It All Started with a Dream
Reina Gracia Labagnoy Pua – CPA, CMA

Everyone has a dream in his life which they want to achieve when they grow up. dreams are essential as, without them, we will not have the motivation to move forward in life. when we were a child, some of us aspire to become a doctor, some teacher, or an engineer. however, to achieve these dreams, one has to work hard, our goals provide us the strength to face obstacles and motivate us towards achievement. 

I believe that every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. each every one of us have our own story on our journey to achieve the title “certified management accountant.” as an ambitious young little girl, i’ve been longing to become a successful cpa. and as a result, i enrolled as a bs-accountancy student at university of santo tomas. being a bs-accountancy student is simply no joke. i devoted almost all my life in the library just to pass the qualifying exams to be able to major in bs-accountancy. fortunately, with the blessing & guidance from god, i was able to hurdle the qualifying exams and my dream to become a successful cpa is on the right track.

i was every excited as my journey to become a successful cpa is becoming nearer to reality. i studied very hard because i really wanted to achieve my ambition to become a cpa. unfortunately, the joy & eagerness to fulfill such ambition of mine was put to the sideline because oof the covid-19 pandemic. the schedule of the cpale was postponed several times. that’s the reason why i was so upset during those times. i don’t know what to do during those times. but god is really good to me. in one occasion, i met one of my college friend and we had a friendly question & answer about what had happened to our ambitions. it was during that conversation with my friend that i’ve learned about cma. she suggested to me why not take the cma while i’m waiting for the resumption of the cpale.

after college, i really wanted to study further for the progression of my career. i had few option 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 accounting. my problem then was i didn’t know where to apply and review for the exam. luckily, i discovered insights during our review last year in resa. that’s the reason why me and my friends decided to enroll and take the cma exam. when i decided to go for the cma exam, i knew it going to be my daily habits and weekend schedule to review and attend for review classes. 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 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 now a certified management account (cma). with the help of the review sessions provided to us by insights and wiley study materials, i was able to achieve my goals and become a cma.

i am really thankful to insights financial review services for providing what i needed to be successful in my exam, and to sir angel for his untiring support & continuous guidance on my cma journey. to all who are aspiring to become a certified management accountant (cma), learn how to be optimistic and learn that if you want for something, then should pursue for it.

my father was always been saying to me that believing in yourself is one of the first step to success because if you don’t have confidence in yourself, it will difficult to succeed in anything. self-belief is the point at which everything begins and without it, it is difficult to succeed. we should always think positive because negative thoughts kills your opportunities. it is important to trust yourself and pray to god so that he will guide you in every path that you will take. i always believe that “if you can dream it, then you can achieve it.” just enjoy things and have confidence always. everything is possible as long as you believe and have the determination in fulfilling your dreams. just keep the faith and we should always do our very best & god will do the rest of us.

CMA: Just The Beginning

Carlos Benedict Benedict
DLSU BSA Batch 2019

I initially did not have plans of pursuing the CMA certification. Until I started seeing more posts about it on my timeline. I saw that one of my batchmates, Seanne Esguerra, was awarded with the Gold Medal in the August to November 2020 window last year. This caused me to navigate to the Insights page, which eventually made me research more about what the CMA really is. What caught my attention is that it is an internationally recognized certification. It is recognized abroad. It could make me more marketable and help advance my careers.

I was also very interested in the topics covered, some of which were related to the Management Advisory Services topics in the CPA exam. There were also other unique topics, such as strategic management and information technology which I felt were more relevant in today’s setting. As an external auditor in a public firm, I felt that this was a great complement to my experience. The CMA review could provide me with more in-depth insights on the internal workings of my clients’ businesses. I believed that it would allow me to have a different and holistic view of businesses in general. I generally was motivated to learn more and invest in myself. With that, I invested some of my months and weekends in preparing for the exam. It was not easy managing the multiple responsibilities. However, I was determined to at least be part of one of the distinguished takers during my testing window.

I cannot discount the fact that studying and passing the CMA has made me a stronger and more competent individual. Through the various lessons, I would now analyze the financial and nonfinancial data provided to me differently. The knowledge and skills I have gained are priceless and will continue to be with me for the years to come.

