Menagerie Walls have ears: Deep diving into the Mari-Union
Menagerie Walls have ears: Deep diving into the Mari-Union
Walls have ears: Deep diving into the Mari-Union

Everyone has their own share of secrets they wouldn’t want to tell; after all, it’s only human nature. But there are those that seemingly make it their life’s mission to know everything about anyone—enter the quintessential Marites. With their insincere smiles and loose tongues, a Marites is definitely not someone you want knowing your deepest, darkest secrets. But if you let one secret slip, everyone is sure to know it within the next minute.

The growing popularity of this gossiping horde has led to more and more individuals adapting to their messy way of life. The trend of being a Marites has taken the world by storm. So much so, that even the University has established an organization centered around their morals—or lack thereof—aptly named the Mari-Union.

More than just the whispers

Marites Santiago (III, BS-ORG), Mari-Union’s current president, says that their organization is an active, growing group of gossipers who relish in talking about other people. According to her, they have fun tattling about other people’s lives and find happiness in other people’s misfortunes. “Chismis is my life,” she says. “I cannot live without sharing chismis. I feel like I’ll die.”

She goes on to describe the initiation process in becoming a member of the union. “Well, first, they have to tell the executive board (EB) a piece of gossip that we haven’t heard of yet,” she exclaims excitedly. She further reveals that aspiring applicants must prepare a PowerPoint presentation about the chismis, with slides dedicated to bullet points explaining every detail of the situation, and the possible outcomes that the members could then exaggerate and spread around.

The chosen few that make it past this almost-impossible feat are then dubbed with their own gossiper-inspired titles. The only rule followed strictly in this regard is that “Marites” is reserved for whoever the current president is. “It’s very important that we give these titles to our members, since it gives them a sense of alter ego. Therefore, they can effectively say that it isn’t really them, it’s simply their Other Self!” Marites asserts. Their nickname is also determined by the type of gossip that they specialize in—for example, a member that is obsessed with the third party in relationships would be called a Maribeth, short for “Mare, sino ang kabet?”

Maripaz Ahak-Ataya (II, VAL), Mari-Union’s member of the month, proudly declares that she had accomplished the impossible—making the previous EB gasp audibly—by divulging one of the deepest and darkest secrets of the University. “Let’s just say that a teacher and a student were involved in a bar brawl over vape flavors. Even the police had to get involved,” she explains. After a beat, she whispers fiercely, “I heard the student’s a politician now. A councilor!”

Interestingly enough, the Mari-Union does not post a public list of students that made it past the grueling and difficult test. Instead, they must always listen to the whispers to find out if they have been accepted, and where their office is. “People think that the only requirement to be in the Mari-Union is to be a good whisperer; but you must also be a good listener to hear all the juicy stuff,” Marites quips wryly.

Members of the newly formed Mari-Union meet up regularly to share juicy gossip gathered from students.

Modern gossip girls

Maripaz is quick to mention that the organization is currently busy preparing for their first-ever Marites-a-thon, an Amazing Race-style competition wherein participants would have to pass on chismis to random students to reach the finish line. The competition doesn’t have proper rules and guidelines; the only thing partakers need to keep in mind is to find the next location through chismis.

Maris Dimaculangan (II, CHI), vice president for creatives, shares how they were able to pull it off. “We scoured random chismis from random people,” she explains. “We even had an inside scoop from our rival org, Bestfriends Against Boyfriends, Yo (BABY).” While The LaSallian tried to realign Maris with the logistics of the event, she instead confirms the accuracy of the rumors gathered, saying that her sources include TikTok and Facebook Lives. As of press time, Maris is unable to share more information regarding the Marites-a-thon.

Meanwhile, Marichu Chiu (I, MML) also confirms these hearsays, saying she heard all of them firsthand. “They all made amin to me and confirmed these issues. I remember vividly pa nga all the details since Maribeth shared them with me kanina lang,” she recalls. However, Marinela Salvador (IV, BS-ORG) challenges this claim and says it wasn’t Maribeth who she got the information from but Marivic Sotto (III, DISQ), whom Miguel is close with. “Mali naman ‘yung chismis,” she contests. “Si Marivic ‘yung nagsabi [sa amin] kasi close sila ni Miguel. My friend who’s friends with Miguel’s cousin who has a friend who was eating at 24 Chicken with her five all-girls COB 122 blockmates during their two-hour free time, said they saw them at Goks talking about it.” But at the moment, there are no clarifications from all parties involved; meanwhile BABY President Miguel Elizalde (II, BSIT) refuses to comment on the issue.

(The chismis is wrong…It’s Marivic who told us because she’s close with Miguel.)

Furthermore, in the organization’s aim to strengthen their goal to spread chismis, as well as to properly prepare for the upcoming Marites-a-thon, Vice President for Chismis Development Marisol Soul (II, REC) plans to appeal to the Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management to convert DLSU’s resident canteen, Perico’s, into a sari-sari store and make it their headquarters. “We demand a space where we can share our chismis authentically,” Marisol asserts. She says it would be best for their organization if they could all gather around in their Mari-Union sari-sari store office, since being a chismosa is not an easy responsibility to fulfill. “It’s what we truly deserve.”

Word on the street

Unsurprisingly, Mari-Union has reached levels of fame no other school organization has; that is, for all the wrong reasons.

Purreh* (III, BRO), recalls how terrible his experience was with a former friend. “Marikit Sheesh and I, we were really close. We were tight, like, for real. He was my bro, bro. But Mari-Union totally changed him for the worse. Every time I bought new shoes or ordered new gadgets, he kept asking where the money was from and I was always like, ‘Dude, Dad owns hundreds of hotels!’ But it’s like he never understood that! He kept saying on the DLSU Freedom Wall that everything I owned was fake, and I knew the posts were about me because they had pictures of my things!” he explains. “It was insane. And I’m just like, Marikit, brodie, ‘pag inggit, pikit!”

Despite the backlash, however, it looks like there’s no stopping the infamous organization. In fact, it appears as if the notoriety only fuels their fire to gossip. Mariana Grande (III, YUH), after two months as a member, shares that she once attempted to quit but just couldn’t. “I tried to stop. I really did. I avoided the other Mares, I went private on social media,” she bravely shares. “I even went straight home after class even though I wanted to pretend like I was on my way to McDonald’s because I saw Jhemerlyn* and Donjovi* there holding hands! You know naman how orgcest relationships aren’t allowed,” she reminds. “But it was so hard,” Mariana sobs. “I felt like I was in pain. But eventually, I realized gossiping was my calling. So here I am.”

All’s well that ends well?

Many have already dared to file complaints against the Mari-Union on the grounds that countless reputations and relationships have been ruined because of them. According to the Council of Student Organizations, a good number of Lasallians have called for the dissolution of the organization, claiming that the campus has only become more chaotic with their existence.

As for Marites, well, she’s got only one thing—or many things—to say: “I’m the Marites,” she laughs. “I know everything everyone says about us. Like, we’ve got gossip to tell because non-members tell us these stories in the first place anyway.” Ultimately she posits that Mari-Union isn’t entirely to blame for all the hearsays. “‘Yung iba diyan, ‘bat niyo pa kinekwento samin kung alam niyong ipagchichismisan din naman namin ‘yan?” she reminds.

(Why would you even tell us your stories if you know we’ll gossip about it?)

So if there’s anything the Mari-Union president wants the studentry to remember, it’s that everyone is a Marites in their own right. “You like chismis as long as it’s about someone else!” she guffaws. “So keep your ears open, Lasallians! We’ve got more gossip in store.”

Whispering, she says, “Just hope it’s not about you!”

*Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms.