Conquering the Impossible

Looking back, the thought of having two titles, let alone attaining them in one year, never really crossed my mind. Back then, I was so focused on preparing for my goal to do well in the CPA Licensure Exam. However, I was already aware of the CMA certification through hearing and reading about it. During my last semester in the undergrad, one of my professors reached out and introduced to me the certification. He explained how the title will help me to be m/ore competitive in the global environment and how he can help me in attaining that CMA title. I was hesitant at first and I did not really think it through. In the end, I decided to just go with the flow, do what everybody else is doing as most of my classmates went for it. Without much thinking, I signed up for it.

But then again, the journey was not smooth sailing as doubt started creeping in. Will I be able to pass and meet their expectations? More importantly, will I be able to pay for the fee? As most of us are aware of, the costs for the review and exam registration is not a joke. Gladly, the program that was offered to me made it easier in terms of preparation for the exams and payment scheme.

After braving through the tough CPA Licensure Exam in October 2018, we went straight to the two-week review period for the CMA Examinations afterwards. It was not easy as most of us were already exhausted after the CPALE and the time given to us to prepare seemed too short at that time. It was a tough two weeks as we had to master all the remaining topics in such a short period. The agony of waiting for the CPALE results definitely did not help as the results may come anytime during the review period. Nevertheless, the CPA-CMA review program definitely helped as everything we have studied for CPALE were still fresh and most lessons are still relevant for the CMA Exams. We took the CMA exams the same month we took the CPALE.

Fast forward to December 2018, results came and most of us were ecstatic as we have already achieved our goal of having two titles in one year. Not until I passed that 2-part exam that I realized that it is, in fact, possible.

Just when I thought that God has given me so much blessings already, another news came from Sir Angel that was unexpected. Before the CMA Ball, he told me that because of being 5th placer in the CPALE, I would be awarded a scholarship for the CMA program, meaning all the fees will be waived.  I was overwhelmed and truly grateful as this scholarship did not only help me and my family but it also inspired me to always do more and to always aim for excellence in everything that I do.

It did not end there yet. January came and I received another exciting news that I will be awarded a Student Certificate of Distinguished Performance for being one of the top scorers in our testing window and that I, together with the other awardees, will be going to the US to personally receive our awards. Just last June 2019, we went to San Diego, California to attend the IMA’s Annual Conference and Expo 2019 wherein we personally received our awards and participated in the conference’s educational sessions.

I am truly delighted and thankful to God that I was given so much more than what I aimed for. I wouldn’t be able to achieve all this without the help of Insights team, especially Sir Angel and Sir Cabug, and my family who have been very supportive of me all throughout. To all aspiring CMAs, you’ll never know it is possible until you try. Dream big and do your best. It’s not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Norman Vincent Peale

 

About the Author:

Charissa Mae S. Espinola is a magna cum laude graduate from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Bachlor of Science in Accountancy. She earned her CPA credential in October 2018, obtaining the fifth highest score of 90.17%. Also in October 2018, she took the 2-Part CMA examination and was awarded the Student Certificate of Distinguished Performance award for earning the second highest exam score among students who took the examination worldwide. She currently works as an external auditor in one of the Big Four accounting firms.

Fearlessly Destined

Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. Ever since I was a child, I am already a believer of that saying. However, there are things that we cannot control. Some things come unexpectedly which happen to be one of the best in our lives.

Since childhood, I was already active in school, may it be in academics or extra-curricular activities. From elementary to university life, I really enjoyed joining different organizations while keeping up with my academics . Having the curiosity led me to question and study those around me. When I earned my two bachelor’s degrees in 1) Management Accounting and 2) Accountancy, I went to Manila to review for the board exams. It so happened that I met Mr. Angel Secerio and Ms. Ronie Paras who gave me more details about the CMA Program. Upon learning more about it, I became so interested and consulted my parents who gladly agreed to provide me the resources I needed. It was also a good thing to have availed of the “Pass Now, Pay Later” scheme given by Insights Financial Review Services. I was thankful because it was an opportunity for me to further advance my career.

During my review days at Insights, I always looked forward to attending the review sessions. Aside from the learning I had during my university years and from Wiley Gold review materials, I learned something new and deep everyday. I found the lessons truly enjoyable as it also tackled practical lessons in economics, finance, and accounting. The review became more enjoyable because the review rooms were very conducive to learning. The instructors and people from Insights were very approachable. Sleepless nights and days passed and I didn’t notice my examination days were getting closer. I still continued to study and practice using the review materials I had from Insights and Wiley. The support and guidance I had especially from my family gave me the strength and the will to do my best during the review and exam days.

