Crossed Off My Bucket List

Photo-Korina Patawaran“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” – Fred De Vito

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. I’m the kind of person who constantly seeks for challenges and adventure. And being an adventurer by heart, a bucket list comes in handy. Bucket lists, for some time, have only been associated with the dying but on another perspective, it’s also actually one way to live. Besides, there’s nothing wrong on starting early. I have always been free-spirited but I know that I needed a direction somehow on how to achieve my aspirations and dreams whether it be study, fitness, family, travel, extending help to others, and career.

One of my bucket list entries, definitely, would be to pass the CPA Board Exams, which I did in October 2011.  The natural direction for new board passers is to get hired by an audit firm. Gratefully, I have been hired by one of the best in the country. Nothing compares with the experience and learnings I have been through during my short stint in the firm’s assurance division. But after a year, I knew for a fact that public practice isn’t for me. I want to work on something where I can add value, something that can drive growth, something that can drive change.

After I left the firm, I experienced a hard time looking for a new job. For someone who graduated from a humble university in the province, landing to your target job in the metro can be quite a challenge. I may have earned my bachelor’s degree with Latin honors but it isn’t enough in a competitive environment. It can be quite frustrating to be deliberately rejected by some employers because I didn’t graduate from one of the country’s ace schools or due to lack of experience. At that moment, I know that I need to do something to earn my place in the industry and to gain leverage. I want to be more competent and competitive, not only because I want to be empowered but also because I want to inspire others.

I knew that investing on education is the best step forward. The problem is I don’t know exactly what to pursue. Then one Sunday night on my way back to Makati, I stumbled upon an advertisement found on the bus’ headrest. I don’t remember the exact words but I remember the advertisement asking if I want to further my career and be globally competitive in the field of accounting. The advertisement is Insights Financial Review Services’ Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Program. The beauty in life is that it can present you things and surprises in ways you least expect. Indeed, everything happens for a reason. If not only for that simple bus ride, if not only for my chosen seat, if not only for that headrest, I would have not known that there is actually an institute that can help Filipinos earn a global certification. The US CMA certification is, of course, also one entry on my bucket list. I googled Insights right away and sent an e-mail to Sir Angel Secerio and inquired on the CMA program, that was in August 2013. He generously shared information regarding the program which I am thankful for but after careful thought I know it wasn’t the best time for me to undergo the program as I was only starting on my third job as a controller for a multinational pharmaceutical company. I remember receiving another email from him in February 2014, but I wasn’t ready still. Then in May 2014, when I felt like it was the perfect time, I signified my interest to take the program which was about to start in a week’s time.

True to my fear, studying for the rigorous two-part exam while working full time is really hard. But if you want something bad enough, you’ll really find a way. The good thing is I have always been interested in management accounting even during my undergraduate years that’s why I still remember most of the topics. Management accounting, unlike financial accounting and auditing, has a strong future orientation and is intended to help management in making rational decisions with a view towards achieving company’s objectives. Although it is true that you will be learning on actual work experiences, studying outside your work environment is a great way to refresh your knowledge about best practices and approaches in the field. I took the two part examination in September and October 2014 and without any doubt I knew I would pass the exam. As they say, you must believe you can and you’re already halfway there. In December 2014, results were out and I passed both parts. Earning the CMA designation, certainly, is not the end but just the start of a lot of things to look forward to in our career.

The unforgettable journey to becoming a CMA would have not been possible without the grace of our Lord. I want to thank God for the knowledge, for the energy, and simply for everything that have transpired. I want to thank my family for the endless support and for understanding on why I can’t go home on weekends because of the review. I want to thank all the reviewers and staffs for the meaningful discussions and for all the valuable tips. I want to thank my fellow reviewees for the fun memories and for making me feel I am not alone in the journey. And lastly, I want to thank Sir Angel for his kindness, encouragement, and guidance. As a young professional, corporate environment can be tough at times especially when no one listens to your ideas and no one appreciates the things you do. Then, you start to doubt your capabilities and see all the hindrances. Sir Angel may have not known this but during those times he was pushing me, he was indeed pushing me for something more. Thank you for believing in me during those times I didn’t even believe in myself. Because of his encouragement, I started to gain my confidence back not only in earning the certification but also in my career. The funny thing is, I still haven’t met you, Sir Angel, in person yet and I’m looking forward to that day when I can thank you personally. May God continue to bless you and may you continue to encourage and inspire more Filipinos to take the path less traveled.

