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High school teacher from Ilocos places 6th in Bar

Mark Dave Camarao makes history for Northwestern University, Ilocandia’s premiere university in Laoag City

TOPNOTCHER. Mark Camarao becomes the second bar topnotcher produced by the Northwern University in almost 6 decades.

MANILA, Philippines – Mark Dave Camarao knew May 3 was a big day for him, when the results of the 2016 Bar examination would come out. Because he didn’t want to see his parents upset if he failed, he made sure to leave the house that day, not knowing where to go.

“I just went out of our house that day and I just disembarked the bus and my feet just led me to church," he recalled, referring to the Sto Cristo Milagroso de Sinait Church in Sinait town, Ilocos Sur.

Little did Camarao know that he would make history as the first Bar topnotcher of Northwestern University in Laoag City in 5 decades. Before him, in the 1950s, Judge Zoilo Aguinaldo was the first Northwestern law graduate to make it to the top 10.

Camaro placed sixth among the 3,747 Bar passers. (READ: Highest in decades: Over 59% pass 2016 bar exams)

“I was insensibly crying because I didn’t know that I was a topnotcher. When they told me, I went back to the church,” he said.

The 25-year-old incoming lawyer juggled law school with teaching. He teaches English at Currimao National High School in Currimao, Ilocos Norte, which is 23 kilomters from Northwestern.

He would always come late for his law classes and be punished for it, but this never discouraged him. “My motivation was my family. And I had to double the effort. When I miss out on reading, I had to double time. It’s all about discipline. You have to have your law books in one hand and lesson plan in another,” Camarao said.

He recalled all the challenges he faced, and now could only laugh at the instances he brought his law books whereever he went, even in the bathroom.

“You eat with the law, you drink with the law. It’s all about mastery. You have your law, your logic, language, and the Lord.”

History maker

This is a big deal not only for Camarao but also for Northwestern University, Ilocandia’s premiere university based in Laoag.

“I’m actually very surprised. I was praying for a good result. I was praying for that results for our graduates. It’s hard to pray for a topnotcher, but here we are,” said Northwestern University president Ferdinand Nicolas, himself a lawyer.

He said they’re happy with the results although they still don’t have the tally of the university’s passing rate.

Nicolas described Camarao as "a very diligent student" who was "very persistent… and it paid off."

Nicolas said the results of this year’s Bar, which were topped by schools and universities outside Metro Manila, showed that quality education is not monopolized by the country’s capital.

Camarao agreed. “Maybe it’s about time for our provincial law schools to shine. We have brilliant students. We are competitive. We have the same materials, we are studying the same law. It’s about time."

He has this piece of advice for law students, especially those working while studying.

“To those who are working and at the same time studying to become a lawyer, dream big. You don’t know where God can lead you. Time management, perseverance, and faith in God. Time management is the key.” –