Top 1 in November 2023 PNLE attributes inspiration to a K-Drama

One possible reason why South Korean dramas are hugely popular among Filipinos is because of their unique and out-of-this-world subjects and themes. They are not afraid to explore and showcase fields that are rarely depicted in series, such as the medical field.

The top 1 of the November 2023 Philippine Nurses Licensure Exam (PNLE), Aristotle Calayan Castronuevo, admitted that one of the reasons he was inspired to enter the medical field was because of watching K-Dramas, although it wasn't really his first choice.

Top 1 in November 2023 PNLE attributes inspiration to a K-Drama
Photo courtesy: Aristotle Calayan Castronuevo (Facebook)

“As superficial as this may sound, a Korean drama series was what mainly inspired me to take up Nursing, even though it was not my initial choice for my college course. “Doctors,” mainly starring Park Shin Hye, is a medical Korean drama that just so happened to be what I was watching when I was choosing priority courses to put in my PLMAT application. From there, you could see how unseriously I took the whole application for PLM, as it was also not my first choice for a tertiary school, so I just randomly threw in Nursing as my first choice for courses, too. I took up HUMSS as my strand for SHS, hence initially I was leaning towards getting a college degree in line with law or in the tourism industry because I enjoy traveling,” he said in an interview with The Summit Express.

It seems like he's on the right track indeed, especially after ranking Top 1 out of 32,203 takers (91.00%) in the November 2023 PNLE. Additionally, he graduated cum laude in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) in April 2023.

SEE ALSO: PNLE Top 1 cries out loud after seeing result; memorized over 8,000 nursing flashcards

Aristotle also shared his study and review strategies that helped him secure the top spot in the board exam.

“Consistency was always what I tried to achieve during the whole review season. Aside from strictly adhering to a study schedule, I always see to it that my scores in the test banks are passing, if not above the average. I employed repetition and active recall techniques, so basically, anything under the sun that I thought could come up in the exam, I just continually absorbed every single day until it seemed that I could discuss the said concepts even with my eyes closed. This may be boring and time-consuming to some extent sometimes, but it worked for me, and it was pivotal for me not to forget anything, especially the basics,” he said.

“However, I am not gonna sugarcoat myself here and tell you that each day for me, was not consistent. Of course, there were still bad days– wherein I was lazy, unmotivated, or generally just had low energy to comply with my review schedule. I adhered to my review schedule most of the time, but I also listened and gave my body what it needed– it may also be a good technique to never push yourself to your physical limits, but just be sure to bounce back every time after that.”

“The challenges I encountered along the way hurt me deeply, but they were necessary. First, physically I gained weight and developed acne. During the whole review season, I gained 20 kilograms. I needed the sugar rush to keep myself awake and my brain worked in the times that caffeine was already too much for my body. I remember I kept eating chocolates not because I simply wanted to, but because I needed to be awake. Since I gained weight, I had to convert to online review. I was too self-conscious to attend face-to-face lectures, and it was also hard for me because I was physically almost unable to commute to and from the review center. Besides, during this time, it was as if there was a high rate of flu infections in public spaces like in jeepneys and classrooms; time-wise, I could not afford to be sick as I needed to conserve my energy to study instead. This was why my classmates in the review center almost did not see me for the whole review, I attended only when there were pre-board examinations.”

That's why he was ecstatic when the results came out.

“It was ecstatic, surreal, and nerve-wracking all at once. It took a long amount of time for that to sink in. Again, I had to conquer 32,000+ other scantron sheets to achieve that top 1. Nakakaloka, in fact, up until now, I still find myself musing if this was really real.”

“Some people are telling me, actually, that maybe I had a hint that I was gonna make it to the topnotchers list, but to tell you honestly, I really did not. It was because right after the board exam, I really lost confidence, as the lessons that were given to us at the review center barely came up in the exam.”

“Almost all, if not all, of the topics were new or I was unfamiliar with. When I tried to make a rationale of the questions, I got discouraged, because it seemed like I input the wrong choices.”

“But to tell you that I did not dream of being on top would be a big fat lie. I actually prayed intensely from the day after the exam up until the results came. I was crying every night with a heavy heart, talking to God, telling Him, ‘Lord, top 1 lang, kahit honor na lang, yung cash prize ko sa center id-donate ko sa Tondo, sa Young Focus, at yung iba ipampapagamot ko kay Yaya rito sa Maynila.’ On the day of the results, it was actually right after I prayed again and was about to go to sleep; goosebumps were all over me as I could not believe that the thing I was crying and praying for really did happen.”

What advice would he give to students aspiring to become nurses, especially those facing challenges or doubts about their capabilities? Aristotle said he has three “Ts.”

“First, ‘Tiyaga’-- life is hard as it gets, no wonder, but you should not let it back you down. You would get tired physically, mentally, and even financially, but what’s important is you do not give up.

“Second, ‘Tiwala’-- if you do not trust yourself, no one else would trust and believe in you. You would doubt yourself along the way, thinking that maybe you should have spent more hours last night for an exam, etc.– but I tell you what, it’s okay. Instead of listening to these self-doubts and comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to what you were yesterday, and grow from there. It is okay to stumble and fall, it is part of the process, but trust yourself, the people who believe in you, and the Lord, to get back up every single time.

Lastly, ‘Tadhana’-- I believe that if it is really meant for you, the universe will go out of its way just to hand it to you. They say, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ but that does not mean that you would just leave it up to fate to work things out for you– you still need to do your part, and do the tiyaga and tiwala along the process. I think, when one combines these ‘3 Ts,’ they should be able to fulfill what their heart truly desires. Kailangan mo lang ibulong sa mga tala, at manatilin ang paa sa lupa at mata sa langit.”

He added, “Dagdag pa, tandaan din ang tatlong trust- ‘Trust the process,’ ‘trust the hardship,’ and ‘trust yourself.’ Palaging tandaan ito sa tuwing ikaw ay nawawalan na ng pag-asa. I just also want to add one more thing, I know feelings of hate, may it be to yourself or to others, is universal. I, myself, also struggled a lot with it, but what I can advise is that do not let it consume you to the extent that you want to succeed only because you want to get back at those whom you feel wronged you. Those feelings of hate to yourself, your classmates, your professors, your family or friends, or whatever silent battle you are in, let them be fuel for you instead to work harder to show that you are far more than what they deem you to be. Let your success be the voice, but always keep your feet on the ground to believe in yourself. Kung kinaya ko, kaya mo rin.”

Congratulations, Aristotle!

— Noel Ed Richards, The Summit Express

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