AN EMPOWERED woman knows what she wants and how to get it -- this is how to best describe lawyer Margarita Ignacia “Migs” B. Nograles.
She became a lawyer at 28. But achieving this isn’t a piece of cake. She has gone through waves of challenges and endured sacrifices especially when she opted to study and live independently abroad.
On becoming a lawyer
As the youngest daughter of the late former House Speaker Prospero Nograles, Migs grew up in an environment exposed to public service.
“I am fortunate enough to have that early exposure; I saw the heart of it. It wasn’t something that was forced on me,” she shared.
The 30-year-old Dabawenya considers herself blessed to have studied in best schools and access to quality education.
“You have to give it back for those who don’t have the opportunity. My parents taught us to share what we can to help other people,” she added.
This has influenced her decision to be a lawyer.
While she was taking up Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Fordham University in New York, USA, she also served as a part-time student worker.
“I was assigned at a library of the university’s law school. While working there, I was exposed to books about law and I got interested, so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science too,” Migs narrated.
She had her electives on law and business at University of Oxford Summer Law and Business School, Oriel College CBL International Program (University of Oxford, United Kingdom); King's College Dickson Poon School of Law in London; and Columbia University Global Center, Reid Hall, Paris, France.
On studying, working abroad
Migs recounted how challenging it was to study abroad alone. Her older sister also lives in the US but they’re two hours of travel apart, making it impractical to always see each other.
Apart from being a student worker in Fordham, she also interned in a Non-Government Organization (NGO) called Workshop and Business Opportunities. It is an organization that helps less fortunate and former inmates on the basics of running a small business.
When her schedule permitted, she also made time to work as a helper in various catering services.
But her side hustles were unknown to her parents until her graduation.
“My family didn’t know. They only knew about it after I graduated. I decided to work and at the same time study to earn extra money and above all learn through real experiences,” she said.
She emphasized that studying and working abroad made her more mature. She said it is something she wouldn’t experience if she studied in the Philippines given her family’s prominence.
“But after studying abroad, I realized I need to go back home and serve my fellow Filipinos, not the Americans,” she said.
Building her empire
At present, Migs is on solo practice busy working on establishing her own law firm (Nograles Law) while giving free legal advice for her legal aid clinic on the side.
Just recently, she was appointed as the director of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Davao Chapter for 2021-2023. Migs is also part of a local art gallery -- Masters by Art Gallery Philippines.
“I love keeping myself busy and maximizing my time. I also teach at some law schools in the city and some undergrad subjects in the University of Mindanao,” she said.
Migs is teaching law subjects at the Ateneo de Davao University, Rizal Memorial Colleges, Jose Maria College, and St. Thomas More.
She does all these while still getting herself involved in some local TV, radio, and online programs. She is a regular weekly legal guest panelist in a local TV show Kalamboan Dala Tanan and a co-host of a radio show entitled Ask Atty. Migs. An online show of the same name is also set to be launched on March 15 on SunStar Davao online platforms.
“These things keep me going. Time management is very important. And I always believe in this famous Filipino saying: Kung gusto mo may paraan, kung ayaw may dahilan,” she shared.
When she’s not wearing her lawyer hat, Migs can be easily found in the kitchen cooking or baking. She also makes sure to keep herself active by playing badminton, running, and boxing.
“During my free time, I would read, sleep, or drive around just to be alone, calm down, and be at peace,” she said.
Some of the last few words of her father were “Always be grateful.”
“I am fortunate to have the resources, I have no right to be greedy. My father told me to be always grateful for the life that I have and the things that I can do. I always live by that,” she shared.
Migs added that, at times, it can be challenging, especially when she gets overwhelmed.
“That is why I’m giving back through the services I can give. You can’t save the world alone. But you try as much as you can to do your share,” she said.
Migs is hopeful that through her legal services to the public, especially with her new and upcoming shows, she can help answer the people’s legal concerns and educate the public with their legal rights.