MANILA- He was eyeing to top the Bar exams as early as his first day in law school.
And with perseverance and prayers, Mark John Simondo fulfilled his goal and emerged as the 2017 Bar exam topnotcher.
A graduate of the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Simondo earned a grade of 91.05 percent, the highest among the 1,724 passers.
Simondo took to heart his dean's advice: preparation for the bar exams begins during the first day at law school.
"Starting first year I really hoped and really aimed to get into the top 10 that's why I really studied hard," he told DZMM on Thursday.
Since then, Simondo said he alloted around 8 to 9 hours a day reading cases and lectures. During the cooler 'ber' months, he studied for half the day.
"Medyo flexible naman ang schedule ko. I just see to it na I read around 8 to 9 hours a day and during the 'ber' months I increase it to 12 hours per day," he said.
Despite graduating magna cum laude during his college years, Simondo admitted that he initially could not believe that he topped the bar exams.
"Nagtext ang kaibigan ko sabi, 'congrats top 1 ka' so at first I did not believe it but then there were many messages na and I saw a screenshot nga of list of topnotchers," he said.
"I'm quite shy to say this but I cried quite hard kasi I really did not expect it," he added in a separate interview.
"Ma, pa thank you so much for the support and to my special someone thank you so much. I would not have passed the bar without you. And above all thank you God," he said.
Simondo said he estimated to get a score as high as 83 percent and as low as 74 percent.
"Getting a 91 is really something that I did not expect," he said.
WHY BE A LAWYER?
Asked why he studied law, Simondo said it was to justify his stay here in the Philippines since his parents were pressuring him to find a job overseas.
"I felt that the Philippines is where I should be," he said.
Simondo said he considered studying medicine but felt he was more cut out to be a lawyer.
"I am open to a position in public service but I really like corporate law. But I heard that corporate law practice here in Bacolod is quite limited," he said.
The new topnotcher also vowed to uphold the prestige of the law profession.
"At the end of the day we are still a nation of law and not of men. I will do my part in upholding the rule of law," he said.