Monday, November 5, 2007

Bar, bar and Away!

Bar, bar and Away!

I could still remember that day as if it were yesterday. Last March 30, I knew the bar exam results were coming out that day and I was at the Severino de las Alas Hall, attending the Social Sciences Department’s End-of-Semester Workshop. I was green with nausea and anxiety but I knew I have been waiting for this day from the moment I first stepped into the walls of the law school I was attending. I was having dinner with my mother when my best friend called me up to say, “Hello, Atty.? Atty. Cajote? Congrats?” With my lips quivering I asked, “Pumasa ba ako?”. She answered, “Atty. Jannell Rodriguez Cajote, pasado ka, congrats!” I put down the receiver and started crying. My mother thought, “My God, my child didn’t pass!” And then I told her, with tears streaming down my face and voice trembling, “Ma, sabi ni Cel, abogada na raw ako!” And the tears continued to flow…

More than a month after that was what Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban said was "the penultimate step towards becoming a full-fledged lawyer." It is penultimate because I still had to sign the "Roll of Attorneys" before I could rightfully be called "Torni!" (attorney). With my head held high, I stood up straight, right hand raised, and took the oath that I sooooo wanted to take for as looong time – the Lawyer's Oath. It is an oath to keep the legal profession as a noble profession. It is a promise to help those in need of legal aid. It is undertaking to be the best counsel that I can be for my clients, for the Bar and my country. The voices of the 1,526 who passed the 2005 Bar Examinations echoed in the halls of the PICC as we uttered each line with fervor, pride, relief and other mixed emotions. Three days after, when I signed the Roll, I could still feel the tingling sensation in my spine brought about by a sense of fulfillment and relief- that after years of toil and sacrifice, my harvest has been laid for me to keep and enjoy.

Law school took quite a number of years of my life. My days were used up playing with “fire”. That is, attending classes and enduring the burning stares of my law professors as I ponder the answers to questions that could cause a severe nosebleed, and teaching in college at the same time. Prior to classes, I invoke all the angels and saints in heaven to pray for me that my professors would not pick my class card for the daily recitations. My nights were for dinner, studying, resting and contemplating why one earth I took up Law, financially broke and parents-dependent while the rest of my batch mates in high school and college were all probably "made." My weekends were spent "dating" with several justices of the Supreme Court. This means absorbing and understanding what they were telling me thru the decisions they have penned as contained in the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA), and again, wondering how on earth they could have made such lengthy decisions!

And so, the years drifted by without me noticing that I have invested in a lot of things ---- mountains of photocopied Supreme Court decisions, tears that could probably irrigate a farmland, caffeine overload and a few failing marks at the same time. Oh, not to forget the fact that my parents have greatly contributed to the coffers of the law school I was attending.

And then in just a split second, all the tears and frustrations just seemed so distant. Life has turned out the way I had hoped and prayed it would be.

It has been four months now since I signed the Roll. Frankly, it has been very seldom that I feel like I am really a lawyer. I may have clients here and there whose lives are being hounded by legalities but I still act the way I do, and talk the way I do. I am still a joker with a happy disposition in life, plus the prefix “Atty.”. I don't know what the future holds for me but I am sure I could not have done this without the support, love and prayers of my parents, my siblings (dogs and other pets included), my friends and loved ones, and the guidance and will of the Supreme Being who watches over all of us. For this, I am eternally grateful.

The pride that my Papa and Mama feel as parents of a lawyer is inexplicable. For every joy that I feel and the triumph I gain, they feel more than double of that joy and success. Because in every step of my life, they were the ones waiting behind, ready to catch me if I fall and ready to push me when I wish to proceed no more.

And so, the oath I made months ago was not only for tomorrow and today. It is something for me to keep and uphold for the rest of my life, to remind me that I am never above anyone and that I will try live up to the expectations that my new title brings, in the best way I can.

So help me God.

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