Comeback is Real!

As an avid player of video and computer games, the phrase “comeback is real” is never new to me. For us, gamers, it is just an expression we use whenever we get in a situation of seemingly losing the battle but in the later part, we get on top of our game even to a point of achieving victory. But, that’s just in the virtual world. Little did I know I would actually apply that phrase in my real life.

Last October 2016, I took the CPA Board Examinations and unfortunately, I failed one subject, Taxation. I was so devastated and frustrated with myself. Even if it was only one subject, I still wasn’t able to achieve the CPA title. I had so many plans and dreams but all went down the drain, along with my self-esteem.

But being an optimistic and competitive person, I eventually regained my composure and started thinking of how to pick myself up. Of course, I decided to retake Taxation on the next CPA boards season but because of my failure, I was much more driven and eager. I aimed higher. I wanted to become better. Then I remembered receiving a text after the CPA results came out from a senior of mine in college, now a CPA, who happens to be gamer as well. He encouraged me to stay positive despite what happened and his last line was “sabi nga sa DotA, comeback is real.” So, I told myself, if I really want to make a comeback, better make it flashy.

Then an idea struck me. Ever since in my college years, I had this plan of becoming a CMA but at that time, I was not so serious about it because I was focused on becoming a CPA first. So I thought, “Why not take CMA exam now? Maybe the reason why I didn’t pass the boards because I am made for something bigger and maybe this is it.”

So I started researching about how to become a CMA. And I have to admit, I have almost given up on the goal because it was very intimidating and I didn’t know how the process works or how or where to start. But it seems God really wanted me to continue because when I was so lost, He made a way.

I suddenly remembered that my high school batchmate who graduated college from UST posted on facebook sometime in April 2016 that she passed the CMA exam. So I stalked her fb account and saw that post. There, I found Insights Financial Review Services, the approved CMA course provider in the Philippines. I immediately sent a friend request and after a few minutes, got accepted. Then the Insights account sent me a message. I took the opportunity to express my interest about taking the CMA exam. They asked for my phone number and called me. The person on the other end of the line explained everything to me about CMA. And the funny thing was, throughout the conversation, I didn’t know who I was talking to. So when we were just about to finish, I asked for his name. And it was Sir Angel Secerio.

After the phone call, I was filled with awe. Not only because I actually talked with the managing director of Insights himself but also because I felt that God had indeed sent an angel to let me know that this is where I’m meant to be, that I’m really destined to become a CMA.

Eventually, I discussed my plans with my parents and they were very supportive of my endeavor. Not long after, I started my review in Makati.

My CMA journey had its own ups and downs. There were times that I was very determined and ready to take on anything but there were also instances that I felt so pressured and stressed. Maybe it was because the CPA boards traumatized me. I didn’t want to experience failure again. But with the help of constant prayer, our mentors and my newfound friends, I was able to cope up with the challenge. Then came February 2017, I had taken CMA Part 1 and Part 2 exams. Then it was in April when I received an email from IMA re my exam scores. Finally, by God’s grace, I passed both parts of the CMA examination.

As of writing, I am also done retaking my taxation and just waiting for the results, positive and hopeful.

So you see, in life, some things don’t go according to your plan. There will be times that you think everything is just so wrong, so out of place. But always have faith in yourself and in God, for He said: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And when you fail, stumble and fall down, get up and say “comeback is real!”


About the Author: Li-Anne M. Serrano is a 2016 graduate of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at the Bicol University. Out to prove her true worth, she took the 2-Part CMA examination in Feb. 2017 with under four months exam preparation.


Grad_Rommel Francis Valente web“Dream, not because you need it but because you want it.”

These are the words that I always live by.

I still remember when I just finished High School; I wanted to become an Accountant someday like my parents who were both CPAs. So, I took the chance at the most well-known universities in the Philippines by taking their respective entrance examinations. I chose the University of Santo Tomas (UST) because my elder brother was also enrolled there taking up Electronics and Communications Engineering course.

My first year in college was fun and the least stressful of my 4-year stay at UST. I was full of determination in pursuing my dreams at that time. On my second year, my subjects became more challenging but I managed to pass them all with average grades.

Our College conducted a retention examination after the second year to determine the required quota in which selected number of students will be chosen to continue the Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BSA) degree in the third year. The selection was based on the score performance and those who will not be accommodated due to the quota requirement will be transferred to the BS Management Accounting degree.

