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.

Hindi maganda sa tenga ang “Marianite,” pero baka sa akin lang ito, at dahil kasi marahil galing ako sa batch na tinawag lang na “taga-MMSU” o “Taga-CAF” o “taga-Batac,” shares DevCom graduate Charles Tuvilla, speechwriter of President Noynoy Aquino.

Nestor Corrales, former Sirmata Editor in chief, admits to having used “Marianite” in the school paper. Today, he just wants to be called an “MMSU graduate.” Corrales wishes though that his alma mater could really strengthen its own identity; for in competitions he attended in college, he was many times mistaken as a student of La Union’s DMMMSU or Dim-su. MMSU is differentiated when it is called MaMaSu, but does that make us “MaMaSans”?

A little history. The use of “Marianites” started only some years ago when the MMSU Laboratory High School (LHS) in Laoag renamed their school paper, “The Marianites”.  Prior to that, the paper was called The Mahogany, also the name of the student publication of the MMSU LHS Science Curriculum in Batac. This caused confusion during student press conferences where the two school papers with same name competed separately.

The Marianites is today one of the winningest high school papers in the country. It is advised by Prof. Jeanette Dials, a Metrobank Outstanding Teacher awardee and head of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Education Department. However, Prof. Dials herself has some apprehensions about the term “Marianites”, given its not-so-original origins. “I have also thought about that ..the term being associated with Catholic institutions,” she confessed.

But when some LHS Laoag graduates who went to college at the MMSU Batac Campus occupied key posts in the student government and the school paper, they propagated the term “Marianite.”

Most notably, it was during the incumbency (2008-2010) of Central Student Council (CSC) President Ace Joseph Rumbaoa, an alumnus of LHS Laoag, that “Marianite” gained popularity. The two-term student regent used it in every program where he spoke. Still, Rumbaoa’s successor, Jonas Paul de la Cruz (2010-2011) did not find it acceptable, “Gawa-gawa lang naman ng ilan ‘yun, hindi official, kaya hindi ko trip.” Reindel Owen Salvador, who led the student government in AY 2011-2012, followed Rumbaoa’s lead and always addressed MMSU students as “Marianites.”

It seems that the current CSC leadership under Emil James Tanagon has embraced the term as well. “Marianite: Step Up, Take a Lead,” was the theme of their leadership camp held last August. Today, most freshman students actually believe that MMSU people have always been called Marianites.

Going back to Toribio, he finds the term okay, “in the spirit na it’s referring to US, to our achievements and the like.” Sirmata’s chief editor, an English Studies major, has surely read Shakespeare’s famous lines, “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.”

At 35, MMSU remains a young institution shaping its identity and culture. Much has to be done to really cement its brand. For instance, we cannot even ascertain what shade of green and gold is really ours. Having joined university delegations in various regional and national athletic and cultural meets, I have a wide collection of shirts and jerseys with all imaginable hues of green and gold. As to the term  Marianite, I find it not only unoriginal, but pretentious, too showbiz-y and “pilit,” I have to disagree with Toribio, it is definitely not “us.” And no, Shakespeare, this is no sweet matter.

Told that I am writing about this topic, Prof. Dials, also trainor to champion debaters, enthused, “Gusto ko ‘yan, gusto ko ‘yan.” With her belief in constructive discourse, this mentor has my respect.

Recently, the university has officially adopted the moniker “MMSU Stallions,” and has used the same in regional and national competitions. Just as in the case of other schools, however, there continues a desire for a term that will be etymologically faithful to the school name we hold high and dear.

“Marianite” is a misnomer, but this just is just my humble thought, and I may be wrong. So, let the debate continue. At the end of the day, having debatable selves is way better than self-assuredness resulting from blind acceptance of and resignation to a questionable baptism.




Author: Herdy La. Yumul

A hesitant academic pimp, writer

4 thoughts on “Marianites who?”

  1. I don’t like it either Herdy. When I first read the Marianite, I thought it was referring to Saint Mary’s University until I learned that it was referring to MMSU grads. I still like to be called MMSU’an or CBEAn. Nasakit lapayag diay Marianite, kaslang saan nga umiso kadaydiay Mariano Marcos.

  2. There is actually this strange incident which is still vivid in my mind that happened back when I was high school Sir Herdy. We were at the awarding rites for school papers of the RSPC during my final year in high school when it happened. The Filipino school paper of LHS Laoag, “Ang Marianite” (The English one being “The Marianite”), was just pronounced as one of the best in the region for a specific category. However, neither me nor Sir James Ventura, our other school paper adviser whom I was seated next to at that time, immediately realized that it was our school paper being announced as one of the top school papers because it was pronounced by the emcee as “MAR-YAH-NEE-TEH” (with the strong rrrrrrr). By the way Sir, the change in the name of LHS Laoag’s school paper came in 2009 when I was 4th year, so I can claim that I am the first editor-in-chief of “The Marianite” hehehe

  3. So this is what people have been saying.

    Hi Sir Herdy, this is Ace. Here’s my version of the story.

    Back in 2004, when I ran for SBO Presidency, I needed a name for our party that would stand out and come across as pro students (like “we are one of you”). And I thought of MARIONITES not MARIANITE. Well, actually it was my sister’s idea. In 2005, I was surprised to find out that SIRMATA started to use the term MARIANITE (now with an A) to address the students of MMSU.

    Come 2008, during my first try for CSC President, I again used the term MARIONITES. But never actually used it in my speeches. Anyhow, I know this is not a story of who used it first ek ek, just wanted to clear things. And for the record, Im not a fan of the term as well, I just needed a name for my party back then. =)

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