Medical frontliner's son tops pharmacist licensure exam

A 23-year-old man from Dagupan City, Pangasinan, topped the country's Pharmacist Licensure Examination held in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, Legazpi, Pagadian, Pangasinan, and Zamboanga in April 2021.

Angelo Proceso Zarate, a graduate of Lyceum-Northwestern University (L-NU), topped the exams with a 90.70% rating.

Zarate led the 674 out of 1,168 examinees who passed the test given by the Board of Pharmacy.

While admitting to taking his reviews seriously, he did not expect to come up on top.

"Hindi pa nagsi-sink in sa akin. Pinagdasal ko na talaga kahit makapasa lang sa exam, okay na,” he said. (It hasn't sunk in for me yet. I really prayed for this, just to pass the exam would have been okay.)

Zarate, or Gelo to his family and friends, was watching YouTube videos while waiting for the exam results on a humid Friday afternoon, April 30, when messages of congratulations suddenly began flooding his Messenger account.

Caught off guard, Zarate immediately went to look for the results. He immediately rushed to his mother, Ruth Ann Feliciano, to inform her of the good news.

"Patulog na si mama ko. Pero nagulat kasi bigla akong pumasok, tapos sinabi ko 'yung results," Zarate laughingly said. (My mom was about to sleep. But she was surprised because I suddenly came in and told her the results.)

As he recalled his pre-exam days, Zarate admitted he felt upset at times because his plan to take the exams as soon as possible did not happen. 

He had his internship after his graduation in 2019. He then enrolled in a review center in Baguio City afterwards, as he was planning to take the licensure exams in 2020. This was delayed, of course, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He shifted his perspective. He turned the delay into an opportunity to gear up for the examinations. He and his classmates then organized and joined several virtual study groups found online and in the Discord app.

Zarate is not your typical crème de la crème. He was not an achiever during his days as a student. Like other learners, he joins gimmicks, plays computer games, and watches animes. These all changed, however, as soon as he began preparing for the exams.

Being homesick and thinking about his mother, older sister, and grandparents back home inspired him to focus on his review.

Zarate's parents separated when he was still a teenager, and he has had no communication with his father up until now. His mother, a 49-year-old nurse deployed to the Taskforce on Elderly Care under the Dagupan City Health Office, and his grandparents helped each other to support his education.

As for his career, Zarate plans to find work to support his family. He was offered a teaching job, but he prefers to work in a pharmaceutical company.

"Kung papalarin, gusto kong magtrabaho sa manufacturing," Zarate said. (If I'm lucky, I want to work in manufacturing.)

Zarate urged students and aspiring professionals to continue pursuing their dreams.

"Anything is possible as long as they constantly pray to God and give it all to him," he said. –