Worn out shoes; kindled soul

I will not say that I was born without a silver spoon. But rather, I would say that I was born into a life that has never been easy but, taught me the most wonderful things that I could ever imagine.

In the year 2012, I’ve started taking up my college degree in Mapua Institute of Technology-Makati Campus (now Mapua University) under the program of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. Although my parents did not have jobs during those times, I pursued my degree because I’ve always believed that education is one of the greatest equalizers that we could ever have in this world that is full of uncertainties. My parents’ pocket might have been empty, but their hearts were always full of hope that their children’s future will be brighter than theirs.

I had my P.E. classes on the first year of my program and to be able to move actively in our activities, I needed a pair of rubber shoes. But we didn’t have the financial capacity to buy one. Still, I thought, I was there in the University anyway to learn and not to wear a fancy pair of rubber shoes.

One Sunday before our classes officially started, my parents told me that we would be buying a pair of rubber shoes. As a teenager, I was very delighted and excited to finally own a new one without asking them how they have got the money to buy it.

It was during my second year in college that I came to know that my parents decided to sell my father’s medicines for his blood to his co-patients in the dialysis centre. He took off a week so that he could buy me a pair of rubber shoes. Since then, my eyes were opened. I had studied so hard because I wanted to give them the medals that they deserved once I’ve finished my degree. I’ve received awards and recognitions in our university, and I’m sure that it made my parents happy, especially my father. I’ve also discovered that the funds that was intended to be accumulated for his kidney transplant was used for my college fees.

I’ve made it! I’ve graduated with honours and proudly walked onto the stage, ready to receive the medals that I’ve worked hard for. But during that day, I’ve noticed that someone is missing and after receiving the medals, it has finally dawned on me that my father died a week before our graduation. Thankfully, I still managed to smile and be happy during that day because I wanted to show my mom and my sister that I am strong, and I am now ready to become a provider of our family, even though the pain was really excruciating.

I’ve kept the shoes for years. I’ve worn it during the Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant examinations as it was a subtle reminder about how my parents loved us and how selfless they were. The shoes served as a symbol that there are people in my life who taught how to be strong and not just to live life for their own selves, but to make sacrifices for the people whom you love and who have supported you along your journey. It also helped me to change my ways and do the things that matters to me not out of obligation but, out of love and passion. Throughout these years, it has served as one of my motivations to continuously strive to become a better individual and to never stop pursuing the things that scare and excite me at the same time.

This experience taught me to climb the mountains outside of my comfort zone. It shaped me to become the person that I’ve always imagined. Instead of just going through this rocky road, I have learned how to grow through it. I have faced a lot of disappointments; a lot of failures; and a lot of shattered dreams. But I’ve learned not to be afraid and face all of them bravely as I consider them as an opportunity to build my character and create a strong foundation of my values. It also taught me to treat failures and triumphs equally and to never let my achievements and failure define me as a person. And the most profound thing that I’ve learned from climbing mountains is to never be afraid to go down from it and search for another mountain to climb again.

Tatay, I wish you could see us right now. The three of us promised that no matter how hard things will be, we will never give up in living the life that we have always imagined.

I might have failed to prolong your life, but I will never stop lengthening the name that you have given to me.


Your unico hijo,

Rence Paolo R. Pinoon, CPA, CMA (U.S.)

All For Family

As I write my CMA story, my little baby girl is sleeping in my arms. Being a mother and having a professional career is a bit tough but is so fulfilling.

My dream to have an international license started after becoming a CPA. I never got a chance to pursue it until I had spare time during my break from work because I have to take care of the little one growing inside my belly.

I inquired from a CMA friend about the steps on how to get the certification. She advised me to do self study but I thought it would be difficult to go through this by myself. So I searched the net and found Insights Financial Review Services. I was worried about the fees but the school provided negotiable terms.

