|By Kimberly Joyce Veloso, Newsbreak (6-Apr-09)
That she’s a Maranao who reviewed for the bar while fasting during the Ramadan is the most interesting anecdote. Mylene Amerol-Macumbal, however, is much more than that.
ILIGAN CITY—Observers couldn’t help but notice: the difference in the scores of the first and second placers in the 2008 bar exams, whose results were released Friday night, was an itsy bitsy 0.05%.
So after learning who the topnotcher was (Judy Lardizabal of San Sebastian, with 85.70%), the next question by bar watchers was, naturally, who’s Mylene Amerol-Macumbal?
That she’s a Maranao who reviewed for the bar while fasting during the Ramadan is the most interesting anecdote that Newsbreak gathered from an interview with her. Mylene, however, is much more than that. It seems that, all her life, she has been prepared to achieve the feat, and that “It will be an accident if she fails the bar,” as one of her law professors says.
Everything seems to come or happen in twos in Mylene’s life. She finished BS Accountancy and later Law both at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT). She finished both courses magna cum laude. She ranked well in the licensure exams for both professions—18th in the 2002 exams for certified public accounts, and 2nd in the 2008 bar exams. She’s married to another lawyer, Municipal Trial Court Judge Arassad Macumbal (in Bacolod, Lanao del Norte).
In fact, if her father—the late Bureau of Internal Revenue Regional Director Tommy Amerol—had finished his law studies, Mylene would have only been the second accountant-lawyer in the family.
The inspiration to become a lawyer came from her father. Mylene, the only girl among four children, says her father was in law school, but the demands of his work as BIR examiner (he was assigned in San Pablo City in Laguna, where Mylene was born) and raising a family prevented him from pursuing the course further. Mylene, meanwhile, was reading her father’s law books as early as age 10.
So when the family heard the good news of her placing second in the bar exams around 8:30 p.m. last Friday—her husband was shouting for joy—Mylene missed her father. “I wished he was here to celebrate with us.”
Her mother, businesswoman Nora Ibrahim, felt the same. She couldn’t describe the happiness she felt for Mylene, but imagined that her husband would have been very proud of their daughter.
Now that she practically topped the bar exams, Mylene is more contented than regretful.
“I’m just happy I made it. I wasn’t expecting [to be in the top ten], but nangandoy ko (I aspired for it),” she shares with Newsbreak. Out of the 6,364 who took the bar last year, only 1,310 (or 20.58%) passed.
Mylene says her undergraduate studies in accountancy was her best preparation for one of the toughest subjects in the bar exam—taxation. “You cannot cram everything you learned in just six months [of review],” she explains.
Although she constantly updated herself with the latest cases and laws and made a systematic schedule of her review, but she still feared that she wasn’t prepared enough. Add to that the fact that Ramadan, the month-long fasting observed by the Islamic faithful once a year, fell within the period of Mylene’s reviews for the bar exams.
Mylene, a devout Muslim, says the hunger she felt while fasting somehow took its toll on her, but that she coped by praying to Allah.
“You have to surrender yourself to His will,” she says. “You need to remember the will of Allah. If it is not meant for you, then it will never be yours.”
Mylene’s mentors in the College of Law and the College of Business Administration and Accountancy at MSU-IIT were very confident that she would succeed.
“Maayo jud na siya (She is very skillful). It will be an accident if she fails the bar. I was 99 percent certain she would pass. She writes well and has a good analytical mind,” Attorney Rejoice Subejano, one of Mylene’s law professors, says.
“She is not only smart, but she is also diligent. When I call her to recite, she can always answer the question. She is also always at the top of the class,” says Prof. Jahara D. Ibrahim, her college instructor for the taxation course.
“She is so intelligent, but she is very humble. I expected her to pass the bar easily; I knew she would make it to the top 10,” relates Prof. Griselda Z. Albao, her fellow faculty member at the Department of Accountancy in CBAA. She says Macumbal manages her time well and is a favorite among students. Macumbal worked as an instructor for two years before going full-time in law school.
Mylene was the class valedictorian when she graduated from the College of Law. She was also editor in chief of Nexus, the school paper of the College of Law, and an active officer of the student government during her college days.
Mylene’s accomplishment in the bar exams is a first for the Iligan extension of the MSU College of Law. In 1997, Allan Exclamador, ranked ninth place in the bar exams. He came from the main MSU campus in Marawi City.
Mylene is pleased with her accomplishment, and she wants to believe it has proven two things: that MSU-ans can do it, and that the Bangsamoros are just as capable as anyone else.