant


Happy Anniversary!

It’s like yesterday when I was still finding time to visit you after my teaching schedule in a university. When I first asked you on the 8th, you deferred your answer. Yeah, December 8 would have been the date when you said “yes”. But maybe timing wasn’t right, and I was right. So when the sun, stars, moon, and the planets aligned on the 15th, and your parents left us to talk alone,  you answered “YES”. Yes, on my favorite number 15.

In the interim, i.e. before marriage I should say, I realized I got more reason everyday to be with you the rest of my life. Each day then, I was thinking of how I can establish my own family with you. It was the most challenging financial days of my life: when I need to support my siblings in college, be a part-breadwinner of the family, and save for the wedding, while still indebted to credit cards.

But all those, I surpassed. We surpassed. That made my 25th birthday special because it was my last birthday as single. Same with your birthday the following month. It was our last birthday celebration before we get married. It was the happiest celebration I had in 25 years of my life. We were blessed with two children, and that meant two more birthday celebrations in addition to our birthdays. Look at them now. Look how we get to have our bloodlines continued in their persons. Look how they looked like me. (LoL)

With all these, let me make a proposition. Let this day and thereafter be another chapter of an even happier relationship. I know I made my promise and I will continue to make sure that promise is fulfilled – just like a continuing mandamus imposed upon myself.

While some people experience “mid-life crisis” at our age, I propose we build “mid-life memories” that we will cherish until our last days. I know sometimes it is expensive to explore, but what the heck?! We can earn money lost. But lost time can not be bought by money.  See how older people regretted not doing things they could have done when they were younger, like to travel. I don’t know how the older us will be like, but I want to know what the present us can do while we still can.

This year’s anniversary, just like 2003, will be a major shift. That, I predict. Next year will be another milestone. We already have several scheduled travel adventures. Some with kids, some #jhezthe2ofus. Next year, I am expecting to have that title everyone is dying to have. We both know that I don’t need another title. Our kids don’t need a parent with another title. They just need us. A title sounds like another person when it’s not. It’s just another profession. Same me. If I will ever get that title, it is just a mere incident and not the objective. I cannot have something I already have. In Criminal Law, it is called “impossible crime” because of inherent impossibility of accomplishment or on account of the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means. It is me all along without the title. It will still be me with or without the title. The difference will be: we can have an alternative source of income to finance our adventures.

So much for the promises. Let us #jhezenjoythisday!

I love you.

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Posted by on December 14, 2017 in Love and Relationships, Personal


#Bar2017 #wrapup

The November Bar Examinations officially ended today. Now it’s “waiting game” to most of examinees until the posting of results. But before that, let me extend my thanks to everyone.

FIRST and foremost, to GOD. It is undisputed that we owe everything to Him who gave us the blessings of life and health everyday. Indeed, without God I AM NOTHING;

SECOND, to my lovely wife: I still recall how you OBJECTED to this choice I made and how hesitant you were to allow me to be incarcerated in this “prison of law”. But after having seen how decided I was then, you yielded. Thank you for your immeasurable support for the past 5 years. I know that no matter how I tried to be as casual as I can be in law school, I still missed most of our children’s milestones and family gatherings. AS I TOLD YOU BEFORE (in the tone of Dean Sundiang), I promise to spend more time with you, and the kids, after the Bar – and you know that I already began fulfilling that promise;

THIRD, to our parents: It may not be manifest but you were always there in silence, in spirit, and in prayers. Under the Rules of Court, your acts, declarations, or omissions are ADMISSIBLE in evidence and may be considered as implied admissions of your invaluable support. I know how proud you were when I started law school, and I hope I can return the favor and meet your expectations more after the release of the results;

FOURTH, to the Arellano University School of Law: I owe everyone in law school, from the highest of the Board to the humblest of utility workers. I cannot enumerate all the support I received from each of you because it is INCAPABLE OF PECUNIARY ESTIMATION. Also, I would not have developed the kind of discipline I had today were it not for our professors on the quality of legal knowledge, training, expertise, and shall I say indoctrination that now composed the anatomical structure of the lawyer I am fast becoming;