CMA Journey is indeed a challenge but definitely worth it and now also crossed off my bucket list. 🙂


About the author:  Ms. Korina Patawaran is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (BSA) at the Holy Angel University in 2011. She passed the CPA board examination in October 2011 and, recently, the certification exams for CMAs in October 2014. She currently works as a Controller at Sanofi Pasteur, an international pharmaceutical company having operations in the Philippines.

What’s Next After The CMA Title?

Miriam Hapiz - Distinguished Performance Award_REVISED 2

Most of the stories shared recently are all about looking back on how the events unfolded along the CMA journey. How the dream has been conceptualized and eventually realized victoriously. All of us savour the taste of emerging as winner in our own battles be it in the form of pressures at work or in school and even the distractions at home. We now reminisce with gratitude those who have become instruments assisting us along the way as we exert our efforts in reaching for our differently viewed but similar targets. They are rightfully addressed and deserve to be recognized.

Together with this accomplishment, I think there is more than the act of achieving what we have initially set for ourselves. As the cliché goes, it is only the beginning. The actual examination may have concluded our painstaking review and studying and even the friendship created but the true essence of pursuing the title I believe are the decisions and the new dreams that we will create, plan and fulfil using the CMA certification that we have earned as our tool, our confidence-booster and competitive edge empowering us in today’s business world.

What has the three-letter acronym after our name has contributed to us? In all the pain, there must be a gain. Let me share with you my thoughts. Personally, the idea of aiming for this recognition has revived my academic self. Studying again has refreshed my thirst for learnings and even sharpened my mind and put to test my skills set. I honestly enjoyed solving problems and answering theoretical questions. However there were times that these, at the back of my mind, were becoming too procedural and mind-aching as well. I also reached a point where I asked myself if all the concepts that we must study could really be of use and be applied in the workplace and practical world at large. With all of these doubts and strains, I realized that true learning does not only take place and does not end at acquiring data and information. It is the process of using these information that teaches us to comprehend better and be more analytical. Problem-solving gives us exercises on critical-thinking skills that are definitely useful not just at work but also in our personal lives. The learning curve and the standard deviation may not directly point to us the solutions for the problems at hand but if we are trained on how to think effectively and critically, we can plan our way to the solution. All these are part of the CMA journey that we all went through. This is one of the reasons why CMA’s are expected to evaluate and recommend choices for decision-making.

What do we do after receiving our certificates and being allowed to use the CMA designation?

This is a more pressing concern as compared before. When we started the review, we knew what to do. Find time to study, cultivate the urge to read without becoming sleepy, commit to the habit of studying daily. Once we have convinced IMA that we deserve the certification at a minimum, what is next to happen?

Since my desire for learning has been sparked, I do not want to lose the momentum of holding all these knowledge. I decided to teach again and I dare to ask Sir Angel if I can also be a CMA instructor in Insights which he willingly accepted.

As I go on with my classes, I suddenly became aware of what my heart truly longs for. It is like finding the place where you feel that you belong and doing the things that excite you most, that is, sharing what you know: the simplification of confusing concepts, the tricks on deriving formulas, the shortcuts to save the precious time. It is like extending a part of myself to others in the manner that I know I do well and it gives an unequal fulfillment bearing in mind that I have helped others in reaching for their own dreams in the way I can and enjoy while at the same time engaging myself in an opportunity to test my own understanding and attaining mastery. This realization has given me direction as per my career path and has taken me to a higher level of self-awareness in seeking my purpose, my reason for existence.

I would like to close my sharing by expressing my gratefulness to all those behind the successes that we are celebrating:

  • To our Almighty God for leading me in this direction, for providing the means and the guts to pursue this investment
  • To my family for the loving care and the unwavering support all throughout
  • To my bosses and officemates for the understanding and the spirit of aspiration
  • To Insights and Sir Angel, for making me feel, be aware of and enjoy my professional value

Lastly, to all aspirants, whether it is CMA title or another dream, dreaming has five stages (according to Sir RB Savella): First is finding the dream. In our childhood days, we think of what we will become when we grow up. Second: Testing it. We go to school to learn how to do it. Third: Fulfilling that dream. We get to work to make it a reality. Fourth: Improving it. We seek continuing learning and growth. Fifth: Sharing the dream. We inspire others. To do this, we, on our own dream, must also be unendingly inspired.

May the Lord continue to inspire us to enjoy life, to dream more and to lead us to the path that He has prepared for us. Thank you once again!