During the review proper until the present, IMA sends updates, news, and more about the profession and the organization. But one day, a particular email caught my attention. It was an invitation to attend the IMA 100th Annual Conference and Expo to be held in San Diego, California. Deep inside, I wanted to attend that prestigious event. I even jokingly asked my parents if they would allow me to go to the USA if I passed the CMA exam. Luckily, they said yes. However, they told me not to think about it yet, but just focus on the review and exam instead. That statement from my parents made me more motivated to stay on track and do better. Focus, focus, and focus.

Days  passed  and  examination  days  came.  I  was  amazed  because I found myself more prepared than what I expected to be. The preparation was really harder and longer than the actual battle. It took sleepless nights and days to actually prepare for a day or two for an exam.

As I was soundly sleeping, a loud thunder was heard and the rain fell which woke me up in the middle of the night. I could not go back to sleep so I decided to check my email. I was surprised and nervous when I saw an email from IMA with a subject, “ICMA Examination Results”. I could barely click on it as my hands were shaking. Luckily, I passed the exam with a high score. I could not believe that I did it. It was an achievement that I, alone, could not have done without the support and guidance of my parents, siblings, family, friends, professors, reviewers, and Insights. I owe this one especially to God, my parents, and the Insights team.

I finally applied for my visa upon passing the exam so I could attend the event in San Diego, California. Luckily, I had my visa approved. The conference week in June 2019 came and I was really excited to meet a lot of people. I learned a lot from the conference and enjoyed it together with  my  IMA  Philippines  colleagues,  Insights  team,    and  newly  found  friends  from  the conference. It really was a one of a kind experience. Now, as my CMA journey starts, I begin it with enthusiasm, dedication, and courage. Who knows what is up in the future? We’ll figure it out.

Our destiny is not really a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It may be pre-planned but it is always us who decides on things – whether we continue it or not. Never let fear be a barrier from pursuing what we want.  Some setbacks, when used as stepping stones, serve as challenges for a major achievement. Always strive to do better. For in the end, it will pave way for bigger rewards and ultimately greater things in life.

 

About the author:

Von Jozelle Galinato Mangibin graduated cum laude in both BS Management Accounting, and BS Accountancy at Saint Louis University batch 2017 and 2018, respectively. She is fond of going places, meeting new people, and learning from her different experiences wherever situated. At present, she is enjoying her vacation in the USA.

#RoadtoSanDiego

What started as a joke became one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

It all started when CMA began to be offered to higher ups in our college. It seemed pretty normal at first, getting another certification aside from becoming a CPA. Personally, I did not pay much attention as I always had other things in mind. However, hearing news that someone from our college received an award and will be awarded in the United States caught my attention. I immediately thought what if I could also get a chance to receive an award. It would have been nice to go to a new place. Then, the rest of college life happened and this was buried in my “what ifs”.

During my undergraduate years, I always said that I enjoyed Economics and Financial Management more than Accounting itself. I really devoted effort in understanding these topics which were not really a focus in the accountancy curriculum. I also found management accounting subjects enjoyable not only because of the topics but because of the international references we use which contains real corporate applications. I’m the kind of guy who reads the stories in small boxes. This was something fresh compared to recurring problems in financial accounting or other topics.

When an offer for us to take CMA after our CPA licensure examination was given to us, I was hesitant at first. First of all, it was expensive, even if it was on a “Pass-now, Pay-later” scheme. Second, the review would only start right after the last day of the CPALE. However, it was said that global top performers will be awarded in San Diego for this year. I think that line pushed me to register, while jokingly saying #RoadtoSanDiego.

At that point I did not realize it would soon come true.

I took comprehensive examinations in preparation for CMA in the middle of my CPALE review without much preparation. I remember even going out the night before those examinations. It was not that easy taking the exams with topics you have not given much focus for the CPALE. However, I did find this enjoyable, mainly because I get to assess knowledge not from short-term memory but from embedded or stock knowledge. It is a “You will know it when you feel it” kind of thing. This really helped me trust my instincts and practice critical thinking.

The CPALE review came like a breeze and so did the examination. It was a tiring run, and now I just realized I have another two weeks of review for another set of examinations. What pushed me to continue the run was that I may not correct my shortcomings from the CPALE, but I can make sure it won’t happen in the CMA. In addition to this, the results of the CPALE was released the night before my CMA Part 1 exam, which really pushed me to translate my excitement to motivation for the CMA.