I decided to schedule the exam in May/June 2016 testing window. I thought that will be the best time because my baby was due on last week of December 2015. Everything was going smoothly until one day, few weeks before giving birth I woke up with half of my face paralyzed. I was diagnosed with bell’s palsy.

Bell’s palsy is a facial paralysis on one side of the face. Its cause is not clear but pregnant women are three times more prone to this illness. Some say it is due to a virus, others say it is due to exposure to cold wind or aircon or the cause can be idiopathic or unknown. In my case, my right side was affected. It felt like I was punched in the face. My right eye could not blink, there were no tears and it could not close on its own. I had to use eye drops to keep it moist and I had to tape it at night to keep it shut. My right side of the lips has no movement. I cannot frown or smile. Eating, drinking and speaking become a challenge. I stopped my CMA review for a while.

Giving birth to a baby distracted me from my bell’s palsy. I am so happy and thankful that my baby girl is healthy. However, it is difficult to take care of the baby and study at the same time. Having a newborn and a facial paralysis, I had second thoughts whether to continue my CMA review. But I said to myself, no matter what the result will be I have to finish what I started.

With the little time left before the exam I went back to Insights. I have to recall the previous topics and catch up with the lessons. I wanted to take only one part during the exam period. However, I was already registered and if I will not take the other part it will be considered failed. So I have no choice but to face the battle.

I have a lot of worries before the exam. I was worried that my eyes will get dry, I was worried I have to pee during the exam which will consume a lot of time, I was worried that if I fail I have to start over again. I studied hard and prayed harder to pass the exam so I can save time, money and effort.

I took part 1 and 2 exams with two weeks gap on June 2016. Waiting for the result was a bit of agony and it took more than a month. I was about to sleep that time when I heard a sound from my phone. When I checked my phone, it was an email from IMA. The result for one exam part came in and it was a thrilling moment. After few minutes, another email came in and it was for the other exam part. I was fortunate to pass both parts of the exam.

Having the CMA title has been an advantage in my search for a new job. I am hopeful I can use this professional certificate to advance in my career and to give my baby a brighter future.

I will be forever grateful to my ever supportive husband, family, friends and the review school.


About the Author: Agnes A. Simbre, CPA, CMA is a BS Accountancy graduate from Polytechnic University of the Philippines and is currently working as a Financial Planning Analyst in a BPO industry.


A 360-degree Turn

Having the chance to finish my studies is already a blessing, but fulfilling things beyond that is indeed amazing.

Being a student is tough. Every student has his/her own academic struggles, but life did not only created those kind of struggles. Being in the Management Accounting program of UST was one of the greatest things that happened to me. I have learned to love the program during my stay in the college.

I have it all planned before the start of my senior year – pass the subjects, take the CMA, serve my term as an officer of my organization and graduate on time. I was as enthusiastic as I can be but then you realize life was not made for us to only enjoy the great things, because we must also bear the worst ones. It was during my senior year when my father was laid off for months from work due to unforeseen circumstances. One of the greatest things about my parents is that they are open to us, especially being transparent on our finances. It was a hard time for my family because we do not also have a lot but we only have enough.

Last November 2016, I was also informed by my parents that I may have to forget my dreams of taking the CMA at that time because obviously, even though there is a more convenient mode of payment offered, we cannot afford the costs given our situation. Heartbroken, I learned to forget that dream because I have greater things to worry about – I have to graduate on time and serve my term as an officer of my org, but I also have to make ends meet for my expenses as a student and help my family so I decided to find a part time job. Luckily, I got a job from the help of my friends in a small accounting firm located in Quezon City as a Junior Associate. Also, may I mention that I commute from UST to Angono, Rizal everyday during my stay in college. Every week, I try to juggle my part-time, my org activities and my acads. Considering all of these factors could lead to bad things, I still pushed because I just need to. I wanted to. I have to.