To cut the long story short, I was not able to continue in the BSA program and was transferred to the BSMA program. Of course, I felt very sad and disappointed. Yesterday, I was full of big dreams then suddenly I started to lose interest on everything. I told myself that I’ll just finish the course then leave for the United States (U.S.) to look for a job and forget all my frustrations. I worked in the U.S. for one-and-a-half year.

One afternoon, while I was on lunch break at work, I was browsing something on Facebook when I saw the profile page of Insights Financial Review Services (Philippines). I read that they are offering a review program for the U.S. Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Certification.  I sent a message to inquire about the program and I was referred to Sir Angel V. Secerio, Jr., who was the Managing Director of Insights, and he provided me with all the important details that I should know about the program. Sir Angel was very nice and responsive to all my queries.

On my way home that day, I decided to go to a mountain-view area near our place. I just wanted to breathe some fresh air and think if going back to the Philippines for the CMA review will be worth it because this meant I have to resign from my job.

I decided to go back to the Philippines and pursue my dream.

The CMA review was not easy. From Monday to Friday, I started studying from 9am to 10pm at home. On Saturdays, I attended the review class and took the comprehensive examinations. Sundays were my only rest day.

Nervous and pressured at the same time, I kept having doubts if I would be able to pass the CMA 2-Part Exam. Luckily, I passed the examinations! It’s all because I worked hard and disciplined myself to be diligent on my studies. Above all, I know God answered my prayers and rewarded me for my hard work.


About the Author: Rommel Valente, a BS Management Accounting graduate from University Of Santo Tomas (UST), was once a big CMA dreamer who currently resides in United States to fulfill his dreams of becoming a very successful professional so that he can repay all the sacrifices his family made for him.

From Oblivious to Finding my Mark

Grad_Mark Jason TeI started out as a fresh face, oblivious to the daily activities of the corporate world. That phase ended when I was introduced to a fellow professor of mine in the university. Every session he would initiate the lecture by asking the class how our day went. Good or bad, it was amazing how we all connected, it was as if the Great Berlin wall broke down and we were comforted by an everyday warmth of laughter and learning. This just goes to show that once an immense passion is brought up, an immense passion to teach, to learn, to grow and to connect; it will eventually be reciprocated to you.

At this time you would’ve already been doubting how this is all related to my CMA journey. I don’t blame you, but let me continue.

I was just an average college student struggling my way to get a passing mark, it was considerably challenging yet I found myself wanting to learn so I kept asking questions and once I did, I was drawn to the complexity of accounting and finance and how businesses revolve around these two important aspects of our lives.

I was determined to not just only pass but to win, not just only to lose little but to win big; for that I needed a reason to be better and my drive for my successes has always been my family. Their everyday struggle to earn has been my everyday drive to become the best of who I am. I started to do research on how I can broaden my skills and be a full pledged professional ready for combat.

Luckily, the university was providing a CMA program, which I  was doubtful at first. I mean, come on, if you were asked to spend half a hundred thousand pesos on a license, wouldn’t you be at least curious at what the program is all about and if the program is, in fact, legitimate? I know I would.

I did a background check and eventually decided to enroll myself in it. It was difficult at first but once I got the discipline of making it a habit to study everyday and to remind myself of my reason to succeed, I was able to pass both exams on the same testing window.

A simple tip for people who are on their CMA journey,“ Know what you want and why you want it.” It must not only be a want. You have to find that hunger and resolve; and in a few months time, I believe you’ll also reach your destination.


About the Author: Mark Jason Te is a graduate of Management Accounting from the University of Santo Tomas, with goals of being financially literate in the cities of Hong Kong while taking care of his family in the process.

Driven to Succeed

James Mercado“There is no substitute for a good preparation”- A line that marked my mind ever since college.

I was just a typical male student back then–spending 70% of my time on computer games and 30% on studies. During that phase, I was having difficulties on the subject Management Accounting Services (MAS).

During the review for the CPA board exams, I placed extra effort on that subject and voila, it was my top subject in the actual CPA board! This was the first clue in my life that I knew I was headed to something amazing!

Henceforth, my CMA story started when I was employed in SGV. After extraneous busy seasons, I’ve decided to pursue greater education–thus I’ve thought about getting masterals, CIA and CISA, etc.

This took a lot of time. It was then when I rode a bus going home and read an advertisement regarding CMA. I remember telling myself back then that I would aim to becoming a Certified Management Accountant someday after passing the CPA board exams.

