Amazing Feat: Philippine Bar Exams Trivia

If my wish is granted, I would like to stand before the topnotcher of the 2007 Philippine Bar Examination. I would ask Mercedita Ona, do you feel any pressure right now?

Her answer may be interesting, what do you think? Ona is not the first Filipina to top the bar. Being on top is not easy as being in the middle. The first woman to top the bar, Tecla San Andres-Ziga might had felt the pressure.

I visited, the official website of Atty. Ralph A. Sarmiento and read some amazing feats in the Philippine bar examinations. Here are some:

  • First woman to top the Bar (1st Place): Tecla San Andres-Ziga of the University of the Philippines placed No. 1 in the Bar Exams of 1930 with a grade of 89.4.
  • Highest grade of all time: 96.7 in the 1954 Bar Exams by Florenz Regalado of San Beda College.
  • Bar flunker who placed 1st on his second take: Francisco Noel R. Fernandez (University of the Philippines) failed in the 1993 Bar Exams but placed No. 1 in the 1994 Bar Exams with a grade of 89.2.

The case of Jose W. Diokno is perhaps the most interesting.

  • Diokno took the CPA Board Exam in 1940 while he was on his second year in law school and placed No. 1.
  • In 1944, he petitioned the Supreme Court to take the Bar Exams without a law degree.
  • The Supreme Court granted his petition and he took the Bar Exams in 1944 and tied with the Class Valedictorian of U.P. for the 1st Place with a grade of 95.3.
  • Diokno is perhaps the only one who placed 1st in both the CPA board exams & the Bar Exams.

Perhaps Ferdinand Marcos has the most fascinating achievement.

  • On December 13, 1938, Marcos was arrested for Nalundasan’s murder but he successfully petitioned for release on bail, allowing him to complete his law degree from the University of the Philippines.
  • In 1939, Marcos was found guilty and sentence to a minimum of 10 years in prison.
  • Jailed, Marcos spent six months writing his own 830-page appeal while reviewing for the Bar Exams at the same time.
  • Marcos posted bail to take the 1939 Bar Exams and passed with scores so high he was suspected of cheating.
  • Legends say that his unofficial Grade was 98.5 and so he was summoned to appear before the Supreme
  • Court en banc for an oral re-examination, after which his official grade was released as 92.35.
  • Marcos is the only Bar candidate who was called by the Supreme Court for an oral re-examinations.
  • In 1940, Marcos orally argued his own case in front of Supreme Court Justice Jose P. Laurel and on
  • October 22, 1940, he was acquitted of the charge of murder and forthwith liberated from imprisonment.

Please read the Philippine Bar Exams Trivia of Atty. Ralph A. Sarmiento.

Do you favor Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s proposal to abolish the Bar Examination? Let’s talk about that later. But allow me first to congratulate Atty. Ethelbert Ouano.

I can’t feel the pressure.
Blog I author (Bisaya): Ambot Lang!

Results of 2007 Philippine Bar Examination by Clarence by Atty. Ralph A. Sarmiento
Ethelbert’s Transcripts by Atty. Ethelbert Ouano

10 thoughts on “Amazing Feat: Philippine Bar Exams Trivia

  1. Unfair ang Bar exam ngaun

    Yun mga na dq sa ibang bar subjects ginawa nilang 45 para di ma dq. Papanu nman yun mga n DQ sa ibang subjects n nkakuha ng 45 to 49 dq sila kc hindi rin binaba from 50 to 45 like other subjects, unfair s kanila un, un iba naging lawyer kc binaba un 50 to 45 pero un iba hindi kc n dq sila s subjects n hindi binaba from 50 to 45. Papanu rin un mga dati na nagtake na ng Bar exam dati n muntik ng magtop pero na dq sa isang subject tapos bumagsak, unfair sa kanila un. Grabe, kun totoo ito it is a violation of the right to equal protection clause of the Constitution. Sabi nila binaba daw from 75 to 70, hi naku, sana di nlang sila naghigpit magcheck tutal ibaba n lang nman nila ang percentage. Sila n rin nagsabi mahirap ang exam e di sana naging linient sila sa checking tutal kung tlagang mahirap ang exam konti p rin papasa. Ang isa pang nakakatawa they want to produce quality lawyers kya pinahirap exam pra un mga papasa ng totoo un lang tlga deserving n maging lawyers, tapos s bandang huli pinagmalaki pa nila na naawa sila kaya from 5% naging 22.9%. Ows, naawa b tlga o gustong iligtas un mga anak ng prominenteng pamilya sa Pilipinas.


