Beautiful Lessons from a Bar Flunker


Angie Occeno-Libardo

Angie Occeno-Libardo

Setbacks come naturally to life, perhaps second to breathing. The unfortunates will even get a shrill experience of the “Murphy’s Law,” that when things go bad it will just be.

Dazed in amazement over the intensity of some issues, one can only shake his head and wonder. Inaccurate the prospects of them seeping into our systems, struggles can either pierce our whole being or embolden us to create that better person in us.

I guess when it comes to experiencing and managing failures I have become an authority.

I used to be getting A’s from elementary to college. Government exams were not even too difficult to pass. I have not felt any tinge of inadequacy because I seemed to do well each time I took the test.

But when I went to College of Law things changed for me. Gone are the days when I would be getting A’s. My grades were insanely bad.

My professors wondered why I even enrolled in the law school when I seemed to lack the ability to even survive first year law. But as you can see, I still finished the course but the final test to whether or not the concepts were retained and mastered, the Bar exams had to be passed.

I thought I knew the basics but the examiners thought otherwise so I failed. The first time I took it and failed was not as painful as I did the second time because it felt like I did not learn anything at all.

The whole experience cut my heart and my mind was gripped with all disparaging words about myself like, “So you are smart? So I thought.” “Your luster has died and you are no good.”

What could be worse than thinking that those people that I hurt in the past were just so jubilant about my failures. Magnified in my thoughts are their sneers and insults.

My self- esteem plummeted. But how did I surmount my pitiful condition and started hoping and desiring again to take the Bar exams?

Let me share to you the things that I forced myself to do in order to put my hopeful prospects back.

Acknowledge the need to be strengthened.

When adversities befall us we tend to live a hermit life. We shy away from people even to trusted friends for fear that we would be ridiculed.

Doing this however will cost us our own happiness and will further lead us to despair.

Go out and look for your trusted friends. Share to them what you feel and honestly ask for their prayers.

I did just that, the comfort that I got after was exhilarating.

Reconcile with God.

Right after I failed the exams, I asked the Lord so many questions. Like I blamed Him for not honoring my prayers or even rewarding me for my efforts, I would reason in my head, that I deserved to pass because I worked very hard for it.

I invested so many sleepless nights for it, I knew I studied very hard too; all to no avail. I cried alone, grieving over God’s decision.

Even a firm believer like me despaired but who am I to question the Lord?

He knows the future! Jesus, who began the good work in us will be faithful to complete it. He will send people either to teach us or propel us to minister on God’s unfailing love, similar to what He did to me. God is sovereign.

He cannot be dictated upon. Being the creator that He is, He knows our very being and powerfully discerns what is best for us; so when what we prayed for remained unanswered, be still and ask for divine understanding.

We might not immediately understand why bad things happen to us, we need to trust in the Lord because He is too good to be unkind.

The safest place to be in when situations become unreasonable is in God’s arms.

Restore your self-worth.

No one has the right to belittle you. It can only be so if you yourself tolerated others to look down on you.

However, the best assurance that we can hold on to is the truth about God’s unconditional love, that whatever and however we become, He will take us to Himself unconditionally.

Remember the cross. Jesus died for your sins and mine. He even became sin himself to offer to us His greatest sacrifice, His own life for our salvation.

Aren’t we so special to God? Acknowledging who Jesus is and the sacrifices that He endured will revive our hearts’ desires and brighten our chances for better opportunities, that regardless of the hurtful remarks people say about us, it is definitely not the same with how Jesus thought of us.

The abundance of His loving kindness will be ours to have and enjoy if only we would also take Him in our lives. Be confident in the Lord because He is a father that restores.

While failures are admittedly part of our lives, we can’t do anything much but pray for God’s leading. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength and intelligently learn from those painful experiences.

Will I still take the bar exams again? Hmmm… Why not?

NOTE: This article was first published on the author’s blog “Echoes of the Heart” on 27 March 2015.

Success and Abundant Life Have No Secret

“Patience and hard work are necessary for success”

From Worry To Glory

The road to success is like the dusty and muddy old country road, which maybe difficult to traverse and you need patience and hard work to reach your destination.

During my high school years, I observed that our teacher’s favorite quotes were posted on the walls of the classroom. They were neatly printed on bond-paper sized colored cardboards, wrapped with transparent plastic to lengthen its poster life.

“Patience and hard work are necessary for success” is one of these classroom quotes that had remained ingrained in my mind since reading it when I was a freshman. I do not know where my teacher got that statement but it stuck like a nail driven into my head. This saying keeps on flashing through my mind; it always seems to reverberate every time I have difficult undertakings.

Perhaps, the statement made lasting impact on me because I recalled that I was in a very difficult situation at that time. My parents got no stable job then.

My father was a pastor but he can’t get a pastorate because denomination leaders blocked invitations to work in a church. He was tagged as inimical to the Convention Baptist institution when he fought for justice and righteousness.

To make ends meet, he sold floor wax, later, he switched to selling powdered fruit juices around Roxas City and Mindanao to support his family.

To augment food on our table, we cultivated and planted vegetables on a small patch of lot behind the house that we were renting. In several occasions, I would bring some vegetables, like camote tops, alogbati, malunggay, and tugabang to the nearby “talipapa” (wet market) and either sell it or barter it for fresh fish.

Many of life’s situations taught me what patience and hard work really mean. The very thing that keeps me toiling and persevering is the calm assurance that pursuing my passion with zealousness is already success in itself. The rewards that would follow are the further rewards, the bonuses, and blessings that patience and hard work bring.

The many successful work students that graduated from Central Philippine University (CPU) are legacies of patience and hard work.

One of them is Johnny Ancheta, who hails from San Andres, a remote coastal town in Tablas Island, Romblon, Philippines. He went to study Theology at CPU in 1950 as a work student.

He was about to quit school after two to three months for lack of financial support but he begged the seminary dean for any kind of work. Johnny did carpentry and janitorial work in exchanged for tuition subsidy. Getting a chance to work and study in the US, Johnny and his wife, Nellie became successful realtors in California.

Another work student who defied the odds is Rosanna Lim. She came from Northern Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines. She studied Hospitality Management at CPU in 2004 through a pre-need company scholarship but she later became a work student when the pre-need company went bankrupt.

A year before coming to CPU, her mother died. With her bed-ridden father incapable of sending support and her pre-need company scholarship gone, Rosanna applied as work student at CPU. To earn extra for her board and lodging, she took tutorial jobs. She graduated with honors despite the difficulties she faced.

She finished her on-the-job-training ahead of time, working overtime to complete the required hours. Her diligence to find work resulted into getting a full-time job as customer service specialist at a call center while she was still finishing her last three months in college. Currently, she is now assistant manager of a branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

From Worry to Glory

In order to win, the soccer player has to focus on one objective alone, to score a goal. He needs patience and hard work to achieve it.

I am sure that each one of us has his/her own unique stories of patience and hard work that resulted in triumph. Sweet success is the fruit of the bitter seeds of patience and hard work.

Those who went through extreme difficulty in life could always look back with fond memories the experiences that led them to tremendous achievements. Showing great fortitude and diligence in every life’s endeavor will bring about the triumph that you want to have.

There is no limit to what a person can do when patience and hard work has manifested in one’s family, career, and community. It has been proven that these two values attract success and abundant life.


Praying for a very successful Christ Emphasis Week celebration at Central Philippine University.