I hid my part time job from my parents at first. Of course, I understand that parents would not want their children to deal with this kind of things knowing that we also need to prioritize our studies and I know that they will also worry about my health given that my commute time from Angono to UST and vice versa was 2 hours at the minimum. I was able to keep it from them for at least 2 months and when I was at my first semester. And before the second semester began, I confessed it to them. Hesitant and surprised, my parents allowed me to continue, but the pressure to manage all of the things I need to balance was real – commuting, org works, feasibility study, my part-time job and of course, my acads in general. I have felt lost and tired but then I realized I am still lucky for having supportive friends, workmates and orgmates and an encouraging family. I did my best to fill myself with hope – that one day, I will know why fate directed me to this path.

As soon as I graduated last June 2017, I started to find a job a week after. But life did not made it easy again because I got rejected many times. As close as I was to give up, a job opportunity came. Then again, a conflict arise when I was supposed to take the CMA exam on September and October for each part. I could not let go of the opportunity because I felt the urgency to help my family’s finances so I took a gamble on taking the exam for both parts on September 22 & 29 and tried to manage my time in the best way I know. Scared, frustrated, frightened and I began again to question everything – but I was really determined to fight because I know that I am greater than my fears.

Now, here I am smiling to my ears, lost and astounded by the fact that I passed the CMA. It was the same week last year that I found out I would not be able to take the exam but same week a year after, the universe has affirmed that I am now a CMA passer – a 360-degree turn indeed!

The greatest thing about my CMA journey was the people I have been with – those people who never lost faith in my potential and whose encouragements served as music to my ears during my trying times. And of course, to the people who believed and trusted me with this opportunity.

As I am a person who likes to plan everything ahead in my life, I learned that life has also its way of making plans for me. Your time may not be His time, but He will never fail you.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rochelle B. Orpilla is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting Batch 2017 from the University of Santo Tomas and a former president of her course’s mother organization, the Society of Business Managerial Accountants (SBMA). She passed the CMA Examination for both parts in November 2017. She is currently working as an associate in one of the top accounting firms recognized internationally.

My Success Factors: Will, Determination and Faith

2016 was the year I passed CMA exams. Contented and grateful yet I wanted more so I decided to grab the opportunity of bridging a 1 year jammed pack semesters at Chiang Kai Shek College to obtain BS Accountancy. The degree needed for taking a CPA board exam. CKSC life was far from similar with my Thomasian College life. Start my class at 7 ends around 2 in the afternoon. Lecture pacing that works so fast and efficient. Never thought that this setup will become a habit for my review schooling.

5 years of nurturing. 4 months review for that 3 letters, CPA.

Tough, nerve-wracking, emotion swirling and more word to describe what i felt for taking CPA board but in the end all efforts do pay off. Life was no easy and my CPA journey is not far from different. Start my day with coffee and bread, ride jeepneys to attend lectures and in the afternoon till evening I’d review. No phone, no hobbies, no movies, a lot of skip meals, I have sacrificed even more but one thing that i will not forgot is to give thanks and ask Guidance and Blessings from God. This was my setup most of the time it is followed because I also give way for my brain and body to rest and have cheat days as reward for a week of progressive learning. At this point in time realization struck me. My old study habits wont do me good, cramming will always be a fiend. Good preparation and proper comprehension are good best friends.

Quizzes, Preboards and review notes are my brothers. Quizzes that assessed my prowess on a topic. Preboards that tested my retention capabilities and review notes that kept my knowledge refreshed. Quite easy if you read but i struggled and failed most of them. First preboards my grades were good. Being complacent my routine laxed then i was spelled to fall to chickenpox, weeks of absences I incurred. I was left behind. My will dwindled yet my guts kept my feet stand its ground. Final preboard was no mercy. Killer, drive-deserter some adjectives that can describe those final exam. But if you want to succeed single failure won’t stop you.

