Twice before, Regina Tungol had sifted through the list of Bar passers the moment the list was released, hoping to find her name there. Twice before, she ended up disappointed—none more heartbreaking than in 2017, when she lost her dad Richard to nasopharyngeal cancer and found out she had missed the passing mark by 0.05 points.
After those twin setbacks, she began second-guessing herself.
“Maybe this (law school) wasn’t for me,” Tungol said in Filipino. “I failed in my second take and all my friends who had failed the first time finally passed in their second take.”
The temptation to go back to a comfort zone, one in which she could find confidence in past successes, added to her reluctance to put herself through another rigorous process of law review and Bar exams.
“I had always wanted to return to volleyball,” Tungol said. “It’s something I had never turned my back on.”
She had an open invitation from a former coach, who told her in 2012 that she could easily land a spot in the Philippine Superliga.
Tungol, a former wing spiker for the La Salle-Dasmariñas Lady Patriots, once won a silver medal in the Petron Beach Volleyball tournament, where she partnered with former La Salle star Wensh Tiu. Even while in law school, she wasn’t really far from the sport, suiting up for San Beda’s law squad in the Conflicts of Law tournament, where she became a four-time MVP. And after two flops at becoming a lawyer, the pull of a more familiar court grew extremely strong.
But she needed to fulfill a promise to her late father. And if she wanted to pull through a third time, there was no way she could still shoehorn volleyball into her schedule.
“Both law school and volleyball demand full-time commitments,” Tungol, affectionately called Jin, said. “You can’t half-ass either of them. Besides, I’m not one to half-ass anything.”
So for the third time, “I continued pursuing law.”
“It’s just like volleyball,” said the 6-foot Cavite native. “You just need to hang tough and have faith in yourself. For me, everything started by fighting self-doubt and other negative thoughts. Just like my former coaches told me: Never give up, never give up.”
The moment this year’s results were released late last month, Tungol was understandably apprehensive at scrolling through the passers’ names.
“I was so nervous. I felt like throwing up while waiting for the results,” Tungol said.
And then there it was. Her name. No third heartache, no third failure.
“It’s difficult to explain how I feel; it’s more of relief,” she said. “This if for my dad.”
But if Tungol thought the Bar results wouldn’t bring tears to her eyes anymore, she was wrong.
One of the congratulatory messages she received was a picture of her father, holding his framed graduation photo, that a family friend sent to her mom. Tungol read the two-worded message typed on the picture: “Congrats, anak (child).”
“I wept hard,” she said. INQ
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