Adding to the motivation was the Wiley online learning reference available to us which really augmented my mastery of the topics. Listening and taking notes did contribute to learning, but when you are given a limited amount of time, for me it is best to get ahead of the review sessions and just focus on the parts you need to master. I did my best to maximize time by finishing the Wiley Gold online study material provided during review and finish more questions through its simulated examinations. In this short span of time, I was surprised with the amount of questions I finished answering, and I maintained this routine for the next week.

The essay part was new and challenging, but I did not let it become a challenge. By the time you are reading this, you might realize that I talk or write a lot. I had to deal with it through limited time. I did not memorize anything, but I did browse through the entire CMA review textbook before taking both parts. I managed to finish it within the day by focusing on things I still have not mastered, and quickly skimming over those I already know. During the actual essay part, all I did was express myself and let my mind direct the answers.

Looking back, I realized that I wouldn’t have made it through without the effort to retain somehow topics learned years ago. I credited this to my approach to focus on concepts during the undergraduate years, even if I have not answered many problems. I did not excel much in my scores back then but I know that I could retain my knowledge on these topics, and that surely helped me in taking the CMA exam.

Passing CMA is just the beginning of my journey, as I explore the professional world and enrich my knowledge with actual experience. My CMA journey is neither the best path nor the only path to take, but I did learn something from this: the next time you would want something, you can really get it, but first, you’ve got to earn it!

 

About the author: Marc graduated magna cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. He earned his CPA License in October 2018, obtaining the fourth highest score of 90.33%. He also took the two-part CMA Examination during the October 2018 window and was awarded the Priscilla S. Payne Outstanding Student Performance Award, by obtaining the highest score among CMA takers in the student category. He is currently working as an external auditor in one of the Big Four accounting firms.

Going For It!

You’ve got to earn it.

Those were the words uttered repeatedly on the first day of our CMA review classes. At first, we thought it was quite funny, hearing Dean Kenji Asano say it over and over with full conviction as the CMA Ambassador in the Philippines. Looking back, I realize that those words still resound to me until this day – but now with a different light – have I earned it?

I was in my 5th year in college when I decided I wanted to become a Certified Management Accountant. I had a lot of second guessing – considering that I wasn’t planning to pursue further studies or take additional certifications until I knew what was relevant to my chosen career path. Certifications, especially international ones, also tend to be costly. As a student, I didn’t want to impose further unnecessary financial burden to my parents. But I thought that the chance to obtain a globally-recognized certification, even before I graduate, would open greater opportunities both for my personal and professional development.

Conveniently, UST-AMV College of Accountancy provided us, students, opportunities to gain a wider perspective of what was ahead of us. On the other hand, Insights Financial Review Services structured payment terms as well as review and examination schedules in a way that made earning an international certification credential very accessible. The only question left was whether I can do it.

I did not have the chance to worry about the CMA Exam until the time when I had to take it. I just decided that I would, and took one step at a time from then on – last semester in college, graduation, reviewing and preparing for the CPA Licensure Examination. With God’s grace, I was fortunate enough to get through them. There was not much time to recover since a day after the CPALE, CMA review classes instantaneously began.

With all honesty, reviewing was a struggle at that point. A part of me just wanted to be free of all the academic responsibilities and slack off without guilt – which was obviously not possible. I had already invested in the program, and failing was not an option, although I believe I wasn’t in the best condition to study anymore. My other batchmates were either applying for a job, enjoying themselves someplace I dreamt of going as well, or simply catching extra hours of sleep. Good thing we were reminded, “You’ve got to earn it.”

I did my best to absorb all the information I can get during the review classes. I made it a point to answer the materials the day they were given and take down notes that may be helpful later on. I also utilized the top-class Wiley Gold online study course which helped me get in to the best exam-taking mode possible. But with one week to prepare for each part of the exam, I regretted not starting earlier. I feared that I may not be able to finish everything on time so I focused on topics I wasn’t very familiar with, read discussions on them and answered extra practice questions. Wiley’s digital flashcard notes were very helpful too when I needed a review on major discussion points. When things get monotonous, I read through sample essay questions to figure out answering through them. But that was just me. I couldn’t have done it without the foundation on management accounting topics which I owe to my college professors, and my friends with whom I exchanged questions and reviewed with until the moment we had to enter the Prometric examination room.