The author, Miriam Leong Hapiz, is currently connected with Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation as an Attest Accountant. She earned her BSA degree in 2007 and passed the CPA examination in the same year. A dedicated member of the IMA Philippines Chapter, she holds the position of Chapter Secretary and assists in propagating the CMA Program in the country by visiting schools and universities in the Philippines. In passing the CMA examinations she earned the 4th highest average score in the Sept/Oct. 2014 Testing Window.

You Reap What You Sow

Leah_Insights WebsiteWay back then, I was afraid to start my 2014 so I kept this scripture that guided me along my journey:

“Do not be afraid – I am with you! I am your God – let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.” – Isaiah 41:10

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you” – Psalms 56:3

I believed 2014 was a big change for me as I was hoping then to finish my degree and then look for a job. Thank God, I was able to achieve those goals. More so, I was able to surpass my goals as another milestone hit my 2014, passing the two-part CMA examination.

I remember when I was still in college I would always tell myself that someday, I will also see myself being congratulated by my university through those proudly made tarpaulins.  I never thought I would achieve that goal sooner.

I was initially a Management Accounting graduate. I have also dreamt of having that three-letter title after my name. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to get a certification for management accounting since the opportunity is new in the Philippines. It was not available in our country until last March 2014, when our school was invited to join the 1st CMA Quiz Bowl in the Philippines where I was chosen as one of the participants. I was so excited when I first heard about it  that I immediately submitted my registration form,  making  Sir Angel remember me as the “very first participant from DLSU-D who submitted the registration form for the first quiz bowl”. The quiz bowl gave me an insight of how the CMA examination would be. So, after the quiz bowl, when we were invited to enroll for the CMA review, without second thoughts, I discussed it with my parents and immediately grabbed the opportunity.

I started my review in April 2014 while waiting for our graduation day. I was in the midst of looking for a job and at the same time having my review, thinking that I could work while studying. When we had our first assessment, I got a low grade. A few days before our exam, I was still behind my target scores. I was a bit depressed at that time. Then, Sir Angel enlightened me. He said that what may have hindered my score improvement is the distraction of looking for a suitable work. Having thought about it, I have decided to pursue the examination over job searching. Taking it for granted might yield unfavorable consequences for my future.

The exam day was fast approaching. I still had a few days to prepare so I studied even harder. I changed my study techniques. I prayed before studying and taking the assessment to seek for guidance and to keep me away from distractions. I had my target topics for the day and assured that it would be finished by day’s end. I had my index cards of the terms and formulas I should be familiar with, which I read while traveling to the review center, a useful technique I learned from Ms. CJ, one of our abled CMA Instructors. As a result of this changed study habits, my scores improved. These changes helped me to be well-equipped for the exam. I was able to pass the CMA Examination-Part 2 last August 11, 2014.

After I took the exam, I started to prepare for Part 1. I adopted the study habits I had in preparing for my Part 2 exam so I was more prepared this time. I was a bit relaxed, more focused and more confident. As with my scores, I progressed faster and better than before. During the exam, honestly, I did not feel nervous. It was as if I was just taking an assessment. Even after the exam, I was confident that I will pass and so I just waited if my score got higher. And yes, I was not wrong. I passed the CMA examination-Part 1 and even got a higher score than what I got in the CMA examination-Part 2. Unofficially, I am now a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), since I will still have to earn my two-year work experience to complete the requirements of the CMA Program.

But still, I nailed it!

So, my advice to those who are planning to take up the CMA: Do not take the exam for granted or with much ease! Yes, it is not an easy exam but with the proper preparation, you can also become a CMA. Keep in mind, nothing worth having comes easy. Also, remember that you reap what you sow. If you study hard, of course you will pass the exam. Preparing for the exam needs time commitment and discipline. You may have to sacrifice, avoiding watching your favorite series, partying, or going out with your friends, for short-term for long-term gain. People have different ways of learning, so it is better that you get to know yourself more, find the study habit that is effective for you and stick to that.

I would not be a CMA today if it were not for those people who believed in me. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to my professors, instructors, friends and colleagues for the guidance and support. Also, thank you to Insights Financial Reviews for making our dreams possible and to Sir Angel for patiently pushing us forward to reach our goal. To my family, thank you for all the support and for the strong belief that I can do it. Above all, I thank God for blessing me with wisdom and knowledge and for strengthening me to achieve, conquer and surpass.


The author, Leah V. Bolinao, was a B.S. in Management Accounting graduate from the De La Salle University-Dasmariñas in April, 2014. She belonged to the first batch of CMAs of DLSU-D. Currently, she is working as a Cost Accounting clerk of a packaging company located at First Cavite Industrial Estate in Dasmariñas City.

