Along Katipunan Avenue is the Miriam College (MC) campus, which was originally established in 1926 when the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic of Ossning developed a teacher-training program for women in the Malabon Normal School. After World War II, the Maryknoll sisters joined the exodus of Manila based schools, to the town of Marikina, and in 1952 the Maryknoll College was formed. Areas of the Diliman / Loyola Heights area were still part of Marikina, until the late 1950s when they were annexed to the newly formed Quezon City. In 1977, there was turnover of ownership and management from the Maryknoll sisters to lay administrators, and the school changed its name to Miriam College in 1989.
My family has had a long standing relationship with Maryknoll / Miriam. When all the boys studied at the nearby Ateneo de Manila, many of my female cousins studied in the Maryknoll College. My mother was a graduate of the Maryknoll College, while my wife is an alumna from the elementary to the high school. And now, my daughter is studying there.
Situated in a sprawling 18 hectare area, the Miriam College is basically divided into three sections: the Grade School, the High School, and the College. In between divisions are other building clusters for services and a multitude of gardens. Most of the structures in the college area were built in the 1950s, such as the Marian Auditorium that was completed in 1954.
The Marian Auditorium is connected to two college buildings: the Mother Mary Joseph Hall (MMJ Hall) and the Paz Adriano Hall. The MMJ Hall was named after Mother Mary Joseph Rogers (1882-1955), the founder of the Maryknoll College. The Adriano Hall was named after Dr. Paz V. Adriano, an alumna of the Maryknoll College, and the first lay president and the first female president of a Catholic college in the Philippines.
At the entrance of the MMJ Hall, there hangs a 1991 mural by the multi-awarded artist Phyllis Zaballero, entitled “Sky over Boracay”. This work is a prelude to the Gallery of Women’s Art, which is also found in the MMJ Hall. Unfortunately, the gallery and the Miriam College Museum are not open to the general public, and the MC administration has denied my request to document these.
Phyllis Panganiban- del Rosario Zaballero (1942) first studied French language and literature from the Universite de Geneve in Switzerland and from the Universidad de Barcelona, then she graduated with a degree in economics in 1964, only to continue her education at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts in 1978. As an art educator and painter, Zaballero has exhibited locally and internationally, and has received numerous grants from prestigious institutions such as the Goethe Institute, the British Council, and the French Cultural Ministry. In 1979, Zaballero was given the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Thirteen Artists Award.
Traveling eastward from the MMJ Hall and past the Caritas and Residence Halls, there is the Maryknoll Centennial Garden and the Maryknoll Sisters Mausoleum. Erected in the 1950s, the mausoleum holds the remains of Mother Mary Joseph Rogers and the other Markyknoll sisters who founded and served the school.
Just north of the MMJ and Caritas Halls is the Mini-Forest Park, with serves as a quite respite for the MC populace to take a break and sit quietly in the green.
Part of the Mini-Forest Park is the Kalayaan Garden (Freedom Garden), where the names of Philippine heroes are cast in concrete and embedded into the natural rock formations of the campus.
Another section of the Mini-Forest Park is the Friendship Garden, with several sculptures of children at play. There are figures of a boy playing the flute, a boy and girl on a see-saw (and their pet dog), three girls playing “Ring-Around-the-Posie”, and two children playing leap frog. I have tried to identify the sculptor behind these works (including the deer at the Mini-Forest Park), but the MC administration also denied giving me the information.
At the western end of the Mini-Forest Park stands the 1958 sculpture of “Our Lady Shepherdess”. This particular work was donated by the high school class of 1958, to commemorate the deaths of the relatives of some of the students, who died in a tragic event in Mount Pinatubo on that same year. The statue was later dedicated to a classmate, who has also passed away too early in life.
Along parts of the Mini-Forest Park and Rock Garden, and along the path to the MC High School, are the 15 Stations of the Cross.
West of the Rock Garden is the Environmental Studies Institute (ESI), which was opened in 1986. The ESI is a reflection of the MC’s pioneering efforts in environmental and peace studies. In fact, the ESI was one of our regular meeting venues for the Earth Day Network during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Inside the ESI plenary hall are several paintings by Dr. Joel Mendéz, which he completed and donated in 1998. Another mural was made the environmental activist painter, A.G. Sano.
Moving north towards the MC High School, there is another sample of the MC’s Mollie’s Garden, which is a learning center for sustainable food production. Launched in 2013 by the alumni class of 1968, the garden was named after Mother Mary Joseph Rogers. Beside Mollie’s Garden is the Employee’s Day Care and Breastfeeding Station.
At the northern end of the Mini-Forest Park is the MC High School. Completed in the 1980s, many of the new buildings were designed by Architect Augusto M. Concio. Concio designed many of the new buildings in the MC, including the following:
- Miriam College Foundation Inc.
- Child Study Center (Angel Raphael)
- High School Building (Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Hall)
- Grade School Building (St. Therese of Lisieux Hall)
- College Building (Paz Adriano Hall)
Inside the High School Building’s St. Joan of Arc Hall, there are portraits of all the past and present principals, as rendered by several unidentified high school teachers. Presented in these pencil portraits are:
1960-1962 Sr. Anne Marie
1962-1963 Sr. Mary John Irene
1963-1969 Sr. Rose Anthony
1969-1973 Preciosa Pimentel
1973-1982 Amelia Soncuya
1983-1995 Paulita M. Uglado
1995-2001 Julieta S. Reyes
2001-2004 Suzanne G. Yupangco
2004-2005 Dr. Ma. Rosario O. Lapus (rendered by Ricky Guevarra in 2005)
2005-present Dr. Ma. Corazon R. Reyes
Also in the high school is a trophy case, with two notable trophies that were created by the National Artist for Sculpture, Abdulmari Imao.
Abdulmari Asia Imao (1936-2014) was born in the island of Jolo, and proceeded to Manila, where he earned a degree in fine arts from the University of the Philippines (UP) in 1959. Imao later took a master of fine arts degree from the University of Kansas in 1962, and took further studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and Columbia University in New York City. Imao’s sculptures and paintings draw inspiration from the Tausug and Maranao people’s cultures, of which he is a part of. Imao received the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award in 1968, the Gawad CCP para sa Sining from the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1990, and the was honored as the 1st Moslem National Artist in 2006.
The latest addition to the Miriam College landscape is the Henry Sy Innovation Center, which opening in 2016. Designed by Arch. Ed Calma, the centre is an integrated makerspace, for the students to hands-on learning environment. The funds for the centre were donated by the Henry Sy Foundation, of billionaire who founded the national chain of SM malls and condominium building.
Although I may have not been able to document much of the art and architecture within the Miriam College, I still enjoy ambling through its halls and greenery each time I visit my daughter in school.