Albayana Bar passer gave birth 12 hours before taking final exam
By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY --- Ninia Francia Castaneda, 30, woke up at about 4:00 a.m. last Nov. 26 feeling distraught because she did not expect she was going to give birth soon. The following day will be the last leg of the three consecutive grueling Sunday bar examination. Before her worry vanished she started to feel the contractions in one of the rooms at the City Land Hotel in Makati where she stayed with her husband for the month-long examination. But the contractions starting at thirty minute intervals narrowed down to ten minutes. She was rushed to the University of Sto.Tomas Hospital where she gave birth six hours later. “ I thought four years of preparing and a year of online review would just be wasted,” recalled Castaneda. She is a Certified Public Accountant(CPA) at the Commission on Audit’s(COA) regional office under state auditor Josefa Severo handling the corporate sector accounts. Lacking sleep for the past twelve hours, she prayed to Our Lady of Penafrancia before taking the examination on Remedial Law, Legal and Judicial Ethics from 8:00 to 5:00 p.m.at the University of Sto. Tomas main building last Nov. 27. “An ambulance was waiting for me after the examination which took me back to the UST hospital,” she added. Castaneda was one of the 44 successful bar examinees of Aquinas University College of Law and one of the 3,747 of the 6,344 examinees who passed during the 2016 bar examination after the results were out last May 3. The bar examination which has a passing rate of 59.06 percent was the highest in nearly two decades and for the first time no graduate of Metro Manila law schools made it on the list of bar topnotchers. She said passing the bar examination was one of the most difficult and memorable events of her life which started with the death of her mother on November 2015, her decision to marry on January 8, 2016 and completing her law studies on April 8, 2016. She worked at COA for the past seven years. She took a six month leave of absence to prepare for the bar examination. “I just took the Chan Robles online bar review from May to November,” she said. She spent 12 hours a day on review and makes sure she has eight hours of sleep. She took her elementary and college at the Bicol University which is just a stone’s throw away from where she lives at EMS Barrio beside the police regional headquarters at Camp General Simeon Ola She was a cum laude accountancy graduate at the Bicol University and passed the Certified Public Accountancy examination in 2007. At the elementary grades she got special mention and an honorable mention in high school. “I guess I honed my skills in analysis and numbers as an accountant,” said Castaneda. “The legal foundation is important, as well as the mindset of thinking as a lawyer while early in law studies.” She recalled she had a mental block during the second Sunday examination on Civil Law and Taxation. “For her the most difficult subjects were Remedial Law, Legal Ethics and Criminal Law,” she said. Despite the constraints which she has no control, it was her prayers to “Ina” that gave her the strength to go on. “ My name comes from Ina,” Castaneda who is a devotee of Our Lady of Penafrancia. “I believe Jesus is there through Mama Mary’s intercession to help me weather the difficulties and survive.” She also prayed at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Naga City as well as at Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Buhi, Camarines Sur. She thanked the members of Aquinas University College of Law special bar operations for the help and moral support. Asked the small things that she helped her lighten her stress. “Of course, the bottled water, biscuits and chocolates. And the eight pieces of my-gel 0.7 sign pens.” At present, she making up of her lost time with her husband and lovely baby Athena Kaitlynn. “I will not forget what one of my law professors keep reminding us to use our intelligence to help other people,” she added.