Marianites who?

marianite picMARIANITES of Holy Cross, is a worldwide religious congregation based in New Orleans, USA. Founded in 1841, it runs a college with a gigantic statute of St. Mary in front of their campus main building.

The Marianite is the official monthly publication of the St. Mary on the Hill Parish in Augusta, Georgia, also in the United States. E-mailed to parishioners, it includes information about people, activities, and events in the parish and community.

Then there is the Marianite Church of unknown location. It is a breakaway Catholic group led by a matriarch.

Several other religious groups in the Philippines and elsewhere proudly call themselves ‘Marianites.’”

Here in Ilocos Norte, a growing number of student leaders and writers have called themselves Marianites. I assume it was derived from the first name of the father of President Ferdinand Marcos who built the Mariano Marcos State University.

MMSU President Miriam E. Pascua has never used the term though, save for one occasion—the 2012 Freshmen Orientation Program—where she addressed new students, “Welcome to MMSU, you are now, borrowing from Sirmata, ‘Marianites.’

Indeed, the term has been used by our campus journalists, even in front page news. Current Sirmata Chief Editor JV Toribio explains that in the absence of a style book, they have not officially agreed to use “Marianite” in their issues. He says that since his freshman year, and that was three years ago, “Na-inculcate na po sa’kin na ganun talaga tayo natatawag, kahit saan po naririnig ko ‘yun.”

While Toribio finds no problem in the term’s usage, he recognizes the need for “the consistency and genuineness in defining our identity.” Dr. Alegria T. Visaya, university and board secretary, has a similar thought: “If we want to build up our own identiy which will speak really about our unique characteristics as constituents of MMSU, we should pick out a word which will be exclusively for us.” She even floated the idea of initiating a contest for this purpose. Sports and Socio-cultural Director Arsenio Gallego and Student Services Director Henedine Aguinaldo also expressed reservations about the aptness of the term “Marianite.”

Even the alumni are shaking their heads. Dr. Joel Manuel, now a high school principal and arguably the most awarded Iluko writer the university has nurtured, has his own share of discomfort about the new term. “Madin sa, madi,” he said in an interview after receiving two first prizes—in poetry and short-story writing—in a prestigious literary competition concluded recently. So what then, Manuel wondered, should we call ourselves with?  “Marcosites,” he said in jest, sounds like “Muscovites,” which refers to residents of Moscow. During his time, they were simply called “MMSU students,” and he said there was no urge to coin a term. Continue reading “Marianites who?”