I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone that has played an important role to our success. Thank you, Insights Review Center and Sir Angel, for all the support provided. Thank you to all the reviewers and instructors who took the time and effort to discuss the many topics covered in the exam. Thank you to my parents, relatives, and friends, for supporting me in this CMA journey and for motivating me to achieve this feat. Most importantly, thank you God for continuously guiding us and helping us develop our talents and skills. While having the CMA certification is already a great achievement, this is just the beginning. What I believe is more exciting is what I am going to do with the knowledge and skills that I have obtained. How am I now going to apply this to the businesses I am part of? What further impact will this CMA certification have on my future? While it is a privilege to have the CMA title, it also places a great responsibility on me. I am excited to continue growing and facing new and even tougher challenges in the real working world.

About the Author

Carlos Benedict F. Echevarria is currently working as a Senior Assurance Associate at Sycip Gorres Velayo & Company (SGV). He is also currently pursuing his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in DLSU. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from De La Salle University – Manila (DLSU) in April 2019. He also placed 8th in the October 2019 Certified Public Accountant Licensure Examination. He also achieved one of the highest ratings in the September to October 2021 Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams.

Becoming a U.S. CMA Exam Passer amidst the Pandemic

Angel John F. Geronimo
UST BSA Batch 2020

As a fresh accountancy graduate, my road to becoming a CMA was eventful and eye-opening. My CMA journey started interestingly different from the batches before me, I was part of the “new normal”. We did not have classes on site.

Virtual classes were different from having classes on site. I missed the constant support from peers whenever meeting in the hallway and constant review sessions in preparation for the exams. These were practices which I was accustomed to in my collegiate years.

Normal life became very repetitive. My normal days became a routine of eating, studying, sleeping, and occasional catching up with friends. The situation made it hard for me to constantly perform at my best.

Despite all of these, I was still able to become a U.S. CMA Exam passer. This is all thanks to my family and friends who constantly checked on me and supported me. Most importantly. I am grateful for Insights for helping me prepare for my exams.

The CMA journey was very helpful to me as it helped me look beyond the numbers in accounting. It helped sharpen my analytical and decision-making skills which would surely be helpful in my professional life. This is an experience I would like to recommend for everyone.

About the Author

Angel John F. Geronimo (AJ), born June 13, 1999, graduated with latin honor of cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas. He participated in multiple organizations during his university days allowing him to find the perfect balance between academics and extra-curriculars. Last September-October testing window, AJ took the U.S. based Certified Management Accountant Examination where he passed with one of the top scores in the Philippines.

AJ is the youngest of the family of achievers, his eldest brother being a CPA Lawyer and the other being a medical doctor.  His parents are likewise achievers, her mother being a cum laude graduate, a CPA and a Doctor in Education while his father is the head of a private educational institution.

Adapt and Overcome: My CMA Story

Angeli Marie B. Cabansay, CPA, CMA

Trying to forge a new slate in my life, I decided to take on the challenge of becoming a Certified Management Accountant. Looking back, I was not aware of the challenging year that was yet to come. I had everything planned – take during the September-October testing window, attend onsite reviews and study outside the house for a more conducive study environment. However, as we all know, that was not the case. Because of the pandemic, we had to adjust and get used to “new normal” behaviors. Besides the changes in other general day-to-day activities, online class was adapted, and perhaps the most challenging thing for me during the whole review period was to study at home.

It is during this period that I realized how important adaptability is to survive in life. With the end goal in mind, manifesting that I will become a Certified Management Accountant, I made do with what I had to accomplish all that was to be done. Slowly, I began to get used to, and actually prefer, studying at home. Notwithstanding the hard work I know I put into the challenge, I recognize my family and loved ones for their unending support, my friends and batch mates for lending a hand and teaching me about lessons I found difficult to understand, and the whole Insights Review team for always being available to answer queries and expand our knowledge with their online reviews. Despite the sense of loneliness in this pandemic, these three factors undoubtedly contributed to my success. It is true that no man is an island – in fact I believe man can be compared to  a three-legged stool: supported by 1. One’s own hard work and ambition, 2. Spiritual guidance and faith, and 3. The support of those who surround him. With these three “legs” to support me, I was able to achieve the goal. By God’s grace, I passed the CMA Examination with flying colors.

About the Author: 

Angeli Marie B. Cabansay is a twenty-three year old Cebu-based Certified Public Accountant. Before passing the CMA exam, she passed the October 2019 CPA Licensure Examination on her first try, forming part of the 14.32% who excelled on the said examination. She has gained experience in both Public Accounting and Commerce & Industry. Currently, she works as a Finance and Administration Manager. Besides all these achievements, Angeli also has a passion for singing, crafts and baking, and hopes to continually hone herself into an even more well-rounded individual who can make an impact in this world and contribute to its betterment.