    batang buotan
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. the 2007 bar examination makes history in the following aspect:

    1. The passing percentage of 5% were increased up to 22.9%
    2. The passing rate has been lowered from 75% to 70%
    3. The cut-off rate per subject (Criminal, Civil, Remedial) has been lowered from 50% to 45%
    4. The rating of the First Placer is now considered as the LOWEST 1ST PLACE GRADE OF ALL TIME – 83.55% by Mercedita Ona of Ateneo de Manila University erasing the former Lowest 1st Place Grade of All Time – 86.185% in 1989 by Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. of UP
    5. The rating of the Tenth Placers is also now considered as the LOWEST 10TH PLACE GRADE OF ALL TIME – 80.9% by Vivian Tan of UP and Christian Llido of the University of Cebu (UC) erasing the former Lowest 10th Place Grade of All Time – 82.80% in 1963 by Antonio Abad, Jr. of FEU.

    batang buotan says:
    Ah! Amazing also. Thanks for sharing these. Hold on, what do these things imply? Okay, I’ll rather keep it within myself. LOL

  3. Thank you my friend…

    I should say that it was the weirdest exam too.. where the subjects with a 4 hours time allotment were just 10 items while those with 3 hours have 20 to 24 items.

    It was also the first time that International Humanitarian Law was included in the coverage and was given so much weight.

    It was also the bar exam which almost all of the numbers are worth 10 points with no sub items, usual bar exam would have sub items and each sub items will have 1 to 4 points. There are always follow up questions but not in this bar exam.

    It was also in this bar that in Legal ethics we are just asked to create a clause rather than the whole document itself.

    Lesson: When you take the bar exam be ready for anything… really ANYTHING

    Thank God I made it though….

    batang buotan
    What else should I say? Congratulations, Atty. Ethelbert!

  4. A very good friend of mine from UP also placed first in the bar (in the ’90s). This friend was also a topnotcher in the CPA board – not first place, but still a very laudable achievement. Two notable things about this truly smart person are that (1) it’s a woman, and (2) also a Cebuana. She practices corporate law here in California. I’ll ask for her thoughts regarding the abolition of the bar exam. I’m curious to know, especially since her dad is a judge (I think) in Cebu.

    batang buotan says:
    The proposed abolition of bar exam (by Sen. Miriam Santiago) is also being discussed in local (Cebu) media but so far, many disagree to the proposal. To your friend – I’m proud of her! She’s indeed brilliant.

  5. The Supreme Court granted his petition and he took the Bar Exams in 1944 and tied with the Class Valedictorian of U.P. for the 1st Place with a grade of 95.3

    If my memory serves me Right….Nag-tie sila ni Former Senate Pres. Jovito Salonga…

    Lolz….Mukhang taun-Taon Pababa ng pababa ang Rating ng Nagta-Top sa Bar Exams….

    batang buotan says:
    Yes, you are right. See Bar Topnotchers 1913-1944.

  6. i’ve been into the teaching profession for more than a decade, and i share the sentiment of a few souls shouting for reforms (and not to abolish it entirely).

    essay-type questionnaires are most difficult to check, time-consuming, and to say it to be a tedious job is simply an understatement.

    i have no qualms as to the manner of checking of the examiners. however, with the rise of clamour with the recent bar exams, would it not be just fair that SC would give back the notebooks of the examinees. and would it not be best to publish the CORRECT ANSWERS on the bar questions?

    by then, it would hush the clamor of the “flunkers” and would further put SC or the bar exams to a pedestal beyond smirk.

    batang buotan says:
    Thank you for sharing these.