An Unexpected Blessing

CMA Quiz Bowl_Judy BayawaGod’s grace is not the light at the end of the tunnel; it is the light that leads us through it. Truly, His grace is sufficient in sustaining me all throughout my CMA journey. Let me share with you my exciting experience.

I first heard of the “CMA” title through one of my instructors in the academe but I never knew what it really was. Months later, there was an invitation from Insights for the 1st CMA Quiz Bowl. I just joined for fun and experience so I never really expected a good result. Unknowingly, it turned out that that was my first big step in joining the CMA profession. It was a great blessing and opportunity for me because I obtained the CMA Program full scholarship when I emerged as Champion in the BSA category.

Preparing for two tough international certification exams in one month has been exhausting. I was really challenged to balance my time for the CPA exam review, and the CMA marathon review that ensued. While reviewing the MAS (Management Advisory Services) subject for the CPA board exam, I also studied the related topics in depth for the CMA exam. Sir Angel always monitored our progress on the review through giving us lots of materials, test drills, assessment exams, and advices and encouragements.

There was barely a 2 week gap between the CPA (Oct. 12 ’14 as last day of exam) and the CMA exams (Oct. 28 and 30) so I really prayed hard and really crammed to finish answering some materials, Wiley test bank, etc. Then came the CMA exam, I don’t really know what to expect so I just let out a deep breath and started answering the questions.

Time pressure was the greatest challenge during the CMA exams because candidates are expected to answer 100 multiple-choice questions over a period of 3 hours only, or at the rate of 1.8 minutes per item. The crucial part, I believe, was on the essay portion of the exam once you complete and “passed” the minimum score on the MCQ section. The essay portion comprise of 2 case scenarios where candidates are given 5-6 sub-questions per case scenario. Analysis, computation and lots of “Business English construction” are needed, like you as a consultant give advices to your client or top management.

Thankfully, I survived the 2 day exam.

Insights CMA Scholar_Judy BayawaAfter a month and a half, all of my CMA batchmates were eagerly waiting for the results. The sun brightly shined on the morning of December 12 and I knew then that I passed the exam. I was overwhelmingly overjoyed that I smiled all the way to work looking crazy. I said to myself, “so this is the feeling of becoming a CMA!”

Conquering fears, going out of your comfort zone, and trusting God were some of the many things that I learned in this journey. A realization came to me that day: God uses little happenings in our life in preparation for a greater and bigger plan.

Let us not ignore opportunities that come our way; rather, we should grab them because they may never come again.

I want to encourage the CMA hopefuls to never give up because all of those sacrifices, time, and effort will always be worth it once you earn the title. Dream high and strive for the gold!

Lastly, I want to share this victory with my parents, friends, and the Insights Financial Review Family. Without you, I would not be writing this wonderful story.

To Sir Angel who has been very supportive to us, advising us not only about the CMA exam, but also about our career and future plans, my deepest gratitude, sir!

Most especially, to the Almighty God who is the source of everything, to Him be the glory!

Hurray to the Insights Family!


The author, Judy Bayawa, is a BSA graduate from the University of the Cordilleras in May, 2014. She passed the Oct’14 CPA examination, and the 2-part CMA examination in the same month. She is currently working as an Audit Associate at SyCip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. (SGV & Co., CPAs).

Maktub: It is Written.

Pic_James PerezI once had fallen into a self-treason of assuming that I will not go any further. In the early stages of my career, I had experienced a deep feeling of inadequacy that even passing the CPA Licensure Examination cannot suffice. I began asking the question “Is this it?” repeatedly. I think I was in the early stage of what they call “Quarter Life Crisis”, I’m 23 at that time or the feeling may be starting to sink in.

After contemplating for weeks, I started reading self-help articles and inspirational books. One of the books I’ve read was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a fiction book about a shepherd in search of his treasure. The book has this magical way of describing the story. It is so imaginatively precise and will definitely awaken your senses more than 4D. From there, I have discovered and rediscovered a simple truth from the quote: “When you want something, all of the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Some may lead you to places or situations you didn’t really want but eventually you will realize that it is part of your journey and will either teach you a lesson or strengthen your character. That day, I began to change my way of thinking.

