Major Marjorie Mukay, an Igorota from Kalinga, made history as she flew a newly turned over C-130 freight plane to the Philippine Air Force, en route to the Philippines from the United States on its transpacific flight, thus making her the first-ever KC-130T 5040 (C-130) female pilot-in-command in the Philippines.
"I would like to commend the Air Force who flew the aircraft from Tuscon, Arizona all the way to the Philippines. I heard this marked the first time that a woman pilot-in-command of Philippine C-130 flew a trans-Pacific flight.
Congratulations to you Major Marjorie Mukay, your achievement represents yet another milestone, another step together, another step forward in our long friendship," outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said at the turnover ceremony for the C-130 at the Villamor Air Base on Monday.
Mukay is a member of the Philippine Military Academy "Sanlingan" Class of 2005 and was also the first woman to be certified as a pilot-in-command in the Philippine Air Force.
"It's flattering that the command allowed it because meron tayong GAD (Gender and Development), there's no restriction for females as long as you are qualified you can become a pilot-in-command of any aircraft," she told reporters.
The GAD in the Armed Forces recognizes gender equality in the workplace.
A pilot-in-command is responsible for the safety and operation of aviation.
Major Marjorie Mukay's Inspiring Story
Marjorie grew up in a poor family in a remote barangay in Tinglayan, Kalinga, Cordillera Administrative Region. She is the second child of six siblings. Her father only finished high school and attained a secretarial vocational course through self-support. Her mother, however, did not even finish third grade.
But despite this, her parents value education as they regularly review her school progress, test scores, and seat works. Marjorie realized her family's circumstances at a tender age.
Marjorie aspired to become a doctor but entered the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) instead so that she could get free education and secure a job after graduation. She admits that joining a male-dominated institution will alleviate her parents' burden of supporting her siblings' education.
Entering the PMA, she had no inkling of the different branches of the Armed Forces - Army, Air Force, or Navy. Nevertheless, her goal is clear, to graduate.
She then met another female officer wearing a flight suit who ignited her fascination to join the Philippine Air Force and become one of the branch pilots.
Being in the Air Force was never easy for a woman.
Mukay experienced that being a woman in the Air Force is not easy because there weren't enough female pilots who stay longer in the Wing, particularly the 220th Airlift Wing.
But Marjorie took the challenge regardless even though some people discouraged her for her height and the so-called many "limitations" of a woman. Like, when female pilots get pregnant, they can't fly for nine months to a year and when they get back, they have to undergo retraining.
Naysayers also declared that women are physically weak so she requires to have a strong body to handle the aircraft in case of an emergency.
Some senior officials would even tell her about the woman's dubious decision-making ability, but those and other homilies further challenged her.
Currently, Major Mukay is the Executive Officer of the 472nd Avionics Maintenance Squadron of the 220th Airlift Wing, Philippine Air Force. She also holds a Pilot-in-Command (PIC) qualification in the Nomad type of aircraft, a smaller type of fixed-range aircraft.
Clearly, Major Mukay has confirmed that anyone can thrive in life if we have perseverance and women can excel in a male-dominated profession. We need to use all the discouragements as fuel for our aircraft to fly even higher!
8 Cordillerans graduate from Philippine Air Force Flying School
- Mylene C. Orillo
- Frances Mangosing