After 3 tries, Boholano retired teacher hurdles Bar exam at 70
TAGBILARAN CITY — The third time’s a charm for this 70-year-old retired teacher from Bohol province.
Damaso “Ondoy” Calatrava Pasilbas, a resident of Barangay Moto Sur in Loon town, Bohol, finally passed the bar as he was one of the 3,812 successful examinees in the 2023 bar exams.
“I can’t help but cry. I feel there’s a real task given to me by the Lord. He touched my heart and mind–everything of me,” he said.
Since he was a child, he had been dreaming of becoming a lawyer.
“I want to realize this before I die,” said Pasilbas, a teacher for 31 years, who took the bar exams thrice.
While teaching Mathematics at the high school department of the Holy Name University (formerly Divine Word College -Tagbilaran), he enrolled in law in 1997.
He didn’t skip classes except when his motorcycle collided with a stray dog that suddenly crossed the road in Maribojoc town two years later.
In his fourth year in law school, his daughter, Johnness Pasilbas-Batoy, was a first year law student.
They were classmates in some law subjects.
Pasilbas finished law studies in 2002 and took the bar exams the following year. Unfortunately, he failed.
He took a break and focused on his teaching profession.
In 2005, his daughter Johnness passed the bar exams.
When he retired in June 2011, Pasilbas decided to take the bar exams again at the age of 59 but the results were the same.
“I failed for the second time then,” he said.
Despite several setbacks, Pasilbas never surrendered.
In February 2022, at the age of 69, he began his self-review for the bar exams.
He promised to study all the law books inside his mini-library. He even purchased updated review materials while his daughter provided case digests from her Mandatory Continuing Legal Education sessions.
His age, health, and tech-illiteracy did not bother him as he was focused on his goal.
Pasilbas disciplined himself to devote at least four hours a day—two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon—to study.
He said it was his wife Emma, 69, and children-Johnness, 42; John Jerico, 41; and John Janssen, 35, who inspired him to realize his dreams.
“They are my everything. They inspired me to reach for my goal,” he said.
At the age of 70 and 21 years since he graduated from law school, Pasilbas finally passed the 2023 bar exams.
Johnness couldn’t be prouder of her father.
“I am in awe of God’s amazing grace to my father upon learning that he passed the exams. Looking back on his journey, I could only think that he is destined to live a more purposeful life. While other individuals, at age 60 or 70, choose to completely retire from a career, my father has chosen and is set to embark on a new career path,” she said.
“May his story be an inspiration that we continue to stand strong despite life’s challenges, to be resolute in achieving our dreams, to believe in our capacity, to never give up, and to always ask for God’s grace, for in the end of the journey, it will be beautiful,” she added.
Pasilbas plans to practice law in Bohol and serve the people.
He advised those who experienced setbacks not to give up.
“Never give up because God’s grace knows no boundaries. Do not be afraid for his love is without end,” he said.