FIFTH, to the student organizations Arellano Law Academic Society, Bar Operations Commissions together with the Hotel Ops and Marshalls, Arellano Law Gazette, and Arellano Law Forensic Guild to which I was part: Thank you for abusing your physical, mental, and emotional limits in ensuring your presence will encourage everyone to finish the Bar Examinations strong;

SIXTH, to my classmates, batchmates, and schoolmates: now Attorneys or otherwise. Thank you for believing in the spirit of camaredrie. I cherish the memories we had together in those school years of both hardship and success. As to our fellow Bar Examinees, thank you for your INDISPENSABLE COOPERATION in making the Bar Examinations a success in its own right and found in the place where it should be found, UNBLEMISHED BY ANY ALTERATION OR CIRCUMSTANCES OF SUSPICION;

SEVENTH, to our fellow government officials and employees: who showed the simplest yet sincerest support in a common hope that change happens for the better, and that JUSTICE and fairness would always prevail. Thank you for believing that I can be an instrument of that change through this noble profession;

EIGHT, to the social media: which was to me never a distraction but an opportunity to keep abreast with what is happening around. Various social media groups became the channel of communicating Bar materials that reinforced one’s confidence, either by reading them or by simply knowing to have them in their “boxes”. The social media remained as an outlet of FREE SPEECH;

NINTH, to the Supreme Court (SC): including the Bar Examination Chair, Examiners, and their staff, in successfully returning back the glorious days of taking the Bar Examinations before Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) were introduced. #Bar2017 reverted to the basics and more fundamental questions to test the examinees’ preparation and reasoning #werpa. The “tips” were helpful but practically insufficient (if not useless, and that is the idea so that the integrity of the examination is preserved). Again, one must really study the entire syllabi including its coverage and rely on their “arsenals” accumulated during law school days. LEGAL FORMS are definitely back, and I fully agree that a Bar candidate must at least be able to draft basic legal forms in the course of the examinations. In sum, the questions were fair and reasonable (no need for extensions of time), and the security in the Bar site was as tight as sealing the doors of SC while the questionnaires were being collated. Thank you for this one of a kind experience; and,

Finally, TENTH, to all other persons and entities unmentioned: to whom I made acquaintance with, and never have forgotten to send their simplest cheer and/or good luck in prayer and/or social media, and to the men and women who made the legal profession more profound and exhilirating especially during the Bar season. I will #neverforget being part in the making of this community of advocates.

I purposely did not attempt to mention the individuals with PARTICULARITY because I fear that I may miss one and be piqued by that omission. If you are reading this, you know who you are, and I am talking to you – Thank You!

No other profession comes close to the kind of extravagance and exoticism in preparation for, during, and after the Bar Examination season. Despite the uncertainties, the law profession undoubtedly remains as (one of if not) the most prestigious and most influential profession in this country. Yet, the Bar Examination is only one of the steps in becoming a full fledged lawyer.

Meanwhile, the battle may have ended but the flags will still have to raised. Until then…

Returning all the glory to God.


God bless everyone!

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Posted by on November 26, 2017 in Personal


Look, I Am Ready (L.I.A.R.)

Look, you are ready for the Bar Examinations:

Not because you finished all your target readings, audio notes, and coachings;

Not because you have sufficiently read all those law books, cases, and review materials;

Not because you understood all the principles and doctrines in jurisprudence;

Not because you were able to memorize the provisions of the laws;

But simply because you chose to be ready.

Readiness is a status that starts and ends the time you made a choice.

If you are thinking that readiness is a state of being well-prepared in the sense that you have mastered all the subjects and can confidently say that you can answer every question of law with precision and accuracy; or if you are convinced that you completed all those academic, physical and psychological preparations; then you are missing the point. One is ready if you can manage your innermost fear of being unready. If your concept of readiness is any or all those enumerated above, then you are ready – not because of the fact of preparedness, but because you made a choice, and told yourself that you are ready. That choice placed your fear in a small isolated box, far from your reach.

