A Test Taken Thrice: Conquering The Bar and Beyond

Published on the Father’s Day magazine for The Feast Cebu

Sweaty hands, churning stomach and overly palpitating heart, that’s what it’s like to wait for the result of the Bar exams. If I may say, It is the most anticipated examination in the Philippines because it has been infamous for its flyspeck percentage passing rate that would always break the heart of many and triumph of the handful. But on the 3rd day of May 2017, on her third try, Karen Mae “Mia” Plaza finally made it to that coveted list of passers.

Mia was no stranger to this treacherous journey. She said that she had undergone many trials even during the time she was still in law school. “ My transfer from one law school to another was hard, but I think it was meant to be. If I didn’t transfer, I won’t be able to meet my friends who made law school life, bearable” she said. “We were together at our lowest points, when we started improving, and still together even during graduation” she added.


She took her first bar exams together with her friends last 2014 right after she finished her Bachelor of Laws. “I have to admit that during that time I was just going with the flow, I know I want to be a lawyer, but I was there for just taking the bar exams, I just want it to be over. I know deep in me I was not yet ready” she said.


As she contemplated on her failed attempt, she slowly accepted her path and decided to take again. She took inspiration from her friends who passed the bar exams and copy their study habits and learn from her mistakes during her first take. “ I even prayed to Him to please guide me (on her 2nd take)…I was expecting that I would pass because I thought I was ready( to be a lawyer)” she said. “ So I feel that I dictated Him (God) because I have this attitude of blaming Him if things wouldn’t go according to my plans and wishes.


As much as she thought she was ready this time to be a lawyer, Mia failed again.“I was devastated when I learned that I did not pass because I really I tried my very best… I really cried kanang hilak nga pina utong, nya pina dokdok-dokdok pa sa dughan”(I cried so hard, I was thumping my fist in my chest) she added. She started questioning God, “I was angry, I questioned Him. I told Him I thought I know You! You tricked me! You even gave me signs and it wasn’t real!…I was actually afraid the image would talk back to me because I was so angry” she jokingly mentioned.


For her, that was the darkest time of her life. She said that if you are at a dark place, you are consumed by capital sins. “ I was consumed by envy. I was envious of my friend who passed the bar exam during my second try. I don’t like the feeling of being envy… I tried so hard to get rid of it that I even googled “how not be envious of my friends” she said. “To make it worst I was suicidal at that time” she added.


On the middle of her brokenness and heartbreak, God was working on something greater than being a lawyer. “The turning point of my life was when I decided to go to confession after 2 years,” she said. Mia thought that she was meant to confess at that moment because God made the whole experience comfortable, special even. “There was no traffic, everything was in place and I confess in a confession both. I was on a room, face to face with the priest. It seems like I was called to the principal’s office” she jokingly mention.


“What I cannot forget during my confession was that when the elderly priest told me that there are things in life that God can only explain and for me not to worry because He (God) has already forgiven me. The priest was happy that I confessed my anger to God and further told me maybe this is how God is presenting Himself to me” she added.

With a refreshed mind and inspired heart, Mia decided to try again the 3rd time. God did not just use any priest to inspire Mia, she was told that the elderly priest that she had confession with was none other than the Bishop of Butuan, His Excellency, Most Rev. Juan De Dios Pueblos D.D..“All the while I thought the staff he was holding (which was the symbolic Croiser or pastoral staff that bishops carry) , was used because he was old” she comically added.

During her 3rd review, she said she encountered many trials.” My greatest struggle was having a childlike faith, with full of hope but never expecting. Whatever becomes of me, I will be happy”. She changed her prayers from “Lord I want” to “Lord Your will but-You-promised-me-that-my-tears-will not-be-wasted prayer. “ I was actually like a child with a pouting lips and hopeful eyes asking from a Father about his promised gift even though he failed to give it to me twice in the past! she laughingly said.

As the result of the Bar exam arrived, Mia waited in their house in Butuan. Waiting for the result is a painful and sometimes crazy ordeal “ I was at my mother’s room facing the altar glaring at the images in the altar ” she comically mentioned. Though hopeful, Mia already accepted her fate “As the website was loading the list of passers, I already accepted that I may fail again. For me the most important thing was that He forgave me and I was able to know Him deeper” she added.

That day, May 3, 2017, “Mia” or Karen Mae Victoria L. Plaza was lawyer number 5127, and we all know what happens after that.

In resolution, Mia contemplated that the greatest gift she received was not passing the bar. “ My greatest gift was not being a lawyer, it was Him. His Love, that despite everything, He never abandon me” she concluded.


Always, Only, Jesus.





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