October came. 3rd of it was my birthday and I promised myself that this would be my very best gift to myself not until i took the exam for RFBT which destroyed my composure and rattled my focused for the last subject MAS. I was of no hope of passing the boards. Prayers are may last hope. God’s grace and will strengthened my faith. November came, results were out and I passed the Board with God’s might. Thus it made me believe in the saying. “Manalangin ka at manalig”.

Always remember what Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Thus, stumbling is not a hindrance but a stimuli to exceed more.


About the Author: Jake Ron Mingming is a double-degree holder of BS Management Accounting, graduated at University of Santo Tomas, and BS Accountancy, graduated at Chiang Kai Shek College. A Certified Management Accountant and Certified Public Accountant.

Fear Not!

I was but a mere student in the BSMA program, a degree in which some people see as substantially inferior compared to the BSA degree. And, by “some people”, I meant parents disappointed at their children; third parties who see you as someone who failed; and fellow BSMA students ashamed of themselves.

Having to carry these negativities was a burden most of us in the program had in common. Some ended up accepting the fact while some still chase the BSA dream of passing the CPA licensure exam.

Then one day, it came, a pass-now-pay-later scheme offered by Insights Financial Review. Having stumbled upon this opportunity was uplifting. We were already aware of the CMA certification exam before, but most did not have much enthusiasm about taking it at first. Majority were not prepared to gamble huge amount of money to take a test they don’t even know they’ll pass so the idea was easily dismissed. However, this offer eliminated that risk, gave us a push, and so, the CMA title was in our sights. This was actually something exciting because, having ourselves compared to the BSAs was something unavoidable. But with this opportunity to attain the CMA title, a certification that is almost perfectly aligned with our course of study, we can have something we can call our own, something we can be proud of. Sure, other degrees related to it can also take the exam without going through extra trouble, but nonetheless, it was ours.

After having pursued such title and having graduated, I was one of those who still refused to let go of my first goal. I started with a BSA degree; I was stripped off it and got a BSMA degree in its place. I wanted to finish what I started, to give myself a second chance. Still, there were some hesitations. I was asking myself what-ifs: What if I disappoint myself? What if I end up wasting my time? What if I fail again? Because if I did fail, I don’t think I can handle much of it. You see, failure can scar you and it will hurt you. You can always find people saying things like “Failure is a step closer to success”, “You need to fail to win”, and etc., but the people who say these things are people who have already tasted success. We see them as special and we doubt ourselves saying “What if we’re not special? What if the sayings only work for some people and we’re not one of them?” Not all people succeed, we are sure of at least that much. That’s why we are very much afraid of failing.

But you know what I did? I asked the same questions again but differently: How would I know if I will get disappointed? How would I know if it’s a waste of time? How would I know if this time, I’m going to fail again? Because fact of the matter is, whether we succeed or fail, I don’t know that, we all don’t know that. And I concluded that I would rather bear the pain of having failed than bear the pain of not having tried. Wounds can heal but regrets are like ghosts that haunt you forever. Yes, it’s scary but sometimes, we can only prove ourselves by choosing to be brave. And dreams won’t fulfill themselves while we keep ourselves locked up by our own doubts.

I continued my CPA journey despite not having people’s full approval. And I am not exaggerating when I say that it is one of the most difficult times I’ve gone through. I was downright exhausted. It felt so easy to give it all up and the temptation to rest myself was strong. I felt like time was making fun of it, chasing me. I complained about a lot of little things: about why I punish myself with lack of sleep, about why the library isn’t open until 12mn, about not having enough sugar to keep me up. The traffic wasn’t helpful either. I was tired, and everything was frustrating.

And yet, everything was worth it.

You see, we can never really choose what results will be thrown at us. There will always be fears and doubts, and these will always try to hold you back.

Know that your dreams are worth so much more than your fears.


