MY name is Tina, but you may call me CDE, which I now use as the partner-in-charge of Alas Oplas & Co. CPAs-Iloilo Branch. I am now in my late 40s, and I have been through numerous tough times as a certified public accountant in public practice. No wonder high school graduates have dampened spirits and a lot of hesitations about whether to pursue accounting careers. How disconsolate it is to know that despite the plenty of openings for our services, companies are only willing to pay the very least amount, notwithstanding the rigid academic, accreditation, and testing requirements needed to follow through this career path. Hopefully, right here and through this article, I can share my journey and the reasons why I continue to practice, as it is a simple joy to me to do what I love most.
Decades ago, I got my very first client, my law subject teacher from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV), Oscar Tagamolila. He opened a coffee shop in Robinsons Mall Iloilo that he branded Espresso Centrale, The Court Cafe. It was gorgeously set on walkable glass flooring, and I was so inspired by it that I too started my coffee shop years later. As a struggling sole practitioner from the province, I knew that I wanted to do more to help Ilonggo entrepreneurs other than just assist them with their registrations, file their tax returns, and set up their books. I wanted to experience what it felt like so I could move them to grow and achieve more.
That as Filipinos, with all our creativity and intellect, we too can produce in our midst future global business leaders and tycoons. And so I sought the help of Dhonabee Seneres, a college batchmate from UPV who is now a partner of SGV. She helped me build meaningful connections with the Association of CPAs in Public Practice (ACPAPP). There, I met fellow practitioners who ignited my passion and affirmed my belief that to be an effective CPA in public practice, we must strive to incessantly learn how to adapt and remain relevant in today's dynamic professional environment. And being tech-savvy and embracing data analytics, artificial intelligence and automation are just a few of what we need to learn to incorporate and integrate. Through ACPAPP, I also met Donies Alas, Marycris Oplas, Ryan Sabug and Glesie Martinez, who, to me, are the greatest examples of how believing in the right team and people can propel the impossible to be achievable!
Traditionally, accountants have been associated with roles centered around financial record-keeping and compliance. However, the rapidly evolving business landscape, technological advancements and changing expectations have opened up new and exciting career paths for accountants. We can venture into entrepreneurship, create a significant impact on non-profit or public sectors, work in innovative or financial technology companies, have positions in cybersecurity and risk management, and become vital players in environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. What for me is most exciting is the last one, that as accountants, our existence is consequential because we have in one way or another the power to change the course of our children's future.
Helping businesses measure, report and manage their environmental and social impacts and showing how companies with strong ESG practices and sound tax practices can further promote wealth equality.
To end my story, I would like to share that I always had this spirit of volunteerism and a heart of service; thus, my ideas might resonate as quixotic most of the time. I chartered JCI Metro Iloilo Dinagyang, which is now 18 years old. Then, I chartered the ACPAPP-Panay Chapter to strengthen the bond of CPA practitioners here in our region. We all have common obstacles, but we support one another, especially through these challenging times now that the Quality Audit Review will inevitably be implemented. So, although our profession is full of daunting and grueling issues and scenarios, I would still encourage future aspirants with all my heart. Truly, we could help preserve this world with the right perspective and adherence to law and justice.
Cristina D. Estorque is a mother of four grown-up sons; she has been writing for a few local newspapers and is currently the partner-in-charge of Alas Oplas and Co., CPAs-Iloilo Branch (an institutional member of Acpapp). She also owns Book Latte, a small library cafe in Megaworld, Iloilo. She is an advocate of wealth equality and dreams of writing her own book someday.