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Exploring Lanao del Sur: 6 things the world is missing out on

Thriving traditional art

Tugaya is the Paete of Mindanao. But this art town is more than just about exquisite woodcarvings. It is also about foundry casting of brassware, back-strap loom weaving, hand-made tapestry stitching, and gold smithing. Nearly every home in this lakeside town has a craftsman whose skills and artistry are honed by time-honored traditions.

LANGKIT. Langkit weaving is an age-old traditional Maranao art.

Photo by Potpot Pinili/Rappler

Unknown to many, the best weavers of the langkit or tapestry panels used in their most expensive garment called malong landap are found in Pualas. Here, the women still use the traditional back-strap weaving style in creating complex patterns that are uniquely Maranao.

Sensational flavors

When you come to Lanao del Sur, make sure you pack an appetite because their distinctive cuisine will take you on a gustatory spin like no other.

A typical Maranao dish is characterized by heavy use of coconut milk called tono and spices like turmeric or kalawag. Steamed freshwater fish and stewed chicken are staples interestingly served with yellow rice called kuning. But the star of any Maranao food fair is palapa, a condiment made of pounded scallion bulbs mixed with chili and coconut oil.

All of its culinary warfare comes to life during the Pagana Maranao, an extravagant banquet showcasing all of its homemade recipes decked in ornate table trays called tabak.

BANQUET. A common set-up of a traditional Pagana Maranao.

Photo by Potpot Pinili/Rappler

Proud, happy, hospitable Maranaos

Being hospitable is a trademark character of the Filipinos. And the Maranaos are among those that best represent this trait. They are sincerely warm and even lavish in hosting guests, especially when you are in their homeland.

Contrary to heartbreaking photographs that fill newspapers and fund campaign brochures, they are, in reality, a happy community, just like other communities that you'll find anywhere else in the country.

COMMUNITY. The happy faces of Lanao del Sur.

Photo by Potpot Pinili/Rappler

The Maranaos are the last to be Islamized among the Muslim groups but they are also the strongest defenders of its faith. Truth be told that many came to conquer them but no one ever succeeded.

Lanao del Sur’s royal-heavy society is marred by harrowing tales of generations of clan wars. Its rich tapestry of traditional arts and culture are torn by inescapable realities. Its people and faith are misunderstood. But behind all of these quandaries are also wonderful truths that are barely recognized by the world.

With all of its unalloyed beauty, refine culture, and caboodle of treasures, surely, I am glad to have braved the unknown. – Rappler.com