Feb 22, 2008

Junkyard owner’s girl is No. 1 in Nursing Board exam

NLE Results December 2007

February 22, 2008 06:42:00
Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- She did not expect to top the nursing licensure exams.

“Who would not want to be on top? But the exam was really difficult. I was satisfied with the thought of just having a passing grade,” Zandra Mae Zabaza Bongco said Thursday.

The daughter of a junkyard owner, who mainly sells used plastic bottles, emerged No. 1 among the more than 67,000 nursing graduates who took the recent nursing board exams.

Bongco, a consistent honor student since her elementary school days, said she learned of the good news through her teachers and classmates, who kept texting and congratulating her the whole day Thursday.

“It still hasn’t sunk in yet. I still cannot believe that I made it,” Bongco, the younger of two siblings, said.

“In fact, I’m more worried now about my friends. I haven’t heard if they passed the exam or not,” she said.

To surprise parents

She would have wanted to surprise her parents with the good news. “They’re still clueless. But they will surely know once your photographer gets here,” she said, laughing.

Bongco ranked second in her batch at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila but failed to graduate cum laude.

This, however, became her motivation to strive hard and “redeem” herself during the December 2007 licensure exams for nurses.

“I felt I had to redeem myself because I did not get it (cum laude),” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “But I’m not bitter. That just pushed me to do my best during the board.”

The 21-year-old said her professors inspired her because she knew that they were expecting more from her.

“They were hoping that I would graduate cum laude. So in a way I felt indebted to them,” Bongco said.

Divine help, rigorous review

She attributed her success to Divine Providence. “I just prayed really, really hard.”

What helped her prepare for the exams was her rigorous six-month review session.

She has no secret formula for excellence. “They call me ‘cramming lady’ because I usually crammed when I was a student.”

Without a scholarship, Bongco’s parents would have found it difficult to send her to the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila to take up nursing.


For four years, the Francisco M. Bautista Scholarship Foundation, which also owns the St. Peter Funeral Homes in Quezon City, sent Bongco through school.

Now that she is a nurse, Bongco feels her life will change for the better. “Maybe it will be easier for me to find a job,” she said.

She said her immediate plan is to attend seminars that “would improve my credentials.”

“In the future, I might also pursue a medical degree,” Bongco said.

“Maybe someday,” she said when asked if she had plans of seeking her fortune abroad. “But not in the near future.”

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