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 and 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. Whereas my father and his brothers and most of my male cousims studied at the nearby Ateneo de Manila, many of my aunts and 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. For decades, the auditorium has been the cultural heart of the Maryknoll College.
The Marian Auditorium is connected to two of the 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.
A significant structure in the second floor of the MMJ Hall is the Maryknoll College Chapel, which was constructed at the same time as the MMJ Hall. A beautiful modernist design, the chapel shows some inspiration from the old Spanish era Baroque churches, with its jutting ribbed supports. Yet the chapel also has the simple clean lines of the International Style of architecture, which was in vogue at that time.
Inside the MMJ Hall are the two museums that celebrate the history and legacy of Miriam College. At the second floor is the Miriam College Museum, which was opened in 2008. In the museum are photographs and artifacts of the Maryknoll, starting with the arrival of its founders in 1926.
At the ground floor of the MMJ Hall is the Gallery of Women’s Art, whose acronym GAWA is the Tagalog word “to make”. Opened in 2001, the GAWA houses paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures of Filipina artists, including the critically acclaimed artists Araceli Limcaco Dans, Phyllis Zaballero, Dina Susan Fetalvero-Roces, Ivi Avellana-Cosio, Margarita Lim, Nena Saguil, Agnes Arellano, Virginia Ty-Navarro, Cristina Tabiguchi, Francesca Enriquez, Julie Lluch, Brenda Fajardo, Karen Ocampo Flores, Rosario Bitanga Peralta, Alma Quinto, Paz Abad Santos, Plet Bolipata, and Katti Sta. Ana. The GAWA is the first museum/gallery in the country that celebrates the creativity of the Filipina. Aside from the permanent collection, the GAWA also hosts regular exhibitions at the lobby of the MMJ.
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. The Mini-Forest Park is part of Miriam College’s environmental education programs, and all the trees in the park are endemic species, and are each label by their local and scientific names.
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.
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 different areas of the Mini-Forest Park and Rock Garden, and along the path to the MC High School, are the 14 Stations of the Cross. These stations, called the Via Crusis, are episodes from the passion and death of Jesus Christ, which is observed by Catholics during the Holy Week of the Lenten Season.
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.
Another important advocate institution in the Miriam College is Southeast Asian Institute of the Deaf (MC-SAID), which was founded in 1974. The institute was established when Mr. Ben Bonoan was looking for a school for his daughter, who was deaf. In discovering that there were no educational institutions that could teach his child, Mr. Bonoan sought families in similar situations, and established the MC-SAID, in partnership with the Maryknoll College.
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 Miriam College are the MC Lower School, MC Middle School and the MC High School complex. Several of the buildings in this complex are names after female saints, such as St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) and St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), and were designed Architect Augusto M. Concio, and were completed between the 1970s and 1990s.
The latest addition to the Miriam College landscape is the Henry Sy Innovation Center, which opened in 2016. Designed by Arch. Eduardo 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 buildings.
The Miriam College is continually in transition, as it adapts to the fast-paced changes in society. And in the next series of articles, we will explore those changes, by taking a tour of the Maryknoll College Chapel, the Grade School and High School complex, the Environmental Studies Institute, and the Gallery of Women’s Art.