Some say a successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend, and a successful woman is one who can find such a man.
But for 32-year-old lawyer Yvonne Epondulan, a woman does not need a man to be financially stable and successful.
“I love myself more now. I don’t need a man to be happy,” said the single mother.
A lawyer practicing in Cebu City for the past three years, she has to balance her time and attention between her career and daughter, 10-year-old Indira.
This means waking up early in the morning to prepare Indira for school and dropping her off before going to work until mid-afternoon.
She picks up her daughter later, cooks dinner and helps with her class assignments.
A hands-on mother, Yvonne does not have a nanny for her child.
The native of Hinundayan, Southern Leyte graduated cum laude with a degree in Psychology from Silliman University in Dumaguete City.
She had thought of pursuing a master’s degree in psychology but her father urged her to take up law.
Acceding to her father’s wishes, she admitted, was her way of making up for becoming a single mother at 22. She graduated in 2009 from the University of Cebu College of Law.
The journey was not easy. Not wanting to burden her parents with expenses of law school, she worked during her first and second year. She eventually had to give up her job to focus on her studies with her parents more than happy to support her.
Competition in law school was tough and one had to come prepared to class to hold up against other full-time students. Aside from that, she said, she had a troubled relationship that left her crying at night.
“Instead of pulling me down, it was my driving force. I told myself, if I allow this to ruin my studies, there will be nothing left for me,” she said.
Yvonne got sick after graduating in 2009. She took the Bar examinations in 2010, passed and joined the roster of lawyers the next year.
The succeeding years were spent working on cases about human rights and immigration concerns at the law office of lawyer Kim Grace Mendoza. There she developed her skills in litigation, family law, criminal law and labor law.
At present, she’s a partner in another law office alongside Ian Vincent Cavada Manticajon and Philline Reluya-Yu. Most of their clients are from the corporate world although she also handles cases in other areas.
Working in a male-dominated profession, Yvonne said she’s thankful she has not experienced discrimination.
Senior practitioners have been willing to lend a hand. Sometimes she has to deal with unwanted advances from some male clients.
“Maybe they think they can easily get me because I am a single mom,” she said.
With her hectic schedule balancing work and motherly duties, all she has time for are professional relationships, she said.
Sometimes she worries about the risks of law practice, especially after the February murder of Cebu lawyer Noel Archival, a killing allegedly involving police officers whom he sued on behalf of his client .
But she said she’s more thankful for her career and the support of her family, especially her father’s direction.
“I don’t regret becoming a mother early. If it had not happened, maybe I would not be what I am today. Everything happens for a reason,” she said.