One week flew by and it was time to take the first part of the exam. In fact, the results of the CPALE came out on that same day. I wasn’t able to celebrate entirely but it sure gave me the confidence I needed to get through another exam. By the end of October, I was through with all the exams I had to take. I honestly couldn’t tell how I did so I waited hopefully for the results. I was already very grateful to pass both parts of the examination when a congratulatory email from IMA came six weeks later.

Now I ask again, have I earned it? I’d like to believe I am still in the process of doing so. As with anything, it is a series of being brave enough to make decisions, and even braver to own up to them, amidst doubts, challenges, and whatnot. My CMA journey, though only beginning, has taught me that you’re never really ready for anything. You can only hope to do so much and pray that God gets you through it. So I say when someone tells you that you’ve got to earn it, just go for it.

 

About the author: Francyne graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in BS Accountancy and earned her CPA License in 2018. She took the 2-part CMA Examination during the October 2018 window and was awarded the Student Certificate of Distinguished Performance by the ICMA Board of Regents at the IMA Conference and Expo held in San Diego, California. She is currently working as an external auditor with one of the top accounting firms in the Philippines.

The Long Journey That Led To Victory

I think my passion for Management Accounting started out during the first semester of my senior year as an Accountancy student in college. It was the first time I ever encountered Cost Accounting and I was immediately fascinated by the practical applications. It definitely was not the easiest subject but I found myself being more diligent in this one more than any of my other subjects. Since then, I had always been more excited and interested about taking other Management Accounting courses until my 5th year in college. I guess it was the less rigorous and stringent rules involved in Management Accounting against Financial Accounting.

During that time, I seriously considered taking on work as a Cost Accountant in a private company by the time I graduated. So while my classmates were gunning for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, I was already playing with the idea of eventually being certified as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

It took me 4 years before I actually decided to finally pursue my CMA. Between the time I graduated and got my CMA, I got my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, pursued a career as a tax professional in a Big 4 auditing firm, and finally landed a position as the Head of Budget & Planning in one of the top food kiosk operators in the Philippines. It is a position I currently hold today and was one of the keys that eventually led me to get my CMA to benefit both my professional development and achieve my organization’s objectives. I was excited to finally be a management accountant in action and help my company lay out the groundwork of the budget and planning system that it follows today. I was fortunate enough that my superior, herself a college instructor and long-time supporter of learning, and upper management supported my desire to pursue this certification and agreed to sponsor my review and exams. And so I started the 6-month journey under the umbrella of Insights Financial Review Services.

It was not easy juggling the demands of a full-time job and finding time to prepare for the exams. I do have to say that taking the exams as a working professionals granted me a different and valuable perspective in approaching situational problems through real-life situations I may have encountered at work, lessons which I will not find in any textbook.

Weekends were spent in review classes and I dedicated at least 2 hours each weeknight to make sure I covered all the materials and answer at least 50 multiple choice questions. Consistency was key in keeping my study rhythm and making sure I don’t slack off even on the busiest of work days.

My scheduled exams came at one of the most hectic points during the year when projects were at their busiest and the budget season was kicking in. After sitting through each exam, I did not mind the wait as I went about business as usual.

When the results came late one night in November, I was overwhelmed with happiness at seeing the words of congratulations from the IMA and excitedly shared to my family, friends, and colleagues who tirelessly supported me throughout.

I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed again on January the following year when I got a text message from Insights CMA Review that I had actually landed a Certificate of Distinguished Performance award given by the ICMA Board of Regents, and had the chance to receive the it personally in San Diego at the prestigious IMA’s 100th Annual Conference.

All I can think about when I look back at my CMA journey and those 3 letters I can now attach to my name was how thankful I am for getting more than I bargained for when I started. It may have taken me longer than most but I eventually got there with the help of Insights CMA Review, the supportive management of my organization, family, friends and colleagues.

 

About the author:  Pat graduated magna cum laude in BS Business Administration and Accountancy from the University of the Philippines Diliman and is a licensed CPA since 2014. She is currently the Budget & Planning Manager of one of the most beloved snacking companies in the Philippines and does financial consultancy for selected clients. She enjoys watching sitcoms and reading during her free time and is a proud dog parent to Muffin.

Turning Vision into Reality

During my undergrad years, I was really thinking about getting another certification aside from the CPA. I wanted to differentiate myself from my batchmates. I did not want to be ordinary, I wanted to be someone different from the rest. I was really planning on getting the CMA certification because I really loved the management advisory services subject during college. The professors were good and they always made things interesting and I think that it was a factor on why I chose the CMA. They made me join accounting quiz bowls including those related management advisory services. I heard from my seniors that whoever wins the MAS quiz bowls will have a scholarship for the CMA exam but unfortunately for our batch, there was no such scholarship.

