Notes from a Topnotcher: Speech for Linggo ng Unibersidad event honoring UP alumni topnotchers in licensure and bar exams

| Written by Patricia Marie R. Imperial

Last June 11, the event “Pagkilala sa mga Natatanging Mag-aaral na Nagkamit ng Pinakamataas na Marka sa Licensure Exam” was held as part of the Linggo ng Unibersidad celebrations of the University of the Philippines (UP). UP alumni were recognized for their exceptional achievements as topnotchers of the 2022 bar and 2023 board examinations.

Among those honored were Patricia Marie Imperial, who attained the #1 rank for the 2023 Social Work Licensure Examination. She delivered the following speech during the evening’s ceremony.



Patricia Marie R. Imperial delivering her speech during the ceremony. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

Magandang gabi po sa lahat. Isang karangalan para sa akin na makasama kayo ngayong gabi sa pagdiwang natin ng mga naging tagumpay ng UP community sa mga nakaraang board at bar exams.

I’m sure many of you would agree that the word “difficult” is not even close to capturing just how challenging it was to pass our respective board and bar exams. It was not just a matter of surviving the review season or the actual exam days, kung hindi produkto nga pala ito ng ilang taong pag-aaral at paghihirap, hindi lang sa atin kung hindi sa pamilya din natin.

Nostalgia has a big role in minimizing our struggles. Pero ang totoo, ay nagkaroon ng maraming pagkakataon sa mga nagdaang taon na nahirapan tayo, physically, mentally o emotionally.

But the journey to get here has not all been exhausting. Sigurado akong may mga naaalala din kayong mga pagkakataon na nakaranas kayo ng fulfillment at satisfaction while in UP, whether these be memories with your loved ones or eye-opening experiences you would never forget. Personally, I am thankful for UP, the community where I first learned to live by myself, and later, to live for others. Let us also remember the reasons why we pursued our respective professions, and why we are pursuing or will continue to pursue these. Passing the board and bar exams is not just for us and our families but these are successes we share with the people and communities whom we will dedicate our service to, in the future.

For some, after the board exam, you already have a clear image of the path that you want to take next. And for others, perhaps you are taking some time to get to know your profession even deeper. Whatever the case, the challenge for all of us is what we will do with our license, and how we will yield the power that comes with it. Now, more than ever, we need to once again clarify and engrain in ourselves our values and principles so that we always carry them with us as professionals.

But in the short time since I formally entered a life of service, I admit that I felt discouraged at our reality. Ang “service” na nadatnan ay puno ng accomplishment reports at outputs na maganda lang sa papel, pagtatalo ng nakasanayan versus the desire to seek improvements, nakalulunod na dami ng workload, at iba pa. Mayroon ding pagtatalo ng mga prinsipyo at values na nabuo habang estudyante ng UP laban sa existing standards ng mga institution na dedicated to service.

Ang malala pa sa ganitong sitwasyon ay para itong sakit na nakahahawa. Na mukhang mas madali na lang gayahin ang nakararami, magpadala sa agos, at “magpakain” sa sistema. Mapapaisip ka kung paano nga ba makakapag serbisyo ng maayos kung ganito ang realidad na hinaharap natin.

One of the most difficult things as a professional is to serve with an unwilling heart. So, in the most trying moments, let us go back and remind ourselves who it is we serve. Not any politician, employer, or company, but the people and communities who look for our service. 

We have our whole lives and youth ahead of us. Or maybe our lives are just about to begin. Let us build the stamina and grit we need to be able to stay true to our desire to serve the people. If it has to be an everyday thing that we remind ourselves of our purpose, so be it. Along with the desire to serve, I hope we also never lose our idealism, even if it means that advocating necessary change labels us as “reklamador” or deviant. At the same time, let us also take care of our own wellbeing, because our self is our tool in helping and collaborating with the people to achieve change. But for now, let us celebrate our hard-earned triumphs. 

Congratulations again to all the professionals and license-holders of the Philippines.


Recognized UP alumni topnotchers of the 2022 & 2023 board examinations with the UP System officials. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.



About the Author: Patricia Marie R. Imperial is a registered social worker from Albay, Bicol. In 2023, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work, Summa cum laude, from the University of the Philippines Diliman. She passed the Licensure Exam for Social Workers last September 2023.

At present, she is a social worker at the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office in Daraga, Albay, handling adoption cases, teenage pregnancy, mentally-challenged clients, street dwellers and families, and other individuals in crisis situations.