Bar taker at 88: Never say die

Eighty-eight year-old Bienvenido Hilario of Bulacan was one of the 6,344 hopefuls who trooped to the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on Sunday at the start of this year’s Bar exams.

Hilario, a graduate of the Philippine Law School, said this year was the third time he was  taking the tests after he failed in 2008 and in 2012.

Hope springs eternal. Bienvenido Hilario,
88, visits the UST campus to take this
year’s Bar exams after failing to pass
them in 2008 and in 2012. Danny Pata

He said he did not enroll with any review centers but reviewed on his own.

“I didn’t get lucky in the past tests and this is why I’m here today,” Hilario said.

 This year’s 6,344 Bar takers compare with the 5,293 who took it last year and the 5,343 who took it in 2012.

The Manila Police Department deployed some 400 policemen to secure this year’s examinees, and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada went to the campus at 6:30 am to see the security arrangements.

Estrada said the policemen will secure the campus during the tests that will take up four Sundays this month, and that a liquor ban will be enforced in the vicinity from 4 am to 8 pm for the duration of the exams. 

“For the four Sundays of October, namely October 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2014, during which the whole-day Bar examinations for 2014 are to be administered by the Supreme Court in the premises of the University of Santo Tomas, no store, restaurant, eatery, café or any eating places or ambulant vendors shall be allowed to sell, peddle or offer drinks to any person intoxicating beverages such as beer, liquor, wines and the like between the hours of 4am and 8pm within 200 meters from the perimeter walls of UST along España Boulevard and Lacson Avenue, Dapitan Street and P. Noval Street,” Estrada said in Executive Order 65.

Violators of the ban will be fined P200 or jailed for six months or both and their licenses revoked.

The UST has been hosting the Bar exams since 2011 after the high court decided to move it from the De La Salle University on Taft Avenue, which had been hosting the Bar exams since 2002.

Earlier, the high court ordered the examinees to use transparent or see-through bags for their books, Bar materials and other items as part of the security measures for the tests.

Of this year’s 6,344 Bar examinees, 3,115 (49.1 percent) are first-time takers while 3,229 (50.9 percent) are repeat takers.

The high court has already lifted the “five strike rule” under which one may not take the Bar exams more than five times.

This year’s exams are 80-percent essay questions and 20 percent multiple-choice questions.

This year’s exams also mark the first time that the examinees will be using the “bar code” system instead of the “name card” system in their examination notebook.

Bar Confidant Christina Layusa said the new system would help ensure the integrity of the exams by making the process of checking, encoding and decoding the examination booklets faster and more secure. With Ma. Jerrylyn B. Damaso

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