I spent numerous days of discovering what I really wanted. Then, I suddenly recalled in college that the accounting subject I enjoyed most was Management Accounting and I really wanted to be a CMA because I was inspired when I saw the name of the author of our reference book with both a CPA and a CMA title. I started writing my plans in paper and added “I am a CMA by 2020”. Yes, that is my original plan considering the cost, time and effort demanded by the CMA program.

But everything changed…

After a few months, an angel in the name Sir Angel sent an email thru LinkedIn asking if I wanted to pursue my dream. He knew exactly that I was very interested in taking the CMA exam. However, I was not prepared financially. I’m the breadwinner and must provide for my family regularly that I didn’t have the fund needed for the CMA program. It was only just a dream, I sighed.

One day, I was invited by Sir Angel to attend the testimonial dinner of successful CMA passers. After hearing the speeches from the victorious candidates, I suddenly asked myself two questions: “Why can’t I do the same?” and “What’s holding me back?”

After several months of thinking and overthinking, I finally decided to take Part 1 in October 2014 and Part 2 in February 2015. To finance the registration and exam fee, I have ventured into part-time tutoring and had been really frugal to save for the CMA Program. I informed Sir Angel about my plans and he has agreed to it.

And the journey started…

Insights Review Financial Services, Inc. has handpicked excellent and experienced instructors. Sir Kenji, Sir Edison, Ms. Jacqui, Sir Randell, Ms. CJ, Sir Carlito and Sir Eddie together with my co-reviewees have developed a support system. We have an interactive class. Everyone is encouraged to ask and share their own views or understanding of the topic being discussed. It was very lively and enjoyable. The instructors also have sense of humor. They throw exciting jokes whenever silence strikes. Some jokes need to be deciphered but still when we get it after 10 seconds, we laugh out hard. Indeed, it is learning while having fun.

After a series of reviews for Part 1, I made an extremely risky decision. Unexpectedly, on the last week of September 2014, I registered for Part 2 of the CMA exam. I bravely departed from my original plan of taking Part 2 on February 2015. I kept it secret to everyone until the second week of October. After finishing the Part 1 on October 21, 2014, I went into long hours of studying and reviewing for Part 2. It has occurred to me that the decision has been done. So I decided that there is no turning back and I should be only concerned with the best way of moving forward. This is all or nothing!

On October 30, 2014, I finished Part 2 of the CMA exam. With God’s grace, I knew I have passed or at least I want to believe that I have succeeded. THOUGHTS BECOME THINGS.

On December 12, 2014, I received the good news. I officially passed and conquered both parts of the CMA examination.

P.S. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank God, my family, my friends, my bosses, Insights Review Financial Services, Inc. instructors, Maricar, my co-reviewees and especially to Sir Angel who became a real life alchemist to all of us. I am grateful I have the best partners in my CMA journey.

I hope I have also inspired all aspiring CMAs in my own little way. Take risks and do what you really want to do. You write your own destiny. Maktub!

The path often hides itself, so as to encourage the traveler to discover what exists around the bend.” –CHRONICLE: BETWEEN EKATERINBURG AND NOVOSIBIRSK-


The author, James P. Perez, is Asst. Manager-Financial Planning and Analysis at Tupperware Brands Philippines. A graduate at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, he passed the October, 2010 CPA Examination, and recently the 2-Part CMA Examination last October, 2014.

Born To Triumph

DE JESUS, GELY ANN C.In 14 years of intellectual struggle, every onion-skinned diploma is worth it. But what is even more rewarding and sweeter is to pass an internationally recognized certification exam like the 2-part examination of the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) Program!

Why would you settle for less if you can have the best?” This is what my parents always tell me that entail not just an investment of money but your whole life as well. I did very well during the last 10 years of my stay in the academe applying that principle that my parents taught me. However, I remembered failing many times during college and I started to lose confidence – confidence that I can be back on track again; confidence that I can still take the other route; worse, I started to doubt that I was born to triumph.

Always believe in yourself or else no one does”. The moment I learned that I could no longer proceed with my program in Accountancy, I started to lose hope. It felt like it was the end of my dream of becoming a title holder. I thought passing the CPA board examination was the only stairway to success as an accountant. I was completely wrong when I learned about that prestigious title – the CMA credential. At the outset I thought it was that simple. Considering the fees and other related expenses, I already bid goodbye to becoming a CMA.

Totally confused, after I got my degree in Management Accounting, I started to look for jobs. It was sad to think that those with professional licenses get most of the privileges of getting employed. They can get higher salary grade, better position and most importantly, the respect and admiration from your employers and other business professionals.

