8 Success Lessons l Learned After Interviewing More than 20 Engineering Topnotchers in the Philippines

in #philippines3 years ago (edited)

Part of my job as an editor at GineersNow is to write stories that would go viral, especially those which are relevant to engineering, math, and science. On a daily basis, I look for topics that would make our target audience, the engineers, visit our website. That’s how the business of a digital publishing (and marketing) company works.   

Although the company is based in Dubai, more than half of the team, including the managers, are Filipinos. This allows the Philippines-based editors, who are registered engineers by the way, to choose content that has bias towards Filipino engineers given our understanding of the market. Still, much of what we post cater to the interests of engineers worldwide. 

One time, my boss opened up about interviewing engineering achievers in the Philippines. So we thought of reaching to engineering topnotchers online with the hopes that their stories would be inspirational or interesting enough to drive traffic on our website. 

I started to look for the recently topped board examinees at the time. It does not matter which engineering courses they took, as long as they have bested hundreds to thousands of board exam takers, they all have a success story to tell.

All the topnotchers need to do is fill out a questionnaire and the editors will compose an article from there. Each editor has a responsibility to reach and communicate with the topnotchers. 

In my case, I have interviewed more than 20 in over a year.

With the positive feedback the company gets from highlighting the engineering topnotchers, I became driven. Also at times, I get messages from strangers appreciating what I do which gives my work a meaning. 

So what sense am I making of this? Why is this a big deal? 

To be able to engage with great minds even if it is just through chat or e-mail is a privilege. Not all the time that I get to talk to champion quizzers and math wizards, more so interpret their success stories in the best way I know how. I am their tool in sharing to the world how they got to where they are now. 

Moreover, I realized that far more important than driving web traffic and getting high Facebook reach through our topnotchers’ success stories is the impact. Our readers could learn a valuable lesson or two from the articles and apply in their battles towards becoming registered professionals.    

Personally, I have learned key lessons. This blog post aims to amplify those and let bloggers on Steemit also learn them without reading each of the topnotcher articles I wrote.

Lesson #1: Hardwork, paired with consistency, is the ultimate determining factor to success.

Putting enough blood, sweat, and tears in your work often produces the best results. Successful people always keep their eyes on the goal no matter what obstacles they face.

Most, if not all, of the engineering topnotchers I have interviewed have this element in their stories. 

For one, topping a licensure exam could be replicated by the same person given the consistency and will to succeed. Quite a feat to top a licensure exam once, what more if you do so twice or more? 

Like Engr. Michael James Ramos who placed third in the May 2014 civil engineering licensure examination and later clinched the top spot in the July 2015 master plumber licensure examination. 

Engr. Kathreen Louise Del Rosario shares a similar story, landing eighth in the November 2016 board exam for civil engineers, fourth in the February 2017 board exam for master plumbers, and fifth in the September 2017 materials engineer accreditation examination. Yup, she took three exams, all of which she aced.   

There is also Engr. Billy Ray Sales, who took the electrical engineering licensure exam and the master electrician licensure exam in September 2017 and aced the two by placing ninth in both. Lucky number 9 for him.  

Include Engr. Dino Dominic Ligutan in this roster of achievers as he topped the October 2017 electronics engineering and electronics technician licensure examinations, placing first and second, respectively. 

While the four have acquired success in board exams more than once, there are people who have to go through the worst just to get one engineering license. Their stories are just as awe-inspiring. 

Lesson #2: Failures and roadblocks are great motivators to achieve success. 

To pass the board exam is one thing, to be able to top is another.

For Engr. Edwin Icydor Paragas II, it is already a blessing for him to pass especially that he took the electronics engineering licensure examination four times only to fail each time. It was easy for him to give up after his fourth take but he interpreted the situation differently: sometimes a ‘no’ does not really mean a ‘no’ but a ‘not yet.’ 

He got the license he wanted after trying one more time in the October 2011 examination. Edwin passed. 

Hardwork and consistency are already enough factors to top the board exam, but when you include determination despite the failures and road blocks, you can be unstoppable.

Such is the case of Engr. Archimedes Martinez. He stopped schooling for a while as a consequence of his addiction to gambling. And when he was given another chance, he stepped up and redeemed himself, eventually becoming the eighth placer in the May 2017 civil engineering licensure examination. For his exceptional success, his university gave him P 1 million. Yup.

