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Rich and royal Lanao del Sur

The province of Lanao Del Sur has the only Islamic city of the Philippines, which is home to the Mindanao State University (MSU) whose students are board (law, engineering, medicine and accountancy) top-notchers. Lanao comes from the word ranao, which...

Apr 24
 

Rich and royal Lanao del Sur

Column: Life
Author: The Daily Tribune

The province of Lanao Del Sur has the only Islamic city of the Philippines, which is home to the Mindanao State University (MSU) whose students are board (law, engineering, medicine and accountancy) top-notchers.

Lanao comes from the word ranao, which means “ lake.” Thus, Maranao, the name of the ethnic Moslem group that populates the two Lanao provinces, means “people of the lake.” The 38 towns of Lanao Del Sur and Marawi City form a ring around Lake Lanao, the second largest lake in the country. It is also the deepest, with a maximum depth of 112 meters.

“Lanao province is blessed with a cool climate and rich culture. Exquisite Maranao cuisine and Maranao hospitality are palpable,” said Hadja Raifa Raki-in Adiong, first lady of Lanao del Sur. With the support of her husband, Bombet, now the governor of Lanao Del Sur, Hadja Raifa’s main focus is to preserve Maranao culture.

Lanao Del Sur sits on high ground. It is cool all year round. Moreover, the province is outside the typhoon belt. “Its pleasant climate makes it the summer capital of the Autonomous Region for Moslem Mindanao (ARMM),” Gov. Adiong beams.

The Maranaos are not only known for their fierce pride and their artistry but they are also traders. They dominate Greenhills. Traditional Maranao artifacts and tools are adorned with sinuous okir carvings and nagas (serpent figures) that explode with rich and royal colors. Their brass works are renowned for craftmanship and design. Their silk malong— a piece of fabric worn around the body by both men and women—is famous for the intricate weave. Since the 1960s, top fashion designer Ben Farrales has been updating the malong as part of the urban sophisticate’s wear. Asia’s fashion czar Pitoy Moreno even highlight the Maranao malongs in his Philippine costumes book, which I was a consultant.

Maranao artistry reaches its apex in the torogan, the royal house with a high roof and decorated with exquisite carvings. Its posts are made of whole tree trunks. Not a single nail holds the whole structure together. The result is altogether breathtaking. However, in our recent trip, some of these royal houses have been neglected.

“Due to complexities among the leaders, they abandoned the preservation of torogans. But since we are installed in power, this is one of my focus,” the amiable first lady of Lanao del Sur said.

Modern Maranaos now favor houses made of cement with many balustrades and iron grills, a cheap imitation of what the lowlanders prefer.

However, in Lumbatan, one of the oldest municipalities of Lanao del Sur, beautiful lakeside torogans still exist. In Lumbayanague, there is also an ancient torogan. Likewise, the municipalities of Ditsaan Ramain, Wato and Ganassi have imposing torogans.

Governor Bombet Adiong and his wife Raifa are now planning to rehabilitate a number of torogans and promote Maranao culture. “But we have to maintain peace and order first,” Adiong said.

He also cited youth empowerment, job creation and environment as his priorities.

Visitors and tourists can stay at the Marawi Resort, inside the MSU Campus. It has snug cottages, a restaurant, a convention hall, a swimming pool and a tennis court.

The MSU main campus, which lies on 10 square kilometers of rolling land, has been redeveloped by its new president, Sultan Ricardo de Leon. Must see is the Agakhan Museum, which has a treasure trove of indigenous art, CDs of Maranao music and dance, and an array of weapons and tools.

“Change is always slow, but inevitable. Now is the time for Marawi and the entire Lanao region to showcase the past and build foundations for the future,” Gov. Adiong proudly said.— Ayo Grande Gunting.

Source: The Daily Tribune