CEBU - Despite getting stranded on an island north of Cebu province due to tropical storm Agaton, seven paralegal volunteers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines' Cebu Chapter received good news on Tuesday.
Amid poor internet connection while stuck on Carnaza Island which they visited from Saturday, April 9, for the IBP's legal aid program, the paralegals learned via their phones that they are among the successful 2020/2021 Bar examinees.
"I think all of us called our families first because all of our hard work, all our sacrifices are for them," recalled Kristina Ginn Estoy, one of the seven new lawyers.
Estoy said she immediately called her sister to share the good news.
Screams from the group could not be concealed by the sound of the heavy rain after one of them found their names on the list of the Bar passers.
The paralegals traveled to Carnaza Island with lawyers from the IBP Cebu Chapter and IBP national officers for the organization's program wherein they reach out to people, particularly those in remote areas, who are in need of legal assistance.
Conducted monthly in far-flung areas, the said activity includes offering free consultations, notarizations, and drafting of documents, among others.
The group reached Carnaza Island after traveling for 2-3 hours by pump boat from Maya Port in Daanbantayan.
Due to Agaton, they were unable to sail back to mainland Cebu after the Philippine Coast Guard ordered the suspension of all sea trips.
Maria Theresa Enoc, who is among the paralegal volunteers, said she did not expect to learn the good news in such a situation. But for her, she felt honored to have started her journey by volunteering in legal aid activities.
"I thanked God that He granted all our prayers to become lawyers. I also shared a prayer of comfort for all of my friends and the others who did not make it and who are as deserving as those who did," Enoc said.
To celebrate their achievement, the lawyers feasted on pancit canton and siomai as they stayed indoors that entire day due to the bad weather.
"We are thankful that they chose to volunteer with us as they waited for the Bar exam results," Atty. Cheryl Pamela Condat, IBP Cebu Chapter President, said of the seven new lawyers.
"They were not yet lawyers when we came to this island, but they were already serving. They understand what this profession is about."
IBP National President Atty. Burt Estrada expressed his admiration for the new lawyers who, according to him, already showed their heart to serve by volunteering for their legal aid activities.
"I think it's an understatement to say that we need more lawyers. More lawyers who would do free legal aid like this. You will see how much need there is for free legal services especially to the underserved communities. As I always try to remind new lawyers, set out not to make a name for yourselves but set out to make a difference," Estrada said.
The group was stranded on the island for a total of four days.
They were able to return home on Wednesday after the PCG Central Visayas Station lifted the suspension of trips on Tuesday evening.
- report from John DX Lapid