The Philippines is made up of 7,100 islands (some 1,000 of which are populated) divided into three groups: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. With a population of 16 million, Mindanao is the second largest island and is seen by many Filipinos as a frontier.
Colonial rule started a process that was to alter Mindanao’s demographic composition. It deprived the indigenous inhabitants of their land and spawned deep-seated prejudices among the different ethno linguistic groups. It also marginalized an Islamised people with their own distinct history. In the early 1970s the Bangsamoro people (see box, below) united in a struggle for self-determination which has invariably, although erroneously, been referred to as a ‘Muslim-Christian’ conflict.
There are at least 13 ethno linguistic groups indigenous to Mindanao that have adopted Islam as a way of life. The three largest and politically dominant are the Maguindanaon (people of the flooded plains) of the Cotabato provinces (Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North and South Cotabato); the Maranaw (people of the lake) of the two Lanao provinces; and the Tausug (people of the current) of the Sulu archipelago. The remaining ten are the Yakan, Sama, Badjaw, Kalagan, Sangil, Iranun or Ilanun, Palawani, Melebugnon, Kalibogan and Jama Mapun. There is also a growing number of Muslim converts from various ethno linguistic groups all over the Philippines.
Meranao or Maranao
Maranao also spelled as Meranao, Meranaw and Maranaw, is the term used officially by the Philippine government in reference to the southern tribe who are now the people of the lake called Ranao in the Iranaon language, a predominantly Muslim region in the Philippines island of Mindanao. They are famous for their artwork, sophisticated weaving, wood and metal crafts, and their epic literature. The word Maranao, also spelled Maranaw is a misnomer as it does not have a sense in reference to nouns such as people, place or thing. The prefix MA- means ‘to be’, i.e., Maranao means to be lake. The real term is IRANAON which when pronounced fluently is IRANON (also Iranun)meaning “People of the Lake,” referring to the indigenous people who inhabited the lands around Lake Lanao whose principal town is Marawi City. The Maranaos are part of the wider Moro ethnic group, who constitute the sixth largest Filipino ethnic group.
The life of the Maranaos is centered on Lake Lanao, the largest in Mindanao, and the second largest and deepest lake in the Philippines. This breathtakingly beautiful lake is surrounded with myths and legends, it is the main source of fisheries, and the main source of a hydroelectric plant installed on it; and the Agus River system that generates 70% of the electricity used by the people of Mindanao. A commanding view of the lake is offered by Marawi City, the provincial capital.
The ancient people in Mainland Mindanao were called Iranun, also spelled Iranon, of the coastal area of Illana Bay (Ilian in Maranao) and Iranaon of the people in Bembaran or Bukidnon and Kiaranda Area, a ragat or ranao, a lake, in local language.
The Iranon is the people of the constant flow of rivers and creeks from the mountains to the coastal areas. A volcanic eruption developed a flat land surface little-by-little. In modern science describes and illustrates this process as results of sedimentary formation and residual remains that forms the low and flat land surface in the coastal areas. The Maranao vernacular called it “ira” which means remains.
Thus, the name of the people in the coastal area of Illana Bay was derived from the root word “ira” plus “ranao” forms the word Iranaon which means people living the residual remains in the coastal areas.
In present days, the Maranao refers the word Iranaon “tao sa ragat” or the people of Lanao who migrated to sea area [others believed that the word Maranao is a combination of two words "Malay" and "Lanao" or the Ancient Lake Lanao thus making it "Maranao" that mean People living around lake lanao] while the Maranaos are people who dwelled around the lake of Lanao. These peoples belong to same genealogy, lineages, culture and history. They are called Maranao in general term.
photo source: http://www.maranao.com
Maranao is the term used for the people of Lanao, a predominantly Muslim region in the Philippine island of Mindanao. They are famous for their artwork, sophisticated weaving, wood and metal craft, and their epic literature. The word Maranao, also spelled Maranaw, means “People of the Lake”, referring to the indigenous people who inhabited the lands around Lake Lanao whose principal town is Marawi City. The Maranaos are part of the wider Moro ethnic group, who constitute the sixth largest Filipino ethnic group.
The Maranaos primarily live in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, and many are settlers in Zamboanga del Sur, Bukidnon, Cotabato, Maguindanao, and in many southern Philippine islands from Basilan exending to Tawi-Tawi. Small communities of Maranaos, mostly traders, can be found in all major towns of the Philippines.
Maranaos number about 1,142,000. They are the descendants of Muslim Malays who came to the Philippines. Their royals have varied influsions of Arabic, Malayan, Indonesian, as well as Chinese blood. The Maranaos also are one of the ethnic groups in the Philippines who are fair-skinned, probably attributable to Arab and Chinese admixtures. The language of the Maranao people is also called Maranao. It is a language spoken by approximately 800,000 people living in areas near Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. The language can be traced from the Southern Philippine sub-branch of the Western Austronesian language family, and is closely related to the Illanun language spoken in Sabah and Malaysia. It is also close to Maguindanaon, the language spoken in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Zamboanga del Sur provinces. The vast majority of Maranaos are Muslims. A few, especially those living in the hills around Lake Lanao practice Islam diluted with traces of pre-Islamic traditions.
The term Lanao is derived from a Maranao word “Ranao” meaning a body of water. “Maranao” means lake dweller. They are the natives of the place occupying the land around Lake Lanao, which is situated at the central part of Lanao del Sur. Lanao, applies to the entire area before its division. When it was divided into two provinces, the southern portion became Lanao del Sur and the northern part became Lanao del Norte.
Dansalan, Marawi City’s old name, was explored by the Spaniards as early as 1639. It is said that at that time, Marawi was already the citadel of Malayan-Arabic culture in Mindanao. Feeling the pulse of strong refusal among its inhabitants to adopt Christianity, the Spaniards abandoned the project of colonizing the area. Dansalan, physically speaking, would have satisfactorily qualified to become a town or municipality during the time of said exploration based on the Spanish Policy of “Ecclesiastical Administration” except for one factor – religion.
Attempts were made later by foreigners to capture Lanao but fierce and fanatical resistance of the Maranaos to colonial rule made the planting of Christianity in Dansalan an unlikely outcome.
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