Retired Police Colonel Ibarra Mariano is already an accomplished man. Serving the government for decades as an officer of the Philippine Constabulary, later known as Philippine National Police, he now spends his day at schools lecturing police on “how to die or not to die in combat.”
But at 87, Mariano, a native of Tacloban, is not yet done ticking off his checklist in life.
On Sunday afternoon, Mariano was among the first to come out of University of Santo Tomas after finishing the second set of Bar examinations in his journey to become a lawyer.
Wearing a transparent backpack and I.D. while holding a reviewer in his right hand, Mariano is one of the oldest among the 8,701 bar examinees this year.
“It is not really that hard but it is confusing and time consuming. All the important provisions of law are not even asked in the bar [examination],” Mariano told ABS-CBN News, referring to the Civil and Taxation Law, with the latter being considered as among the hardest subjects in the test.
He worries more about his handwriting, which has been affected by his age, and hopes the Bar examiner would comprehend his answers.
"I have a problem with my right hand. Sometimes it’s aching. Even orthopedic doctor wanted to operate me but I said no, I may not be able to write during the exam so the operation will be done after the examination,” he said.
While he graduated in Philippine Law School in 1967, he only had the opportunity to take the bar examination in 1995 after his retirement from the service. But he failed with a 70-percent grade, slightly short of the passing grade then.
Now 51 years after school, Mariano is still optimistic on his second attempt to be admitted to the Bar in order “to help other people, especially the unruly cops.”
“Hindi na tayo bumabata. I wanted to become a lawyer before I die. That’s why I took the interest to take it now [while] I can still write, I can still walk around alone,” he said.
With the remaining two sets of examinations this month, Mariano doesn’t mind spending hours reading provisions of the laws and the Constitution just to achieve his lifelong dream.
“I am praying to God that I’ll be given good health to finish the bar examination so that, I hope, I become a lawyer by next year,” Mariano said.