It was just then a dream, now it’s just within my reach. I decided to get the contact details within the advertisement and tried contacting Insights. There, I met Sir Angel, a highly respected, English-speaking professional using highfalutin words and prominent among CMAs! I’ve also met Sir Kenji- a prodigy, who was the lead instructor of Insights Financial Review Services! From there I knew that my journey to becoming a CMA began- and I knew that I was in good hands.

I was a working professional so balancing work and review was indeed a challenge. Plus, the review sessions were only conducted during the weekends, sometimes half day, sometimes whole day. It was indeed a sacrifice knowing that it would entail dedication, focus and discipline- I was committing 5-6 months of my life for this title!

I can say that it wasn’t really easy. I had to reason out with my friends every time they asked to hang out. I needed to distance myself from “distractions” because if I wanted this to happen, I have to give my 100% on this. I told this to my parents and surely they understood my situation- I’ve even convinced my father to accompany me here in Manila on the week of my exams (given the fact that I only live alone and my father is employed as captain of a ship), in which he agreed.

Five months have passed and the month of the two-part exams arrived, and it suddenly hit me. Am I prepared to take the exams? Have I given my 100% in the review? I know I did but somehow I felt like the time was not enough. I’ve even talked to my review mates about the mixed emotions that I was having. That’s where I realized that having a set of friends with the same purpose can be of great help- they were a vital support system all throughout the review! Them, together with my parents’ support, my siblings’ encouragement and my loved ones’ trust, I got fortified!

Then came the week of exams- I was nervous, at the same time excited. I said to myself, “I have the perfect chance ahead of me to realize my dream. All the hard work poured into this two-day examination.”

I can say that the exam was not easy- it was really challenging! All that’s left to do is hope for the best and pray!

6 weeks after, the results came! Alas! All the hard work paid off! The first thing I did? I prayed to the Almighty Jehovah God, with tears rolling down my cheeks. All the sacrifices paid off and it was all worth it! He indeed answers prayers.

It’s not that I’m bragging, but I knew I was going to become a CMA because I was going to make it happen. Big thanks to the Insights review team for guiding us all throughout the journey!

Finally, let me share this wonderful quote: “Believe you can and you’re halfway there” – Theodore Roosevelt


About the Author: James C. Mercado, CPA, CMA, is a BS in Accountancy graduate from Saint Louis University-Baguio in March, 2012. He is currently employed as Senior Advisory/Audit Associate in one of the Big 4 firms in the country.

Fruit of Good Labor

Grad_Jane Janine M CaringalOne year ago, I dreamt of having a CMA Certification. Up until now, I could still vividly remember how God brought me to the finish line of my CMA journey. Who would have thought that an average student can turn into something worth being proud of?

I heard of this certification through a friend (Ate MJ Gaces, Hi!), a fellow Thomasian, who took and passed her CPA and CMA Exam in the same year. Upon seeing her, I told myself, “If others can, then who in the world would say that I can’t?”

An opportunity came for us BSMA students to be included in the Elite Batch for CMA review. It was still uncertain for me to be included because they were prioritizing the first three blocks in our batch and I was on the 4th. I steadfastly prayed for a slot and luckily the odds favored me; I eventually got my application form filled up.

I came to my parents to tell about my big leap to take that certification. They had no second thoughts about my decision and were very supportive of my plans, though it would entail a lot of money. They must be really confident that I could pass the 2-part exam.

Every CMA journey is a commitment. It was never an easy task for me and my other batchmates to juggle the demands of our undergrad courses and reviews. I had to cut all my commitments during weekends.

Knowing I had to lessen some of my family time and church activities is really a sacrifice. But my dream to become a CMA is on season. I had to tell myself that there’s a time for everything and I have to prioritize my review during weekends. Knowing that it was also a crucial year for us (because we were graduating), left me thinking if I could really balance all my commitments. But those thoughts of mine were just like mists and were yet replaced by positivity.

I could still remember all my efforts just to have my passport granted (Passport as the popularly accepted valid ID for the Prometric testing center) before my part 2 exam. I had a quiz the same day when I went to the province to process my police, NBI clearance and other requirements that I needed to process my passport. It was very exhausting to travel back and forth early the same day knowing I had to take a quiz in the afternoon.

