Enough of ‘Maritessing’

Besides, for all we know, there could be a lot more ‘chismosos’ than ‘chismosas’ around

Illustration by Bosrick Ignacio

I vehemently object to “Maritess.”

This is supposed to be a beautiful name for a woman. Now, though, it has become a way to derogate somebody. I wonder about, and even feel pity for, the real Maritesses, who are squirming each time they hear their names, no longer as they were meant to be, but as a pejorative.  In baptisms, I doubt if I will again encounter parents who would give their child the name Maritess.

Truth be told, it used to be such a fabulous name. Originally, it was a merger of “Maria” and “Teresa.” The name Maria is synonymous with gentle manners and firmness of the spirit, referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Teresa, meanwhile, signifies abundance, as it means “harvest” in Greek  Moreover, the Old Irish derivative (Treise or Toireasa) leans toward “strength.” A no-brainer; to be Maritess is rather lovely.

Unfortunately, “Maritess” has come to be (mis)understood as “Mare, ito ang latest!”—a line that signals long-winded chatting over anything, or just about anything, and anyone. It is a subtle invitation to engage in umaatikabong chismisan. Hence, Maritess has become the title of one who is marked as the chikadora ng bayan. 

 ‘Maritess’ has come to be (mis)understood as ‘Mare, ito ang latest!’—a line that signals long-winded chatting

Sad to say, “Maritess” has turned into a fad, as it has become a form of entertainment for many. For some, it is a favorite pastime and form of leisure. In the long run, it can mutate into an addiction; you cannot let a day pass without talking behind somebody’s back. Quite lamentably, the phenomenon of gossiping has long been part of the social milieu, even the collective psyche of us Filipinos.

At the end of the day, somebody gets hurt by gossip. Unfounded stories, much less fabricated ones, benefit no one. Such use of leisure time is in reality a waste of time and energy. Entertainment of that kind is uncalled for, unbecoming, and even un-Christian. In moral-ethical parlance, it is downright sinful, in the order of calumny or slander. The act is defined as “remarks contrary to truth, harms the reputation of others, and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.” Moreover, while  “maritessing” damages another person’s name, it destroys the community and healthy social relationships, as well.

Lo and behold, a newspaper posted the number of real Maritesses—899 in Palawan! While many reacted negatively to this news, it is also worth pondering why it was published. The infamous moniker has proven to be gremlin-like, with numerous iterations. “Maritoni” has come to mean “Mare, ito ang sabi ni…”; “Maricon” is “Mare, confirmed!”; ”Marina” is “Mare, ano na?”; “Mariela” is “Mare, elaborate mo pa”; “Maricar” is “Mare, kararating ko lang, anong chika?”, and so on and so forth. I am sure you are already adding some names in your head as you actually get entertained. Aminin. 

How dare society easily points a finger at women as the automatic culprits in rumor-mongering

What does the list tell us of our culture then? In truth, “Maritess” is a statement about women. I protest on behalf of women. How dare society easily points a finger at women as the automatic culprits in rumor-mongering. Women have had enough of discrimination since time immemorial. For all we know, there could be a lot more chismosos than chismosas around. One way or another, in more ways than one, we all have succumbed to the sin of bearing false witness against a neighbor. And so, please, spare the women.

Definitely, nobody in one’s right mind would wish to fall prey to a “Maritess.” As such, do not be a “Maritess” yourself to others. Instead, before we do wag our tongue again, consider this—”Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”(Philippians 4:8) Or, “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” (2 Tim 2:16)

Enough of “Maritessing.”  Let civility allow a true Maritess to live up to her fantabulous name.

About author


Rev. Fr. Eugene S. Elivera, MA, SThD. is a priest of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (Palawan). He earned licentiate and doctoral degrees in Moral Theology from Universidad de Navarra in Spain. His two books, ‘Morality of the Heart’ (Contextualized Moral Theology in the Philippine Setting) and ‘Heart of the Story’ (Moral Becoming in Ordinary Living), won the Catholic Mass Media Award in Theology (2013) and Inspirational (2018) categories, respectively. He is the Schools superintendent of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa and parish priest of San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish. He is also the (first) president of the Philippine Mental Health Association, Palawan chapter.

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