licensure examinations in PH

Surigao City’s pride: 3 graduates from city top mining engineers licensure exam

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Surigao City’s pride: 3 graduates from city top mining engineers licensure exam

TOPNOTCHERS. From left to right: Joesel Jonard Botero, Shirly Vertudazo, and Exequiel Calanza.

Contributed photos

'If papasa ako, 'yon ang magiging way para masuklian ko 'yung pinaghirapan ng family ko, kaya ‘yung pag-top ko, bonus 'yon,' says Joesel Jonard Botero, who ranked sixth in the August 2023 mining engineers licensure exam

MANILA, Philippines – Tuesday, August 29, was a day filled with anxiety for Joesel Jonard Botero, Exequiel Calanza, and Shirly Vertudazo as they waited for the August 2023 Mining Engineers Licensure Examination (MELE) results.

All three are graduates of Saint Paul University Surigao (SPUS). Botero and Calanza were classmates – in fact, they were seatmates during their years in SPUS. Meanwhile, Vertudazo graduated in 2022, a year earlier than the two. 

But they didn’t just pass the licensure exam. Calanza and Vertudazo ranked fourth, with an average rating of 86.20%. Meanwhile, Botero ranked sixth with an average of 85.60%.

Being in the top 10 of the MELE was a huge surprise for these three as they could not deny the difficulty of the exam. 

Na-shock lang, hindi kasi ako nag-expect na mag-top (I was shocked because I did not expect to top,” Calanza said.

Hindi ako makapaniwala kasi pagkatapos ng exam hindi ko alam kung papasa ba ‘yung scores ko (I couldn’t believe it because after the exam I didn’t know if my scores were enough to pass),” said Vertudazo.

Botero shared, “‘Nung lumabas ‘yung result ‘yung reaction ko talaga nganga na lang. Nawala lahat ng pressure. (When the result came out, I was dumbfounded. All pressure was gone.)” 

Choosing mining engineering

The three topnotchers had different reasons for choosing mining engineering as their undergraduate degree. 

Calanza’s parents suggested that he pursue mining engineering, and he agreed with no second thoughts. 

Gusto ni Mama, kaya ayun, follow ko lang at may tiwala kasi ako sa kanila (My mother wanted me to take this course so I just followed and trusted them),” he said.

Exequiel Calanza with his family during his college graduation. Photo courtesy of Calanza

Botero, on the other hand, studied mining engineering to be unique from his family of engineers. 

“Engineering runs in our blood line. There are engineers in the family, but they are mostly civil engineers, so I thought I’d try mining engineering,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Meanwhile, Vertudazo has been a scholar of Taganito Mining Corporation since senior high school (SHS), which played a huge role in her choice of career. 

“During SHS I decided to proceed with mining engineering as many have yet to know about it as a course. I want to be a part of a profession that only few people take,” Vertudazo says in a mix of English and Filipino.

Although their reasons are different from one another, they share one common goal: to give back to their family. This goal has been their motivation as mining engineering students and as board exam takers.

Getting ready for the exam 

Reviewing was not easy for the three topnotchers. For Botero and Calanza, their friendship helped them surpass the reviewing process. 

Botero and Calanza enrolled in the same review center after their graduation in May 2023.

“While nag-review center, nag-self-study din ako ng mga subject na hindi pa [na-elaborate noong college] (While at the review center, I also self-studied subjects that had not been elaborated in college),” Calanza said.

Botero had a different technique in reviewing.

Inuna ko talaga ay ‘yung mga favorite ko kasi feel ko ‘yun ‘yung madali kong ma-grasp. Last ko na ‘yung feel ko mahirap i-grasp kapag malapit na ang board exam para madali ko nalang siyang ma-remember.

(I reviewed my favorite subjects first because I felt like I could grasp it more easily. I reviewed the hardest subject closer to the exam day for better retention during the exam.)

Joesel Jonard Botero (top row, second from left) and Exequiel Calanza (top row, fifth from right) with their classmates at Saint Paul University Surigao. Contributed photo

Meanwhile, Vertudazo admitted that she was mentally unprepared after graduation and needed a break before the board exam. 

“Ayoko mag-take ng risk kasi tatlo lang ‘yung chances na makakatake ka (ng board exam). Ayoko na magte-take ako nang hilaw (I didn’t want to take a risk because there are only three chances to take the board exam. I didn’t want to take it unprepared),” she said.

During her break, Vertudazo decided to work as a process engineer in a manufacturing corporation in Cavite. In March, she went back to Surigao City to self-review, then traveled to Cebu to study in a review center from May onwards.

All three of them are very thankful to God, their family, and their loved ones for motivating them through the whole process.  

“I always pray to the Lord, ‘Please, I really can’t afford to take the exam twice and I need to help my family already,’” Vertudazo said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Matanda na kasi sila [parents]. ‘Pag naiisip ko talaga sila, naiiyak talaga ako kasi 60 na sila, kaya dapat tapusin ko na ‘to (My parents are old. When I think about them I cry because they are already 60, so I have to finish this),” Calanza said.

“‘Yung gastos sobrang laki kaya ginawa ko siyang motivation. If papasa ako, ‘yon ‘ang magiging way para [masuklian] ko ‘yung pinaghirapan ng family ko, kaya ‘yung pag-top ko, bonus ‘yon,” Botero added.

(The expense is so big so I made it a motivation. Passing the exam was a way to pay back my family’s hard work. Topping it was just a bonus.)

A golden future ahead

Following their success as newly licensed mining engineers, what’s next for these topnotchers?

Before working in the mining industry, Botero and Calanza both wanted to take a rest and have their much-deserved vacation with their family. Meanwhile, Vertudazo is planning to work as early as possible.

When asked if she wants to have a vacation as well, Vertudazo said, “Hindi na, mag-aayos na ako ng resumé agad. (I don’t want a vacation, I want to work on my resumé immediately.)” 

Shirly Vertudazo (seated, first from left) with her classmates at Saint Paul University Surigao. Photo courtesy of Vertudazo

As they look to their future, they offer bits of advice for the next board exam takers.

Calanza highlighted the importance of not taking college for granted. “Take college seriously lang talaga, kasi ‘yan ang magbi-build ng foundation, then take note talaga kung ano ‘yung sinasabi ng teachers mo.”

(Take college seriously because that will build your foundation and take note of what your teachers say.)

“Understand the question first before you look at the answers then try to answer the question without the multiple choice,” Botero said.

Vertudazo advised board exam takers to review for a long time. “Mag-prepare talaga sila nang mahaba-haba kasi it’s an advantage talaga. You have the upper hand kasi mase-set mo mentally ‘yung emotion mo.”

(They should really prepare for a long time because it’s really an advantage. You have the upper hand because you can mentally set your emotions.)

“Utilize the internet talaga, doon nanonood ako ng videos kung paano siya kasi kung magre-rely lang ako sa own understanding ko, naku wala po (Use the internet. I watched tutorials there because I thought it best not to rely on my own understanding alone),” she added. – Allysa Areglo/

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Allysa Areglo is a Cavite State University student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a digital communications intern at Rappler.

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