Another tiresome moment was my appearance for my passport coincided with my accounting quiz. Those were the moments when I felt like giving up because I didn’t know anymore what to prioritize. I was facing a lot of constraints back then. But I still pushed through and things just fell into its proper places. All things worked together for my good.

December came, what a great time to be with your loved ones. But no, discipline is a must and the review was still on. And the exam date was nearly approaching. And yet, I was still in complacency. I participated the test drills and weekend reviews diligently but I was not scoring as high as the others. Maybe it was because I was half-hearted back then and not giving my 100%.

Sir Angel advised me to have my exam rescheduled. I’m thankful for the full support of Insights Financial Review Services for they were there to assess my readiness for the exam. I trusted them because I knew that they just wanted what’s best for me. And so I did. I doubled my effort during January and February 2016 exam window.

I took my Part 2 exam on the 28th of February and got my result on April. I could still remember how I jumped up my chair upon knowing the results. It was really an answered prayer for me, my family, friends and church-mates.

It didn’t stop there. Finally, I graduated last June. And there came my Part 1 exam the same month.

Everything just fell apart. I didn’t pass! You really cannot know the pain of failing unless you’ve experienced it first-hand. No comforting words could heal the pain of failing. I could not help but cry that night. There’s no one that I could blame for that failure except myself. I was praying and crying hard assessing myself where it had gone wrong.

Another dilemma for me was how I would tell my parents that the baby girl they were rooting for didn’t pass. But I had my God who was there all the way. And so I told my parents together with my comeback plan to have it rescheduled right away sometime in October. I wanted them to know that I’m still determined of what I am dreaming of, and that is to get that CMA certification before the year ends.

I gained again the drive and motivation to get going because of that setback. If I redeemed myself once, I could make it twice.

Currently I’m pursuing my BSA degree and to juggle again the review for my retake is a challenge yet not anymore new for me. So I did what was required of me. I didn’t just double the effort. I tripled it. I answered thousands of questions, read all the materials and focused on the essay. I did everything that I haven’t done before during my past reviews. I cleared my mind of complacency. I decided to devote again my weekends to have my self-review. I could not afford to lose this chance anymore, that’s what I kept on saying to myself. A lot of money, time and effort would be in vain again if I won’t give my 100% on this.

October came, exams taken, on to the waiting game. Finally, what I have been waiting for was not in vain.

I passed my Part 1 retake exam!

My prayers had been answered again. Three-letter word next to my name finally became real. It was all because of the twists and turns of my CMA journey that led to its end goal.

Sometimes, in order for us to get the sweet fruits of our labor, we have to reap first the bitter ones. Those bitter ones that will push us to wait a little longer–a little longer that will help us learn the value of true success.

I will never be ashamed of my failures, because every good dish has its spices and so is success! Lastly, be grateful for the people who help you along the way to finish the journey. May it be your friend, classmate, professor, reviewer and especially to God.

Can’t wait to hear your own CMA journey. Start dreaming. Start with Insights!


About the Author: Jane Janine M. Caringal is a B.S. in Management Accounting graduate of the University of Santo Tomas in June, 2016. She is currently a B.S. in Accountancy student of the La Consolacion College Manila, expecting to graduate and take the CPA licensure examination this year.

Road to Progress

Grad_Bettina Lee ChengAfter college, I really wanted to study further for the progression of my career. I had few options in mind but I decided to get the CMA certification since this is the one that will greatly contribute to my interest in the field of financial planning. My problem then was I didn’t know where to apply and review for the exam. Luckily I have a friend from UST who knows Insights so we applied together.

When I decided to go for the CMA exam, I knew it’s going to be challenging to balance work and the CMA exam. I didn’t want my work to suffer but at the same time I wanted to do well in the exam. I had a hard time adjusting my daily habits and weekend schedule to review. I barely had the opportunity to study during weekdays because it is difficult for me to wake up very early in the morning. Studying in the evening didn’t work out for me as well because I would be very exhausted from work. To compensate for this, I had to study all day during weekends. Sometimes, I even had to miss going out with family and friends. I thought these were just small sacrifices that must be made to have bigger returns in the future.  There were multiple times that I felt frustrated because I wasn’t able to follow my review schedule, but I decided that there’s no use worrying over it and just remained positive and made the best use of the time left.

Thankfully, after several months of studying, I passed the two-part exam and now I can proudly say that I am a CMA. I am really thankful to Insights Financial Review Services for providing what we needed to be successful in our exam, and to Sir Angel for continuously checking on me while I was reviewing.

