Bicolanos who made it to the Top 10 Bar Exams since 1930

(Updated, May 2, 2020)

Do you know that the Bicol Region was able to produce 39 bar examinees since 1930 who are crème de la crème for being in the top 10? And do you know that the First Female Bar Topnotcher is a Bicolana who also happened to be the First Female Senator of the Republic of the Philippines?

Bicolanos do not only love music and literary arts but are also legal luminaries. Since 1930, the region was able to produce 39 bar topnotchers or an average of two every three years. Five of them ranked first and these are Mae Diane Azores (2019), Edwin Enrile (1999), Romulo San Juan (1970), Gregorio Castillo (1957) and Tecla San Andres (1930) of Naga, Camarines Sur who was later married to a Ziga in the First District of Albay. With former Senator Domingo Imperial who took the exam in 1912, we’ll have six who ranked first in the bar exams

Prior to Azores who became famous for being a topnotcher from a provincial law school, Tecla San Andres stole the limelight for decades. She was the first female to top the bar exams and the First Female Senator of the Philippines. It was her feat that catapulted the Zigas to the political limelight for several decades.

And talking about politics, some of the noted bar topnotchers who forayed into politics and became senators, Aside from Tecla, are Leila De Lima (1985 bar exams, 10th place) and Dominador Aytona (1949 bar exams, 2nd place).

Aside from the University of Santo Tomas (UST-Legazpi, formerly known as Aquinas University), the University of Nueva Caceres (UNC) also produced three top 10 bar passers, and the Bicol Colleges. UNC produced John Michael Galauran who ranked 5th in 2007 bar exams; David C. Naval who also ranked 5th in 1960, and Benjamin Claveria who ranked 10th in 1958. Only Jose Evan who ranked 10th in 2003 came from Bicol Colleges.

Ten of the Bicolano topnotchers came from Ateneo de Manila and only six came from the University of the Philippines.

Below is the list of the Bicolanos who made it to the top 10 in the bar examinations from 1930.

YearPasser’s NameSchoolRankHometown
2019Mae Diane AzoresUST-Legazpi (Aquinas University)1stLegazpi City
2019Myra M. BarandaUST-Legazpi (Aquinas University)3rd  
2012Carmela D. BaseUniversity of the Philippines5thCabusao, Camarines Sur
2010Paolo Carlo C. TolentinoArellano University3rd  Tigaon, Camarines Sur
2009Jihan JacobSan Beda College9thNaga City, Camarines Sur
2007John Michael GalauranUniversity of Nueva Caceres5thNaga City, Camarines Sur
2007Ralph Karlo B. BarcelonaAquinas University (now UST-Legazpi)7thLegazpi City
2005Tamsin Rae N. LucilaUniversity of the Philippines5thCamalig, Albay*
2003Jose C, EvanBicol Colleges10thDaraga, Albay
1999Edwin R. EnrileAteneo de Manila1stNaga City, Camarines Sur
1993Maria Josefina G. SeAteneo de Manila5thLegazpi City
1992Priscilla B. ValerAteneo de Manila10thSto. Domingo Albay
1986Bernardo V. CabalAteneo de Manila7thBula, Camarines Sur
1985Lilian B. HeftiSan Beda College4thBacacay, Albay
1985Leila de LimaSan Beda College10thIriga City, Camarines Sur
1984Vivencio F. AbañoAteneo de Manila6thDaet, Camarines Norte
1980Jaime S. JacobSan Beda College3rd  Naga City, Camarines Sur
1977Nicolas J. Gomez, Jr.Ateneo de Manila10thPayo, Catanduanes
1971Romulo P. AtenciaAteneo de Manila5thBagamanoc, Catanduanes
1970Romulo D. San JuanUniversity of the Philippines1stSan Jacinto, Masbate
1969Quintin J. GarciaSan Beda College8thGuinabatan, Albay
1966Ruben F. BalaneUniversity of the Philippines2ndJuban, Sorsogon
1965Pio Y. GoUniversity of San Carlos8thCorpus, Masbate
1962Joaquin G. BernasAteneo de Manila9thBaao, Camarines Sur
1960David C. NavalUniversity of Nueva Caceres5thCalabanga, Camarines Sur
1959Custodio O. ParladeFar Eastern University4thLigao, Albay
1958Benjamin A. ClaveriaUniversity of Nueva Caceres10thBuhi, Camarines Sur
1957Gregorio R. CastilloUniversity of the Philippines1stBuhi, Camarines Sur
1956Carlos R. ImperialAteneo de Manila3rd  Daraga, Albay
1955Manuel T. MuroFar Eastern University7thMasbate, Masbate
1954Jose R. ViñasMLQU6thMalinao, Albay
1953Jose C. ReyesAteneo de Manila4thIriga , Camarines Sur
1950Gregorio S. TurianoFar Eastern University8thIriga City, Camarines Sur
1949Dominador AytonaUniversity of Manila2ndLibon, Albay
1948Irene R. CortesUniversity of the Philippines9thLibon, Albay
1947Juan M. HagadUniversity of the Philippines2ndCasiguran, Sorsogon
1946Jose L. PapaUST 5thLegazpi, Albay
1939Ramon FernandezUniversity of the Philippines2ndLibon, Albay
1930Tecla San AndresUniversity of the Philippines1st Naga, Camarines Sur
1912Domingo ImperialSan Beda College1stDaraga, Albay

* Lucila used Quezon City as her hometown but she originally came from Camalig, Albay according to former Albay Vice Gov. Lito Tuanqui

Sources: SolStrat Files, Supreme Court Lawyers’ List; and Lito Estevez Tuanqui

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