BREAKING the more than century-old tradition of taking the Bar examinations, its regionalized setting took place starting Friday, February 4 and Sunday, February 6 at the University of St. La Salle (USLS)- Bacolod.

USLS is the lone school authorized as testing center by the Supreme Court, along with other testing centers nationwide.

Since it was postponed for two years, it's pretty exciting to see 2020 and 2021 bar candidates take their exams in their respective regions.

The anxiety level is immensely elevating from the previous Bar examinations. Bar candidates were required to have a negative Rapid Antigen test (RAT) before taking the exams.

The first day of the bar examinations was packed with mixed emotions.

Originally, there were 86 bar takers from the University of Negros Occidental Recoletos (UNO-R) in Bacolod but only 84 were admitted because the two tested positive for coronavirus.

Two other UNO-R graduates also took their examinations in Iloilo and Manila.

For USLS, there were 40 bar examinees.

The professors, and family, and friends of the bar takers also felt the pressure as this was the first time to be held during the (Covid-19) pandemic.

The bar exams were supposed to be held on January 23 and 25 but due to a significant number of bar examinees and the increase in number of bar personnel who were infected by the Covid-19, the Supreme Court decided to reset it.

Lawyer Dodie O. Turla, dean of the College of Law of UNO-R, said that the Supreme Court had assigned personnel to oversee the Bar exams in Bacolod.

"We are praying for the best for our bar examinees, considering that they have been preparing for almost two years. Most of the bar examinees were first-time takers," Turla said.

He added that the past bar examinations were usually done on four Sundays in September, but with these changes due to the pandemic, the regionalization was adopted.

It was the Supreme Court En Banc that reduced the examination days. There are morning and afternoon exams with a lunch break, and the examinees will have to come back on Sunday for the second day of the exams.

He is confident that the bar examinees who were more knowledgeable about the law can pass the bar exams. "They have to manage themselves, keep their composure to avoid mental block during the examinations.

The challenge is more on the psychological and emotional sides. "We hope and pray that this time around, there will be UNO-rians who will top the bar exams, Dean Turla said.

UNO-R is the first law school in Negros Occidental.

On the other hand, Judge Mavil Majarucon-Sia, a Constitutional Law professor of UNO-R, said they had shown moral support to the bar examinees.

She considered the regionalization of the bar exams to be advantageous to the bar examinees as during their reviews and the final bar exams, they were here in their place and with their family and friends. They could quickly get moral and financial support from them. Expenses-wise, they were able to save with the regional set-up. And emotionally, they have their family to comfort them when they face challenges.

The regionalized set-up entails less stress, and the weather is fair here compared to the weather condition in Manila.

She advised the examinees to be responsive to the questions.

She added the most challenging part of their journey was the conduct of the Rapid Antigen test, wherein it aggravated the stress level of the examinees. Unfortunately, some were tested positive for Covid-19.

"We are all praying for the success of our bar examinees. Let there be more bar passers this year," she said.

Former broadcaster Marty Go and also a bar taker said it was tiring but at least half of the battle has been won yesterday after his preparation for two years.

Go said this bar exam is unique because you initially need to hurdle the antigen test showing that you are Covid-free before you will be allowed to take the bar.