MANILA—Jun Dexter Rojas had postponed his dream of becoming a lawyer for more than a decade, as his family struggled for funds to send his 5 younger siblings to school.
Despite the long wait, though, Rojas landed as this year's 9th top barrister and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines' (PUP) first Bar topnotcher.
Rojas, who graduated from the University of the Philippines in 2004, said he had to work as a property manager first before finally enrolling at PUP in 2015.
"Kung ako lang magde-decide, 2005 or 2004 dapat nag-start na ako ng law school kaso [may] money problems po ang family at that time," he told DZMM.
(If it were up to me, I would have started law school in 2004 or in 2005, but our family had money problems at that time.)
"Second ako sa pitong magkakapatid and pagka-graduate ko ng college, nag-aaral din 'yung mga mas nakakabata sa'kin so na-postpone siya ng na-postpone hanggang sa nag-work ako, nagka-asawa na ako at saka pa lang ako nakapag-law school," he said.
(I'm the second eldest among seven siblings. My siblings were still studying when I graduated from college, so I had to postpone my dream of becoming a lawyer. I was working and already married before I had the chance of entering law school.)
The 36-year-old topnotcher, who scored 87.5765 percent, said PUP was the most practical choice for taking law.
"Ang considerations ko noon dapat malapit sa work para konti 'yung travel time considering the traffic and dapat mas mura 'yung tuition para kahit matanggal ako sa trabaho, kaya i-sustain ng misis ko 'yung pag-aaral ko," he said.
(It was important that the school was near where I was working because of the traffic and the travel time, and the tuition had to be affordable so my wife could sustain it in case I lose my job.)
"Wala akong ibang choice. Kailangan ko magtrabaho dahil may anak na kami at gusto ko din maging abogado. Hindi ako puwede mamili ng isa," he said.
(I did not have any choice. I had to work because we have a son and I also wanted to be a lawyer. I could not between the two.)
Landing in the top 10 came as a surprise, Rojas said, saying that his confidence in his answers waned during the months of waiting for the results of the 2019 Bar Examinations.
"After ng Bar exam confident ako pero habang dumadaan yung panahon, kinu-question ko na mga sagot ko. Hanggang sa kahapon naisip ko baka sa maling booklet ko naisulat 'yung sagot," he said, laughing.
(After the Bar exam, I was confident, but as the days went by, I began to question my answers. Even until yesterday I wondered whether I wrote my answers on the right booklet.)
Rojas, now employed at a law firm in Ortigas, Pasig, said the results of the 2019 Bar showed that legal education in the Philippines is no longer concentrated in the capital region.
"Parang fair ngayon 'yung laban kasi accessible 'yung study materials through the Internet. Kung ano 'yung binabasang study materials ng mga nandito sa Manila, 'yun din 'yung puwede basahin ng mga nasa probinsiya,"
(The Bar exams have become a level playing field. Study materials were accessible through the internet, which means the materials that students in Manila had were the same as the ones being used in the provinces.)
"Tingin ko maganda 'yung ganitong resulta, kasi du'n nakikita sino ang talagang nakaintindi sa batas, sa mga desisyon ng Supreme Court," he said.
(The results bode well for the conduct of exams, because we can see who really understands the law and the decisions of the Supreme Court.)