How Bar exam 2nd placer beat poverty to become lawyer

by Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at Mar 19 2014 05:01 PM | Updated as of Oct 10 2016 02:55 PM

MANILA -- Mark Xavier Oyales, who placed second in the 2013 Bar examinations, has just proven that financial problems are not obstacles to one's dreams and goals.

Oyales, who hails from Babatngon, Leyte, took up BS Biology for his undergraduate degree in the University of the Philippines (UP) Tacloban.

He explained that he originally wanted to become a doctor, but dropped his plan to take up medicine because it was too expensive. He then opted to become a lawyer.

"I actually wanted to be a doctor. Pero ngayon gusto ko na yung law. Masyadong magastos kasi if I pursue medicine," he said in an interview on ANC's "Headstart" on Wednesday.

Oyales' mother works as a cashier in a bakery while his father is a supervisor in the security division of city hall.

"So we're not rich," he said.

But lack of money did not stop him from pursuing his dream.

Instead of immediately getting a job after graduation to support his family, Oyales took the more challenging path and decided to pursue law also in UP.

He said it was his professor in UP Tacloban who urged him to take up law. This professor even paid for his entrance exam fees as well as his plane ticket to Cebu where the exam was held, he said.

"And then sinwerte naman, nakapasok sa UP College of Law," he said.

Work part-time

Oyales had the full support of his parents in his new endeavor. "Pero hindi ako humingi ng financial assistance from my family," he said.

According to Oyales, he had to work part-time just to support his studies. This is on top of his already heavy workload as a law student.

But the young aspiring lawyer eventually had luck on his side after he met Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and his wife, who became his sponsors.

"They were my sponsors. So they would give me stipend for my expenses in law school. But then I had to work part-time also to augment the financial expenses," he said.

Oyales said "grit, resilience and fortitude" are the most important values one should have in order to succeed in law school.

"Money or your financial condition is not an obstacle for you to reach your goals, for example me. So you just need grit, resilience and fortitude. You just have to strive hard to achieve your goals," he said.

Placing 2nd in the Bar exam

Passing the Bar exam is one thing, and landing a spot on the top 10 list is another.

"I was happy and elated. I'm happy also that UP [was] able to reclaim back the top spot and the top 5 because I think as a state university, it is our duty at least to the public to maintain a certain degree of excellence," Oyales said.

He said he was praying inside a church when the list of the Bar exam passers was released. It was their parish priest who first called him to inform him that he was the 2nd placer, he said.

He, however, did not believe him instantly, noting that his contact person from the Supreme Court was the one supposed to notify him whether he passed the exam or not.

"I thought na baka hindi tama yung natingnan niya (parish priest) so hindi ko muna pinaniwalaan. But then people started calling me so mukhang totoo na nga," he said.

Oyales noted that sacrifices that he had to endure while he was reviewing for the Bar exam. He said he had to stay up until 3 a.m. everyday just to "memorize the laws and study the jurisprudence."

"And then nung nag-take ako ng exam masyadong mahirap pa rin," he said, adding that he was only about 50 percent confident that he had answered the exam questions right.

"Umiiyak nga si Mama nun eh. I think she's happy and proud of me," he said.

Wants to be a judge, SC justice

Lawyering is "very powerful," according to Oyales. "It can destroy society; it can build society," he said.

Nonetheless, he said he still believes being a lawyer is a "good profession." He also believes that those who belong in the new generation of lawyers would "tread on the right path."

"I think we can expect good lawyers as far as my batchmates are concerned. I can see from them the dedication in the profession. I think we learn from the past," he said.

Oyales, however, was quick to add that he would rather become a judge or a justice at the Supreme Court someday.

"I think judges can actually dispense justice. You can actually solve problems of people, and grant relief to those who are oppressed and protect those who are defenseless," he explained.

"Because if you're a lawyer, you're an advocate eh. You could be on the good side or the oppressor side. But if you're a judge, your first goal is to ascertain the truth and act accordingly by giving relief to those who are oppressed," Oyales said.