MAGIS: Into the Unknown

 

Marjorie S. Bandola, CPA, CMA

“What is life without a little risk?” – J.K. Rowling

My journey towards the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification started from seeking more in life.  When I took and passed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) board exam five (5) years ago, I told myself that it’s enough and will be the first and last exam I will ever take. But later on, while I’m passionately working as a CPA, I realized that the standard and way of life are moving too fast and advanced which calls the need for me to become more relevant and helpful in the work industry that I’m currently in.

When I got to plan my life and realized that I want to try and pursue opportunities outside the country, one of my senior colleagues mentioned that I can try CMA exam to gain leverage from others especially abroad. It sounds great and exciting but it’s also too risky and scary. But one day, it just happened that my circumstances made me realized that I need to have courage and take risks to experience and find new meaning in life. I realized that nothing will ever happen to me if I let my fear rule over me. I need to go out of my comfort zone and try something new to have something new.

Working while studying is no joke – given also that we’re doing it virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. There were times that I got so stressed out because my work demands a lot of time and got worried that I might not give much time to study for the exam. I can’t afford to fail and pay again because it’s too expensive and I don’t want to relive the review process. This is why, I really see to it that I got to have the discipline and consistency needed during review classes and self-review schedules. For me, passing the exam is a combination of self-discipline, hard work and faith.

Now that I already passed and is a CMA myself, I can say that it’s all worth it – the sacrifices, sleepless nights, doubts, time, fears, risks and money. We have to take risks and work hard for something that we want. As for me, I wanted to be different from others, wanted to explore opportunities and wanted to prove to myself once more that I can!

Plan and do the things you want to do and achieve. Continue to aspire for the things that will keep you feel alive and will help other people and the country. Embrace the struggle and trust the process, yourself and God – together you can achieve more.

About the Author:

Marjorie Soria Bandola is a CPA and a graduate of BS Accountancy from Ateneo de Naga University, Cum Laude, October 2014. She’s currently working at the country’s largest and leading accounting and auditing firm ever since she passed the CPALE in 2015. She successfully passed the CMA exam last July/October 2020 testing windows.

 

Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum

Kirk M. Saromines, CPA, CMA

“Keep your eyes open, no matter how dark the night ahead may be.” The road to passing the CMA exam was not as smooth as I had hoped to be.

This spark of mine started from an aspiration in college, progressing with my love for finance and management, to becoming a push to enroll in Insights and devoting myself for it. Time management for review became a huge obstacle, as I was a new hire struggling to cope with my first busy season in audit. The pandemic had further increased the difficulty on balancing work and study, and my drive to excel went dimmer.

I was then reminded that this Herculean task need not be accomplished in one go, rather, I made the commitment to continuously advance even for a little bit each day my compass. This was fueled by knowing my reason behind taking the certification, and internalizing the purpose behind why the topics in the syllabus are needed to be known by a CMA professional.

To all aspirants out there, I hope that you realize that getting the title is not the result of one big jump but an accumulation of little steps of hard work. It is not an end by itself, but a key to knowing more about the business world of yesterday and today, and what it could be. We still have a lot to learn as we progress through life.

Stay curious!

About the Author:

Kirk M. Saromines graduated summa cum laude from the University of San Carlos with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. He earned his CPA license in October 2019, and garnered the fourth highest average score of 89.33%. He took and passed with flying colors the two-part U.S. CMA examination in the September/October 2020 window. He is currently working as an external auditor in one of the Big 4 auditing firms in the world.

You Just Got To Believe You Can

Louie Canciller Borja
CPA, MBA

Becoming a CMA professional while working requires a lot of time and effort. The road will not be easy and lots of struggles will come your way when you prepare for the exams. In my case, this endeavor that I decided to work on was a lot harder than any other. I decided to venture on becoming a CMA while I was also on my last semester in my master’s degree in business administration notwithstanding the fact that I was also a family man and a working professional. Yes, that decision was risky taking into consideration that on the same month I will undergo two critical examinations at the same time which are the comprehensive exam in my MBA degree and the Part 2 of the CMA exam. Despite of all these, I have been able to conquer both my MBA degree and CMA examinations.

What I realized during this journey was that every dream that you want to achieve needs a lot of hard work and sacrifices before you can attain such dream. Working on your CMA dream is not a walk in the park but a process that needs a lot of sweat and efforts. However, the same will be compensated once you become a Certified Management Accountant. The main ingredient that I incorporate in my CMA journey was discipline. Discipline for me is about planning, time management, and anticipation of important tasks. Time is not unlimited resource that you can spend when you are a working professional. You need to balance your time properly and anticipate what are your important tasks that needs to be accomplish first. Below are my tips on how to prepare for review while working at the same time.

