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Miriam College is a premier women's college in the Philippines. Founded in 1924, Miriam College offers programs at the basic, tertiary, post-graduate and adult education levels.

The institution supports specialized centers engaged in curriculum development, research, community outreach and advocacy in the fields of social development, peace education, environmental studies and women’s empowerment.

  • Address : Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights Quezon City 1108 Philippines

  • Email Us : info@mc.edu.ph

  • Call Us : (+63 02) 8 930-MCQC (6272)

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GIVING WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST: The Maryknoll Sisters’ Legacy and Miriam College | Amb. Laura Q. Del Rosario, MA, MEd.

Miriam College started the 1000 day-countdown to its centennial a few days ago marking the arrival of the Maryknoll Sisters in the country and their founding of many Maryknoll schools, including Maryknoll College (first as a Normal School). But Miriam College “opened” only in 1989 after the Maryknoll Sisters donated the land and buildings at Loyola Heights to the then Maryknoll College Foundation, a historic action done by a congregation of missioners, who themselves depend on donations for their missions.

 

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Maryknoll Sisters, 1928

 

This unprecedented act of giving while in need of donations for their own missions abroad was like the parable of the widow’s mite, giving away what one needs but believing that God will provide. This enabled young Filipino girls and women from various socio-economic sectors to continue their education along the Maryknoll ideals.   

There are still those who wish that the change in name never happened.  But those who were there when the decision was made would witness through the years the amazing development in and of Miriam College.

 

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Maryknoll College goes to Loyola Heights in 1952 and becomes Miriam College in 1989

 

Now, forty-four years after the Maryknoll Sisters made the decision to move on to the mission fields in the developing parts of the world, there are only two—yes, two—Sisters left in the whole Philippines.  Their numbers have dwindled worldwide.  In this period of global uncertainty, Miriam College’s role in education—as an extension of the Maryknoll mission and vision—has become more urgent. Our primary goal is to continue contributing to the nation’s development. Economic injustice remains, learning poverty has deepened, and the educational system is burdened by the lack of teachers and other resources.  Meanwhile, the campuses and the boundaries of Miriam College’s educational mission have expanded, reaching more young minds to help them face the present and the evolving future. 

As Miriam College prepares to celebrate the 100th year of the Maryknoll Sisters’ legacy in education through Miriam College, the MC community of past and present administrators and faculty can proudly say that they have done and continue to do their share in “making God’s love visible and bringing the world to Christ” through its advocacy centers on peace, justice, gender equity, protecting the integrity of creation, and protecting children’s rights while Truth (Veritas) shines as its academic north star. 

Moreover, the Maryknoll-Miriam Identity Spirituality Mission Office, through volunteer faculty, students, and alumni, now collectively known as Knollers have given training to many communities on leadership skills, livelihood generation, and financial literacy. The many alumni abroad (from Maryknoll or Miriam) contribute to their own communities proving that Knollers can indeed “bloom wherever they are planted.” Knollers have been taught to view the world as one big community and that as one suffers, so do we all. Dr. Jeanette Loanzon recalls: “For many of us alumnae, what we value most about is what was then called world-mindedness as symbolized by the altar in the College Chapel.”

 

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When Miriam College started under a new name, the event was “a big leap of faith”: the Sisters believed that the alumnae and the administrators they trained could do it, and the administrators believed that they could make Miriam College thrive in the midst of competition from the big co-educational schools.  

Nobody was fully aware that when the school took the crucial step in renaming itself, it re-branded itself. Guided by a dynamic Board of Trustees whose eyes were on emerging needs and development, Miriam College developed its progressive pedagogy, upskilled its faculty, focused on STEAM for girls, pursued innovation with an eye on the future needs of the country and introduced new, more relevant courses. And all the while the Maryknoll core values, with the central theme of building God’s kingdom on earth, became part of the DNA of Miriam College. Maryknoll and Miriam have thus become intertwined, and flowered in a transformative kind of education “that allows the human spirit to flourish.” 

It was a very lonely beginning for Miriam College as it stood alone at the beginning in 1989 with no other school connected to it by name.  Maryknoll Academy in Lucena went through the same trial as it became Maryhill Academy, now Maryhill College. But like other Maryknoll schools all over the Philippines it went under the leadership and management of diocesan priests and archbishops. No other private school founded by a religious congregation had gone through the “solo swim in a big ocean” challenge of Miriam College. Other schools have a congregation with them and other campuses spread around the country as sister or brother schools which were “feeder schools for college.” Miriam College only had its tenacious spirit. 