After my graduation and after passing the CPA board exam, I somehow forgot about the ambition of taking the CMA examination. I was thinking that I should just pursue the CPA path and forget about my other goal which is becoming a CMA. But somehow, I met Josh, the director for IMA Southeast Asia and Australasia, during my CPA oath taking. He talked me into being a CMA and the opportunities ahead of my young career. I can do many things by being a CPA, but the opportunities ahead of me if I become a CPA and a CMA will grow exponentially. One thing that pushed me into taking the certification is that it is a globally recognized certification which will really help me in the future.

I was quite hesitant at first to take the program because of the costs and I did not want to seek help from my family members but after a phone call with Sir Angel Secerio he provided a flexible payment plan and that’s when I decided to take the program last February 2018. Right from the get go, he told me that there is a huge chance that I will be able to go to the US if ever a bag an award for such exam. That really motivated me to do well in the exams.

Being able to balance work and studies is not an easy feat. I was always out of town for work and was not able to attend much of the reviews but the Insights team was very supportive of me. They would email me materials so that I can study more for the exams. They would let me take exams to test my abilities and if I am ready for the exam which really helped me prepare better especially for the essays since I am used to the multiple-choice questions in the board exam. I had an end in mind while preparing for the exam, by December 2018, I should already be a CMA passer. No matter the struggles in work, I always made it a priority to put in at least 3 hours per day on weekdays and 8 hours during weekends to study for the examinations. Repetition and a lot of reading has been tactic and covering as much materials as possible.

My thought process during those times was to study more to reap my benefits in the future. Looking back last December 13, one of my goals has been ticked off and better yet, I earned the gold medal. I am very thankful to Josh, Sir Angel and the whole Insights team, because without them, my dream of becoming a CMA will remain as that, a dream. My family also has been very supportive since day one. And most especially, I thank God for blessing me with this feat. With the right dedication, prayer, support and a little bit of luck, anything can happen. To aspiring CMAs, whenever you experience failures, don’t ever give up. I have personally experienced failing many times and I chose to get up. It has become my mantra that a setback is always a setup for a comeback.

 

About the Author: Maaku Saito is a magna cum laude graduate from the University of San Carlos in Cebu City. He earned his CPA title back in 2017, passing the tough May 2017 CPALE with a rating of 91.83%, the fourth highest in that examination. He is currently working in the most prestigious accounting firm in the Philippines.

Ad Astra Per Aspera

When I was in college, I am always fascinated by this Latin phrase engraved over one of our University’s structures, “Ad Astra Per Aspera”. When I saw the phrase, I immediately looked for its meaning, “to the stars through difficulties”. I realized that it is not one ordinary Latin jargon but one that inspires someone who reads and understands it. At that moment, my story of journeying towards the brightest stars commenced.

I graduated in college last April 2014 at the Cagayan State University in Tuguegarao City and passed the CPA board exams the same year emerging as one of the toppers. I still held into that phrase, but this time on a different tone, I think I have already reached the stars because I courageously faced the difficulties. I then joined the workforce as an auditor in Punongbayan and Araullo. A realization hit me, that even after graduating with Latin honors and topping the licensure exams, it feels like it is not enough. With the advent of the ASEAN integration as well as the technological disruptions in the labor market where robots are beginning to take the place of humans, it may already be necessary to equip myself with some other qualifications and credentials. However, because I wanted to first earn a living for myself and for my family, I opted to just sleep over it.

Fast forward, in early 2016, I came across FB posts showing a number of fresh graduates and even professionals passing the CMA exams. I contacted one of my friends (who is already a CMA) and he introduced me to Sir Angel Secerio of Insights Financial, the largest CMA review center in the Philippines. With my eagerness to pursue additional credential, I asked him a lot of questions regarding the CMA certification which he patiently and generously responded. However, I was distraught when I learned about the cost of the program (though Sir Angel offered me a discount and instalment payment option plan) and another thing, I still didn’t have one of the requirements to take the exam – a passport. So I decided not pursue for the meantime, but without throwing away that desire to obtain the title.

In 2017, my present employer, Bank of Makati, offered me a sponsorship for a certification (but not the CMA) and without hesitation, I gladly accepted. That same year, I earned the Certified Financial Consultants (CFC) credential.

