Former ice candy seller and vendor's son appointed as municipal trial court judge

MANILA, Philippines – Judge James Abalos Fernandez was appointed the new judge of the 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) in Tublay-Atok Benguet. He was sworn into office by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo at the Supreme Court of the Philippines Session Hall on March 27, 2023. As he achieved success, he reflected on his inspiring journey from poverty to becoming a CPA (certified public accountant), then a lawyer, and finally a municipal trial court judge.

Judge James Abalos Fernandez looked back at his inspiring journey to success
Judge James Abalos Fernandez looked back at his inspiring journey to success. Photo Courtesy: Facebook/ Judge James Abalos Fernandez

In a Facebook post, Judge Fernandez shared how he grew up in poverty. His father was a carpenter who died when he was 10 years old, while his mother was an ambulant vendor. Since his father’s passing, Judge Fernandez helped his mother make ends meet by selling different street foods.

He wrote, “After his burial, I started selling ice candy in the neighborhood. This is so to help my mother in our daily expenses. From elementary to high school, I used to sell banana cue, barbeque, palamig, halo-halo, lumpia and hot cake. I help my mama cook the food she sells in the neighborhood and other places near Bulanao to barter for rice or vegetables. My mother was a very industrious woman!”

He was the youngest of nine siblings and said he had big dreams despite their hardships. He recalled, “I am an ordinary person full of ambitions.”

Determined to reach his dreams, Judge Fernandez used education as a way to overcome his impoverished life. He sold ice cream to earn a school allowance and walked for miles to get to school. With his perseverance, Judge Fernandez was able to finish high school as the class valedictorian. This paved the way for him to become an academic scholar in BS Accountancy at Saint Louis University in Baguio.

In order to support himself financially during college, he worked part-time while also attending classes. He wrote, “In college, I was also a working student. I was a grantee of the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) during the summer and became a student assistant in our school library during school days in order for me to have money to use for my daily need.”

Judge Fernandez was the only one among his batch who passed the Certified Public Accountant Licensure Examination (CPALE).

But being an accountant didn’t stop Judge Fernandez from aspiring for more. He enrolled in law school while working in the accounting office of the Baguio Local Government Unity (LGU). “I studied at night and worked during daytime and weekends. This has been very tough on my part. But I never quit,” he shared.

Judge Fernandez went on to pass the 2014 Bar Exam and became a public attorney in 2016. As he was finally sworn in as a new judge, he paid tribute to his mother, who was his inspiration in life. He wrote, “Mama, Kung nandito ka lang, alam ko ikaw na ang pinakamasaya sa lahat. I hope I made you proud up there!!! I miss you ma. I love you.”

— Sally, The Summit Express

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