One more engineer who used his flops as a springboard is Engr. Aaron Polancos

In his school, the graduates are required to pass an exit exam before taking the board exam. Aaron failed six times before passing, later placing first in the April 2017 electronics engineering licensure examination.

Such achievements. But do you really need to come from certain backgrounds just to achieve success? 

Lesson #3: Success is deserved by those who exert enough effort to make things happen, regardless of background. 

Lucky are those who were born in well-off families living in gated subdivisions because they do not have a problem in making ends meet. But for those who belong to the lower and middle class, they have to go through a lot more in order to turn their dreams into a reality. 

Like Engr. Rizalino Caratao, who evolved from being an ordinary island boy to an engineering topnotcher. Coming from a family where the father is a fisherman and the mother a housewife, he had been into several episodes of his life where he and his family struggled financially. 

But they were able to manage. With his perseverance to study as well as willingness to make sacrifices along the way, Rizalino achieved so much including topping the September 2015 mechanical engineering licensure examination. He is on Steemit, by the way! 

Another engineer who fought several difficult battles before becoming a topnotcher is Engr. Remington Salaya. We went to the same engineering school, with me taking civil engineering and him chemical engineering.

His story is the one most personal to me because he was a classmate in our batch review class, seeing how brilliant this guy really is. And we also got to talk before our respective board exams which are only days apart. 

However, behind the genius that I witnessed inside the classroom is a resilient, responsible man – he became an orphan while in college, leaving him to be the breadwinner of the family. Not only that, he became a father of one. These things I knew only during my interview with him. 

It is unlikely for him to focus on his studies with lots to worry about his own family and siblings, but he moved mountains. Remington emerged as the first placer in the May 2015 chemical engineering licensure examination, making him a big pride of our batch. 

Then there is Engr. Ezel Joy Manzano, being celebrated as her tribe’s first woman civil engineer. A part of the Amianan tribe which was moved to a settlement area near Olongapo City after the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption, she found an opportunity to study civil engineering. Although she did not top, passing the licensure examination for civil engineers is her ticket towards helping her Aeta community. 

As proven by these three, it takes grit to be great. But not all the time it is just about that. 

Lesson #4: Sacrifices have to be made to get there.

They say that if you want something you never had, you have to do something you have never done.

For Engr. Alfred Isaac Ajo, it could mean staying away from social media platforms so he could concentrate. This is a bit difficult for most Filipinos, with a report saying that the Philippines has a social media obsession: on average, Filipinos spend an average of 4 hours and 17 minutes per day on social media sites, one of the highest in the world.  

Nonetheless, Alfred was able to do it. Four months prior to his September 2016 electrical engineering licensure examination, he made the decision to quit Facebook. It was relatively easier for him because he confessed that he is not that fond of Facebook anyway. For that he had time to focus on his studies which bore fruit: he got the top spot in his board exam. 

Another form of sacrifice is to do whatever it takes just to accomplish a goal.

Engr. Sirven Garibay best exemplifies this, as he says that math is not his favorite subject but he became the first placer in the November 2016 civil engineering licensure examination. He knew he had to like math, at least, to master it, considering that the core of his chosen course is that subject. Sirven was able to beat the odds. 

There are things that we could not control. But if we only learn how to turn them into our favor, we will be able to manage. 

Lesson #5: Sometimes, destiny plays a role in success. 

By destiny, I do not mean that these engineers did not work their asses off to where they are now. But some things happen for a reason even if they are not originally planned.

Take Engr. Pompeii Nikolai Subingsubing for example. He first took accountancy in college only to fail his qualifying exam before turning third year. For this he had to shift courses and went for a mining engineering course.  

In this pursuit, it is safe to say that he did not make the wrong choice: he took the number one spot in the August 2017 mining engineering licensure examination. He considers the success to be unexpected. 

While we are talking about destiny, Engr. Brylle Gilbuena’s board exam story is perhaps another best example. He topped the March 2017 mechanical engineering licensure examination but claims that he did not even finish the test. 

How is that even possible? Aside from that he is indeed destined to become the first placer, perhaps, this next lesson became instrumental to him. 

Lesson #6: To achieve success, one must not only work hard but also work smart. 

For many engineering topnotchers, there is a difference between working hard and working smart. The former means doing all the best that you can, while the latter says about finding the best ways to meet your goals. 

It pays to know your learning pattern, says Engr. Jared Philip Condez. Manage your time wisely, shares Engr. John Cyril Claur

Both engineers got the same rating to claim the top spot in the November 2017 chemical engineering licensure examination. Each had focused on their own techniques which allowed them to have such an achievement. 

