JANUARY 27, 2022 was a very memorable date for Lance Nathan Lim. He not only became a full-fledged licensed architect after passing the Architect Board Exam in the same month, but he also became the second out of the 1,370 passers of the board.
Lim, who got a passing rate of 83.1 percent, carried the name of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City. He graduated in 2019.
Despite being an “Isko” (a slang for iskolar or scholar) in Manila, he is proud to be a Dabawenyo, which fueled his desire to strive more in his career.
Studying in Manila was already his first choice, as what his parents wanted in order to get wider exposure and a competitive environment. This is evident in the curriculum.
But he was not able to reach the quota of the students for the UP College Admission Test (Upcat). While he passed, he did not make it to the top 75 cutoff. With this, he went home and took up his first year at UP Mindanao in Davao City.
He tried to apply again in UP Diliman during his second year, but slots were still short. Until one day, one of the deans in Diliman called and announced there were four slots available for transferees from UP Mindanao. Lim, along with his fellow schoolmate, took the shot and applied a week before the start of the class.
Lim already conditioned himself that while his math skills and eye for design piqued his interest in taking up the course, there was nothing easier in the course he took for five years.
He said it is a common scenario that there would be stressful moments, including sleepless nights of labor-intensive projects and outputs.
His independence, self-taught skills, plus being with the right people to hang out with, and the support of his parents had made his journey worthwhile.
Lim admitted there was no pressure of him taking up architecture, despite his dad and his uncles also being in the same field. In fact, he said this had somewhat influenced him to make it his first choice of career.
At a very young age, he already saw how relevant architecture was in society.
More than just a lucrative career, Lim saw this as a stepping stone in helping improve the infrastructure of his hometown.
“Before Covid, booming baya atong construction. Naga-catch up na ta sa Metro Manila in many ways kay Metro Davao naman ta (Construction was already boomin before Covid-19. Metro Davao was already catching up with Metro Manila in many ways). I wanted to contribute to the growth in Davao City,” he said.
He was supposed to take the exam in 2021. But plans for him to take up the exam had been disrupted due to a series of postponements brought about by the surge of Covid-19 cases.
The lockdown, he said, had provided him more time and opportunity to prepare and concentrate for the examination. Since face-to-face group study was not possible, they devised a way to reach out to their fellow review-mates through the voice call app “Discord.”
But as the lockdown prolonged, so was his anxiety.
Lim said he was supposed to take the June 2020 exam, but this was moved to October 2020, and eventually, January 2021 — the period wherein he had devoted much of his time, to the point that he took a three-month leave from his full-time work. But three weeks before the supposed exam date, it was again canceled and moved to June 2021.
“Ma-imagine nimo ‘tong mental strain na for how many months naga-prepare ka and then biglang na-cancel or ma-move. So masayang lang gud imong na-learn (Imagine the mental strain of having prepared for many months, then the exam was suddenly canceled or moved. What you prepared for may have gone to waste) ’cause you have to refresh through those learnings again the two to three months before the actual date,” he said.
He admitted getting fed up with the delays and postponement. He then decided to get back to work.
He did not plan on taking up the June examination as it might be postponed anew. Indeed, it was again moved to August 2021. The examinations pushed through in some parts of the country, except for Metro Manila and Davao, as cases in these areas were at a surge attributed to the Delta variant of the Covid-19. The examination supposedly to be conducted in Davao was moved to Koronadal. Initially, he had planned to take the exam in Davao, but he decided to wait for the next examination, slated in January this year.
He was already conditioned to take up the test so that he can move on and proceed with his other endeavor after two years of delay.
Thankfully, he said the exam pushed through despite the threat of the Omicron variant of Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, canceling the exam.
Before passing the board exam, he also had a test that he needed to pass — the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, of which he tested negative. But still, he felt bad for some of his fellow examinees who had to wait again for the next schedule as they were not allowed to take the exam after testing positive for the virus.
Days after the exam, the results came in. Upon refreshing the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) website, he shouted after seeing his name in the top 10.
“I never shouted that way before,” he laughed while saying his family thought something wrong was happening to him.
There was no secret to his success, Lim said. “My secret is that there is no secret. Succeeding is no shortcut.” Regardless of the result, he said he knew he did what he could.
“You have to put in the time and develop the discipline to learn as much as you can. Absorb and understand what you are reading because there is no way around it. It’s something that everyone has to go through,” he added.
With his story, he hopes that more Dabawenyos and Mindanawons would be motivated to pursue their desired career.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I did it, even though I’m from Davao, and everyone else is taga-NCR [National Capital Region], I wanted to use that opportunity to prove na Dabawenyos are also capable of participating and competing in the global architecture,” he said.