About the Author: Raiza C. Añonuevo, was born in the province of Ilocos Sur and grew up in Quezon City. She was a consistent honor roll student in Elementary and High School, gained her degree of Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting at University of Santo Tomas (UST), and Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at Chiang Kai Shek College (CKSC). She passed the two-part CMA exam in 2016 having earned the highest score in both parts within the UST-BSMA batch for that year. She was also given an Academic Excellence Award in UST in 2016 and was part of the Dean’s List in CKSC in 2017. She passed the CPA licensure exam in October, 2017.

With Your Mind and Will, You CAN!

I was enrolled in the bridging program of Chiang Kai Shek College when I passed the 2-Part CMA examination. It was in August 2016, and our professor merrily congratulated us for a job well done and achieving what others can only dream of:  An international certification. We were very ecstatic at that time because we finally reaped the fruits of our hardships and sacrifices in the past year.

Little did we know that it was only a start of a more dreadful and arduous journey to the coveted CPA title.

It was also during that semester that we had to juggle internship and the demands of our Integrated Accounting subjects (IAC). The semester was full of tears, sweat, sleepless nights, and the constant reprimands of our professor to take her subject very seriously. I was constantly complaining of how tough to balance studying for the exams and the 200-hour internship. Some subjects were sacrificed for us to make time to study for our board exam subjects. I was doing everything possible, but for some reason, it was not enough. I failed to realize that if this was the beginning, how can I even fathom to make it through until the end?  I turned to God and asked for forgiveness for all the precious time I wasted; sought guidance to help us all pass the semester; and acceptance for anything that awaits us in the end.

With God’s grace, I passed the bridging course and graduated on May 2017.

Come June 2017, I made a promise that there will be no more wasted time and energy and I would devote myself to pass the coming CPA board exam. I enrolled in a review center and took review classes from June to September. The classes were not particularly tough, sans Taxation and Regulatory Framework for Business Transactions.

I passed both the first and the final preboard and was confident that I can also pass the actual board exam. However, as the board exam looms, anxiety and uneasiness crept in. I lost confidence, occasionally threw up, and studied the wrong materials. As what T.E. Lawrence said, “To me, an unnecessary action, or shot, or casualty, was not only a waste but a sin”. I made a mistake of losing my composure and not sticking to the study plan I made, and wasted time again instead of studying for the subjects I am weak at.

The day before the board exam, I cried and prayed silently to God to ask for forgiveness again for all the intangible resources I wasted; and acceptance for whatever the results may be.

The actual board exams were very tough and challenging, especially the two dreaded subjects of Taxation and Regulatory Framework for Business Transactions. A simple mistake, in aggregate, could potentially cost you the CPA license.

After the board exams, I prayed hard again, but felt sorry because I was very greedy of what I was wishing for – all of my batchmates to pass the board. This time was the most difficult time of my life yet because of the sheer anxiety and nervousness it dealt not only me, but all of us.

November 3, the results came out. And with the congratulatory posts. Posts of victory and triumph over the most difficult exam of our life. It was very surreal, almost dreamlike. It was the culmination of our 5-year long journey, and at last, the CPA title is within our grasp.

As Sir Francis Drake once said, “There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.”

For all the aspiring CPA candidates, I only have this to say, as what Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”.


About the Author: Harvey Christian B. Sumagaysay is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and a CMA passer. He graduated from University of Santo Tomas with a degree of Management Accounting, and finished the bridging program in Chiang Kai Shek College with a degree of Accountancy. He is currently working as an audit associate in one of the top auditing firms in the Philippines.

What Doesn’t Challenge You Won’t Change You

I always believe in the saying that “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” (Fred Devito).  It was a year ago when I decided to take another step in my career and pursue further studies.  I wanted to take an international certification, which will also be helpful in my current job and which will not take so much of my time and budget such as MBA or Law School.  So, while I was browsing through the internet, I came across the U.S. Certified Management Accountant, which is a globally recognized certification in over more than 180 countries.  Good thing, there was a local review center here, Insights Financial Review Services (Insights), which offers weekend review classes for professionals like me.  I was able to talk to Sir Angel Secerio, who is the managing director of Insights and he was able to convince me to enroll for the program.  Sir Angel was very supportive, approachable and accommodating all throughout my review, and for that I am very thankful.  I was also lucky enough to attend the Saturday classes of Dean Kenji Asano, Jr., who I believe is the best CMA instructor at Insights.

