Ateneo grads dominate bar exams; only 949 make it



Ignatius Michael D. Ingles, 29, was on his way to hear Mass when he learned that he did not only pass the tough bar exams but also, to his shock, topped them.

“I don’t think anyone in his right mind will expect to top the bar,” Ingles said a few hours after the Supreme Court announced the exams’ results.

For the third straight year, Ateneo de Manila University dominated the bar exams, with six of those who made it to the Top 10 coming from its law school.

Four of the other topnotchers were from the University of the Philippines (UP) and one was from Aquinas University.

Ingles, who graduated salutatorian, garnered a score of 85.64 percent, followed by fellow Atenean Catherine Beatrice O. King Kay, a valedictorian, who got 84.72 percent.

Others who made it to the Top 10 were April Carmela B. Lacson (UP, 84.48 percent); Xavier Jesus D. Romualdo (Ateneo, 84.10 percent); Maria Graciela D. Base and Jose Maria Angel P. Machuca, (UP and Ateneo, 83.99 percent); Patrick Henry D. Salazar (UP, 83.71 percent); Ralph Karlo B. Barcelona (Aquinas, 83.43 percent); Marvyn S. Llamas (Ateneo, 83.29 percent), Carlo Martin C. Li (Ateneo, 83.27 percent) and Francis Paolo P. Tiopanco (UP, 83.25 percent).

Lowest number of passers

Only 949 (17.76 percent) of the 5,343 examinees passed this year’s bar exams, the lowest number of passers in the last 13 years.

There were more bar passers in 2011, with 1,913 (31.95 percent) of the 5,987 examinees making it.

The second-lowest number of bar passers in the past 13 years was in 2002 when only 917 (19.68 percent) of the 4,659 examinees made it.

Passing rate lowered to 70

Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr., who chaired the 2012 committee on the bar exams, said the Supreme Court in a special en banc meeting on Wednesday decided to lower the passing grade from 75 to 70 percent. Among the passers was the son of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

Villarama noted that the original passing rate for the 2012 bar exams was just 6.76 percent, or 361 examinees. He said the high court lowered the passing grade because the passing percentage for labor and social legislation, criminal law and remedial law turned out to be low.

“The court, following history, and in the spirit of the Lenten season was quite liberal (on Wednesday),” Villarama said at a news conference at the Supreme Court.

Wednesday’s announcement of the results of the bar exams came sooner than the previous practice, with Villarama making the announcement before noon.

Unlike in the past when examinees trooped to the Supreme Court building in Manila to look for their names on the list of passers, only a number showed up.

Early bird

Among the early birds was Charlene Mae C. Calingasan, who was No. 181 on the list of passers. Calingasan, who is from San Beda College, teared up when she found out she passed what she described as “very difficult” exams.

Villarama said Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio presided over the en banc meeting that deliberated on the 2012 bar exam results. Sereno inhibited from the meeting because her son, John Lorenzo, was an examinee.

Villarama said last year’s bar exams were tough given the low number of passers.


“The multiple choice questions (MCQs) have done us all in, so to speak,” he said, acknowledging that he himself found the 675 MCQs to be “confusing or appearing all correct” and that this “brought down the percentage of passers.”

He said the examinees did well in the essay portion, with the passing percentage being “doubly higher” than the MCQs’.

For the 2013 bar exams, to be chaired by Associate Justice Arturo Brion, the Supreme Court en banc has approved that 20 percent will be made up of MCQs and the rest, essay, according to Villarama.

Ingles said the mix of MCQs and essay made the exams tougher. “It was really tiring and time-pressured,” he said in a phone patch interview with reporters.

CPA, too


For her part, 26-year-old King Kay told the Inquirer that the questions in the exams were “quite unexpected” and that the essay was long and comprehensive.

King Kay, who works at the Romulo Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayco and De Los Angeles law office, said she was at home when she heard the good news.

Having worked late the previous day, she decided to stay at home to await the news. She said family and friends congratulated her when they found out she took the second spot.

King Kay, a certified public accountant, said she was “super-happy” for her friend, Ingles, who took the top spot.

“It’s destiny,” she said of Ingles’ landing the top spot in the bar exams.

Sports law practice

Ingles, who used to play football for Ateneo, acknowledged that the last two Atenean topnotchers in the bar exams—2010’s Caesario Antonio “Ari” Singzon Jr. and 2011’s Raoul Angelo Atadero—had been his close friends since high school.

“When Ari topped the exam (in 2010), we pressured Anj. And when Anj topped it (the next year), they then pressured me,” he said.

