Mandaue City treasurer fulfills childhood dream

AFTER eight years of working in the government, Mandaue City Treasurer Regal Oliva enrolled in law school to pursue a childhood dream.

He passed the Bar exams last month and will take his oath as a lawyer in a few weeks.

“I don’t know how I did it,” he said in an interview, laughing.

Oliva, one of the youngest city treasurers in the country, juggled his job at City Hall and studies at the University of San Carlos (USC) College of Law for four years.

As if his studies and job were not enough, he also served as head of the law school’s student government and student publication (Lex Obiter) and the Association of Law Students in the Philippines.


(During his stint as editor-in-chief of the publication, Lex Obiter put out a fashion issue which became controversial at school.)

“I’ve always loved pressures,” Oliva said. “I want a lot of things on my hands.”

Before becoming Mandaue City treasurer, Oliva worked for seven years at Tacloban City Hall as the chief of staff of former mayor Alfredo Romualdez and later as head of the treasury office’s licensing division.

He got his bachelor’s degree in political science from the Silliman University in Dumaguete City in 1999. Two years later, while working in Tacloban,he got his master’s degree in fiscal administration from the same university.

He moved back to Mandaue in 2008 to serve as the city’s acting treasurer. He became city treasurer in 2010, a year after entering law school.

A true-bloodied Mandauehanon, Oliva is a grandson of retired judge Alejandro Mendoza, who served Mandaue when it was still a town as well as other municipalities.

Turning point

He recalled going to Mandaue City Hall with his mother, Toledo City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva, when he was little. She would introduce him to officials as the future successor of her father, Judge Mendoza.

Oliva said his plan to enter law school took a backseat when he went to Tacloban.

The year 2009 was a major turning point in his life. His father, who had cancer, kept urging him to study law while he attended to him at the hospital. His best friend, whose dream in life was to become a lawyer, was in the same hospital, battling a kidney ailment.

His father and bestfriend died that year. That’s when he decided to enroll in law school.

He graduated in April last year and took a leave from work from July to September last year to review for the Bar exams in Manila.

The exams were held at the University of Santo Tomas for four Sundays in October.

“Frankly speaking, I would say the Bar exam this year was not the most difficult exam I’ve ever taken,” he said. “I had more difficult exams in law school. But it wasn’t also the easiest.”

Inspiration Preparing for the Bar exam, he said, was the hardest part of the experience.

He went as far as having his hair--“my crowning glory”--shaved off so as not to get distracted from reviewing.

“I told myself that if I did not pass the exam, I will not take it again,” he said, adding he faced enormous pressure to pass being a widely known city treasurer.

What kept him inspired during those days, he said, was his seven-year-old adopted daughter and his family.

Oliva went back to work a day after the last day of the exam. He busied himself with work, without thinking of going on vacation. Taking a break, he said, would only remind him of those hard days preparing for the exam.

On March 18, the day the results were announced, Oliva was at a resort in northern Cebu, alone and meditating.

One of his law school teachers broke the news to him through a phone call.

“It’s euphoric, at the same time, surreal,” he said, describing the moment when he learned he passed the exam.


Oliva was among the 1,174 who passed the exam out of the 5,292 examinees.

The passers will take their oath later this month.

More than the “countless cups of coffee and countless liters of energy drinks” that helped him survive law school and the review that followed, Oliva credited his several years in public service for his success.

“Experience is best teacher,” he said.

Oliva said he will not leave City Hall anytime soon. He has to give back to the City, he said, for all the support and patience it showed throughout the years he studied law.

But he said he will focus on his law profession eventually, with tax planning for his specialization.

With all the sacrifices one has to make to become a lawyer, Oliva said: “The law profession is not glamorous. It’s more hard work than anything else.”

With his knack for multitasking, Oliva assured he will be an active and hard-working member of the Integrated Bar Philippines (IBP).

He said: “Watch out, IBP.”


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