It was not an easy journey for me.  It was challenging to be a “working student”.  With my line of work as a Financial Reporting Manager, I often go home late and continuously render overtime.  Each study hour I devoted to reading the textbook and practicing to answer problems was a challenge. Regardless of the time I arrived home, I still made sure that I read or reviewed every night before I sleep.  There were even times I go home past midnight on Fridays and have to wake up early on Saturdays just to attend the review classes.  I was determined enough not to miss any review class since I know there would be lessons I could only acquire in class, and could not learn while reading only the review materials.  I don’t know why, but I was always excited in attending the review classes. I guess it always gives me a sense of fulfillment that I am able to learn something new every week, which is additional knowledge from what I usually do at work.  Most of my weekends were spent not on dates or vacation, but on studying, reading and reviewing.  I even remember going on a movie date but I brought a review material with me so I can read while we were driving to the mall.  Pathetic as it may be, but I just want to make every minute productive.  I guess it was effective because I was able to be the top performer in one of our comprehensive exams.  For an outgoing and extrovert person like me, it was hard to spend most of my time studying in my room instead of going out.  Good thing, I am blessed enough to have a strong support system – my family, my boyfriend, my boss and my friends. They were all supportive and they never doubted that I can become a CMA, which gave me confidence and will power.  Being a CMA takes a lot of prayers and sacrifices but I believe it all boils down to one’s determination, perseverance and time management.  It was tiring – yes; but it was very fulfilling.

Going back to my CMA journey, I was very challenged but it really did change me to become a better version of myself. For all those who are currently reviewing or are still planning to take the CMA exam, please use every challenge as an opportunity to stretch yourself and become better.  Bear in mind that everything is part of the journey. Every high and low, good and bad, moment of bliss and utter confusion. Don’t forget that there are going to be rough patches on the road to success, that there will be downs to each of the ups.  When you feel like giving up, always go back to the moment when you decided that you wanted this.  Tell yourself that failing is not an option and there is no other destination but to become a CMA.


About the Author: Joan Joyce U. Garcia, CPA, CMA is a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate of De La Salle University Manila with more than 8 years of experience in the accounting field. She passed the CPA licensure exam last May 2009, and the CMA certification last August 2017. Her first job was as an Auditor at SGV & Co. She is currently employed as a Financial Reporting Manager at MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., the media arm of the MVP group.

Welcome Detour towards MyCMA

I was a dreamer living in a province who went to the city to fulfill my dream of becoming a CPA. I remember the long bus ride I took on the way to the city, leaving my safe place, entering a big city, ready to face every challenge that life would bring as I take up the road to achieve my goal.

I took up BS Accountancy (BSA) at the University of Santo Tomas, but got transferred to BS Management Accounting (BSMA) as a result of not being able to make it through the retention examination that our college conducted. While some people took this as a failure, I took it as an opportunity to stand up and continue on with the battle. I viewed it as a detour from reaching my goal. So while I am in this route, why not make the most out of it?

I learned about the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Certification – a three-letter professional certification title that I can attach to my name, a three-letter title that can prove my competence in finance and accounting, a three-letter title that serves as the door that opened when the other one closed. Reading the benefits of becoming a CMA made it hard for me not to want to take it up, even though pursuing it requires significant investment.

During my last year in college, Insights Financial Review Services, the official review center for CMA examination, offered our batch a discounted package for the CMA program and those who were interested had to start immediately. I wanted to take the offer but I preferred to take one step at a time. I messaged Insights and asked about taking the examination after college but still being able to take advantage of the student discount. They were kind enough to address my concern.

