Last year, some people I knew talked to me about the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. For those who are not aware, ABRSM is a music board exam that is very popular in the UK and its former colonies. There are many different exams you can take, and in a way it serves as a sort of certification or accreditation of your skills. There are are theory and practical exams for students as well as teachers. I was convinced to apply for a DipABRSM, which is the first and lowest among the diplomas given for those who are interested in teaching music. I already had a Bachelor's Degree from UP, but I figured that a DipABRSM could add to my list of accomplishments especially since there are a number of countries that regard it with esteem.
When I paid the application fee on the 1st of September, there was no exam date given yet for the Philippines, but I was informed that it would be either November or December. Finally, by late October, I was contacted that my exam date was to be on December 14. There's just one big problem: I'm scheduled to arrive from Malaysia on that date. I contacted them that I cannot take my exam on that date, so is it possible to move it to another date. Unfortunately, I was informed that although the exam period is from December 4-14, I can only take my exam on December 14 (?). The examiner has free days but these are her rest days. How disappointing, a 10-day exam period and they can only offer me a one-day-or-no-deal deal. They offered me an option to receive a re-entry voucher for next year instead, but if I cannot comply with the schedule next year, I forfeit my voucher. When I told them that I didn't plan on being in the Philippines by this time next year, the last option they gave me was to refund 50% of what I paid. If I only paid P2000 or less and got only 50% back, I wouldn't feel so bad. However, I paid close to P7000 for an exam that I didn't even need that badly. I felt that it was unfair that I only get 50% back, but ABRSM said that they have to follow regulations, etc.
So now here I am, soon to be around P3500 poorer without accomplishing anything. My advice to others who plan to take ABRSM in the Philippines especially for the diploma exams: be prepared to drop whatever schedule you have planned once they give you their desired schedule, because once you pay there are no taker-backers. I for one will not deprive myself the experience of performing in a foreign land to comply with the rules of a system that is inconsiderate to its examinees who have paid a good amount of money. Rest assured, I will not be applying with ABRSM again. Thankfully, I don't plan to migrate to a former British colony anytime soon.