2016 - Bettina Cheng (website)

Preparing for the exam was all worth it. With the knowledge and opportunities I’ve gained because of CMA, my goal to progress further in my career was met.


About the Author:  Bettina Cheng graduated from DLSU-Manila and is pursuing a career in finance and corporate planning. She is currently working in Federal Land as a budget and finance officer.

Your CMA Passer 2016

Grad_Sheena Rogeleen Dela Cruz IFRSThis journey has never been easy. The search for the better future is a really messy track. From the “MagC-CMA ka ba?” Up to “CMA Passer NA KO BES”, it was truly a wonderful Christmas gift for us all.

It all started from being a BSA student to being a BSM student. I never chose that course. I didn’t want to have the same course with my brother but my mom insisted because she believed that I could handle it. The BSM course was actually my 3rd choice for one reason, i.e. I thought that it would be easier than taking the BSA course.

And so my BSA journey began. Things were going pretty well, at first, until I’ve reached the first semester of my second year, Partnership and Corporation, hindi kinaya ng powers ko. But still, I prayed and prayed, I was hoping that I can pass this subject. Kahit sabit lang sana, but no. My grade was not good enough in order for me to continue the BSA course. The Accountancy Department suggested that I transfer to BSM instead. I thought then that I was a failure; I failed my father’s expectation. I failed. I told myself that “sabi ko na e, dapat di na ko nag-BSA, di talaga pwedeng dalawa kami ni kuya na BSA” but hey, life goes on. Go lang ng go. So I transferred to BSM. Fourth year first semester and still a BSM student, we received great news from my brother, he earned his academic achievement with IMA’s Priscilla S. Payne Student Performance Award, besting all student candidates from around the globe. I saw how my parents reacted with the good news; they were filled with joy. I was also overjoyed but worried at the same time. He’s a CPA and a CMA as well. I was worried that, what if history repeats itself? What if this is a BSA to BSM all over again? I can’t take another heartbreaking event. I don’t want to. I just can’t. But no, I wasn’t competing with my brother neither anyone around me. My brother was one of the reasons why I took this certification exam. He made me believe that this certification title is for me. He gave me tips and notes to review. I was actually competing with myself. I’m competing with someone who doesn’t believe in herself, who doesn’t know her capabilities, who doesn’t want to push herself beyond the limits, I was competing with the weak, incapable, and coward Sheena. Maybe it’s time for me to believe in myself. I need to prove something, I need to prove that I can do this. I’m not a failure. I’m a dreamer and an achiever as well. We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges. And I accepted the CMA challenge together with my friends. We want to prove that we’re not just BSM. WE ARE PROUD OF BEING BSM STUDENTS. As Sir Angel said to me “You are on the right path. Do not waver. This title is for you. BSM equals CMA, PERIOD.”

We can now breathe again, we already passed the exam. Thanks to everyone who supported our dreams. Our review course provider, Insights Financial Review Center; to our alma mater, the De La Salle University of Dasmarinas, our beloved professors in Accountancy Department, my friends; and my mother who never gets tired of hearing my complaints and problems while taking my CMA review; my father who supported my needs and wants for this review; my brother who reminded me that there’s no time to slack off, I should do something today that my future self will thank me for; Sir Angel who pushed me beyond my limits and inspired us to pursue things that we thought at first were impossible to achieve. They are the reason behind this achievement. And of course GOD, we are here because of you. For the aspiring CMA’s, don’t be afraid to take a big step forward. Push yourself, believe in yourself. Know that there is something in you that is greater than any challenges.

“Kaya mga kapwa ko achievers at mga aspiring CMA passers, muli, Ako po si Sheena Rogeleen P. Dela Cruz, your CMA Passer 2016.”


About the Author: Sheena Rogeleen P. Dela Cruz, CMA Passer is a Bachelor of Science Major in Management Accounting graduate of De La Salle University-Dasmarinas. She passed the two CMA exams last year (2016) and is currently working as Internal Auditor in Ronar General Contractor.

Overcoming Challenges, Struggles and Road Blocks, by PJ Morales

profile_paul-joseph-moralesChallenges, we all have a handful. Belonging to the working class presents so many challenges and to add up working on a night shift makes it almost impossible to accomplish anything. But this wasn’t my dream.

