September 30, 2023

The Supreme Court administered on May 2 the oath-taking ceremony for the lawyers who passed the 2022 Bar examination at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
I was fortunate enough to be there since my son was among those who passed. I was elated as I entered the hall of the PICC to witness the thousands of young lawyers take their oath.
Part of the program during the oath taking ceremony was when SC Justice Benjamin Caguioa, the chair of the 2022 Bar examination, gave recognition to the top performing law schools in the Philippines.
While the names of the schools were yet to be unraveled, I was expecting my beloved alma mater, the University of the Cordilleras, to be among them. Alas, as the roll call was being read and the list became shorter and shorter, I started to become hopeless. When the final award was bestowed, which was given to a relatively new and little known school, I was proven wrong. It would have made my day if my son’s passing was complemented with due recognition that the school where I graduated was also among the top performing law schools. On that day, it was not meant to be.
UC used to be the bastion of legal education in this north side of the planet. It produced some of the most prominent lawyers in the country.
Producing topnotcher was a yearly tradition. Janet Abuel, Noel Malimban, Arthur Galace, Lauro Gacayan, just to name a few.
While there were bad years, these were the exceptions. Generally, the passing percentage was always above the national level. If I am not mistaken, at some point, UC was ranked among the top 10 law schools in the Philippines.
Thus, students who wanted to take up law lined up to enroll at UC. Why not?
Producing excellent lawyers was the trademark of the school even if other law schools with equal repute started to produce their own lawyers.
For years, the legal profession within the region was dominated by graduates from UC. It was not uncommon to meet clerks of court, prosecutors, judges, and even Justices who profess being alumni of the school.
It was because of this that I did not temper my expectation that somehow, UC maintained its lofty position and still has an advantage when it comes to legal education over all others.
I honestly was very confident that it will be given its due. But when its name was not among the top performing schools in the Philippines during the oath taking ceremony, I was frustrated.
Had my school regenerated? Has its standard been overtaken by overconfidence? Has the quality of students been compromised even as my son graduated from the same school? Has the faculty maintained its zeal and competitive edge? What is there in the past that made the school more attractive than the others? What is it that made it produce topnotchers and rank itself as among the top performing schools? Must there be changes?
Oh well, I know UC will regain its composure and assert itself to be the primordial law school in the Cordillera.
I know that it is in good hands. This non-inclusion from the top performing law schools is perhaps one of those bad years.