MANILA - The Supreme Court-administered Bar examinations kicked off Sunday at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) here, with some aspiring lawyers bursting into tears as supporters cheered and waved banners with inspirational messages.
Some law students prepared bags of food, drinks and good luck messages for the Bar takers.
Other supporters brought along an icon of the Child Jesus, placards and balloons, creating a fiesta-like atmosphere around UST.
Among those overwhelmed by emotion over the show of support was Bar taker John Daniel of the University of Pangasinan, whose father and uncle recenty passed away.
"Para sa papa at tito ko!" he said of the exam, as he cried and embraced his mother.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen visited UST to encourage examinees to do well.
"Eat well, sleep well, 'wag mag-panic, take the exam one at time," he advised the Bar takes.
Some 400 policemen and K-9 units were deployed around UST to ensure security.
A total of 8,701 individuals are expected to take the bar exams on all Sundays of November, the highest number of takers in recent years, the Supreme Court earlier said.
This year's Bar Examinations Committee is headed by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, who declined his nomination for the Chief Justice post because his work at the body will conclude months prior to his retirement.
Last year, 6,748 individuals took the bar exams, considered the toughest professional licensure examination in the country. Some 1,724 passed the test.
With reports from Ernie Manio and Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News