First, if you are a working professional, make yourself comfortable on the changes of your lifestyle during your exam preparation. Caveat, procrastination and laziness are prohibited at this stage. After which look for that time of the day when your brain works faster that on just a short period of time you can absorb and retain the information you have read. The goal here is about being effective and efficient with your review on a limited time. Second, prepare a schedule or a to-do list. You need to prepare a progressive study plan for the CMA exam and always remind yourself to diligently follow this schedule. As I pointed, planning and anticipation are critical on the success of this journey. Sticking to your planned activities will ease your stress and gives you better view on the things you want to accomplish on the daily basis up to the time you will take the exam. Nothing in this world is impossible to achieve if you plan smart, prepare effectively, and be disciplined enough to work hard for it. Lastly, always believe in yourself that you can pass the exam and never forget to ask for help and guidance from our Creator. Faith in God and confidence in yourself greatly affects your motivation and mental condition. Furthermore, ask for the support of your family, friends, and our Insights team. Their encouragements will give you a huge boost emotionally which can help you successfully hurdle the exam.

To all the working professionals, I encourage you to go out of your comfort zone and accept the CMA challenge. Learning new things while working is not an impossible task. You just need to take the first step towards such goal. If I have achieved my CMA dream, then you can also attain this dream.

About the Author:

Louie C. Borja currently handles bookkeeping and tax accounting tasks for Australian clients. He recently completed his Masters degree at the University of Cebu while  also preparing for his CMA examination. He completed his Accountancy course in 2016 at Saint Paul School of Professional Studies, graduating cum laude, and passed the Philippine CPA examination in the same year.

Finding that Opportunity To Rise

Michael John M. Cortez

I first learned about U.S. CMA program’s accessibility to Filipinos after noting that a few of my batchmates took and passed the exams right after the Philippine CPA exam.

I originally wanted to take CMA simply because MAS,  Finance,  and Economics were my favorite subjects in undergraduate. Eventually, as I gained real world experience,  I appreciated the value of deeply understanding how a business works, which is where CMA shines. Finding that opportunity to rise, it has then been my goal to pursue it once I can afford it.

That time came last June 23, 2019 when I enrolled my self to Insights for the weekend lectures and the WileyCMAexcel Gold online study course package. Given the audit workload in the weekdays, when overtime was still the norm, I just wanted to sleep after arriving home. This lasted until end of July, when I resigned from my job.

By August, I had a lot to catch up, primarily to start and finish most of the WileyCMAexcel lectures and start answering the challenging test banks. At the same time, I was sending job applications and attending interviews.

The CMA certification program pushed me to have a more comprehensive understanding of concepts than what the CPA’s Management Advisory Services portion required.

I first took the Part 2 exam in September 2019. Days before the exam, I had the same uneasy feeling as when I took the CPA exam 4 years ago. I told my self “Ano ba ‘tong pinasok ko [What have I gotten my self into].” During the exam proper though, I was calm. It really helped that the exam interface is almost identical to the WileyCMAexcel study materials. I ended the exam with 15 flagged multiple choice questions (MCQs).

For the month of October 2019,  I was left with the Part 1 exam, which I felt less confident of. I ended the exam with 19 flagged MCQs.

Results were out in December 2019 and the Insights team were very confident that I will get gold with my high scores. It became official this January 2020. I expected that I would pass but have not thought of getting the top score. In fact, I was only aiming to get at least 80 in MCQ, which is the passing score after I assumed that I can probably get at least 50% score in essay.

I have immediately realized the benefit of CMA as I was getting invited to interviews even more after it has become part of my name.

I am ecstatic that I’m currently processing my US visa for the IMA Annual Conference happening in Atlanta, Georgia, and another visa for my new job, for which CMA has helped one way or another.

I encourage students to take the CMA exam while topics are still fresh in your minds. It equips you with skills relevant to most career paths. At the same time, I urge accounting/finance professionals to take it, feasibly with each part in separate exam windows, or during transition between jobs, similar to what I did. It does open doors. I advise you to take it. You can pass it, but first “you’ve got to earn it.”

 

About the Author:

Michael John M. Cortez is a proud product of the University of Santo Tomas-Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy, graduating magna cum laude under batch 2015. He passed the Philippine CPA examination in October 2015, and took and passed the CMA examination in October 2019, garnering the highest average exam score worldwide. He will be heading to Atlanta this June 2020 to receive his Gold Medal award in front of 800+ other CMAs estimated in attendance on that day.

