From Oblivious to Finding my Mark
Mark Jason Te – CPA, CMA

I 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 C. Mercado – CPA, CMA

“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
Jane Janine M. – CPA, CMA

One 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
Bettina Cheng – CPA, CMA

After 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.

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
Sheena Rogeleen P. Dela Cruz – CMA, CPA

This 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.

Rommel Valente – CPA, CMA

“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.