By Manly M. Ugalde
VIRAC, Catanduanes --- At least 16 more new lawyers have been added to the roster of legal minds this small island province has already produced after they successfully hurdled the 2016 Philippine Bar Exams, including a former janitor turned celebrity who made the cut amid the hardship he incurred as a working student.
The Supreme Court released early this month the result of last year’s Bar exams with a total of 3,447 who passed from out of the 6,334 examinees, or 59.06 percent.
Like new bar topnotchers who immediately get offers left and right from prominent law offices and companies, Bicolano Ramil Comendador, a native of this town, immediately got an offer from the Comelec where he worked as janitor, including one as election officer for his province.
In an interview, Comendador said he was greatly inspired by his single mother who worked hard to support the family.
A resident of Barangay Buenavista in Virac town, Comendador said he finished his high school at the Hawan National High School. He said it was impossible for his family to dream studying in exclusive school elementary and high schools.
After finishing his four-year course in the province, Comendador decided to go to Manila to look for a job as the only way to take up law.
He said he was lucky to be employed as a utility man at the Commission on Election.
He revealed that Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento of Catanduanes had encouraged him to take up law. Many of the Sarmiento clan are distinguished lawyers, which include lawyer Rene’s brother George, a former National Telecommunications commissioner George Sarmiento and their cousin Rep. Cezar Sarmiento.
Comendador said that because of scarce funds, he focused his time on self-review after work and regularly went to church to pray for guidance.
He said that days before the final start of the exams, he went to the church and prayed: “ Please Lord, don’t fail me and my family Lord my making me a lawyer.”
A poor province, Catanduanes is known as having the highest record of outmigration for reasons of employment and education. “No matter how poor a family, the tendency or trend that gives pride to every family is to see their kids enrolled in elementary and high school, said Comendador.
The list of newest lawyers from the province include Camacho Arcilla, John Mark Arcilla, Aedler Jo-Lean Atutubo, Joseph De Los Santos, Miguel Angelo Gabionza, Junalyn Joson, Ma. Genina Llantino, Joan Krystal Publiko, Sheena Rima, Lara Surtida, Reche Torzar Domingo Vella 11, Janice Velasco, and her brother Norman Velasco.