All For Family
Agnes A. Simbre – CPA, CMA

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.

Fear Not!
Raiza C. Añonuevo – CPA, CMA

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.

My Success Factors: Will, Determination and Faith
Jake Ron Mingming – CMA, CPA

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.

A 360-degree Turn
Rochelle B. Orpilla – CMA, CPA

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.


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.

With Your Mind and Will, You CAN!
Harvey Christian B. Sumagaysay – CPA, CMA

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.