Best things come to those who wait”. While waiting, God has sent me an Angel to fulfill my dreams. Deciding wasn’t made easy. I was totally afraid to risk my time, effort and money. I was afraid to FAIL again. I was afraid that if I fail, where would I go? But then, I took the risk and let God’s grace took over. Six months of review can be converted to six months of being employed, and employee-regularization follows afterward. I did think about it and I got myself enrolled.

For every attendance of review session, I think about working days. For every discussion we had, I think about the group meetings I could have had. For every computation we made, I think about the salary I could have had. For every question I had asked to our instructors, I think about the answers to my worries. I felt so restless. It was a week before my Part 1 exam that I started working in a bank. I felt somehow relieved that no matter what my CMA journey result is, I know FAILURE will not taste that bad. With this, my CMA journey became shakier. I need to add effort, subtract laziness, multiply the food intake and divide my time.

If God is with me, who can be against me?” God is my number one companion during this battle that I know I can win. I know I can win because I was surrounded by great people who walked with me throughout this journey. I know I can win because I have an Angel whose presence is much felt although He’s thousand miles away. I know I can win because I have my loved ones whose faith in me remains sturdy. Lastly, I know I can win because I learned to trust myself again.

Heading for GoalThree months of extensive review, and three months of reviewing while working are worth it. I can’t wait to add that three-lettered credential after my name. I am forever grateful that I am brave enough to take the road less traveled. I will never get tired of retelling my story to others and inspire those who share the same sentiments that I have. One thing I learned is that “Don’t be afraid to take the risks. If you fail, you didn’t actually fail, you just become wiser. If you win, you have no regrets!”


The author, Gely Ann De Jesus, is a Management Accounting graduate of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas in April, 2014. She passed the 2-part certification exam for CMAs in 2014 with a total of just under 6 months preparation. She is currently employed at BPI Makati.


The Long Road To Becoming a CMA

Mark&Angel 1After having my CPA license and having worked as an IT associate auditor, my interest was to have a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) since it is related to my previous work. Then I met Angel Secerio, Jr. in LinkedIn and his company offered me to take the CMA exam. Without hesitation, I accepted the offer, which basically included everything from the program registration and membership, exam fees, being equipped with the official Wiley CMAexcel study materials, and until I completed the two-part exam.

It was an exciting and long journey for me to be able to complete the two part examination. It was a long journey because it took me one year to take the Part 2 after I conquered the Part 1 last October 2013.

The Part 1 was the most challenging to me since the CMA exam was an unfamiliar territory. Unlike the CPA Board exam, the CMA exam is administered online and has an essay section. I thought the essay portion would be a walk in the park so I did not bother to practice answering essay questions. However, the actual exam was not the case. I wasn’t able to answer all the questions properly in the allotted time due to lack of practice and time constraint. But by God’s grace, I was able to pass the Part 1 exam with a respectable score.

For the Part 2, my target exam date was on February 2014 but I became busy in the CPA review. Upon learning that there are changes in the 2015 syllabus, I decided to register for the Part 2 exam and had only two months to prepare. However, we decided with my co-authors in Applied Auditing to finish the textbook to be able to catch up with the next semester/trimester of some schools.

After finishing the book, I had only four days left to prepare for the CMA exam. Yes, four days! Due to time constraint, I was not able to read the last chapter of the CMA Reviewer and was not able to answer all the practice questions in the Wiley CMAexcel online test bank. Unfortunately, the topics discussed in the last chapter which I was not able to read came out in the actual exams – at least 5 items in the MCQ portion and one sub-question in the Essay portion.

Mark 1Do you think four days of review is enough to hurdle the Part 2 exam?

I would humbly say yes. But looking inside, my preparation actually started way back in college when I was still a student until I myself handled review subject on Management Advisory Services for two semesters, and those four days was only my formal preparation.

In my journey, I have learned the following important lessons:

  1. Foundation is extremely important. Master the concepts.
  2. Time management is critical. Allot more time for preparation. Practice a lot. Avoid cramming.
  3. Try to read everything. The topic you may not be able to read may be asked in the exam.
  4. Believe in yourself. Always be optimistic. Worrying does not solve anything.
  5. Sometimes the road can be long and seemingly never ending, but never give up on your dreams.
  6. Prayer definitely helps.

Now, the wait for the delivery of the illustrious CMA Certificate has begun. To God be the Glory!


The author, Mark Alyson Ngina, is a BSA graduate at the University of the Cordilleras in 2009. He placed 7th in the May’10 CPA Board Examination, and recently completed his CMA Program requirements this year. He is currently a CPA Reviewer at the Nation’s Foremost CPA Review, and concurrently a CMA Reviewer at Insights Financial Review Services. He is a co-author of Applied Auditing, 2015 edition.