But my desire to become a CMA still remains intact. In fact I had been an avid follower of the Facebook page of Insights Financial where they always share posts of successful examinees and I do always read testimonies and success stories of the passers in their website. Then last May 2018, my boss, Sir Rowell Umali, made an unsolicited recommendation to us (I and my friend Harvee Salvador) to perhaps try the CMA exam. Of course I was surprised and at the same time thrilled and excited. The title I have been yearning for more than 3 years is already coming to light. We drafted and submitted an intent letter to our President, Sir Luis Chua, showing our eagerness to pursue CMA and requesting for the Bank’s support which he gladly approved. To that, I express my most sincere gratitude to my very considerate and generous bosses in Bank of Makati.

And my journey towards the CMA certification begins.

But before that, it is also worth mentioning that a few months back, in March 2018, I have submitted an application for a Master’s degree in Management at the University of the Philippines- Manila (UPM). Passed the admissions exam last June 2018 and attended classes starting August.

During those months, my life was very difficult. Juggling between my: work– where the last semester of the year is the busiest because of the budgeting and planning season and the unit I am heading is the overall in charge; study for my Masters– Saturday class, studying in UP is a no joke as lots of readings and research papers are required and we also have to attend events and colloquiums outside the classroom, we were tasked to prepare Management Research Papers and a Strategic Management Paper of our respective organizations and do a book review of business strategy books; review for the CMA– I have to read the thousand-pages book of Wiley, attend live review sessions either in UST or in Insights Center in Makati during Sundays (thank you to the Insights Team!) and answer tons of CMA online problems (more or less 4,000 problems for both parts), have to memorize concepts and terms to prepare for the essay part of the exam, not to mention that I am stranger to some of the CMA topics such as US GAAP, Standards for Internal Audit and Risk Management and some foreign laws (Sarbanes Oxley Act, Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, to name a few); and lastly my personal life. It was really very hard and taxing.

For more than 8 months, I had to make sure I am on track of everything. Work demands are met, research paper and homeworks for my Masters are submitted on time and the CMA exam preparation is on track as Sir Angel would always ask me for an update how well am I doing with my preparation. I read the Wiley book in the morning at the office before office hours or if we need to submit a paper for my Masters I have to do that first. Use 30 minutes of my lunchbreak time to answer a couple of CMA problems, sometimes have to render overtime at the office. I read Wiley flashcards or listen to the Wiley audio lecture on my way going home after 6:30 in the evening, then at night after having my dinner, takes 10-20 minute power nap before starting to practice solving 50-100 CMA problems. Then goes to bed around 12 in the midnight to 1:00 AM and wakes up at 5:00 to 6:00. I barely had a review during weekends because I had to attend my class in UP during Saturday and the CMA live class session during Sunday.

But what kept me up and running during that time of struggle was my burning desire to really earn the certification- no matter how hard it gets- for my future and for my family. I am always reminded by that phrase “Ad Astra PerAspera”, “to the stars through difficulties”.

I took the exams last January 2019 for the Part 1 and February 2019 for the Part 2, need to take it in same exam window to qualify us for a medal ranking. The exams were in Ateneo Graduate School and I can say it was hard- 100 multiple choice questions and 2 essays with 6 questions each- all to finish in 4 hours in front of the testing computers of the Prometric Testing Center inside Ateneo. We were not allowed to bring anything inside the testing center, even our hankies! And every testing computer has a camera installed so the proctor can see every detail of our action within the 4 hours that we are inside.

We were informed that the results will be out 42 days after the last day of the month that we took the exams. Which means we had to wait for more than 2 months before we are able to know whether we passed or not. And just like how waiting for the CPA board exam results felt before, waiting for the CMA exams was also agonizing.

Exactly 42 days from end of January and February 2019, the results were released last March 14 and April 11- with the word “Congratulations” in the first line of the email I received from Mr. Dennis Whitney- the Senior VP of ICMA (Certification Division of IMA). I immediately told Sir Angel of my scores and he assured me of a medal given those scores, either the gold or the silver. And how did I feel? It was cloud nine, grinning from ear to ear! April 11, a day after my birthday, was actually one of the best days I had ever!

Indeed, my CMA journey was one thrilling ride. Struggles were everywhere- work, studies, review and personal life. But in battling those struggles, I had my weapons- discipline, focus and faith. I held into my dream and into holding that dream, I used those weapons. Now I can say, I have surpassed the difficulties and I have reached a ‘golden’ star- a star that will definitely open up a lot of opportunities in the future. Indeed, Ad Astra Per Aspera!

