WHEN THE result of the 2022 bar examinations was being flashed on Facebook via a livestream from the Supreme Court, 65-year old Nancy Regis was cleaning the porch of her house in Sogod, Southern Leyte. 

Since retiring from her work as the chief of civil registry of Sogod two years ago, Regis has kept herself busy having her review as she just completed her law degree, and in the last few months has been personally running all household concerns including cleaning the house as if waiting for something big to come.

The big news came on Friday afternoon while she was doing her porch, a call to her mobile phone came from his son who is based in a remote town – Regis is among the 3,992 passed out of the 9,183 takers of one of the toughest licensure examinations in the country.

At 65, Regis may be the oldest or among the oldest ones who passed this year’s bar examination.

“It was her childhood dream to become a lawyer someday. She can now take a full rest, relax and enjoy her full retirement,” says Dr. Napoleon Nazarene Regis, known to his patients as Dr. Reno, her youngest child who is an attending physician at Pintuyan District Hospital, the remotest hospital in Southern Leyte.

“Passing the bar is just a big bonus to her but if she decides to practice as a lawyer, the whole family will support her decision. She will be the one to decide,” Dr. Reno says.

Regis’ desire to become a lawyer was largely influenced by her father, Herbert Dejarme, who was a topnotch lawyer in Tacloban City during his time.

“My mom grew up looking up to her father as her inspiration. My lolo also wanted at least one of his eight children to follow in his footsteps but none of them turned out to be a lawyer until my mom took it upon herself to realize my lolo’s dream,” Dr. Reno said.

Nancy was already taking up law courses when she became pregnant at 23 years old. One child came after another until she had four children. “She is a hands-on mom, not only to us but also to her grandchildren. To her, family comes first before her personal dreams,” he said.

“She made a choice to set aside her dreams and put first the dreams of her children to finish school. Life was hard, life was tough but they all made it through,” Dr. Reno posted on Facebook paying tribute to his mom.

Tough school life

“Even while she was raising us, she never totally forgot her dream to become a lawyer someday,” Dr. Reno said, adding, “Before my grandfather passed away due to cancer, she reiterated to mom his desire for her to pursue law studies. She encouraged mom to finish her law studies and be a lawyer when all of us children have finished our studies.”

This prompted Nancy to go back to school to get a law degree at the College of Maasin. “It was tough because she also wanted to personally take care of her grandchildren,” Reno said.

At some time, Nancy would attend her classes while carrying a grandchild in her arms. “There was a time when she was taking her exams and her two-year-old apo was getting restless. She would shush the child to quiet him,” he said.

Despite her age, Nancy did not feel any discrimination from her classmates at law school, one of them was Dr. Reno’s classmate in high school. “She would participate in school activities and bond with her classmates, except going to a party. Hatid sundo siya ni papa,” says Dr. Reno.

She finished her Juris Doctor in 2020 and resigned from the government in 2021 when Dr. Reno passed the medical licensure examination.

Nancy’s husband, Nap Regis, is a provincial board member of Southern Leyte, who is all support to his wife’s decision to finish her law degree and become a full-fledged lawyer.

During the month-long bar examinations, Nap had to take a break from his work at the provincial capitol to attend to his wife’s needs and accompany her to Tacloban for the bar examination.

“He was my mom’s one-man bar-ops team,” Dr. Reno said. “He would bring her to the venue and wait there until the examination was over. He would buy her lunch, and cook their meals when they are at the rented house,” he said.

On weekends, the whole family would drive to Tacloban to support her and be with them.

“We frequently reminded her that being able to graduate from law school, going through the bar review and taking the bar exam together with people twice or thrice as young as her age, is already something to celebrate! So just keep calm and take the exam as if it’s just another pop quiz,” wrote Dr. Reno in his post.

“To everyone who is reading this, if you are going through something unspeakable, if you are enduring a silent battle, if you think you are not enough because you lack financial support, you have so many priorities, you feel too old, you feel left behind and if you are dreaming and hoping of something that seems so, so far away, hang on to that flicker of hope inside you, and let this be a sign, a testament that in time, in God’s precious perfect time, also YOU CAN MAKE IT!” he added. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail April 10-16, 2023 issue)