Never Give Up!

Happy New Year!!!_REV1

“Don’t ever give up on your dreams!”

It’s a cliché that we always hear from people around us whenever our resolve is getting tested. Honestly, don’t we quickly retort by saying “it is easy for you to say it because you’re not the one involved”?

There were two recent major events in my life when I thought about giving up on my goals. I seriously considered hanging up the gloves.

In the late quarter of 2012 I started to doubt whether I would really be able to pass the last remaining part of the Uniform CPA Examination, Regulation. Could I really get this U.S. CPA title that I longed so much for? How could I pass Regulation when nothing seemed to click as I studied the lessons? It was a battle of will as I recalled it, and in each of the several instances I almost snapped and said I’ve had enough of this. I postponed my exam and repaid the fees for the second (gladly the last) time for a date in Feb’13.

God listens. God sees what we’re going through. He acts when He sees you’re about to give up. And His timing is impeccable.

I got my rhythm, and interest in studying, back and notched the much needed victory, passing Regulation on my first take. At last, the “light at the end of the tunnel has revealed its awesome radiance”, and so I wrote. I earned my U.S. CPA license under the Colorado State Board of Accountancy.

After more than 16 months of slump, things weren’t still going as planned for Insights. The load had become heavier and heavier each month, as the last ounce of invested capital and savings had reached the bottom slack of the drum. There was nowhere else to go if the last promotional project didn’t deliver. Should we pull out now while we could, or do we “die” trying? My wife exclaimed “You don’t give up on your dream. We keep digging!” These were the words that fueled us to press forward. And we’re just so glad we did, because we closed out year 2014 with a very respectable passing percentage at 61 CMA exam parts passed out of 71 exam parts taken. God willing, it looks like we’re on our way to producing top performers (worldwide) in the last testing window of 2014!

It is easy to realize what resilience, hard work, and faith in God can bring about in a person’s quest for victory. God’s Mighty hand will be there to bless you each step of the way if you dedicate your deed toward helping others.

If you don’t see the path that leads you to your destiny, start building the road that leads you to your goal NOW. And as you do, always remember that “The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called Failure, a loop called Confusion, speed bumps called Friends, red lights called Enemies, caution lights called Family. You will have flat tires called Jobs, but if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perseverance, a driver called Will Power, you will make it to a place called SUCCESS.

Just as when you thought of giving up, always remember that your dream deserves another chance.

May you all have a prosperous 2015!

Leap of Faith

RECAÑA, EIRVIN KINGBefore I started my journey on becoming a CMA I was a bit lost. I graduated with a course in BSBA Major in Management Accounting, but I felt that I lacked the competency to start working and apply what I have learned in college.

Right after graduation, I thought about applying for a job and so I prepared a resume. I compared it with my colleagues’. At that moment, I felt I needed something more if I wanted to be more competitive; something that would give me an edge, and rise up from the competition. And when I knew that I was qualified to take the CMA examinations, I heavily considered it.

After browsing through the internet, I learned that the CMA credential is the edge I was looking for. The CMA Program demonstrates mastery of the critical accounting and financial management skills needed on the job today. Now that’s what I’ve always wanted. Help the company make better plans and better decisions.

“Am I capable enough to do this?” I asked myself. Doubt started to kick in. But at that moment, I decided to take a leap. I told myself that I can do this. And with the help of Insights Financial Review Services, the support of my family and colleagues, I made it. I passed the CMA examinations.

It was not an easy journey; it forced me to change my old habits, set my priorities straight, and sacrifice short term happiness. But after knowing the results I knew that it was all worth it. I realized that I may not be the best of students during college, but with the right tools and the right mindset, even students like me can turn around and change for the better.

Eirvin King Recaña_USTAs early as now I can see the fruit of this hard work. I have been appointed as the Vice President for Student Affairs of the IMA Philippines local Chapter. I have been meeting new friends during our school tours at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, University of San Carlos in Cebu City and, most recently, at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, South of the Mindanao archipelago. It’s all FUN, FUN, FUN, as we conducted CMA orientation to bring awareness to schools and students all across the country about the value of an internationally recognized accounting credential.

I am just so glad to have embarked on this CMA journey. I am glad I chose to believe in myself. A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because SOMEONE ELSE thought they could. I am so blessed to have been one of them.