“I am very happy the top bar passers are Ateneans and are my friends. We said to each other, ‘We were able to do a three-peat,’” he said.

Ingles, who is married and works in the Salvador and Perez law office, hopes to specialize in corporate law and wants to establish a sports law practice.

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  • Simon Ward

    Why would anyone want to become a lawyer? I must have asked this question of at least a hundred lawyers in my life, a few of whom I would count as very good friends and can communicate with on just about any other matter. But when it comes to a choice of profession, I just don’t get it. I am particularly curious about what the common denominator is among people who find the study of this subject fulfilling.

    • Simon Ward

      On the plus side, I think law students are far above average intelligence. On the down side, they lack a productive channel for that intelligence as a result of a lack of (i) imagination, and (ii) delusions of grandeur (which often lead, albeit by an unintended path, to greatness). If my 8-year-old son ever shows the potential to become a lawyer, I will tell him to take it a step further. For a person of above-average intelligence, becoming a lawyer seems such a cop-out.

      • desi derata

        Post LLB could be MBA since we don’t have the same course as in Harvard where law and business are merged, like what Romney has tcompleted.

    • tra6Gpeche

      Later on, being a lawyer will be fulfilling! How? Most, if not all, would aspire to become a politician. Once they become elected as Philippine Congressman or Senator or Mayor or Governor or even councilors of any City or Town, then fulfillment as far as financially, being wellknown and being powerful, will have been achieved. Remember, this is Philippines where being politician is like being God!

    • concern_netizen

      Power Trip.

      Lawyers are no different from Bible bearers and prophets. Both insist they have better interpretation of the “law” Both make tons of money convincing people that they hold the “truth”. Both have to project an aura of invincibility. Both have audacity to proclaim that they are the key to the Truth, the Way, and the Life.

      Obviously bible bearers get the upper hand. No tax. No bar exams. After all, who needs a better backer than God?

  • nes911

    3 in a row for ateneo. Wake up u.p. mukang mahina kayo sa multiple choice questions.

    • Missy Thurngood


    • upupperclassman

      The training in UP is not aimed to pass or top the bar. It is to train lawyers greater than the bar examiners. DO you understand?

  • Just_JT

    The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism should look into this 2012 Bar Exams. I was told that Ateneo bar candidates made markings on their exam booklets by writing from edge to edge (no margins). This was their way in this particular bar exam so that the examiner with whom they are in cahoots with can easily identify them and given favor or undue advantage over other bar candidates.

    • Edward

      tsismis…here we go, hearsay…………

    • whoarethepatriots

      Any proof that there was an instruction in the exam requiring the use of margins? Couldn’t it also be said that using margins, as opposed to not using one, is also a form of marking to indicate that you are from some other school? Your allegation also work under the presumption that the non-use of margins is limited exclusively to Ateneo grads and could not by chance be also done students from other schools. Hmmmmm.

    • JV Salud

      And yet, 39 Atenean bar examinees failed. How about that?

      • Janch

        Wow, massacre! That’s like 20% of the takers right? Quite a sombering thought for the next bar takers. I wonder how the other schools – UP and San Beda – fared.

      • upupperclassman

        Do not be surprised that UP has 100%

      • Janch

        I heard a lot of UPians didn’t make it either. Probably the same for San Beda.

    • JV Salud

      This is nothing but a lame attempt to question the great tradition of Ateneo Law school. Allegations like this are unfounded, untrue and frankly, sounds like it came from someone who couldn’t cut it in Ateneo. We dedicate five years to the diligent study of law, and a random person on the net, dares put into question all those hard years of work?

      Yes, most Ateneo Law Students are privileged to be full time students. Many of us do not have to work to pay for our tuition fees and our books. Yes, this is an advantage for most Ateneo Law Students.

      Accuse of us of being elitists and privileged, but don’t you dare accuse us of being cheats.

      • lucidlynx

        What great tradition are you talking about? A number of graduates of the Ateneo Law School end up getting involved in graft and corruption in government.

  • Spike

    let me guess the passing mark was lowered to accomodate Sereno’s child who may have flunked

    • JV Salud

      This is not true. If you read the article carefully, Chief Justice Sereno inhibited herself from the deliberations, precisely because of this fact. Magbasa muna kasi.

      • Guest

        how about a disclosure of his bar rating, its easy to inhibit from official deliberations, what about unofficial deliberations?

      • Jerome

        She inhibited to protect her position as chief justice as not to create an issue but what was their reason for lowering the passing grade? Come to think of it this is their way to communicate with her. Isn’t it true the the justices right now are divided to such different issue specially with her?