Fearlessly Destined

Von Jozelle G. Mangibin – CAM, CPA

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

Since childhood, I was already active in school, may it be in academics or extra-curricular activities. From elementary to university life, I really enjoyed joining different organizations while keeping up with my academics .

Having the curiosity led me to question and study those around me. When I earned my two bachelor’s degrees in 1) Management Accounting and 2) Accountancy, I went to Manila to review for the board exams. It so happened that I met Mr. Angel Secerio and Ms. Ronie Paras who gave me more details about the CMA Program. Upon learning more about it, I became so interested and consulted my parents who gladly agreed to provide me the resources I needed. It was also a good thing to have availed of the “Pass Now, Pay Later” scheme given by Insights Financial Review Services. I was thankful because it was an opportunity for me to further advance my career.

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author:

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

Conquering the Impossible

Charissa Espinola – CPA, CMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

Ad Astra Per Aspera

Reynald E. Tomas, CPA, CMA

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

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

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

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

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

And my journey towards the CMA certification begins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To God be All the Glory!

About the Author:

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

Road to San Diego

 

Marc Angelo S. Sanchez – CPA, CMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author:

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

Going For It!

Francyne Jean M. Corpuz – CPA, CMA

You’ve got to earn it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author: 

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

Soaring into the boundless, open sky

Juvert Ian S. Retonel – CPA, CMA

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

And I, too, have my own story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:  

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

A Journey that Started with a Dream

Angelica Louise M. Villarin – CPA, CMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

Worn out shoes; kindled soul

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

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.

A Journey of Twists and Turns

Julian Job Martinez – CPA, CMA

My CMA story is nothing unusual. In life, there will always be ups and downs. I made my first step towards this goal on the summer of 2017. I was still a student of UST-AMV College of Accountancy then. Having our last semester on the months after, I decided to take up CMA review with the January-February testing window as my target date of examination.

My friends and I have set our minds to become medalists, taking both parts in the same testing window. It was a feat that, during that time, was close to impossible, juggling our academic life with this new goal. With this in mind, we did our best to reach the impossible, studying every day, day in and day out. I have tried different methods, working on index cards, manila papers, yellow pad papers, business pad papers, cellphone notes, notebooks, fillers, handouts, you name it!

From the start of our summer 2017 until January of 2018, I have been studying hard for part 1. My mistake? I completely neglected part 2, with my exam date on the latter part of February.

I took the part 1 exam in January, got out of the testing center, an hour to spare, with full confidence and high hopes that my score would be above 400. After that, I gave my mind a week’s time to rest and relax my brain.

February came, and it came fast. By the first week of February, I am cramming all of part 2 in my head, missing out on writing formulas on index cards, on manila papers, basically everything. All I had time to do was to review the handouts and write on yellow pad papers.

My testing date was fast approaching, and I could not concentrate on studying part 2 because of overthinking, and I keep on feeling that all hope’s lost in being a medalist. I wanted to quit, but on the day of my exam, I pushed myself out of bed and went to the testing center.

I finished the multiple-choice questions in less than 2 hours, and I closed my eyes, hoping and praying that I earned at least 50% score. I opened my eyes and stared at the “continue” button for 5 whole minutes and when the timer said I had 1 hour left for the MCQ, I clicked the button, again closed my eyes and prayed long and hard. I was relieved to see that the exam was taking me to the essay part. I used almost an hour and a half for my essay and believe me, I went out of the testing center still praying for good results.

After some time, results for the part 1 is out, I hurriedly open my e-mail full of excitement just to find out that I was way below the passing mark. I was devastated. I felt like my whole world crumbled. I kept on asking myself, “If I did this bad on part 1, what more hope do I have in part 2?” It took me the whole month to get over it, to the point where I even forgot to open my e-mail when the part 2 results were released. It was 2 days after the release when I realized I haven’t checked the results yet. I opened it and I cried when I saw that I am one-half done with the CMA exam. I passed the tougher Part 2 exam!

I immediately filed for a re-take of my part 1 and studied rigorously. During that time, I marched and graduated college, June 1 to be exact, and I continued studying right after. I took the exam by the end of June, with the thought in mind that this will be my last exam and I will pass the exam this time around. Results came shortly after, and I was glad I passed my retake on Part 2. With just the 2-year work experience I can now claim my right as a certified professional!

With this, I am currently taking up my bridging program in Colegio de San Juan de Letran, not giving up on my dreams, with the thirst for knowledge backing me up.

