Why do I need to sacrifice and delay all my fun activities for the next 4-5 years of my life to study and become a lawyer?
I am already enrolled and taking law subjects in a nearby school. I just started this semester. I am having a difficult time balancing my study, work, family, and personal time. I am also experiencing difficulty paying my tuition fee. I was also stressed the past week attending to my midterm exams, written case digests, and enduring my anxiety when called during recitations.
I decided to take up law to have a ready career when I reach my age of 65 and retire from work which is twenty (20) years from now. However, I feel that my motivation is not enough to encourage and remind me to go on when (not if) I encounter life’s challenges.
Hence, I made this personal motivational essay for the said reason.
This is a too personal entry that I will share with you. I need to remind myself time and again that I am ready for this new journey and I can accomplish my dream of becoming a lawyer.
It was May, 1994, when I was elected as Barangay Councilor of Barangay Market Area, Santa Rosa, Laguna at the age of 18. I was the youngest Barangay Councilor in our town. Elected Sangguniang Kabataan Chairmen were even older than me. It was at this time when I realized that I had a dream of becoming a lawyer.
I had only one opportunity in college being eldest of four in our family. My college tuition fees were paid by the College Assurance Plan (CAP) which my parents bought when I was younger. I took up Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy (BSPT). I contemplated then to shift my course to political science as a step in studying law. However, due to financial reasons, I wasn’t able to switch course. I finished my BSPT course in 1997 but my dream of becoming a lawyer was still there.
I continued my public service work as an elected official. I was elected first in 1994, re-elected twice on 1997 and 2002. I finished my 3-consecutive term limit. I served our barangay until 2007. Back in my mind, I firmly believed that I could have done a better job if I entered law school or became a lawyer during my 13 years of service in our barangay. Nevertheless, I believed I did a good job as the Committee Chairman on Education and Health and Sanitation during my term.
I immediately worked after I finished college in 1997. I first volunteered as a Physical Therapist (PT) in a nearby hospital. Volunteer means I do not get a salary or an allowance from the hospital. I did get patient referrals where I treated patients in their homes as a private PT and got paid per treatment session. In 2000, I was hired as a medical representative in a multi-national company. I became a pharmaceutical sales/marketing person of pharmaceutical companies until 2007. I worked in the private sector but at the same time served my barangay as an elected official. I had no time and resources then to pursue my dream of entering law school.
I married in 2003. In 2010 I already had three beautiful children. My priorities changed when I got married and started to raise my own family. I need to provide and take care of them. They should always come first. Hence, my dream of going to law school started to fade away.
In 2007, a few months before my term as an elected barangay kagawad ends, I was preparing to run as Barangay Chairman in the next barangay election. My team was already organized and I had modestly prepared the needed logistics for the said election. I confidently believed I will win. But then Vice-Mayor Arlene Arcillas approached me and convinced me to run as City Councilor in her ticket. I had a debt of gratitude to her father, the assassinated Mayor Leon Arcillas, because he supported my political campaign and for the help and favors he has given to the people I brought to him. I ran in the May 2007 National Election. I lost. My mayor won. I was demoralized, my family was tired and frustrated and we incurred debts used to support my personal campaign. Truly, law school was very far from my mind during this time.
In October 2007, my term ended, but due to the request of our barangay leaders, my wife ran as barangay councilor and won (She also served the maximum 3-term until 2018). I worked hard in the private sector during this time to support my family and pay off my incurred debts. In 2008, Mayor Arcillas hired me as a Planning Officer II in the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator. I discovered a personal new paradigm when I started working as a government/city hall employee: I do not need to be an elected official to affect change and serve my city, I can also do it as a City Planner.
In the decade of 2010 to 2020, I experienced pivotal changes in my life. I got sick in 2010, got operated in my spinal column, and was hospitalized and bed-ridden for almost 3 months. My thoughts during that time was that if I become wheelchair-bound for the rest of my life, can I still work in the City Government and provide for my family? That thought challenged me to get well. After I got out of the hospital and with the help of the PT clinic and my wife who is also a graduate of physical therapy, I trained and exercised to regain my ambulation. In a month time, I can walk with the help of a walker, then with a cane, and soon independently. However, up to this time, my left leg is still weak that causes my limp when I walk. Our family again incurred debts when I was hospitalized. But we did not dwell on that problem for so long, I am alive, I can walk, and I can pay off those debts. I am a fighter and a survivor.
