THINK TALK: A Barrista’s Journey                                                                                                                       

MATALAM, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 10 May) – The 2022 Bar Exam produced another batch of lawyers who are worthy additions to the perennially under-staffed practitioners in the legal profession. For many of us, Bar Exams come and go, new lawyers take their oath and sign the roll, but we have never been privy to the stories and struggles the barristas hurdled and survived along the way.

Here is one barrista’s journey that got me respecting and admiring from afar. I quote her verbatim below.

“I had nothing left, nothing to my name, nothing in my pocket but a dream. That dream started when I had everything. I always thought that I will have the same support and provision I had when I started, but as I earned my law degree, everything slowly changed and to my dismay I was left alone, not to my choice but to Allah’s grander plan. That dream felt heavy and seemed impossible at times. I thought to myself, why does something I love needs to be hard and difficult? But I carried on with only an ounce of hope and a liter of coffee.”

Act I: “Law school was bearable but the in-betweens are the unsung journey of which people know little about; sea of struggles and ocean of doubts. I lost my father in my first year of law school. I had all the reasons to stop and quit; it was the high way or the exit but it turned out the people around me believed in me more than I to myself. That was then when I started slow and finished gracefully.”

Act II: “Bar review was a blur. I was holding on to fear – fear of not making it and fear of not being enough. I didn’t cut off social media because that was my way of coping and keeping myself sane. I wanted to know and meet people who share the same heavy burden as mine- CaguiWow Bar, but I reckoned that you have to be lost in order to find yourself. Fast forward, the night before the big exams I had a fever and I was crying with the thought of not being able to show my worth, take the exam, and fight. I cried helplessly. All my preparations disintegrated in one ring of the thermometer that reads 38 degrees Celsius. I was aghast and I felt stupid for not listening to my body. But angels came in the form of my mother. She nursed me all night and only stopped to pray tahajjud. I woke up in time and lo and behold, I was back in the game. Time and again, I witnessed a miracle which cascaded up to this day.”

Act III: “Bar exams took me on a roller coaster ride. First subject – Political Law, probably the cardinal subject that I know would never let me down, that is when I knew I will become a lawyer, insha Allah. Political Law was my highest grade and Labor Law was my lowest, which surprised me the most. My first day subjects were my make or break. I tried to assess myself and even looked for the suggested answers right after the exams. Yes, I’m a masochist but to each his own. I was left clueless and ignorant because little did I know, Allah (subhanahu wa taala) had already planned a victory for me.”

Act IV: “Post bar was excruciating. I had not known waiting to be as exhausting as this one. I only cried and gave myself series of mini heart attacks from every Bar chichi that circulates. And then Ramadhan came, together with the announcement of the release of the results, it was Allah telling me to strengthen my ibadah and prolong my sujood (prostration) because ease is near. Sure, you second guess yourself because no one is certain in the Bar exams; that’s inevitable, but you also hope and pray that whatever good you did, may it come to pass and intervene on your behalf.”

Final Act: “It was the 22nd day of Ramadan, the night before the result, and I was in the masjid when an old lady laid out her sajadah (prayer carpet) and I was welling up- she had the same sajadah as my beloved father’s. That for me was my full Bar circle moment. I prayed then and there that if Allah s.w.t. brings me to it, then may He bring me through it. Morning came and I knew I had not enough of sleep. Food and water deprived, I was scrolling through the list and stumbled upon the numbers 2314 and the name that followed. I hurried downstairs and cried to mom while I said, “Mommy, abugado ako den! Alhamdulillah!” (Mommy, I’m now a lawyer! Praise be to Allah).”

“This success was not built overnight and was never mine. I dedicate this to my family who became my rock; my friends who were my anchor; my professors who shaped me; my colleagues for the unending understanding; and to everyone who became instrumental to this extraordinary milestone who became my myriad of support system. I only pray to be of use to the Bangsa and the country; to measure myself in resilience and humility from this triumph and to accept this privilege with empathy.”

“By the will of Allah s.w.t., I got that Bar! As a medical (technologist) and a lawyer, I now have the best of both worlds.”

“Hi, it’s me, Atty. Alianna Arnica A. Mambatao, RMT, at your service, your honors.”

(Source: with permission from the Facebook page “Barrista Solutions.”)

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Maugan P. Mosaid holds a doctorate degree in rural development. He is a planning consultant and teaches Statistics and Methods of Research in the graduate school. He can be contacted at mauganmosaid6@gmail.com).