Use the triangle of learning as your guide, says Engr. Christian Jake Villamar, the first placer in the August 2017 agricultural engineering licensure examination. As recommended by his dean, he wants future board exam takers to use participatory, active learning methods while studying.  

Meanwhile, perhaps one of the best tips (in my opinion) in the bunch which can be considered a ‘work smart’ strategy is by Engr. Francisco Onde Jr. He said that we should prioritize learning far more than getting good grades, making a great point on studying for knowledge which can later have a bigger impact even outside of the classroom. 

France, who is also in Steemit and the one who brought me to this platform, went from being a champion quizzer to become the second placer in the May 2015 civil engineering licensure examination. He did not finish college with honors like most topnotchers, by the way. 

Another tip from a topnotcher that I appreciate the most which illustrates the principle of working smart is to master the basics of the lessons. This is the gist of Engr. Hisham Sacar’s interview, sharing that the core principles in math and physics are the key to understanding the advanced engineering lessons. 

Hisham, a Muslim-Filipino belonging to the Maranao tribe, topped the May 2017 civil engineering licensure examination for such learning principle. 

What things am I still missing that are important factors to success? 

Lesson #7: Never forget your standards and values if you want to succeed.

Sad to say but there are no shortcuts to success.

If you are willing to compromise your standards and values just to get to where you think you should be, the odds are that you will not sustain that position for long. It is still important to stand your ground on your principles regardless of your status in the success-meter. 


Like Engr. Edilbert Tandaan whose secret in becoming the first placer in the September 2017 electrical engineering licensure examination is pretty simple: do not cheat. He reveals that he has zero tolerance when it comes to cheating in exams. 

According to him, cheating is not a good or effective way to acquire knowledge. If you fail, then you should face the consequences and learn from the experience.  

Meanwhile, if you ask Engr. Jonel Vernante about what made him become the first placer in the October 2017 geodetic engineering board examination, he would say not settling with okay grades. For him, mediocrity is not the best way to reach success. 

He suggested that engineering students should always do their best in class and to “always go the extra mile.” For when they persevere to do good academically, they are bound to learn more rather than those who do not try at all, Jonel believes. 

To have faith in God is also a key, other topnotchers shared. 

Lesson #8: God is with you in your plans. 

Taking the board examination is a battle you cannot go through alone. There is God who is behind you all the way in such an undertaking, and if you do not allow Divine Intervention to do His work during the examination day, you will be disturbed and most likely not get the desired results. 

That is what Raylin Platon did. She was the topnotcher in the December 2016 industrial engineering certification examination. Such success was possible because she trusted God’s plans for her. 

The same is true for Engr. Giuseppe Andrew Buffe who studied hard but prayed harder to clinch the top spot in the November 2016 aeronautical engineering licensure examination. 


By now you should have an idea that topping the engineering licensure examination is no easy task, meaning it can only be accomplished by a certain few. It is a challenge for those who seek excellence and success and an unachievable dream for those who only do the bare minimum.

While such a feat does not necessarily predict the trajectory of the engineer’s future, it serves as proof that there is nothing we cannot do if we emulate the qualities of already successful people, and that we can also succeed in everything that we do if we take the responsibility. 


Saving this for future inspiration and preferences. I learned a lot from this post. Thank you.

Also, Brylle Gilbuena is a very close friend of mine. One of my best buddies. He was a Third Year mechanical engineering student and I was a 1st year electronics engineering student. We were best friends. Why?

Back in Highschool days, we used to go with each other participating in High School competitions : MTAP Quiz bowl and Damath. He was a senior student of mine and we always go together, being the contestants per year level for a couple of years. I reminisce the time when we saved our contest allowances to play dota after the contest. We won some, lost some and shared the learnings together. We even battle ourselves after the game, to determine whose the better. Haha. We really had the same topics of interest.

That continued when we became college. We both coincidentally didn't grabbed the chance to be an Academic Scholar (because it is only covered at 50%). We became working scholars in the same department. That even made our bond strong. From working everyday, making weekly meetings, and even doing together office innovations. We had a vision of digitalizing papers and creating innovative systems for a better Guidance Center. We both exchange thoughts, healthy exchange of thoughts about engineering, life, and serving God.