It has always been my goal to enrich myself with intangible things; empower myself with something that can’t be taken away from me. It is, perhaps, for such reason that I’m always fond of studying, reading or just experiencing things but this wasn’t always me. After graduating from college for more than a decade ago I took a chance on taking the CPA licensure exam but I wasn’t as fortunate as my colleagues. After failing the board exams I told to myself, I’ll just work myself to death and let time take its natural course.

Being an accounting graduate during that time with no impressive curriculum vitae and an “underboard” individual I don’t have much of an opportunity for growth for my career and I just watched as time went by. As the years added up I was contented with what I currently have and never thought of my future. Then one fine day I had a talk with my aunt. She encouraged me to take up my Master’s degree since I’ve given up on becoming a CPA. It took me 4.5 years to finish my masters at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business and it was during this time I saw the advantages of having “further” (post-graduate) studies. How new opportunities and career growth open up for you. Thus, my journey to seek new knowledge began.

After finishing my masters and several certificate/short courses I told myself, “what’s next”? What should I do next? My friends told me to give it a rest and enjoy what I currently have but I told to myself, I’m not stopping. I think it’s about time to face the CPA board exams. After consulting with several friends and assessing my current role it wouldn’t be an advantage to take the CPA board exams since I might not be able to practice it. Working in big auditing firms has been my dream but I’m on a different route now.

My friends suggested to me to take the CMA, CFA, CIA or CISA certification. After much deliberation I’ve decided I wanted to pursue the CMA certification since it made more sense with the work that I have. I’m dealing more on the ERP industry, project management, budgeting and forecasting software so this would be the right choice for me.

I then googled “CMA review Makati” since I don’t want to get too far away from Makati and I also work here I don’t want to go somewhere else. This was when I saw Insights Financial Review. After seeing their review center in Medical Towers which is just 2 blocks away from our office I did not hesitate to inquire that night through their website. In less than 12 hours I got a reply from Ma’am Ronie Paras and with the detailed program and quote. When I saw how much it would cost me I was taken aback. It entailed a huge investment. But this did not stop me. I remembered asking her “do you accept credit card payments?” Sir Angel then gave me an irresistible term. So in less than 3 days I ended up submitting all the required documents and paying for the tuition fee! Plus, I have a close friend/colleague with me who enrolled at the same time for the program.

This was when sleepless and social deprivation days and nights began. Classes during that time was on a weekend so this technically works for me. My shift starts at 8PM and ends up at 5AM which extends till 7-8AM so the game plan was to work, then attend class after. The grande brewed coffee at 711 across the center became an instant best friend. Never was a day that passed by without having it, so cheers to that! As weeks passed by the struggles were becoming real and imminent. Juggling work and review was really tough. I had to ensure I gave at least 3-4 hours every day just to study and catch up with the lecture. With classmates who were fresh graduates and young professionals (mostly CPAs) I felt the undue pressure not to be left out. I felt like an old dog who can’t learn new tricks! You see, MBA and CMA review are two different things so I lagged behind most of the time. But I also remember that as long as the dog is willing then it’ll learn.

So, in order to catch up I need to make some cuts… Movies, travelling, catching up with friends, and even my gym time was all gone! I had to give them all up since I’m not all that bright and needed some oil, it took a wee bit more time for me to really relearn and remember the lectures. Knowing the same struggles that my friend and I had gone through, Sir Angel was very generous in offering us a one-on-one session with Sir Leo Yatco and so we had review sessions during weekdays so we could catch up! There were instances where a decent sleep was nowhere to be found. But surprisingly we were able to adjust and gave us a better sense on what the lectures were (again super thank you, Sir Leo).

Took up the Part 1 exam on June and it was a nerve wracking one! The “screening” at the Prometric exam site was too intense I felt like I was going through immigration! After answering the multiple choice questions and clicking on SUBMIT, was the “longest seconds” of my life. After 5-7 seconds I saw a set of instructions in front of me and just did next, next, next without understanding if it was the essay section or the survey that I’m clinking next to. Luckily I passed the Part 1 exams so the same schedule was repeated. Same preparation and same sleepless days and nights for me. I then took the part 2 exams on the same year on October. I then told to myself this will be the best Christmas ever! Dec. 11 came with the results and I received an email… Sadly, I did not see any congratulatory remarks. I remember I was chatting with Sir Angel that time and he encouraged me to take it one more time, never give up and reminded me of my goal. On the same night while talking to Sir Angel, I registered for the February retake of the examination.