I started reviewing for the CMA Examination after graduation. I decided to take the rigorous two-part exam in different testing windows in order for me to focus on each exam part one at a time.

Studying for the exam was not that easy. There were times when I asked myself if I could really do it. There were times when I get intimidated by how difficult the practice exam questions were. I was so afraid that I might fail. But my determination to become a CMA was a lot stronger than my fear. I wanted it so bad, and that was enough to have kept me going. I had to keep moving, because dreams do not come true with magic. Dreams are achieved through hard work, perseverance, focus, and discipline.

Sure enough, I was able to pass the two-part exam in one take.  I am now a proud certified member of the Institute of Management Accountants, the top global association of accountants and finance professionals in business.


About the Author: Angela Bianca T. Mamauag, CMA, is a Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting graduate at the University of Santo Tomas last June, 2016. She is currently pursuing a second course in Accountancy as she aspires to complete what she has started.

Threading the Unknown, for the Better!

Few years ago, I remember our instructor told us to write our goals for the next 2-3 years in a small sheet of paper. I wrote all my goals as if I am going to attain those no matter what happens and I believe all the rest did the same. As we are about to pass our ambitious paper, I became curious on what my seatmate wrote on her paper and I asked her if we could exchange our papers and see each other’s goals. She excitingly gave her paper as if that paper has the most ambitious goal. As I read her paper, I was amazed with her goals: “I want to have a twitter account and Instagram account”. So as I was about to return her paper, She rigorously questioned my goals, and asked “Are you serious with your goals? It should be realistic!” In my mind, well, it’s realistic for me! I just smiled and passed my paper to our teacher.

Passing the CPA boards was the only aim I had in mind at that time. It already felt like it was a treacherous mountain that is hard to climb. My mind was fixed on that goal alone.

One day, I met Mr Angel V. Secerio, the IMA-Philippines President. He presented to me an international accounting credential that I couldn’t even imagine of achieving. My dreams were so small at that time that I reluctantly refused his offer of assistance. I can’t see myself taking that prestigious credential. But he stretched my mind and articulated the principle “Think big, aim high”. My mind got transformed and I began to prepare to take two (2) certification examinations, in the same year and in the same month (Oct. 2016).

I found it extremely helpful to have someone to look up to as I search for my own success path. This mentor changed the way I think about life, imparting to me lessons that are beyond the four corners of academic boundaries.

The path I chose was a road less traveled. It was never easy; I sometimes had doubts and constantly questioned myself during those times: Why am I doing this, when I could have just reviewed for the CPA boards and focus on that alone? I thought I placed myself in unnecessary greater risk. Negativity popped in my head: What if I would fail the two exams because my mind was divided? But there’s nothing I can do at that time but to take the dare. Months have passed, prepared myself twice as hard but I still felt I was not ready, I was afraid. But fears must be faced and I already worked really hard for it.

Back to the story, 2-3 years came to pass. I believe my former classmate I alluded to at the start of my story also managed to achieve her goals, and so are my “idealistic” goals. By God’s abundant grace alone, I passed the Certified Public Accountant Board examination and ultimately the 2-part Certified Management Accountant international examination in the same year.

We can achieve the goals that we aspire for. The only things that would differ us are the size of our dreams, the desire to pursue and believing that we are equipped with sufficient skills to achieve them in God’s wonderful time. The author of life revealed this truth to us when he said in the book of Mark “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

From this journey, there are two notions I started to live by: (1) Be the person who would always see things beyond trials and failure, and (2) Make things happen.

Sometimes we only need someone to believe in us when we can’t even believe in ourselves. And I am telling you, if I can do it, so can you… Yes, much more than that!


About the Author: Marko Patino Alejandro, CPA, CMA, is a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate of Ateneo de Zamboanga University last March, 2016. He currently works as an audit associate in one of the Big 4 auditing firms in the Philippines.

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.