Board Exam Topnotcher FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) : an interview with myself

Note: When I topped the librarians' board exam in 2015, Panay News writer Roma Gonzales sent me these questions for an article that never came into being. Still I want to post this small reminder and keepsake to inspire and motivate future test-takers. This is a flashback to my 2015 self.

Well I hope this doesn't sound like I'm lifting my own chair. When the 'news' got out, a writer sent me these questions about the recent librarian's board exam for a newspaper but it wasn't featured so anyway since I wrote them I'm just gonna post it here.

1.) What’s your favorite book and why?
I like so many books, but my favorite Filipino novel of all time is 'Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag' by Edgardo Reyes, it is about a guy looking for his girlfriend in Manila, and goes through the worst of despair and crime. I like the dense and poetic language, beautiful words despite the ugliness it describes.

2.) Why did you decide to be a librarian?
I’ve always loved books and libraries. I first studied Political Science but realized my heart wasn’t into it. After a break from college, I learned about the course Bachelor of Library and Information Science in CPU in an ad in a PLDT phone book. I didn’t know what it was then, but soon I found that I liked the course. People have many misconceptions about librarians but most don’t know that it also involves management, information services, organising resources, and of course, information technology. The teachers and librarians in CPU’s Henry Luce Library are the kindest and most supportive mentors I know and with their encouragement, I was inspired to pursue this field.

Librarianship is really about information services and involves critical thinking, and dedication to service. I love librarianship because libraries have always been my favourite places. Without libraries, who would preserve and keep our history? Though, libraries also deal with the information needs of the organization and the people it serves. I like research and helping people look for information, its like detective work really and there’s always something to learn everyday in working in the library!

3.) How did you find out you were the topnotcher? Was it expected?
After the exam, I was nervous and couldn’t check the PRC website for the results. April 28 was the release date and I spent that day wandering around malls just to make myself stop thinking about it. That afternoon, it was my mother who first called that I passed, and my father was playing on the computer but he stopped so I could check the internet. I checked the PRC website and looked at the list of the passers, and felt relieved that my name was there. Then I took a deep breath, clicked on the link for the top 10…

Then when I read my name on number 1, I cried. I went hysterical on the floor for a moment because I was so surprised. I can’t explain what I felt in that moment, but all the hardships I went through during the review paid off.

Was it expected? In a way, yes. I’ve been reviewing for a year, doing the best I could, and always praying to God for wisdom and strength even when I wasn’t motivated all the time. My prayers were specific: I really asked God to help me top the exam and that I would get the highest grades I could. Many people prayed for me and believed in me. What I didn’t expect was that the prayer was answered!

4.) What was your family’s reaction?
Of course, they were happy for me. I think my whole clan already knows and are congratulating us. After my crying, my father screamed, “Did you really top the exam?!” and I replied, “Read it! Is that really my name? Is it me?!” and he said, “YES!” and we hugged. My brother was in Manila, checking the net in a coffee shop, and he also cried when he learned that I topped. My aunts, my grandmother, and other relatives called to congratulate us.

5.) For whom (or for what) do you offer this success?
I couldn’t have done it without my mother and this is for her. Since I was in school, she has been my number 1 supporter. She suggested that I focus on the review first and volunteer in libraries. I always listen to her first and follow her advice, because in the review many suggested different things, but my mother always decides for me. I also owe the rest of my family, my aunts, uncles, and cousins who always expressed their support.

I also owe my teachers and mentors, especially the teacher-librarians in CPU Henry Luce Library and in SEAFDEC AQD Library in Tigbauan. In the exam, library experience helped me answer the questions and I thank these libraries for giving me a chance to work and volunteer for them. This is also for my friends and classmates who always cheered me on.

6.) What do you consider as the greatest challenge in finishing your studies?
I graduated with honors, but I think it was because I was studying something that I really loved and I have a passion for librarianship. This board exam was the greatest challenge I encountered because everyone expected me to do well and there were times I lost enthusiasm in studying and felt pressured and doubtful, what if I fail everyone’s expectations?

I also left home for the first time to Manila to review for this exam. It was my first time alone. For four months, I focused on studying and being away from family and Iloilo City to adjust to a new place wasn’t easy. I loved my city even more there because I missed the food so much. But I grew up in many ways and learned a lot about myself.

7.) What could be the “secret” to your success in the licensure examinations?
The key is understanding the lessons and concepts, and not merely memorizing facts. The review starts in school and not after graduation, basic knowledge is important so understand them now. In the exam, you will encounter questions you have not read about in the review so what really helps is reading comprehension and logical reasoning. Planning and scheduling study time also helps a lot, but I also took breaks as our minds also need rest to perform well. I answered hundreds of mock exams and I focused on studying my mistakes and weak spots. Always pray and ask God for strength and wisdom, as it is written in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives to all without finding fault and it will be given.”

8.) Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I see myself as a librarian helping my community, maybe taking up a Master’s degree and also teaching in this field. I also want to be a writer, my two passions in life are librarianship and writing so I still have my dream of publishing my short stories and novels!

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