People from all walks of life gathered at the Supreme Court to hear the announcement of the Bar exam results, eager to learn the outcomes of the rigorous examination and witness the realization of years of hard work by aspiring lawyers. The air was tense on the morning of December 5.
Finally at 1 p.m., Bar Chair 2023 Ramon Paul Hernando came on stage to recite the statistics: Out of the 10,791 examinees who took the Bar exam last September, only 3,812 will emerge as new lawyers—and 62-year-old Rosula Domingo Calacala is one of them.
Her sudden wailing jolted the people around her. She burst into tears, screaming “Thank you, Lord!” repeatedly after seeing her name on the screen. A crowd of reporters huddled around her in a matter of seconds.
“I’m 62! Hindi ko inaasahan makakapasa ako,” Calacala told reporters and everyone else who was there to hear. She was overwhelmed with emotion. “I’m so happy!”
Calacala has spent the last 40 years of her life as a government accountant from Isabela. Two of her children are CPAs who funded her law school education, while her youngest is a freshman who is well on his way to take the Bar exams in a few years.
On passing the Bar exam on her first try
Calacala didn’t always want to be a lawyer. By the time her desire to become one kicked in, she felt that it was already too late given her old age.
When her mother found out she would take up law at 58 years old, she was met with criticism. The usual matanda ka na comment. She didn’t let that stop her from pushing through with it. Calacala admits to having mental lapses from time to time (she is a senior citizen, after all), but that wasn’t enough to stop her from securing her position as Bar passer #832 on the Supreme Court’s list.
She might have spent majority of her life as an accountant, but the thought never left her mind: What if I pursued law?
“Walang lawyer lawyer noon,” Calacala told SPOT.ph. “Sabi ko nga, noong nalaman ko may lawyering, bakit ngayon lang? Dapat noon pa... Paano kung nagtake ako ng law before? Attorney na sana ako, but now I am already an attorney!”
She finished law school within four years at Northeastern College without a failing grade, all the while juggling the struggles of being a working student. Every spare time she had was dedicated to reading, she said. Even her own children were surprised at how quickly Calacala took to the Bar exam.
She had only graduated in July, leaving her less than two months to prepare for the Bar exam.
“My teachers, hindi sila nagkamali ipasa ako,” she said.
Calacala is scheduled to take her oath on December 22, along with the other 2023 Bar passers, at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. She went from having no law degree to having a professional legal certification in just five months.
As for the future, Calacala revealed she has no plans to practice for now, considering she never expected to pass in the first place. All she wants to do now is celebrate in the fact that she did.
“62 years old na ko, wala na ko time [to practice]. ‘Yung pagpasa ko, wala lang naman. Okay na mga anak ko, nakapagtapos na sila. I’m already retiring…kaya sa Panginoon ko na iaalay ang lahat,” Calacala said.
Her message for women her age who have the same dream?
“Just take the Bar, just take law school! You don’t know where [it will take you]” Calacala said. “If I can make it, why not others?”
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