It all started with my quite lofty childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. They say that the only way to make your dream come true is to wake up every day and work hard for it. I was born from a laborer and a laundrywoman parents whose hand-to-mouth income could not even sustain the necessities of the family, thus, going to college seemed remotely possible. However, I was not deterred by this circumstance or situation in life instead. Instead, I was motivated to persevere, thrive, and triumph. I finished my primary, secondary, tertiary, and even my law degree in a public school where students are not spoon-fed with quality education.

While studying, life taught me wonderful and memorable experiences, such as peddling sweet corns, working in a dried fish mill and working as a janitress in a private hospital. Ultimately, I have obtained my degree in Bachelor of Science in Criminology, passed the licensure exam, and joined the BJMP service. After a year, I got married and begot two sons. Despite these momentous events, my desire to pursue and realize my childhood dream never withered. Hence, after a 7-year hiatus, I decided to enroll in Law school. For four gruelling years, I relentlessly juggled the roles of a mother, a jail officer, and a student. The numerous humiliating recitations, countless sleepless nights, never-ending case digests and the likes, did not knock me out since I enjoyed being in Law school.  Within four years, I obtained the degree of Bachelor of Laws.

            Moving on to the hardest level of my race, which is the bar exam, I conditioned and prepared myself physiologically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I went through the 6-month ordeal of review, endured the homesickness and immersed myself on endless reading until the most anticipated and feared bar examination day. As I walked through the valley-of-death-like-street of España, Manila, towards the gate of UST, I have recited a litany of prayers, called all the saints that I knew and have casted a glance at the BJMP van situated beside the Goldilocks store, to calm and compose myself. Inside the battle zone, indeed, the bar exam is slaying, distorting your senses and sanity and torturing every part of your being. Fortunately, I was able to hurdle the four strenuous Sundays of the 2018 bar exam, entrusting the result in the hands of our Almighty God.  Then, the long and intense waiting for the result began.

When the result came out on May 3, 2019, my name was not included in the list of successful examinees. I was devastated, for a while, still hopeful while having thoughts of my childhood dream. I instantaneously and bravely planned to retake the exam, albeit unsure of the year when to retake it. It was in August of the same year that I finally decided to retake the bar exam. I was not able to enrol in a formal review class. For more than two months I self-studied, went through the same ordeal of reviewing the bar, shunned myself of social activities and focused more on my review materials. For the second time, I was able to step on the dreadful battlefield, fought my fight, and finished the four Sundays of the most prestigious national exam. And again, the waiting began.

             The glorious day of April 29, 2020, amidst the coronavirus crisis, the good news broke out. The Highest Court of the land released the most awaited list of successful examinees. Yes, I passed the 2019 bar examination! Vividly, I saw my name ingrained on that list. That moment, I and my number one fan and supporter mother, were crying out of joy. My entire body was shaking. I felt like I am on cloud nine.  Family, relatives, friends and colleagues, alike, were in jubilation, celebrating my victory. Congratulatory messages flooded my social media account and inbox.  Incessantly, my phone rang for the same reason. I was even stunned to receive a call from our beloved Jail Director Allan S Iral, expressing his joy and warm congratulations. Indeed, victory is sweeter when shared to many.

            Now, my long-overdue-quite-lofty-childhood-dream is within my grasp. All the struggles, sacrifices and hard works were paid off. Truly, the path towards my dream was long, bumpy and curvy. But when you keep your eyes on the prize, you can turn those obstacles that have come across your way into armor, sword or even a vehicle, and then utilize them to seize the prize. Never complain whenever life crushes, dumps or hits you the hardest. For it is when you see one set of footprints in your trail that God carries you. Keep the faith and trust in His plan.  Just give your best in all your endeavours and let God do the rest. Believe that God is more faithful in keeping His promises.

Atty. Melcah T Quipse
Zamboanga City Jail – Male Dormitory