Every failure I come across makes me stronger and stronger still. My achievements aren’t the only things defining me. These setbacks, and how I manage to get back up on both feet completes the definition of myself. These comeback moments are what makes me who I am, a man of twists and turns, making the most out of everything, and that, is my CMA Journey.

Keep on striving for your goals. If I can do it, you can do it, too!

About the Author: 

Julian Job Martinez is a graduate of BS in Management Accounting in the University of Santo Tomas. He passed and completed the CMA exam last May/June 2018 testing window. He is currently taking up BS in Accountancy in the Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Intramuros in pursuit of the Philippine Certified Public Accountant title so that he can maximize his potential in sharing his knowledge and expertise in the field.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

What Doesn’t Challenge You Won’t Change You

Joan Joyce U. Garcia – CPA, CMA

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.

Determination, Perseverance and Focus

Adrian Sarfraz O. Uttoh – CMA, CPA

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author:

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

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood

Melosino Melvin Roi Respicio III – CPA, CMA

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”; an excerpt from “Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, a mantra I repeat to myself in times I face life changing decisions. It’s ironic because when I chose the course I would take in college, I took the road most often taken by most aspiring business professionals and lawyers, which was BS Accountancy. But during my journey as an accountancy student, my mantra was put to the test, it was during then that I stumbled upon a road that diverged, and there lies a path less traveled by.

During my second year in college, I faced an obstacle I never knew would change my life, which was to pass the retention program. The retention program was the test that would decide whether I was still eligible to continue in the BS Accountancy program or I would be shifted to the BS Management Accounting program. Of course, when the results were released, I was disappointed when I learned I will not pass, and I was also on the verge of changing my course, thinking a career in accounting was not for me, but life always has its silver lining. During my first semester as a Management Accounting student, we were oriented about the different career paths a BSMA graduate can pursue. It was also discussed then that we can still pursue our goal of becoming a CPA by enrolling in a bridging program, but what really piqued my interest was the Certified Management Accounting Certification. I never knew that there were other avenues and greater opportunities I can grab aside from the CPA license, and the best part was it was a global certification. So, without any second thoughts, I pushed myself to pursue the CMA Certification together with earning another degree in BSA and the CPA license.

Not all roads are smooth, every road has its speed bumps and potholes, and for this journey that I am about to take, there were a lot of obstacles. It was truly a road less traveled by just like in Robert Frost’s poem, because most students were hesitant to take it due to several reasons, but what was most common was the time and the fee that we all had to invest. Although I too was hesitant because I didn’t have the resources and had difficulty managing my time, what kept me going was the excitement of becoming a globally competent professional with the lessons that I will learn through this certification and the people that I will meet. I was blessed from the very start because I had a family who supported my plans, so all that was left was my devotion and perseverance to pass the examination and claim the title of a CMA and CPA.

The journey was tough from the very beginning: the time I had to juggle between my undergraduate subjects and the review, the new lessons and I had to learn and the old lessons that I had to revisit, and the voluminous number of topics that we needed to study by heart. But it wasn’t all that bad, there were also benefits that I enrolled in the CMA course while finishing my BSMA degree. All topics that I learned and discovered in the CMA review helped me in my undergraduate studies and played a major role in helping me pass most of my exams. I also had the advantage of keeping my mind in a state of continuous studying therefore my mind was focused, determined, and I was more diligent in studying for both my CMA review and college subjects. It was going well as my CMA exam was drawing near, but there was one more hurdle that I had to face before I took the exam.

After successfully passing all my subjects and was officially graduating as a BS Management Accounting degree holder, I took the time to pay attention to my health before taking the CMA Exam. I was still in elementary when I was diagnosed with a heart disease, and in my previous visits in the hospital I was doing well, but during the first quarter of 2017 I received news that I did not know would affect my plans. My doctor told me that my conditions had complications and has worsened, which was caused by continuous amount of stress and strenuous activities. I was distraught because my study schedule was affected, the medicines I took had adverse effects, and the news also had a psychological impact which demotivated me.  Due to my present condition at the time, it affected my study performance and my plan on taking the bridging program after my CMA Exam to pursue my goal of also becoming a CPA. To fully prepare myself for the CMA Exam, I had to move my testing window, but I also had to decide whether I let go of my plans to pursue a BSA degree as it could jeopardize not only the results of my exam but also my health. I thought about it thoroughly and even consulted different people to help me in my decision, until I finally made up my mind.

