[This came out in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Inquirer.net on April 5, 2009. This was also carried by the MSU-IIT website.]
By Rex Godinez-Ortega
ILIGAN CITY, Philippines — Mylene Amerol-Macumbal, the second-placer in the 2008 bar examinations, hopes her achievement will help to prove that the “veiled woman” is not repressed.
“She is actually capable of doing great things while staying within the bounds of her faith,” she said.
“I have never been prouder that I am a Muslim and a Moro,” said Mylene, 28.
A graduate of the Mindanao State University (MSU) College of Law Extension at the MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), Mylene became the first Muslim woman to place second in the bar exams.
This is also the first time that the MSU law college in Iligan City has succeeded in placing a graduate on the top 10.
Iligan City was abuzz with the news of Mylene’s feat, especially resonant as it is also the home of the country’s first Muslim woman lawyer, Lindao Macarambon Boransing.
“There is still discrimination in this country against Muslims and Muslim women due largely to misconceptions,” Mylene said.
“I hope to help erase those misconceptions,” she said.
Mylene taught accounting at MSU-IIT before settling down to becoming a full-time mother to five-year-old son Rocky.
She is married to Arassad Macumbal, the municipal trial court judge of Bacolod town in the province of Lanao del Norte.
The Macumbals are a family of achievers.
Mylene graduated magna cum laude when she took her accounting degree, also at MSU-IIT, in 2002. She placed 18th in the CPA board exam the following year. She also graduated magna cum laude from law school in 2008.
Her husband, Arassad, is a lawyer and civil engineer and placed 9th in the civil engineering board exams of 1993.
Son Rocky is also at the top of his class at Kumon Philippines, a tutorial school for young achievers, in Iligan City.
Mylene’s father, Tammy Amerol, a former internal revenue regional director who died recently, placed 12th in the CPA board examinations in the 1970s.
It was her father who got Mylene interested in the law.
“He was a frustrated lawyer. He stopped during his first year at law school because he was so busy with work and he had me and my three brothers to always bother him when he was studying,” Mylene said of her father.
“His law books were just there in our home library, together with the encyclopedias I loved to read. So I could not help but open them, and the rest is history,” she said.
Mylene said her mother, Nora Amerol, also instilled in her the value of studying.
But she pointed to her husband, Arassad, as her inspiration and mentor.
“He really pushed me to study, since day one. He told me, ‘Don’t just study for class, study for the bar.’”
Mylene’s husband said he convinced her to study law in Iligan as he believed in the professors of the law college there. She wanted to apply to a law school in Manila.
“We use the same books and our teachers know the same laws. There really is no difference. Now, I guess my theory was proven correct,” the judge said with a smile.