This time there were more sleepless days and nights and my friends almost never felt my presence. I was a prisoner of Hock, my study-buddy, my calculator and my desk. I kept on reminding myself that failures are just a test of how strong a person is, you will never know your strength unless you experience defeat. It is ok to stay down when you fall but get up and make sure to pick yourself up, keep it all together and stay focused. The release for the exams was due on April. I dare not ask this for my birthday gift but God was so generous that He finally gave me my heart’s desire.

At the end of the day I realized that it wasn’t all about the credentials and the position that we have that define our success. It is all about the hard work despite the road blocks, persistence in times of difficulty, perseverance in achieving our dream, humility in knowing when to accept help, being grateful to the people who help, and encourage people who need a little sunshine plus a whole lot of faith in God will not just define success but you as a person for God. All these were made clearer to me when I took my CMA journey. I’m forever thankful to my family for the support and friends for not leaving me. To my insights family especially to Sir Angel and Sir Leo for never giving up on me and to our professors, Sir Kenji, Sir Edison, Sir Eddie, Ma’am Christee, Sir Michael, Ma’am Miriam, Ms. Clarissa and Ms. Maricar.

About the author: Paul Joseph B. Morales CMA, MBA, is a graduate from PSBA manila with a degree in BS Accountancy. He also obtained his Master’s in Business Administration at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business and is currently working as a senior customer care analyst in a large accounting/IT software company in Makati.

My CMA Quest, by Naomi Angulo

photo_naomi-anguloI was an Accountancy student at San Beda College. I barely made it in this course and never with the CPA board examinations.

And so life goes on, and fortunately for me I have found a job at one of the biggest real estate developers in the country. It was interesting at first. Eventually I got so used with my tasks that it became so routinary, it was no longer a challenge for me. I started consulting this with my friend. He was very supportive with my struggles at work and suggested that I take CMA exams if I’m really up for something challenging.

I have already heard of this CMA credential during undergrad, but I really had no idea where to start. I researched everywhere and asked a few colleagues about it, until I stumbled upon Insights Financial Review School’s website. At first I wasn’t even sure if I would really want to take this certification course since I lost my self-esteem the time that I failed in the CPA board examination. Except for my parents and few close friends, no one knew about my plan to take the CMA exam. I didn’t let our company know. I even asked my parents not to tell our relatives. I was really scared of failure and I didn’t want everyone to know in case what I’m so very afraid of come true.

Early this year, I took the Part 2 exam and received a bad news. I couldn’t even explain what I felt that time. It’s like that I was already expecting for an unfavorable result. Of course, I felt bad about myself for being a failure once again. Looking at my results frustrated me. I almost made it! I just missed it by a notch. But all my efforts wasn’t enough. I failed.

Honestly, I almost gave up. I was planning to stop taking part 1. I already told my parents that I didn’t want to continue with the review anymore. Frustration and depression really got me this time. But then, friends that I met at Insights inspired me to give it another shot.

It took a lot of pondering and courage to push this CMA dream. I got so tired and frustrated that I made an all or nothing deal with myself. By August 2016, either I should be a CMA or be contented with my current life. I was scheduled to take Part 1 for June. I convinced Sir Angel, our course mentor, to let me retake the Part 2 in May. He told me that it was an aggressive strategy. I attended special review classes just to prove that I was really serious in taking both parts in one testing window. Sir Angel finally registered me for the Part 2 exam and at that time, it became very clear to me that I would be facing not one, but two giants.

To give myself a solid fighting chance I used up most of my vacation leaves to attend classes and study. I had to go to work earlier than supposed to be so I won’t spend overtime on weekends and be able to attend our regular review classes. To be honest, I literally cried countless times due to stress and fatigue. Somewhere along this journey, I found my grit. This was my “now or never” and “all or nothing” moment. “I will become a CMA after June 2016”, was all written on my face each day.

You reap what you sow. Dreams do come true. Such cliches really make sense. After all the disappointment, frustrations and sacrifices, I finally made it! As of September 2016, I am now a Certified Management Accountant. It was, more than anything else, a personal victory because I didn’t let myself down this time.

CMA is not just a challenge; it requires pure hardwork and dedication of your craft. No less.

So what’s next? That’s also my question actually. Right now I’m currently looking for other opportunities and I guess they are gradually showing up. For example, I was given a new and challenging task at our company after my boss learned that I passed CMA exams.