Amidst the challenges I faced at that time I chose to pursue my BSA degree at the same time I was about to take my CMA Exam. I told myself, from the very beginning I took this path I was aiming for excellence and competency, and what more could define that by accomplishing these tasks despite the challenges presented to me. With proper time management, determination, and perseverance, I graduated with a BS Management Accounting degree, passed both parts of CMA Exam last Sept./Oct. 2017 testing window, then graduated with a BS Accountancy degree, and lastly, I passed my CPA Licensure Exam last October 2018.

During all these events, I could say that the CMA course was the best decision I ever made.  I acquired skills and knowledge that gives me an edge as a professional, it opened doors to different opportunities, I was able to meet business professionals from other countries, I was introduced to well known individuals in the Accountancy profession, I got acquainted with the best mentors and leaders in the industry, and I am now a catalyst for Management Accounting, Accountancy, and Financial Management students and professionals in their pursuit to become word class experts in their chosen fields and in becoming future CMAs.

The road I took, as difficult as it was, was the best route I took to elevate my career. I wouldn’t have made it through without the help and support of my friends, family, and mentors, along with the guidance of God. The journey I took may not be one most people would take, but I am thankful I took the challenge and endured every trial I encountered. I journeyed on this path less traveled by with the hope that more and more would find their way here to pave the way for other aspiring professionals, and I am proud to say that I never regret choosing this path. As the poem goes: “I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.

About the Author: 

Melosino Melvin Roi Respicio III graduated from The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas with a degree of BS in Management Accounting of Batch 2017, and at Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Intramuros with a degree in BS in Accountancy of Batch 2018. He is now a Certified Management Accountant after successfully passing the exam last Sept./Oct. 2017 testing window. He took the CPALE last October and is now a Certified Public Accountant. He aspires to help his fellow accountants and also students taking up accountancy courses discover their full potentials and help them reach their goals in their pursuit of becoming successful accountants.

Welcome Detour towards My CMA

Angela Bianca T. Mamauag – CPA, CMA

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!

Marko Patino Alejandro – CPA, CMA

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.

The Opportunity

Aldwyn Jan T. Gonzales – CPA, CMA

I was 4th yr. college at the University of Santo Tomas taking BS Management Accounting. It was a normal day at school. No quizzes, no events, just classroom discussions. I was outside of our classroom when I learned that one of the professors was discussing about the CMA program.

From what I learned, we just have to take an exam prepared to see if we were qualified for what they called back then as the first “Elite Batch”.

A few days after thinking about it, I gave it a try. I spent some nights reviewing the materials given. What’s fun was only a few people knew that I would take the exam.

Exam day came, some of my friends were surprised that I took the exam. Let me tell you that the exam was the first 100 item exam I have ever taken, and it was really difficult. I didn’t expect to get a passing score. I even placed a bet with my friends that if ever I passed I would treat them with pizza.

Back to normal but with a lot of quizzes now. I didn’t expect the results to come out soon because of the workload of the professors during quizzes. Until one weekend morning, I woke up with my phone bombarded with “Congratulations!”  When I learned that I placed first in that list of passers I ran and screamed towards my parents to show them my achievement.

I was happy and most of my friends were happy for me, then I remembered that I had to buy pizza. Anyway, because of the results I was able to convince my parents to enroll me in the certification program.

The journey to be a Certified Management Accountant is a very challenging task. I had to sacrifice some time to do stuff I wanted to prioritize what I needed to do.

The most memorable for me though was my exam month. It was June 2017. My exams were scheduled on the 2nd and 4th week. Our graduation was on the first week of June, so I wasn’t able to enjoy graduation as early as my batch mates did. I remembered sacrificing going out with friends to study every day to prepare for the exams. It was the most challenging thing I did for the certification.

In the end, it was worth it. I received the results in August 2017 and I passed the two-part exam.

Now, I’m a financial consultant of an insurance company and because of my certification I can provide better insight and added value to my clients. I’m on my way to managership and making my family very proud.

To the readers, make it a goal to learn from the certification program rather than achieve the title, it is this way that all your sacrifices and journey will be truly worth it and really useful in the workforce.

Good luck and God bless!

About the Author: 

Aldwyn Jan T. Gonzales graduated BS Management Accounting at The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas batch 2017. He passed the CMA Examination for both parts in the June 2017 testing window. He is now a financial consultant in one of the world’s leading life insurance companies.

Comeback is Real!

Li-Anne M. Serrano – CPA, CMA

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.

Turning Vision into Reality

Maaku W. Saito, CPA, CMA

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

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.

Dreamer

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.