  7. Here’s my two cents’ worth…

    There’s no need to amend/abolish/reform the bar exams. If the bar were to be amended/abolish, we would also be desroying the legacy and the grandeur it built over time by summoning the best and the brightest minds in the country. This is what the bar exams is all about. After all, this is supposed to be a measure (if not absoulte one) of one’s competencies and fitness to practice law in that those who fall short of any might as well as forget about lawyering and pursue instead equable careers. If folks like Marcos, Diokno, Salonga and the hordes of bar topnotchers made it in times where photocopying machines, internet, etc. are not available, why can’t we at least pass it, if not to top it? If ever this misguided perspective of the bar exams be pushed through, this would place the bar passers in lesser altitudes as compared to the bar passers before who, given the inappropriateness and inefficiency of the bar exams as we clamor today, nonetheless, modestly hurdled the most grueling exams in the country. If the low passing percentages of the bar passers is becoming more banal rather than an exception, law students owe a part of it, and urbanization deservers much of the blame.

    Bar exams, nevertheless, as it is before, should remain as controversial, mind-boggling and heart-breaking as before.

    Meanwhile, we might as well pick our books and notes instead of seeking for reforms, amendments or abolition of the bar exams.

  8. This is NOT trivial. This message summarizes my Dream and my Prayer for Pilipinas kong Minamahal.

    The Philippines has more than its share of smart people, but we Filipinos really need Filipinos with A Conscience. This will entail a supernatural event to take place and so please consider this a prayer request too.

    Since I left the Philippines about 23 years ago, it hasn’t changed. It looks progressive but it still has a corrupt government controlled by the very rich, affluent, and powerful group that would like to continue with the status quo, to see that the poor gets poorer…

    There seems to be some efforts at “reform”, but I think it will fail until something supernaturally drastic happens to every Filipino in the Philippines, especially to those who belong to that controlling group who really do not want TRUE reform.

    The key to TRUE and REAL REFORM I believe is through a change in the foundational spiritual belief system. A “rex LEX” or “the (earthly) king is above the LAW (the ‘Law-gos” or Word of God)” type of belief and governance system should and must be replaced by LEX rex, the biblical principle that states “The LAW (or Word of God) is above the (earthly) king”. BTW, rex LEX is a “for profit” while “LEX rex” is a “non-profit” type of governance which ecclesiastical organizations should adopt. A google search of these terms and “rule of law” will show, NOT surprisingly, that those countries with the same spiritual foundation have a high corruption index (Guam included even with the presence of the Feds)–Very UNLIKE those Western Christian countries with a LEX rex type of spiritual foundation…

    I believe that combining the unique God-Given good traits of the Filipino combined with LEX rex will produce a Truly Blest Philippines and Filipinos!

    In the meanwhile, I hope and pray to God, through His Son Jesus Christ, Our Lord and my Savior na ang bawat Pilipino, lalong lalo na yung mayayaman na makapangyarihan ay hindi na magtitigas ang ulo (STUBborn), at sana ay ma-isilang ULIT (bornBORN!) para maging tunay na maayos na ang pamumuhay ng lahat sa Pilipinas kong Minamahal, na magkakaroon na ng true middle class at yung “poor getting poorer” ay dapat mag U-TURN na! Biblical Reference: John 3:3 (”the badnews”), and John 3:16 (the GOOD news!).

    Agapeistically yours,
    Dan Tomada

  9. Hi, im a 2010 bar examinee. The sets of questions this year were really hard. It’s frustratingly hard. I do not think anyone expected Justice Carpio MOrales to give out such difficult sets of exams. A 7-month review is apparently not enough to hurdle it, and there were a few questions which were very foreign to most of us like “res judicata in prison grey” and “quasi tort”. Oh well, It was an experience I fervently hope and pray everyday I do not have to take again. Indeed, waiting for the result is the more agonizing part as a barrister.

  10. i have a vague feeling that Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s proposal to abolish the bar examination has something to do with her forgettable performance in the 1969 bar exam. her grade, although passing, is not something to crow about, so to speak.

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