MARAWI City – After the release of the results of the 2022 bar examinations, Marawi City will again be flooded with huge congratulatory tarpaulins for its new lawyers.
When I visited Marawi last February, I was really amazed at the proliferation of eye-catching tarpaulins as high as a person, in houses, buildings, commercial or residential, even along highways, confirming its status as the City of Streamers. One can seldom see houses and buildings with no tarpaulins.
The results of the November 2022 bar exams were released last April 14, 2023, where 3,992 successful examinees comprise 43.47 percent of 9,183 takers.
Last year’s bar exam was the second to be held digitally and across multiple testing sites across the country. Laptops were allowed in taking the exams, and gone was the traditional hand-writing of essays.
The Mindanao State University (MSU) College of Law noted on its Facebook account that there are 81 new MSU lawyers,19 from its main campus in Marawi City, 29 from Iligan Extension, and 33 from General Santos Extension.
The interplay of streamers and culture was discussed In a 2015 research paper by Monara Hamiydah Maruhom of Marawi State University entitled “The Maranao Streamers and Tarpaulins as Tools of Communication: An Ethnographic Study”.
The study noted that a symbol is one of the important things that a particular group of people share in the same culture.
The Maranao folk are popularly noted for being verbal as evidenced by the different types of streamers, billboards, and tarpaulins hanged and posted all over the City of Marawi and the Province of Lanao del Sur, where they are dominant.
Approximately 90 percent of the Maranao families use streamers/tarpaulins on special occasions as part of their culture to honor people.
For the Maranao folk, the study stressed, it is like nothing happens if the achievements of their kins and comrades are not made known in public through streamers or tarpaulins.
For instance, if somebody is to be enthroned as a Sultan, the public must be informed at least two weeks before the occasion by hanging streamers and posting tarpaulins, otherwise his enthronement is considered illegitimate or null.
Likewise, if someone passes a certain board examination, greetings through this medium are everywhere; otherwise, rumors will spread all over the place that he did not pass the said examination.
Streamers and tarpaulins are very important media forms in confirming any kind of achievements among the Maranao folk.
The messages in the streamers, tarpaulins, billboards, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and websites “all speak and reflect his sacrifices and achievements that need to be conveyed to his community of one brotherhood, united in blood, aspirations and in one faith which he tenaciously hold on, practice and will defend no matter what at all cost.”
The study underscored that “ the Maranao, his ethnic identity which is further strengthened by his faith in Islam makes him survive against all odds just like any order Filipinos who cross new boundaries to attain the ‘impossible dream’ ”.
Of the top 30 of the 2022 bar exam, eleven were from the University of the Philippines (UP) including the five topnotchers led by its valedictorian Czar Matthew Dayday with a score of 88.8083 percent. UP was also one of the Top Three performing schools with an overall passing rate of 94.27 percent, and a 95.02 percent passing rate among first-time takers.
Among the group of most prominent schools or those with over 100 takers, ADMU had the highest passing rate at 96.74 percent, followed by San Beda at 96.67 percent, UP at 94.27 percent, USC at 91.43 percent, and the University of Santo Tomas at 78.09 percent.
The previous batch 2020-2021 yielded 8,241 out of 11,402 (72.28 percent) aspiring lawyers who passed.
The highest passing rate was the 1954 Bar, where 75.17 percent passed.
The lowest was in 1999 with 16.59 percent with a total number of 660 successful examinees. My bar buddy and former solicitor general Florin Hilbay was the topnotcher.
Marawi landed in headlines due to the so-called “ Marawi siege” which was a five-month-long armed conflict in Marawi that started on May 23, 2017, between the Philippine government security forces against militants affiliated with the Islamic State, including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi jihadist groups.
The estimated casualties reported were 978 militants killed; 12 militants captured; 168 government forces killed; 1,400+ government forces wounded and 87 civilians dead.
The battle left the city in ruins with 95 percent of the structures within Ground Zero (4 square kilometers) of the main battle area being heavily damaged or completely collapsed.
May the tarps be reminders that lawyers are expected to uphold the ethical and moral values that are essential to the fabric that holds society together.
(Peyups is the moniker of the University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)