In 2009, a year after I was hired as Planning Officer II, I was promoted as Project Evaluation Officer III. In 2013, I was again promoted as Planning Officer IV (Assistant Department Head). When the Department Head retired, I was promoted in 2014 as the City Planning and Development Coordinator (Department Head) of the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator. People may say that I was only promoted because of my connections but I disagree. I believe I worked hard and prepared for it and I am the best option to lead the department when I was promoted due to the following reasons:
First, I ranked third (3rd) nationwide in the Career Executive Service Written Examination in June 2013. I am the only City Government employee in our city to pass and rank in the said exam.
Second, also in 2013, I finished my Master in Public Management major in Local Government and Regional Administration in the University of the Philippines (UP) Open University. I am one of the only two department heads who finished a Master Degree.
Third, I finished a Post-Graduate Diploma with distinction in Urban and Regional Planning in the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning in 2016.
Fourth, I am a Philippine licensed Urban (Environmental) Planner. I passed the Board on Environmental Planning in 2015.
Fifth, I am a Certified United States (US) Planner. I passed the American Institute of Certified Planner (AICP) in 2017.
Lastly, I am also a Global Project Management Professional (PMP). I passed the PMP exam in 2019.
I always look for challenges to conquer and along with it ensure our constituents that they are not short-changed and have the best person serving them.
The Pandemic helped people realize what is really important. These are health, family, relationships, and financial stability, among others. For me, it rekindled the dream of my younger self of becoming a lawyer. I believe this is the perfect time to pursue my dream. I may not have the resources to pay for the tuition nor the time to allot to studies but I have my determination and life’s experience to topple these problems.
I am already a City Planner and quite secured in my family’s future and retirement. I am already 45 years old and the dream of becoming a lawyer is still there. I honestly asked myself do I really need to pursue this dream. This will mean more challenges, hardships and sacrifices for four to five years. I need a strong inner motivation, something I can hold on to when I encounter extreme difficulties in the future in achieving this dream. I found four (4) personal compelling reasons why I should endure and push thru no matter what as follows:
First, I learned at an early age the meaning of discrimination because of economic status and the meaning of the word “in good faith”. My father was a high school teacher. He bought a lot in a subdivision in the late 1970s. He applied for an SSS loan to construct our house. We are one of the first residents in our subdivision. We live in a small subdivision where everyone knows one another. Most of the parents of my friends are either working abroad, working in Manila, or running small businesses. Our house is located in one of the middle houses in our street, the smallest house, and the only one without hollow blocks fences or gate. The problem arose when eventually we found out that our house was constructed in the open space lot and the vacant lot beside our house is actually the lot my father bought. People started accusing us of stealing their open space (land). They started talking behind our backs and later upfront calling us “squatters”. They even signed and wrote a petition letter full of malice and insinuations against us and sent it to the City Government. We were looked down and discriminated. As the eldest of our siblings, I experienced the discrimination and the insults first-hand. Even if my father said that it was an honest error done in good faith and that we are willing to swap our land title (the open space land does not have a clear title), their perception did not changed. If only I was older that time, if only I am already a lawyer, I could have defended my family and remedied the problem. I owe it to my deceased father to finish law school and become a lawyer. At this point in my life, I began appreciating what our neighbors did to us because it always inspired me to always challenge myself and never give up.
Second, I believe that the new generation will always be better than the old generation. I have three children. I am hoping that by becoming a lawyer I am raising the level of our family’s achievements for them to surpass. I want them to be better than me when they grow up. If one of them decides to become a lawyer, I am paving the way for them because I can guide and help them. My middle child is interested in becoming a lawyer someday. He is one of my compelling motivations to become a successful lawyer.
Third, I believe that lawyers never retire. I do not want to rely on my kids when I retire as a City Planner. Aside from my pensions, I want to continuously earn and practice law as long as I am abled. I do not want to ask my children for money to support myself and my wife but rather I want us to give support or have means to “spoil” our future grandchildren
Lastly, the noblest of my compelling reasons (motivation) is to defend the weak and oppressed. I personally experienced how people treat others when they are weak; when they do not have the means to defend themselves; and when they do not have resources or already disabled. I do not want others to feel and experience what I’ve been through. I’ll make it my advocacy to defend the weak and the oppressed.
I consider this essay as my personal time capsule. I will try to read this essay when I feel tired, demotivated, or about to give up. More importantly, I will go back and read this essay after five years. I hope that I am already a lawyer by that time. If not (I hope not), well, I might write another essay to capture and document what happened along the way.
My experience, strong mindset, motivation, determination and dedication will fuel my journey in attaining this new goal. This entry is my documentation of my decision and my commitment to my dream of becoming a lawyer.
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