    • JV Salud

      And if you must know, Joren is a good student, with good grades and intelligence to boot. Never once did he rely on his mom’s status to get by in Law School, there’s no need for him to rely on her now. Shame on you.

    • Charlene Beriana

      The passing mark is usually lowered if uber low ang number passers. In 2008, SC lowered the passing mark to 70% too.

    • honorable_guest

      why will they accommodate her?, they don’t even accommodate her flag raising ceremony. tulungan pa kaya yung anak?

      • jenzblue

        haha.. couldn’t agree more..

  • quirinomayer

    Isa ang anakko sa mga 949 na yan!

    • tekateka

      congrats po…

    • marionics

      well done

    • Charlene Beriana

      Congratulations po!

  • Horst Manure

    This is news to me to find out liaryer’s go to Uni. from my experience with them they should be writing fairy tales for school kids as truth is no in their vocabulary.

    And once they graduate they are let down by the department of jokes DOJ and the chocolate teapot judiciary

    Overseas Liaryer’s should come here to see how it should not be done..
    The whole set up is as phoney as glass eye.

  • Julius_Caesar1

    First I’d like to congratulate all the bar passers. All that hard work surely paid off. I’m also pleased that they have set the standards to an impossible level. 949 is a very good number of bar passers as we don’t need any more lawyers.

    We need more doctors, engineers and chemists. Our science and technology department has been severely degraded, now is the time to improve on it.

  • Jerome

    Why do they need to lower the passing grade? I mean lowering the passing grade only produces low caliber lawyers. This only shows how poor our education system is getting at and the qualities of lawyers the country are having. @yahoo-CRBW2RJR4WNWVIDZVSCLFQK4KQ:disqus you may have a point there its true the the chief justice inhibited herself only to protect her image as chief justice, by in which case if the passing mark remains the same her son would never make it. Hard to admit it but this maybe the case.

  • tekateka

    These 949 passers… where can they find jobs?

  • ever green

    less lawyers…better world…..


    A tough law exam is good for the country.

  • Mr. Skeptic

    A priest and a lawyer died and went to heaven. They were met by Saint Peter at the gate, who told them he would be giving them some transportation to get around in. He gave the lawyer a big white limousine. The priest was given a bicycle. The priest said “wait a minute” you gave the lawyer a limousine and me a bicycle. Why is that? St. Peter replied, oh we get a lot of priests in Heaven, but this is the first time a lawyer has made it.

  • concern_netizen

    My heart goes out to the countless examinees and their parents that failed to make it. Rejoicing the 17.76% passing rate is callous. While I congratulate the bar passers, much attention must be given to the 4,394 who failed.

    Law schools that continue to perform poorly during bar exams must not be allowed to profit from their incompetence.

  • KurakotNaPinoy

    One begs the question, who among these “elitist and privileged” persons will work for PAO?

    A little or none I’d bet. Making money is paramount for them.

    Justice for the poor is not true for this God-forsaken country.

  • GustoKoHappyKa

    hihihi mahihina pala mga lawyers sa MCQs…

  • Mux

    Whatever happened to the investigation of the 20 Bar Exam Bombing? Has anybody been indicted? Any suspects? Any trial?

    • desi derata

      Vice President Binay is protecting them, those terrorists were members of the violent APO fraternity.

  • marionics

    the list of passers state the name JOSE LORENZO SERENO. sino tama? either way lousy editing

  • desi derata

    Law should be relegated to every 5 years course. The Philippines has excess of them. What the country needs are civil, mech’l and electrical design engineers, not just field engineers or estimators. We need good and honest mining and geodetic engineers too.

    More importantly, the Philippines needs to have good electronics and communications engineers and computer science graduates.

  • Horst Manure

    Good news just think of the damage they could do if more passed.
    99% of the bad lairyers give the rest a bad name.

  • Ernesto

    di naman ito makakatulong sa bansa natin ang mga law passer na yan.kung baga sa bizniz sila ang liabilities.

  • boybakal

    UP are now behind in Bar top passing.
    Why….most UP scholars cannot pay tuition and on late loan payment and have filed leave of absence.
    The last time I heard, some are planning to commit suicide.

    • Ernesto

      where you heard on gossip.

    • upupperclassman

      Go to Malcom Hall in UP Diliman to understand how law is taught in UP. UP does not just produce good lawyers but great lawyers. Passing the Philippine Bar is limited to producing good lawyers but may not have the proper perspective to be great lawyers. When the passing grade is brought down, the number of good lawyers also goes down exponentially.

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