More than the things I’ve learned in this review, what I value the most are the tons of experience, lessons and friends that I will forever cherish. I guess you just don’t stop when you’re comfortable; you simply never stop learning and innovating yourself. You can achieve something you wouldn’t even think you can if you continue to challenge yourself and not settle for mediocrity.


About the Author: Naomi Q. Angulo, CMA, was a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate at San Beda College, Mendiola, and currently works as Treasury Associate at one of the largest real estate developers in the country.

“Road to CMA”, this way

profile-photo_angelo-b-villadores-webIt all started during my last years in college when I was designated to represent my school for a competition. I was one of those fortunate students who would frequently be sent off to inter-school competitions, and out-of-town conventions. The said contest was composed of Certified Management Accountant (CMA) topics which were basically Management Advisory Services’ scope, which I began appreciating more and become attached to.

Came the October 2015 CPA Licensure Examinations’ (CPALE) results, I felt like I could be something more, that there’s more to life than just that, that my CPA title would not be an end, but rather a beginning of something more exciting. From there, I reckoned the time when I stumbled across a Facebook page of a CMA review center, Insights Financial Review Center.

At first, I was hesitant to ask about the program, as I knew it would involve a large amount of money, plus it would take away much of my time and require tremendous effort. But I had this urge; I wanted to prove that I could actually be someone much better; I wanted to differentiate myself from other CPA professionals. I wanted to become a CMA so badly, and so I took a leap of faith. I proceeded.

After few arrangements with the Review directors, we agreed to plan for my test for both exam parts, targeting the May/June testing window.

I was invited once to attend a dinner meeting with other CMA candidates, some of whom were already at least part-qualifiers. We were asked to tell about why we decided to vie for this journey. There were veterans already. But likewise there were some young professionals too. Stories were colorful and inspiring, however I had nothing to share, as I was relatively young, and all I wanted to do was really to earn the certification, period. All I had then, that I could show off, was just my fresh knowledge from the CPALE that I could leverage, and my determination.

In the course of my preparation for my examinations, I have realized that being a working student was one serious struggle. I had to ensure I could deliver quality output at work, while being able to study, or at least make myself ready for my Saturday and Sunday classes. Additionally, I also had to catch up with my family and friends. Juggling tasks from work, school, family, social life wasn’t an easy endeavor, that at some point I had either to give up one or more to accommodate another. It was always a matter of knowing which things to prioritize.

There were instances, as well, when I lost focus, and didn’t know what to do. I would wake up one day, and tell myself that I didn’t want it anymore, that I would rather quit than pursue, to relieve me from stress. Luckily enough, I had my mother, my friends and Sir Angel, to remind me of the reasons why I started in the first place, and put me back on track again.

When the date set for my exams were near, I started panicking. I only had four months to get myself ready. I just couldn’t eliminate the doubt of not making it through, and even considered to postpone my exams. I took the risk, and didn’t change my exam plans.

I felt so discouraged sometimes, but funny enough, I would pull myself together, back again and keep my aim locked. When others would say, “don’t mind the fear, ignore the pressure”, I would say, “Let them burn, let them consume you until you feel numb about them.” Let the fear of disappointment be the fuel for you to strive, let the pressure your peers put on you be the drive to push you for another extra mile and prove them you can.

I had this mindset that I never believed in failure. I would either succeed or I would learn and come out better.

By the grace of the Almighty, I managed to pass both Part 1 and 2, when the results were rolled out last August. I am grateful for all those people who stuck by me all throughout my journey, especially my ever-supportive mom who relentlessly prayed for my success. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Insights team of instructors, for helping me draw a clear direction to my young career.

Right where I thought I was about to end my CMA story, another opportunity knocked on my door and I warmly welcomed it. I am now affiliated with Insights as a part-time CMA instructor, fulfilling my long-term aspiration of becoming a mentor.

I put myself into this with no clear understanding as to how it could impact my professional growth, yet now I could clearly say that the CMA designation has become a life changer. It became an avenue to discover new potentials I had, build a strong network of professional accountants, and further enhance and nourish my knowledge.


About the Author: Angelo B. Villadores graduated Cum Laude in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at Lyceum of the Philippines University – Batangas. A Certified Public Accountant since October 2015, and a Certified Management Accountant Exam Passer since August 2016, he currently works as Financial Reporting Analyst in a big international bank. He enjoys reading novels and watch movies in his spare time.