Maranao people

The Maranao people (Maranao: ['mәranaw]; Filipino: Maranaw[2]), also spelled Meranao, Maranaw, and Mëranaw, is the term used by the Philippine government to refer to the southern indigenous people who are the "people of the lake", a predominantly-Muslim Lanao province region of the Philippine island of Mindanao. They are known for their artwork, weaving, wood, plastic and metal crafts and epic literature, the Darangen. They are ethnically and culturally closely related to the Iranun, and Maguindanao, all three groups being denoted as speaking Danao languages and giving name to the island of Mindanao.

Tunog Sayaw 1.jpg
Total population
1.47% of total population
Regions with significant populations
(Bangsamoro, Soccsksargen, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Manila, Cebu)

Filipino • English • Arabic • Malay
Sunni Islam (98.00%)
Christianity (2.00%)
Related ethnic groups
Iranun, Maguindanao, Tiruray
Lumad, Tausūg, Visayan,
other Moros,
other Filipinos,
other Austronesian peoples


The name "Maranao" (also spelled "Meranao", "Meranaw", or "Maranaw") means "people of the lake" (lanaw or ranaw, archaic danaw, means "lake" in the Maranao language). This is in reference to Lake Lanao, the predominant geographic feature of the ancestral homeland of the Maranao people.[3]

The original endonym of the ancestral Maranao is believed to be "Iranaoan".[4][5] This group later diverged, resulting in the modern Maguindanao and the Iranun people (whose names can also be translated to "people of the lake"),[6] while the ancestral Iranaoan who stayed in Lake Lanao became known as the Maranao. These three ethnic groups are still related to each other, share similar cultures and speak languages belonging to the Danao language family.[4][5]


The Maranao were the last of the Muslims of the Southern Philippines undergoing islamicization, primarily under the influence of the Maguindanao Sultanate.

Like neighboring Moros and Lumadnon, during the nominal occupation of the Philippines by the Spanish, and later the American and the Japanese, the Maranao had tribal leaders called datu. In the 16th century, upon the arrival of Islam, they developed into a kingdom with a Sultan due to the influence of Muslim missionaries.


The shores of Lake Lanao is the center of Maranao society

Maranao culture can be characterized by:

Maranao culture is centered around Lake Lanao, the largest lake in Mindanao, and second-largest and deepest lake in the Philippines. Lanao is the subject of various myths and legends. It supports a major fishery, and powers the hydroelectric plant installed on it; the Agus River system 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.

Visual artsEdit

Sarimanok, Papanok a "Məra" or "Marapatik" is a legendary bird of the Maranao that is a ubiquitous symbol of their art. It is depicted as a Hoodhud (Arabic) with colorful wings and feathered tail, holding a fish on its beak or talons. The head of Sarimanok is like the head of a Hoopoe (Balalatoc in maranaw) and is profusely decorated with scroll, leaf and spiral motifs (okir). It is a symbol of good fortune.[9][10]

The Maranao have also developed their own adaptation of the Ramayana epic, the Maharadia Lawana. They also have a traditional dance, the Singkil, which was based on another local Ramayana adaptation, the Darangən.


Traditional Maranao architecture, like elsewhere in the Philippines and at large maritime Southeast Asia, follows the Austronesian framework of wooden structures on piles, divided in three tiers pertaining to social class:torogan of royalty, mala a walay of lesser nobility, and the common lawig analogous to the bahay kubo.

Music and performing artsEdit

Maranao kulintang music is a type of a gong music. Sarunaay is also found among both Muslim and non-Muslim groups of the Southern Philippines. Kobbing is a Maranao instrument and Biyula is another popular Instrument. Biyula is a string instrument. In 2005, the Darangen Epic of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao was selected by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.


Maranao cuisine is spicier compared to most regions elsewhere in the Philippines, a trait largely shared with much of Mindanao. Traditionally cultivated spices, locally known as palapa (Bontang, native product of Gandamatu) are a common condiment.[11] It is made of stewed sakurab scallion bulbs, ginger, and chillies in coconut oil.[12]

Dishes are intertwined with important cultural rituals across all aspects of Maranao culture: from birth to death.[13]

Social structureEdit

Traditionally, Maranao society is divided into two strata. Namely, mapiyatao (pure) and kasilidan (mixed blood). kasilidan is further subdivided into categories which are as follows; sarowang (non-Maranao), balbal (beast), dagamot (Sorcerer/Sorceress) and bisaya (Slave). The mapiyatao are natives entitled to ascend to thrones by pure royal bloodline. On the other hand, the kasilidan are natives suspected of mixed bloodline. However, due to the changes brought by time, these social strata are beginning to decline due to the rise of wealth of each and every Maranao families.


