Many are called but few are chosen

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Some years back, I still remember that incident that totally changed or altered the course of my life. As the saying goes – “Many are called but few are chosen.” These words were scribbled in one of my examination books inside the four-walled classroom of the infamous Waldo Perfecto Building. If I remember it right, Waldo was then the latest building inside the St. Louis University campus along Bonifacio Street in Baguio City. Now, they have other new and presumably more advanced buildings. Indeed, in law school, many were called to enrol and join the bandwagon of would-be members of the noblest profession – lawyering.

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Enduring the rigors of law school is pure dedication and hardship, but at the end, affixing that 4-lettered prefix to one’s name is eternity. Just yesterday, such scene did came back to me when I saw a throng of successful bar examinees jubilant to their eternal achievement of passing the bar. This year’s top notch came from San Beda Law School. To put an icing to the cake so to speak, we learned that she is not even at the top of ten of her class. What a feat! Ganyan talaga sa Bar exam, expect almost the un-expected!

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Now back to my past brush with the destiny. Modesty aside, I belong to a family of ten. And I am the 10th among my siblings. Tartaraudi kunam man. The challenge of hard life started during my young years. My father was a farmer and my mother was a simple but supportive housewife. All of us siblings were raised in the farm but we own no farm. I learned to till the land, feed the swine and other livestock. I also went with my mother selling by-products of the tree of life – coconut, such as young coconut, old coconut (paor), coconut milk, broomstick, oil, scrub, etc., you name it! We ate camote (sweet potato), cassava, and corn. Life is almost ‘hand-to-mouth.’ The only time I can see money is when I get sick. My mother will put her purse teeming with money beside my pillow and of course I instantly forget my ailment and expects a royal true orange to sip.

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This path of hardship is almost the same year in and year out until I entered secondary school in our town. I have to help in the household chores like cooking rice, washing the dishes, fetch water by the gallons, water the tomato plants and other vegetable plants. I even would still cook rice after I arrive from school at noontime, or whoever will arrive home first among us siblings. Of course being the youngest, I would always obliged order from my elders!

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In college, I ended up joining the student assistant fleet in school. We render work in exchange of free tuition fees. I belong to the xerox machine operators. I enjoyed it. But of course, I envied those students that were full time in their schooling and with sufficient allowance to boot. Mine, just enough for the week. Life must go on. I graduated with an AB degree. Proud, yes. Mostly my parents. But reality bites when I can’t land a job or work. I ended up doing furniture for a school in Manila – class tables for all the classrooms. I realized that I can’t be like that for so long.

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I talked to my siblings and my parents. They agreed to support me in my decision to dream big despite the odds – to take up law. My family pooled whatever resources they have and they painstakingly sent me to law school. Graduation time is happy time but the grim reality – taking up review classes – is definitely draining, physically, emotionally, and more importantly, monetarily. My ever supportive family gave their last hurrah so to speak. They sold whatever they have including the cow and the carabao just to see me through the review class. And the exam was over.

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Waiting for the results is like eternity and with mix feeling, mind draining. D-day came and the newspapers arrived in our place. Everybody in the barangay were anxious to see the result. They were even more excited to see the result. Did I fail it? It seems that was the expectation. The news boy stopped some 100 meters from our house and the people instantly swarmed on him. After a few minutes, they immediately dispersed nonchalantly. I was surprised at a distance. Then I rushed to the news boy, paid 5 pesos for the newspaper and immediately went inside the pages and examined the listing. I saw no name of ‘Eduardo M. Aratas.’ I doubled check and my name was not there. My whole body started to shake, trembling. When I reached a fallen tree trunk, I sat, and regained my composure.

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Expecting the worst, I re-started to check the listing coming from the front page. A corner of the paper contained the news that the 1996 Bar Examination Result was released that day. The usual parade of the top 10 occupied the space. I cannot remember any of them now. That was not important to me then. Before the next page that contained the complete listing, the news story continued after the usual story of the top 10 and the schools they came from, initially beginning to state the passers in paragraph form and alphabetically. There I saw family names of letter ‘A.’ My heart pounded so fast and almost instantly the corner of my eye caught my name. I immediately jump off from my seat and started shouting and ran towards our house. Two of my sisters came first and we hugged tightly. My mother followed too and we were so jubilant! I realized that the people who dispersed after they did not see my name slowly came back and extended their congratulations.

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Yes, I cannot forget that incident of my life. As noy-P said, I will carry this memory of such incident even to my last breath and beyond my grave. An incident that changed or altered the normal course of my life as I could have ended tilling anew the land where we got our living. The Lord is so good and merciful. He chose to grant me the blessing to be a part of the noblest profession of all. I have to congratulate the Bar passers, and to those who did not, there is always a second chance. Dream big and pray for it!

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