Not only that. We were competitors in our school and Association. He became a P.I.O in Association of Working scholars. A year later, I became the president. We both joined engineering competitions : Junior Math Wizard and Czar of Engineers. He became 3rd place in Junior Math Wizard. A year later, I became champion. We just did'nt win in Czar haha.

A lot has hapened. I was really inspired how dedicated and passionate that man is. He has a unique attitude. Once he wants it, he will really do his best to do it. He is a perfect example and an inspiration.

Haha this was a long comment because I really treasure that lad. Ahaha. One thing I can really attest I am better than him : I'm a better Dota player Hahaha. Hope he can read this.

Invite him here so he could reply. Haha anyway that's nice to know bro! Many of the topnotchers I have featured are from Cebu which says a lot about the kind of education you all get there.

I was late in realizing that it was you, @dioncrediblehulk, who interviewed me last time. HAHA. No wonder your face looked familiar at first. God bless you bro.

I use my nickname now, that is why. Haha!

Amazing people, thank for share bro.

Why am I not included in the list? Haha. Wait, wala man diay ko na topnotcher. Haha

Mag 'Haha' React unta ko, kaso di man diay ni facebook hhahahaha

Get another engineering degree, take another board exam, and ace it! That way you will belong in this list. Haha

Nevermind. I'll just ace my steemit career. With CPD points, it's of no use anymore. Haha

I had the chance to attend a class where Sir Michael James Ramos lectured. It was in a review center here in Cebu.A very smart man. He told us his story when he knew he was not able to bag the 1st place for the CE board exam. He was such an inspiration. He also told us that he is willing to give us notes for the rmp exam. This shows that he is ready to share what he has to aspiring engineers. I also have another friend who placed 6th in the recent board. I think what you said was true. They keep their eyes on the prize. My friend was so focused and diligent when it comes to studying. Though he keeps on topping most of the exams, he still aims to improve himself. Talent without hardwork is nothing indeed.

I forgot to highlight that talent without hardwork is nothing. That is true! And yes, Engr. Ramos' is an inspiration. When I learned about his story, which is the first one I featured to have more than one topnotcher achievement, I was also amazed!

Well-said @dioncrediblehulk . Mabuhay ang mga Pilipinong enhinyero👏🏻👏🏻

@caratzky & @fojrance, Two of the most promising Engineers in the Philippines are here on Steemit. Wow! Very inspiring individuals!

Friend ko yung isa sa nafeature mo. Yung tatlong beses nagtop. Si kath. Haha small world indeed. Haha

Haha sinulat ko 'yung story niya noong dalawa pa lang na-top niya. She asked me to update the article kasi nakapagtop pa daw siya ng isa pa. Idol talaga!

I am not in any way related to the field of engineering but I am going to take the board exams soon. This write-up is a really big motivation to everyone who is trying to seek inspiration. I will save this for future use. When the gray clouds have already dimmed my hope of making it through as a licensed professional, this may come in handy

All the best in your undertaking, Aaron! Each of the topnotchers featured have interesting tips to share that might help you in your board exam, go check them out through the links provided.

You are really good with quality content gid @dioncrediblehulk! So happy and proud for you! I have read some of gneersnow featured topnotchers especially those from my alma mater! Reading this post really shows that your way of writing is a talent which you improved so well, even before steemit came in to your life. Aja to more posts to come! 🙌🏻

Thank you for reading GineersNow! Haha I didn't realize there are so many engineers here who follow our page and read our website 😂

One of the things I've noticed these days is that people want everything quick. We got used to this fast online world where with one click we can buy almost anything we want and by typing literally anything into google search bar we get an answer within seconds. Since many things have become so easy over the past years, people see a path to success also easier and that's a great myth. I love the #4 where you talk about sacrifice because I think we have to sacrifice today more than ever. With tons of opportunities come also tons of people who want to take advantage of them so we need to understand that market is full. Best way to sacrifice is to focus on where we are going. If the picture of our future goal is big enough, our willingness to sacrifice won't be so hard to reach. Great post. Thanks for sharing your research

Congratulations @dioncrediblehulk, this post is the forth most rewarded post (based on pending payouts) in the last 12 hours written by a Newbie account holder (accounts that hold between 0.01 and 0.1 Mega Vests). The total number of posts by newbie account holders during this period was 4910 and the total pending payments to posts in this category was $3531.29. To see the full list of highest paid posts across all accounts categories, click here.

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Well done most efficiency hardworking eng.

Woah. You’re an engineer too? And an editor of the engineering-famous GineersNow? Followed! :)

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