I take this opportunity to thank everyone who had been with me as I played this chapter of my life. I want to thank Insights Financial Review Services for making sure that I was equipped to pass before taking the exams; for believing that I CAN; and to my colleagues, friends and loved ones, for the endless support.

Above all unto God, the giver of all hope, and the one true God who makes everything perfect in His time.

Eirvin King Recaña at HyattLife as they say may be a step by step process, but every once in a while, we must be willing to take a leap, jump into unknown territories, if we wanted to grow as a person.


The author, Eirvin King Recaña, is a 2014 Management Accounting graduate at De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, and scored 430/500 in both Parts 1 and 2 in the June and October, 2014 CMA examinations.

He is now a 5th year BSA student at La Consolacion College, intending to take the CPA board examination in 2016.


A Chapter in My Life: The Road to Becoming a Certified Management Accountant

Rhad Vic EstoqueOur school received an invitation from Insights Financial Review Services for the First-Ever CMA Quiz Bowl in the Philippines. The categories included competition for graduating students, non-graduating 4th year students, and Faculty members. The prize included a full scholarship for the CMA exam including the privilege to attend review classes at Insights located in Makati.

This was an opportunity that was too good to pass.

I joined the faculty category of the Quiz Bowl when it was held in March, 2014. By God’s grace I won; but winning was just the first big leap. Despite winning, I could not celebrate much because the pressure became “greater” than ever. More were at stake, proving myself by taking the CMA exams was the next big hurdle.

For me, taking the CMA exams means having myself take an exam on a field that I claim am expert of.  It was a very big risk to take because, personally, my reputation was at stake. The pressure was high, it was a make or break situation. One should understand where I’m coming from. I am a CPA Board Exam Reviewer, undergraduate in-house review coordinator and reviewer, and graduate school teacher in the field Management Accounting and Financial Management. If I fail, there is a possibility that my superiors and future students would question my credibility to teach the subject. Failing was not an option.

To reach greater heights, I had to leave my comfort zone. Risk it all.

Preparing for the CMA exams was the most difficult part. I had to juggle the pressures of work and the demands of studying. You see the nature of my work is a bit complicated. In the university, I regularly teach in the undergrad, perform my duties as Program Chair and CPA Review Coordinator, and teach in the undergrad CPA review. As a freelance reviewer, I regularly teach in CPA review schools in Baguio City and nearby provinces. When I was preparing for the Part 2 exams, I had to go to Thailand for 2 weeks to teach in the Graduate School. And aside from the teaching work, I regularly go to office as a corporate accountant.

First Quiz Bowl Champion_Rhad Vic EstoqueFinding time to study was a challenge. While my students were taking their periodic exams, I would be solving quizzers while proctoring them. All possible free time that I had was devoted for studying. No more watching television and hangout nights. It was either I worked or I studied. Self-discipline and time management were the key. If you want to achieve your dreams, you have to sacrifice; and sacrifice a lot. Time was a scarce resource when I was studying, so studying using the right materials was a must so as not to waste time.

Accuracy, Speed, and Endurance were the major areas that I had to develop for the CMA exams. Big thanks to Sir Angel for helping me attain them and mentoring me. For pushing me when I got exhausted. For encouraging me when I got frustrated during the time I failed to attain my targets. Sir Angel was very generous enough to provide his resources, the voluminous set of study questions and pre-board exams; the online simulated exams; the audio books that I used to listen while driving; for providing me the proper materials to study.

In addition to the resources provided by Sir Angel, I had to do additional internet research and went back to reading textbooks for further reading. I had to use all possible resources in preparing for the CMA exams. On a personal note, it was better to over prepare.

Insights CMA Scholar_Rhad Vic EstoqueFor me taking the CMA exams was easy. It was easy because I prepared for it. I sacrificed a lot. It was more than I sacrificed for, it was more than worth it. Having the letters CMA added to my name is a dream come true.

But before any of the series of events that led to my journey of becoming a CMA, I prayed first. God planned and placed all the people and resources for me to become a CMA. It was part of His grand plan from the day I was born. It was not by chance, but it was His plan. Right after taking the CMA exams, I claimed the illustrious three-lettered credential “CMA”. I claimed it in God’s name.

To God be the glory!


The author, Rhad Vic Estoque, CPA, MBA, CMA, is one of the lead CMA instructors of Insights Financial Review Services. He is currently the Vice President for External Affairs of IMA Philippines, and teaches both undergraduate and post-graduate students in the area of Management Accounting and Financial Management, among others.