THE ATENEO Law School (ALS) community capped off this year’s four-Sunday Bar examinations with the traditional Salubong at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, yesterday, the last Sunday of October 2014.
The Salubong featured both ALS students and the friends and families of the Ateneo Bar candidates joining the Blue Babble Battalion in the familiar Ateneo cheers, and in dousing arriving barristers with water and alcohol. Cheerful additions this year were foam and confetti machines.
The celebration culminated four Sundays of operations in support of ALS Bar candidates, which included academic assistance, special request services, accommodations and lodging at Sofitel, and even the Holy Eucharist and other spiritual services right before, during, and after every examination day.
A largely volunteer-driven affair, the Ateneo Central Bar Operations is the ALS’ central support system for Ateneo barristers, academic and otherwise. A marked decrease in the number of volunteers was observed this year, as noted by the Central BarOps committee heads. Cyndy Dela Cruz (3D), Internal Vice President of the ALS Student Council and co-head of Hotel Operations, said that there were fewer grade incentives from professors this year, following a directive from the Dean to promote volunteerism among the students.
Hiccups and obstacles
However, Dela Cruz also noted that since this policy was only implemented this year, this was only the beginning of developing a culture of volunteerism in the ALS. Despite the dearth of volunteers, “the team still managed to give the barristers the best service that the Bar Operations Team can give,” she added.
Meanwhile, JT Taylo (4A), head of Hotel Services, expressed the need for a way to encourage students to step up and volunteer even without incentives from professors, perhaps by way of a program formed not just by the administration, but also by the Student Council or the Central BarOps Team.
Pendix Teves (4C), overall co-head of the 2014 Central Bar Operations Team, had a similar sentiment, saying that many volunteers signed up at the start of year, especially among the freshmen, but come October, only a few showed up. A similar situation prevailed for other year levels.
Other hiccups along the way were the unexpected traffic obstructions and rerouting around the metro, which affected transportation from Sofitel to the University of Santo Tomas (UST), where the examinations were once again held this year. These were mainly caused by the various fun runs and marathons held within the vicinity of Sofitel every Sunday morning.
Despite these, some Bar candidates have offered kind words for the BarOps. They cited the caring and accommodating volunteers and heads, an efficient system, and early completion and distribution of tips as some of the positive points of this year’s operations. Many barristers also pointed out that the Blue Tips were, in general, helpful and predictive of the questions which came up in the examinations.
Barrister Rizza Sy, a member of the Hotel Operations Committee in previous years, observed that there were fewer reports of problems or complaints as to the operations this year. Even the Transportation Team’s scheme of using a blue umbrella to lead barristers to the bus was applauded.
“Nothing easy about the exams. That’s for sure!” says barrister Kristel Tiu. “But BarOps did a really good job, especially the Hotel and Transpo teams,” she remarked. Ben Ty, another barrister, said “One thing’s for sure. The bar exam is no joke. For me, the toughest exams were Labor Law and Commercial Law.” However, he also commended “the whole Ateneo Central Bar Operations for being well-organized and for having accomplished their respective tasks fluidly.”
BarOps thanks volunteers
Daisy Ducepec, who headed this year’s Hotel Operations together with Dela Cruz, said that “BarOps this year has been a breeze. There were no major problems, and all the minor problems we encountered were resolved instantly.” She said that the Bar candidates never gave unreasonable requests, and that the Sofitel management was very accommodating and easy to talk to.
She also found the sub-committees efficient and systematized, and appreciated the “bibo” volunteers who showed up, even without incentives from professors. “We never really received any complaints from our volunteers even though we asked a lot of things from them and all we had to give in return were a couple of slices of pizza for dinner and some leftover food for breakfast!”
“If there’s one thing that made this [year’s operations] a success, it was a team effort,” explained Teves. He lauded all those who were involved and were able to lend a hand, especially the heads and volunteers of both Academics and Hotel committees, the Student Council, and the supervising professors, among them Atty. Jess Lopez, Atty. Jorge Melo, and Associate Dean for Continuing Legal Education Lily Gruba.
Changes in 2014 Bar
Considered to be the country’s toughest licensure examination and the only one not supervised by the Professional Regulatory Commission, this year’s Bar exams was the 113th installment of the annual tests since it was first administered in 1903. This year ushered in some key changes, including a more comprehensive outline of the topics included in the syllabus of each subject.
New security measures were also introduced. Bar codes are now used to identify examination booklets, instead of the traditional name cards. The use of transparent plastic bags or zip locks was also required for storing the books and personal materials of the examinees at the examination venue.
According to the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court, of the 6,344 examinees officially qualified to take the exams, only 5,987 stayed and finished the last day of examinations for Remedial Law and Legal Ethics. No untoward incident was reported throughout the course of the examination period.
The 2014 Bar Examinations is chaired by Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, an alumnus of the UST Faculty of Civil Law. Next year’s examinations will be chaired by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, an alumna of the University of the Philippines College of Law. P
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