I am blessed and privileged to be one of the 8,241 passers out of 11,402 examinees of the 2020-2021 Philippine Bar Examination. This blessing also came with a bonus - I was also among the 761 recognized for their exemplary performance in the licensure test.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the Central Philippine University where I graduated magna cum laude, I decided to pursue Juris Doctor at the same university.
I opted to become a lawyer because I wanted to grow my career. I believe that learning is a continuous process, a continuous pursuit of wisdom. In addition, I deem that being a lawyer is a good profession, that it can contribute in building a society – as long as we, specially the next generation of lawyers would thread the right path.
And of course, I am also undaunted and motivated by my desire to lift my family from poverty.
They say, law school is a “jealous partner”, and, it was indeed. We had to contend with strict professors, long line of cases to be digested, among other things. Finding new friends in law school was really of great help. And since I was a working student, I really found it hard to balance work and studies. I had to deal with two pressure-driven environments. But with grit, resilience and fortitude – and of course, with the help from my family and friends, I managed to graduate from law school as a regular student, in a period of four years.
My parents are Nestor Flores Bibera, a retired Dean’s Office clerk of De Paul College, Iloilo City and Emelita Lumawag Bibera who is self-employed. My father, mother and my siblings Tesza, Nestor Jr., and Peter Matthew have been supportive in my career choice.
Aside from my family, there are countless other persons who made an impact on my life: the persons whom I shared time with at De Paul College, at Iloilo National High School, at Central Philippine University, at DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS, at Commission on Audit, at St. Clement’s Church and at Plazuela de Iloilo Zumba.
Moreover, I wouldn’t stand a chance entering law school if it weren’t for SM Foundation which helped me finish my tertiary education through their college scholarship program.
As an SM Scholar, I enjoyed a lot of privileges. I did not have to worry about my tuition and other fees for my BS in Accountancy degree since they were all been taken care of by SM. I even had the opportunity to work at the SM gift wrapping section during one summer – which thought me the value of customer service.
I will never forget the experience when I personally met Tatang Henry Sy Sr. and Nanang Felicidad Sy, whom we consider as our second parents as SM scholars. I also remember having a chance to meet the Sy siblings, who gave me a lot of encouragement that memorable evening—making me feel that I was part of their family.
To remember that night, they gave each scholar a watch, with our names engraved on it. For me, it is a personal and intimate gesture. It signifies the moment in time when I achieved something great – a culmination of years of hard work and dedication.
Due to the values imparted by SM Foundation of spreading social good, I chose to work in the Commission on Audit. Aside from my strong belief in the fulfillment of its mandate, it is an organization where I can put into better use my skills as a Certified Public Accountant by serving as a guardian of public funds.
As an SM scholar alumna, I want other scholars to follow their own paths. Every person has his/her own purpose in life and I respect that purpose. I want them to find that purpose without comparing themselves to that of others. Each of us is unique, however, true purpose is about recognizing your own gifts and using them to contribute to the world – whether those gifts are helping your family rise above poverty, doing development work in your respective communities, or by simply bringing more joy to the lives of those around you.
To those who belong to economically challenged families like me, I say this: believe that education is the key to a better life. Reaching for your dreams can get tiresome but don’t give up, hold on to grit. And when you finally achieve your dream, be sensitive, humble, and pay it forward.
About the author:
Atty. Neslie Bibera is a State Auditor 1 at the Commission on Audit. She is an SM scholar alumna.