To God be All the Glory!

About the Author: Reynald E. Tomas is a magna cum laude graduate from Cagayan State University. He earned his CPA title back in 2014, passing the tough Oct. 2014 CPALE with a rating of 90.71%, the second highest in that examination. He worked in one of the prominent audit firms immediately after passing the exam, and currently holds a key finance position in one of the well-known banks in Metro Manila.

A Journey that Started with a Dream

We all have different mantras as we fight for our different battles in lives. My journey for CMA was a tough road. All the ups and downs are lessons for us to take and use it in our life.

It all started when we had a dream. I remember when someone asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grow up, tons of great profession has come up but one strikes the most. And that is, to be an accountant. Every accountancy student dreams of becoming a “Certified Public Accountant” (CPA) one day, and each day was a challenging one. They have to burn the candles at both ends to meet those expectations and pressures that not only other people have put on but also themselves. Unfortunately, the survival of the fittest had applied in every ground and I was one of the people who didn’t make it. All those “whys” and “what ifs” have come across to my mind because my dream was clear since day 1 that I wanted to become a CPA.

From BSAc course, I shifted to a BS in Accounting Technology. All I thought that I was a disappointment to my family. But as time passes by, I started learning to trust the “journey” even when I do not understand it.

During my second year, I saw a girl (Ms. Zainab Anawari) on a tarpaulin that passed the CMA examination and learned what CMA is all about. Since then, my perception changed. I learned that failure is nothing more than an opportunity to better you.

On my Third year in college, I took the Management Accounting subjects and started my journey as a double major student. I remember when I was about to give up, my father said, “Nak, wish ko lang one day is makita ka dyan” pointing in a tarpaulin of law/board passers. That’s when I started to think that maybe I wasn’t meant to be a CPA. Maybe the title CMA is the one for me.

I began to dream big, study twice as hard and have faith that everything will work. I stand strong to what I believe and battled my way to achieve the title that my family and I dreamed for me.

If there’s one thing I learned from this experience, that is, no one is going to take over your battles for you; they are yours because you were designed specifically for those battles, so keep fighting. We stumble and fall but we should learn to stand up. Setback is an avenue, an opportunity to keep you going and make you stronger. My dream of becoming a CPA has gone, but this didn’t stop me from becoming a CMA. And so should you with whatever goals you’ve been dreaming of.

Have faith in what you believe in; keep on dreaming, and make the effort toward achieving it. DREAM BIG because there are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths that you’ll be thankful for taking the detour in your life.

About the Author: Angelica Louise M. Villarin is a double major graduate of Bachelor of Science in Accounting Technology and Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting of Batch 2018 from the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. She successfully passed the CMA exam last September/October 2018 testing window.

Soaring into the boundless, open sky

A willful bird before learning how to fly fell countless times on solid ground. Likewise, man endures life trials to become successful and wise.

And I, too, have my own story.

Initially, I enrolled in the BS Accountancy program. Everything went well until that one dreaded semester came where many of Accountancy students failed before. Although we all knew that we had to study and work twice as hard than usual, we felt like it was still not quite enough. Despite all the preparations, most of us had a hard time having an excellent mark and eventually, it made us feel demotivated as the semester progressed. Making things worse, I was stricken by chicken pox which took me two weeks to recover from. It may not be the key reason why I did not get satisfactory results but it did evidently contribute to it at some extent. Yet, even after all those things that happened to me, I did not waver that I can finish the race. I still gave my best shot to have a passing grade because at that time, I thought to myself that it was the only path for me to walk on. Unfortunately, I failed to achieve the final grade requirement at the end of the semester and made a decision to shift courses to BSBA Major in Management Accounting.

It felt like the world that I have long been building just came crashing down and suddenly lost its meaning. It pained me even more when I knew that I gave it my all and yet, I did not get what I yearned for. This poignant and unexpected turning point of my life is the reason that I have lost my drive to keep moving forward and caused me to lose sight of my goal: to be a certified accountant. I struggled to pick up my broken pieces and put them back to their right places because it seemed hopeless to start anew.

Until the day came when Insights Review Center conducted a seminar during my stay at San Sebastian College – Recoletos de Cavite, my beloved alma mater. I learned about the Certified Management Accountant Examination and it was as if a new light had been given to me to chase the goal that I have once given up. So once again, I challenged myself to rise up from the rubble and earn the prestigious title. This journey, I knew, was going to be tough but I definitely wanted the CMA title even more.

