Happy at the top

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Sunday, March 29, 2015


"WHEN I was a child, I wanted to be a scientist, and then an astronaut! What happened? Reality got in the way.”

Top 5 random 'Mishi trivia'

1. “I’m a chocoholic… mang-gigil ko mo-hoard but I only eat a little each day. I just love the idea having different choices inside the fridge.”

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2. “I can get restless when it comes to studying. I can’t stand studying in one place. I feel the need for food and music, or to have
a TV (watching cartoons), be online on Facebook, or have a cellphone in hand. I’d go crazy if I was studying in a really silent room! That’s why you rarely see me in the library.”

3. “During the review, there were times I would study in the closet (I didn’t close the door! I used a shelf layer as a table and put in a desk lamp) or on top of the sink, kay puol na gyud kaayo ang desk, ang bed, ug ang maleta.

4. “People who don’t know me think I’m snobbish. But I’m really talkative and kind of bonkers once they get to know me.”

5. “I love to cook! Cooking is a stress reliever for me. During the review, I attempted to cook spaghetti with our water heater.

I didn’t realize it would produce so much smoke that I feared that the smoke alarm in the hotel would go off.” (She said she also tried doing poached eggs and oatmeal with the water heater, but pasta would probably be something she won’t attempt again because, although it was successful, the extra effort “keeping the smoke to a minimum” was very stressful.)

As young as she was—setting the bar to astronomical heights—this lady’s innate drive to succeed is unmistakable. But truth be told, Michelle Liao wouldn’t have Thursday, March 26, 2015, any other way.

The result of the 2014 Bar Exams in the Philippines was officially released that day, and the numbers were staggering—only 18.82 percent, 1,126 of 5,984 examinees—passed the test. Michelle placed fifth with a rating of 84.5 percent, and was the only examinee from Cebu law schools (University of Cebu) who made it to the top 10.

“I can definitely say that I have no regrets,” expresses the 31-year-old, about all the mental toil and immense studying one undertakes to be in a spot where she is right now. “And I thank God for His guidance and blessings for the paths that I have taken and will yet take.”

It was a whirlwind weekend for the new lawyer who was on one hand, taking in praise after praise for her feat, and on the other, was also busy denying presumptions that she was a workaholic.

Her graduating in accountancy magna cum laude, from the University of San Carlos, and being a cum laude and class valedictorian in law school at the University of Cebu, didn’t really help her case.

“I don’t see myself as a workaholic, really,” Michelle, or Mishi to her peers, states. “But somehow, I end up doing demanding tasks. It’s like I don’t really go out looking for work but when I have to do something, I want it done right.”

Interestingly, the evidence is stacked against her.

Mishi, before enrolling herself in law school, worked as an auditor for one of the country’s better known audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms for four years. She resigned when she began law school, but when in her second year, she realized that she can’t stand a life of merely “pure studying.”

“Instead of wasting my ‘not studying’ time watching DVDs, I decided to work and earn.” And so she did, landing a job in the accounting department of a manufacturing corporation, and working there until she graduated from law school.

When it was time for review though, it was all focus on studying. Needless to say, no book was spared and page unturned; important lines that stood out frequently met the tip of a bleeding neon highlighter.

Exam month came, last October to be exact, and she did what she had to do. She was ready, albeit, no lofty goals were set. Not even becoming a topnotcher, like how she eventually did.

“I’m sure everyone toys with the idea, but it seems so far-fetched and that just passing the exam would already be cause for celebration.”

“For me, I just wanted to do what I can to the point that I can comfortably say that whatever happens, I did my best. What happened last October? That was all I could muster mentally, physically and emotionally,” Michelle explains.

She credits God’s guidance as the number one factor that kept her going. The rest, she says, just follows suit. She pushes herself to the limit until she can erase any doubt of not being able to give it her all.

Also to note, Michelle is the first female topnotcher produced by the university. “I’m just happy to give this honor back to my school because I really feel they take care of students very well. The teachers’ dedication is amazing and as a student, it inspires you to do your best, after all they did for you.”

“My parents are also very happy. And I’m happy to have given them this as well.”

At present, Michelle is leaning toward corporate law, as she’s most comfortable of the subject given her background in accounting. And also, she’ll have to find the time to finish her driving lessons, given the brand new car she received from her university as a reward.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2015.

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