But the question has remained:  why did the Maryknoll Sisters have to withdraw the name Maryknoll from the institution that they built so well and which had a lot of good will and an excellent reputation? Why start with a name that had no connection with a religious order, nor with education as a discipline, nor with a school system? Miriam College saw the upside. It was an excellent opportunity to re-brand and to re-direct itself to increase its relevance in the country’s human and economic development  

Renamed Miriam College to honor Sister Miriam Thomas Thornton who believed strongly in the lay administrators, faculty, and the Board decided at the outset to go where their collective spirit led them: to offer the kind of academic formation at Miriam College that is more accessible to many aspiring women while imparting the “world-mindedness and service-orientation” needed for social change.  At the same time the institution remained mindful of the loyal families (the legacy families) who have continued to send their daughters to the institution through many generations because of the school’s consistent high academic standards. Three qualities of the Maryknoll Sisters helped the administrators move forward: generosity, humility, and fidelity to their mission. 

During the Sisters’ meeting in Hong Kong on their missions in various countries in the Asia Pacific, the Sisters discussed how and what Miriam College could do to strengthen partnership with the Maryknoll Congregation There was so much for them to do globally when they left  Loyola Heights: the democracy movements in South America where three Maryknoll Sisters were killed, lack of health and education facilities in Southeast Asia, the cry of African nationals for food, water, and healing, etc. And there remain intractable issues. Meanwhile the faculty and administrators at Miriam College continue to address deeply entrenched socio-economic issues through advocacy centers and academic courses.  

Miriam College did not forget the Maryknoll Adult Education (MAE) started by Sister Blaise Lupo more than 50 years ago for drivers and domestic workers around Loyola Heights for them to finish high school.  Now renamed Skills Development and Technical Education Center, its graduates move on to college and finish with Latin Honors from universities such as the Polytechnic University in Manila and even Miriam College!  One MAE graduate in the late 70s recently retired as an international civil servant from the UN- Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome as a model in integrity and service. 

Miriam College is now in three campuses—in Nuvali south of Manila, in Alviera north of Manila, and growing academically strong in its Loyola Heights campus.  Soon an extension presence in Canada through a transnational partnership with a Canadian college will be established. This growth and transformation reflect the true grit of its women College Presidents (Dr Paz Adriano (1976-1978), Dr Lourdes Quisumbing (1978-1986), Dr Loreta Navarro- Castro (1987-1997), Dr Patricia B Licuanan (1997- 2010), Dr Rosario Oreta-Lapus (2010-2019) and the excellent guidance from its Board of Trustees who came from the academic, religious, business, civil society sectors and the MC alumnae group. Among the Trustees through the years were:  Justice Cecilia Munos- Palma, Mr. Oscar Hilado, Fr. Miguel Varela, Brother Roly Dizon, Fr Bernardo Perez, Sister Luz Emmanuel Soriano RA, Dr Victor Ordonez, Dr. Christian Monsod, Sec. Teresita “Ging” Quintos-Deles, Dr. Mina Ramirez, Mr Manuel Lim, Ms Corazon De La Paz, Mr Luis Sison, Mr Baltazar Endriga, Ms Lolita Delgado-Fansler, Ms Fe Arriola, among others. 

The current Chair, Josefina Tan has been in the Board for 45 years, more than half her life guiding the school through its ups and down as the institution faced demographic challenges and growing stiff competition from co-education institutions while big corporations entered the “business of education.” Other long-standing prominent members of the Board are: Nieves Confesor (27 years), Edith Alcantara (26 years), Emelina Soriano-Almario (15 years), Roberto Laviña (14 years), among others. Younger alumnae with their expertise in their fields but with abiding interest in education have joined the Board of Trustees.  

Without the support of loyal and generous alumni who have maintained their trust in the school no matter its name, as well as the commitment of the Maryknoll- Miriam College Alumni Association (MMCAA), the achievements of Miriam College will not be possible. Many of these Maryknoll-Miriam alumni leaders will be honored through special MMCAA publications in 2026. 

Now, with Maryknoll Sister Marvie Misolas leading the MC Environmental Studies Institute, Miriam College contributes extensively in addressing the most crucial challenge of the planet through an integral ecological education.

The Sisters made a historic and prescient decision in donating their biggest material asset—the 20-hectare Loyola Heights property—to the Filipino laity.

 

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Miriam College in Nuvali, Laguna in 2013-2014

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Miriam College in Alviera, Pampanga in 2023-2024 

 

The confirmation of what Miriam College has achieved through the years came from Maryknoll Sister alumna Teresa Dagdag, a math summa cum laude, who was there when the Maryknoll Sisters decided to re-direct their resources and energy towards urgent areas world-wide and to donate the Sisters’ prime property in Loyola Heights: “We Sisters could not have done what Miriam College has become. “Now Miriam College is strongly positioned to do its expanding work in “making the invisible visible”, the Maryknoll mission ingrained in Miriam College’s education without borders.

- ​Ms. Lullah

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