I had struggles before and during my review as all of us had. I had hesitations and self-doubt; I had grown weary and anxious; I had been disheartened, maybe because I was so afraid to make the same agonizing mistake from the past. I was scared that I will get knocked down again but then, my thoughts kept telling me that I have walked far from where I have been before and that the goal that I was praying and longing for shines very brightly at the end of the road, patiently waiting for my sweet arrival. I also reminisced the love and support of all the people who have walked along with me throughout my journey and have always believed in me, even during the times when I wanted to concede and walk away. And so, I pushed aside all my doubts and worries and braved the grueling examination with courage and determination.

It did not start off easy but I look at what I have accomplished and know that all the misery and disappointment I experienced were worth it. Because I chose not to surrender and continue to pursue my passion, the goal that I have been aiming for is now realized. I know that I still have a long way to actually be able to soar at greater heights and passing the CMA examination is just another new beginning but I do believe that someday I can see the world with my own eyes – looking from the place I truly want to be. After all, I already fell countless times on the ground and yet, I am still eager to learn how to fly higher.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” – T. S. Eliot

 

About the Author:  Juvert Ian S. Retonel is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Management Accounting of Batch 2018 from San Sebastian College – Recoletos de Cavite. He successfully passed the CMA exam last September/October 2018 testing window. He is aiming to become an accounting professor with a passionate desire to abundantly nurture the minds of the aspiring accounting-major students.

Determination, Perseverance and Focus

Before I went to college, I initially chose BS Accountancy to be my course. But I faced a hurdle during my second year in college, in which I failed to pass the retention program. The retention program was the test that would decide whether a student will still be able continue in the BS Accountancy program or would be forced to shift to the BS Management Accounting program. I was disappointed when I knew that I did not pass the exam and the retention exam. I was about to change my course, thinking I was not fit to be an accountant. But instead, I took the obstacle as an opportunity to grow and did not let it drag me down. During my first year as a Management Accounting student, I was inspired to do well in my academics and become a Certified Management Accountant primarily because of one of my professors who taught me to think about the logic behind all the formulas and the reason behind such. I have found what I’ve been looking for. He also introduced the CMA exam to me. I never knew that there was a bigger world for accountants where I can grab other licenses aside from the CPA, and the best part was the CMA was a global certification. Due to limited resources, I had to choose between taking the Bridging program and taking the CMA exam. My eagerness to become globally competitive was my driving factor to take up the CMA. I believe that having a globally recognized certification together with all I have gone through college will prepare me well enough for the real world.

But just like any other journey, there were hindrances I had to overcome. At first most students were unsure to take it due to common reasons such as the time and the fee that we all had to invest. Although I was also uncertain at first since I wanted to work right after graduation and had difficulty managing my time, what kept me going was my dream to become a globally competent professional. I consulted several people with regards to my decision on whether to work while reviewing for the CMA exam. One of the people I talked to at that time was the approved course provider of the CMA Program in the Philippines, the Insights Team. They told me that working while reviewing for the CMA exam would be a tough journey, based on  the passing rate for working professionals in the previous testing windows. With that, I took an internship which was less tiring as compared to working full time. I was blessed from the very start because I had family and friend who supported my plans, so all that was left for me to do was my devotion and perseverance to pass the examination.

It was a tough journey. I had to manage my time very well between my internship and the review classes for CMA exam, and the old topics I had to read again, and the various topics that we needed to study by heart. I was about to give up but when I gave it a second thought, there were a lot of benefits I could gain from enrolling for CMA course while taking up my internship. All topics that I learned and discovered in the CMA review helped me in my internship since I was assigned to assess risks and controls in the company I worked for and at that time, I was studying internal controls, which was one of the topics in Part 1 of the exam. I did not have the advantage to study full time, but my edge was being able to apply the things I have studied in the real world. This helped me pass the CMA exam since most of the questions I have encountered were situational; you will be able to answer and appreciate them if you had the experience.

Determination, perseverance and focusing on your end goals, which for me was to become globally competent, are keys to passing the exam. Good luck!

 

About the Author: Adrian Sarfraz O. Uttoh is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting Batch 2017 from the University of Santo Tomas. He passed both parts of the CMA exam last September/October 2017 testing window. He is currently completing work experience required in one of the top auditing firms recognized globally, doing Internal Audit and IT Audit procedures.