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Retired Policeman’s son

Bacolod nurse tops bar examinations

/ 07:04 AM April 27, 2018

NEW LAWYERS Law graduates take selfies to record the moment as the names of successful examinees in the 2017 bar exams are flashed on a giant screen put up at the Supreme Court compound in Manila on Thursday. A total of 6,748 took the tests, but only 1,724 made it, or a 25.5-percent passing rate. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

He passed the nursing board exams but did not make it to the Top 10.

This time, Mark John Simondo, of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, who realized that nursing was not his calling, topped the 2017 bar exams with a grade of 91.05 percent.

He was among the 1,724 who passed the bar out of the 6,748 who took the exams, a 25.5-percent passing rate—lower than the 59.06 percent in 2016 and 26.21 percent in 2015.

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“This is redemption,” said Simondo, a son of a retired policeman, who did not expect to be the topnotcher “because there were some parts of the bar exams that were difficult.”

For the second consecutive year, a law school in the Visayas produced the topnotcher in the annual licensure exam for lawyers.

University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City, which produced the 2016 bar topnother, produced three graduates who landed in the Top 10—Christianne Mae Balili (second, 90.8), Ivanne D’laureil Hisoler (fourth, 89.55) and Rheland Servacio (seventh, 89).

Camille Remoroza of Ateneo de Davao University ranked third (90.7).

The Supreme Court announced the results on Thursday simultaneously via a giant screen set up on its grounds and its website.

Cheers and jubilation filled the compound as people watched in anticipation the names of passers.

For the first time, the high court announced the Top 20 instead of the usual Top 10.

Mark John Simondo. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Top 20

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Of the 13 law schools whose students made it in the Top 20, five were in Metro Manila, four in the Visayas, and two each in Luzon outside Manila and in Mindanao.

San Beda College (now San Beda University) and University of Santo Tomas (UST) each produced five students who made it on the list.

Former perennial topnotcher producers—University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University—did not land in the Top 10.

The new lawyers will take their oath on June 1 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

They all shared stories crediting strong family support for hurdling the exams.

While working as a registered nurse, Simondo realized that it was not his calling. He just didn’t enjoy it and decided to take up law.

Simondo was having lunch at home in Bacolod about 12:45 p.m. when a friend in Manila sent him a screenshot of the list of topnotchers. His name was No. 1

“I checked if the spelling was right and then I cried,” Simondo said.

Balili didn’t expect second place. “My childhood dream came true. It’s a surreal feeling.”

She said she took the exams following the death of her grandmother. “She believed in me so much that I have to give my best,” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes.  —REPORTS FROM CARLA P. GOMEZ, ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL, ALLAN NAWAL, DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN AND MELVIN GASCON

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