The Maranao people are shown in chocolate brown in this map.

Maranaos number 1,354,542 in 2010, representing 1.47% of the population.[14] Along with the Iranun and Maguindanao, the Maranao are one of three, related, indigenous groups native to Mindanao. These groups share genes, linguistic and cultural ties to non-Muslim Lumad groups such as the Tiruray or Subanon. Maranao royals have varied infusions of Arab, Indian, Malay, and Chinese ancestry.


Maranao is an Austronesian language spoken by the Maranao people in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur.[15] Because of the mass influx of Cebuano migrants to Mindanao, many Maranaos are also fluent in Cebuano.

Arabic, a Central Semitic language, is spoken by a minority of the Moro people, as it is the liturgical language of Islam. Most Maranaos, however, do not know Arabic beyond its religious use.

Notable MaranaosEdit

  • Japar Dimaampao is a present Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
  • Mamintal A.J. Tamano was a Filipino statesman and a former Senator of the Philippines.
  • Adel Tamano is a Filipino educator, lawyer and former politician.
  • Domocao Alonto is a former Filipino politician and has been a great senator of the Philippines. In 1988, he was awarded the prestigious King Faisal Prize for Service to Islam.
  • Mamintal M. Adiong Sr. was a long-time Filipino politician, serving as Governor of Lanao del Sur from 2001 until his death from cardiac arrest.
  • Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. is the present governor of the Province of Lanao del Sur.
  • Abul Khayr Alonto is a Filipino businessman and lawyer and a former Moro freedom fighter. He once became the chairman of Moro National Lebaration Front.
  • Dimasangcay Pundato is a former Moro revolutionary leader and current undersecretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
  • Samira Gutoc-Tomawis is a Filipino civic leader, journalist, environment and women's rights advocate, and legislator[1] who has served as member of the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission which was tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
  • Moh Saaduddin was a journalist, peace advocates, and served as a provincial information officer of the province of Maguindanao.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing, Report No. 2A: Demographic and Housing Characteristics (Non-Sample Variables) - Philippines" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  2. ^ [1] Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Hamilton, Roy W. (1998). From the rainbow's varied hue: textiles of the southern Philippines. UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. p. 135. ISBN 9780930741648.
  4. ^ a b Lobel, Jason William; Riwarung, Labi Hadji Sarip (2009). "Maranao Revisited: An Overlooked Consonant Contrast and its Implications for Lexicography and Grammar". Oceanic Linguistics. 48 (2): 403–438. doi:10.1353/ol.0.0040. JSTOR 40783537. S2CID 145549504.
  5. ^ a b Baradas, David B. (1968). "Some Implications of the Okir Motif in Lanao and Sulu Art" (PDF). Asian Studies. 6 (2): 129–168. S2CID 27892222. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 29, 2019.
  6. ^ Campbell, Gwyn (2018). Bondage and the Environment in the Indian Ocean World. Springer. p. 84. ISBN 9783319700281.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 28, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Sari-Manok". Philippines Art and Culture. Retrieved October 21, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Madale, Nagasura T. (February 7, 2010). "Recipe in the Life of the Maranao By: Nagasura T. Madale, PhD. -Part 2". Kalopindo. Aratawata Website. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  11. ^ Umagang Kay Ganda (July 9, 2013). "Recipe: Maranao dish Chicken Piaparan". ABS-CBN Corporation Website. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  12. ^ Rosauro, Ryan (October 17, 2010). "Munai spice may be way out of war for conflict areas". Inquirer Website. Archived from the original on October 23, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  13. ^ Madale, Nagasura T. (February 6, 2010). "Recipe in the Life of the Maranao By: Nagasura T. Madale, PhD. -Part 1". Kalopindo. Aratawata Website. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  14. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing, Report No. 2A: Demographic and Housing Characteristics (Non-Sample Variables) - Philippines" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  15. ^ "Welcome". Learn Maranao Language Website. Archived from the original on October 6, 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010.

External linksEdit