A Josenian graduate passed the Foreign Service Officer (FSO) Examinations, said to be one of the hardest exams in the country.
Miko D. Cabatingan finished his degree in International Studies (IS) and graduated Summa Cum Laude in March 2015. He was the lone Josenian who braved the exams held from May 2017 to March 2018. FSO exams are divided into five parts: qualifying test, preliminary interview, written test, psychological test and oral test.
“When I passed the exam, I realized that taking up the exam wasn’t just for myself,” he shared when asked what motivated him to pass the exam.
FSO Exam has a passing rate has never gone higher than 10%. He recalled that a telltale sign of just how grueling and intimidating the exam can be is its 2011 results where out of its 628 examinees, only 9 were able to slip through. That passing percentage sits no less than at 1.4%.
This year’s result showed a more optimistic picture. Cabatingan’s batch of 2017 FSO takers is composed of 456 examinees, and out of that number, 45 were able to pass. That percentage is at 9.9%.
When the results of the examination came out, Cabatingan immediately received messages from his colleagues and friends about how they are inspired to also brave the exam.
This prompted him to recall how he was told to consider other degree programs other than IS when he freshly finished high school.
“It was multidisciplinary (but) I was told that I might find it difficult to land a job, and I considered that possibility. But I really wanted to take the road less traveled,” he said.
He continued that his major choices were the sciences and wanted to have concentrations in culture and current events. No other discipline came to his thinking except International Studies.
During that time, he only knew of USJ-R as the university which offered the program in Cebu. The University was also robust in promoting the degree program where Cabatingan had the opportunity to mingle with IS students in his senior year in high school.
He said that USJ-R has very high expectations of its IS students and that the faculty really push them to meet the expectations. He recalled that they were trained to debate and always engage in sensible conversations. There were also hands-on initiatives where students try to represent countries and discuss world issues.
While there is no specific training or review for the FSO, Cabatingan said that the whole curriculum of the degree program plays an important part in taking the exam.
“I think they considered that graduates must take the FSO when they crafted the curriculum,” he said.
He also recognized the importance of minor subjects seeing that he did well in some of the areas of the examination such as statistics.
There is also an activity initiated by the department and the Josenian Junior Diplomats (JJD) called the Annual Diplomatic Demo. This activity allows senior students to have a simulation of the oral exams; and when Cabatingan took the actual exam, he said that it was really the same.
At present, Cabatingan works as a Merchandising Manager at Metro Retail Stores Group, Inc. during the weekdays. Come the opening of the school year, he will fly to Manila to pursue his graduate studies in the University of the Philippines – Diliman during the weekends.
He further expressed that if he could juggle his time, he would like to teach in USJ-R. For now, he said he must only settle with words of advice for the students.
“I would rather fail early than succeed early. I could just retake the exams — and even if you fail, the whole examination is a learning process,” he said when talking about his colleagues who had reservations in taking the exam.
Cabatingan is currently waiting for his papers to be signed by Malacañang so he could start working for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City. The duty of a Foreign Service Officer is to gathering information, analyzing and reporting political, economic, technological, cultural, and other forms of diplomatic correspondence in promoting Philippine interests abroad.
Written by Justin Tecson
University of San Jose - Recoletos
Year Founded 1947