My ears functioned abnormally. I clearly heard the murmurs of those reading and memorizing their notes, but I could not hear anything from outside the compound where we stayed. And outside that compound, loud noises were almost always audible even from our bedrooms.
I took my breakfast together with the group, but everything tasted bland. I ate simply to fill my stomach to face the big challenge of the day. For not fully appreciating those blessings, I must have sinned. But I must have been forgiven later, for justifying circumstances.
After saying our group prayer, we stepped out of the gate and slowly walked towards the street. It was like waking up from a deep sleep when I realized how festive the atmosphere was!
But I remained oblivious to the festivities. I went on reading some notes, not really to absorb new ideas, but just to keep my mind working.
But when we reached Taft Avenue, there was no way to ignore the festive mood!
Colorful booths lined up the sidewalks with lots of food and drinks; streamers, banners, and buntings all over; drums pounding; and, people celebrating in a very jovial mood.
There was a sea of people! We had no choice but go with the flow. There was no way of walking at our own direction.
Confetti showered on us as bands played marching pieces or the popular hits of the year like Orange and Lemons’ “Pinoy Ako!.” With well-wishers all over and the flashbulbs of cameras, we felt as if we were walking on red carpet. Like celebrities, at least for the moment, walking on the clouds heads up high!
There were loud cheers of the various groups, waving colorful balloons, screaming at the top of their lungs: Go, go, go!
But suddenly, a fraternity brod walking beside me, teary-eyed, whispered, “I think, I’m about to weep.”
I said, “What? You want to cry? Hey, look around. It’s fiesta time! Aren’t you carried by the upbeat cheers?”
He just shrugged his shoulders.
It was surprising for me; he was not the type of person who would normally say he was about to cry. And the sight and sound were really spirit-lifting.
But suddenly my mood changed too. My energy sagged and I felt very weak. It was a change to mixed feelings – I felt sad, nervous, afraid, and insecure.
Yes, cheers were everywhere. But they were not cheering for me!
They cheered for their schoolmates. They cheered for their sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. They cheered for their friends. They cheered for the bets of their hometown. They cheered for the bar candidates of Manila schools!
It was obvious as they were looking for particular candidates in the queue before shouting, “Mabuhay!”
From the upbeat feeling of confidence and high spirit, I suddenly found myself, a rural boy with insecurities. With head bowed, I timidly walked, as if dragging my feet, along with the bar candidates of the Big City who acknowledged the cheers of their squads and well-wishers.
It was a morale booster to see a few professors and schoolmates along the way. But they were outnumbered. And outcheered. Unlike those in their home court who can literally mobilize as many warm bodies as they could.
Fear crept into my nerves. Five years of hard preparations and this is it.
All my sins of commission and omission replayed in my mind. I should have prepared better. I should have studied more. I should have imposed stricter self-discipline. I should have done this and should have not done that. And so on and so forth.
This is the day. This is the moment. Make or break.
And yet, they were not really cheering for me! And that was a moment when I needed all the cheers and motivations.
They say passing the bar is at least 80% confidence from within although external motivations do help.
So when I finally reached the gate of the green-dominated De La Salle campus, I said to myself, “This is for my family. This is for my friends. This is for those who although far from Manila, incessantly pray for me to hurdle the bar examinations.
This is for my creditors, because the payment of my debts was made contingent on my passing the bar.
So amidst the screams and cheers for other candidates, I prayed again and told myself: “Go Danny, go!”
And as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Note: This year's bar exams will start on Sunday. The next issue of this column will be "The good, the bad and the bar." (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Danilo Balucos, the first business manager of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center, left to pursue his law studies and returned to MindaNews after passing the 2006 bar exams).