“What if I really never made sufficient readings?” or “What if I never really understood all those principles of law?” But you see, the lying may be on the other side around. “What If you are simply denying yourself the confidence that you need to be admitted in the Bar?” or “What if you are lying to yourself that you are fit to be in the legal profession?”


Just imagine those sleepy days because you are awake all nights;

Imagine how you were able to finish all those subjects, sometimes after several attempts;

Imagine how you were able to survive four, five, or even more years before you graduated;

Imagine all the milestones, events, and gatherings you have turned down;

Imagine the business or work opportunities lost because of law school;

Imagine all those uncalled pressure you experienced in recitations and exams;

Now, think of those bright days ahead:

Think of how you can sleep all day after this Bar Examinations;

Think of all the time you can spend after this month of November;

Think of those better professional opportunities after you hurdle these;

Think of how you can enjoy doing things you are accustomed of and also help other people;

Think of realizing this dream or calling to be one in the legal profession;

Think of the years ahead with your family and friends;

As to your family and friends: Aren’t they the reason why YOU ARE NOW READY?

Recall how they stood beside you all those years;

Recall how they supported you to all the way, financially and emotionally;

Recall how happy and proud they were on the day of your graduation;

Recall your promises you have partially fulfilled by taking the bar Examinations;

Recall that this November’s undertaking is not for you but for them;

Recall their faces and their smiles as you close your eyes;


Now, take a deep breath, then open your eyes and tell me if you are still not ready.

Of course you are. You already made a choice.




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Posted by on October 31, 2017 in Personal


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Lawyer by Choice

(As submitted to be part of “Testimonials” of the ARROWS yearbook)

Life is all about choices. A lot of people would want to be a lawyer but only a few will make it. Many would say that being a lawyer was their childhood dream. Some would only follow the steps of their parents or relatives. Others are being driven to become a lawyers by their parents. To a selected few, being a lawyer is a calling. Yet, whatever reason one should become a lawyer, the choice is a requirement. One must choose to become a lawyer.

Law school is no different. The choice of school likewise matters. To be a successful lawyer, one must rise from the education, training, and discipline of a good law school. While some law schools appear to be better than the others, it’s really more because of the kind of students who underwent the rigorous preparations of becoming a member of the noble law profession. But the training is the same. Books and cases are the same. Arellano University School of Law (AUSL) should also be the same. To be first among equals, one must choose to become first.

I choose to be a good lawyer; and I have chosen AUSL to make it happen.


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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Personal


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Legum Baccalaureus

Five (5) years in the Executive Program and finally, Bachelor of Laws.

Hundred of special days missed and thousand of pages of books and decisions of the Supreme Court read, spending thousands of hours spent just to understand them. This is not fulfilling one’s dream. This is an answer to a calling.

Celebration is still premature as the graduates of Batch 2017 embark in a short four (4) months bar review and take the country’s (and perhaps one of the world’s) most difficult examinations ever administered to mankind.

God speed Batch 2017 for #BarExams2017.

PS: To the author’s wife, Rhea, and his two children, RJ and Jacob, this initial success is dedicated. To God be the glory.

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Posted by on June 27, 2017 in Personal


My 17th Valentine’s Day With You

I love each day,

Skies blue and gray,

Just wanting to say,

That I’m here to stay,

It became a habit,

Not to set a limit,

On how to show it,

And how you love it,

We’re friends before,

I opened that door,

And walked that floor,

Sweethearts therefore,

But when we got married,

And our lives got welded,

The spark never ended,

Instead became unprecedented,

I will never get tired,

Holding your hand tight,

I will  keep your heart tied,

With my heart where it is wired,

I promise not to change,

On every single page,

Of our life and our age,

In and out of that hedge,

I won’t change a thing,

Like the way I sing,

I’ll keep on living,

I’ll keep on loving,

It’s been seventeen times,

That you’re my Valentine,

And it’s perfectly fine,

Now let’s drink that wine,

Seventeen once a year,

Seven hundred times sweeter,

Seven thousand folds lovelier,

And I’m forever your partner.

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Love and Relationships, Personal