Overcoming Challenges, Struggles and Road Blocks

Paul Joseph B. Morales – CPA, CMA

Challenges, 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

Naomi Q. Angulo – CPA, CMA

I 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

Angelo B. Villadores – CPA, CMA

It 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.

My Journey to Becoming a CMA

Samantha Joyce Corpin – CPA, CMA

Having been an officer of Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants (JPIA) of our school, Chiang Kai Shek College in my fourth year, I had the chance to share ideas as to what activities we could have in the entire year. Since I wanted to lengthen my name with acronyms besides CPA someday, I suggested seminars concentrating on other career opportunities. One of these is the CMA (Certified Management Accountant).

We contacted Sir Edison Chu, a cousin of my classmate, who was an officer of IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) Philippine Chapter then. August 22, 2015 had been settled as the day of our seminar.

I really thought that once the seminar ended, we will all just move on and continue with things we were doing before. But when the seminar nearly ended, Sir Angel Secerio Jr., one of the guest speakers, gave an extremely encouraging offer for fourth year students wherein students will only pay the CMA program fees once they pass the examination. Because of the excellent offer, three of my classmates and I joined. However, because of fear (of failure), huge investment fee involved and other circumstances, we all backed out.

After a few days, a message from Sir Angel appeared on my Facebook chat box telling that if I want to, I could be a full scholar to be sponsored by Insights. I told my classmates about it and one of them reaccepted the “Pass Now, Pay Later” offer. However, even before the review started and after we got registered to IMA, we once again almost quit fearing that we might fail and disappoint ourselves, our loved ones, and Insights. Fortunately, we are blessed to have our IMA mentors and college professors for continually encouraging us to continue on, not letting us to give up even before the battle begins.

As part of our exam strategy we had taken CMA Part 2 examination first. Our journey to pass this first exam was never easy. We were still studying in college during that time, and our classes were scheduled from Monday to Saturday; we got only Sunday as our rest day. Joining the CMA review had taken even this day away from us, but for good reason. I thought that it could be so exhausting but since our reviewers were motivating, we just enjoyed our review. Furthermore, it was just a little sacrifice for us to make it.

When my examination got nearer and nearer, I was always saying to myself that I can’t fail. I once failed from a college entrance examination and it really lowered my self-esteem. It was one of the events in my life that stocked into my mind and it wasn’t good. Hence, I really made myself try hard to pass.

My Part 2 examination had been scheduled to January 7, 2016, but because of fear and unpreparedness, we rescheduled our exam to the last day available, February 24th of the same year.

When the day of the examination came, something even happened. My companion and I had agreed to meet at a specific place but since I came early, I went somewhere near to eat first. I was expecting for her to text me but no message from her popped out. I was texting and calling her but there were no replies. An hour before the examination I called her parents and was told that she already left. I grabbed a taxi after and I was literally crying inside because I felt like I was left by. I also thought I would be late and not be admitted. Good thing I was able to make it.

The result had been released on the 6th day of the month of April. It was already 11:00 o’clock in the evening when my classmate called and told me that she passed. Nervousness ran through my blood immediately as only two of us from our school joined the battle and it’s a shame if I failed and she passed. Gratefully, a positive result had been sent to my email.

Reviewing for Part 1 examination has been tougher since we were simultaneously reviewing for CPA licensure examination. I already got confused what to review first. Not reviewing even for a day for the CPA examination was already a big thing. However, realizing that CMA title was an international one and my examination for it would come first, having been scheduled on June 23rd, my time had been mostly spent reviewing for it during May and June. Luckily, no more dramatic scenes happened on my examination day. The result had been released in August and I was really thankful when I was told that I did it despite the difficulties.

Fears, doubts and difficulties came into my way during the CMA review and examination, but I continued anyway. While I’m writing this, I have realized that our only opponent towards success is us, ourselves. As what Paulo Coelho said in his book The Alchemist, even the universe conspires in helping us to achieve our goals but we ourselves block the opportunities to win. Success is a fruit of good attitudes, and being fearful is not one of those.

Our future relies on what we do today so we should not waste our time doubting. We have to believe and do our best rather.

About the Author:  

Samantha Joyce Corpin is a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy cum laude graduate from Chiang Kai Shek College last April, 2016. She is the eldest daughter of her elementary teacher mom and policeman dad.  She passed the CMA examination this year and is incessantly hoping to pass the CPA examination this Oct’16. She plans to work with the Big 4 firm and pursue multiple certifications in the future.

The Long Journey That Led To Victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author: 

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