Maranao” means “people of the lake,” referring to Lake Lanao in the Southern Philippines. With a population of 1.4 million, the Maranao derive much of their identity and history from the lake. While the entire Bible has been translated into the Maranao language, only 2% identify as Christians, with just .23% evangelical. Like most Muslims in the Philippines, the Maranao consider themselves to be Muslim rather than Filipino.
Although Islamic beliefs are keenly held, efforts to rid the culture of traditional island beliefs have not been entirely successful. These beliefs persist and mix with the Maranao Islamic faith to some degree.
The Maranao’s chief source of livelihood is agriculture, with rice farming as their primary occupation. Lake fishing is also a traditional source of income. The Maranao have a vibrant cultural heritage that they enjoy sharing with those outside their culture. Textiles, metalwork, woodcraft, and architecture are all important cultural expressions. The Awang, or dugout boat used on Lake Lanao, is possibly the most unique and ornate of all indigenous dugouts.
The predominant instrumental music of the Maranao people is the kulintang, performed on a unique set of eight melodious gongs. The Maranao epic song, known as the Daragen, encompasses a wealth of knowledge of the Maranao people, and in 2005 was proclaimed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.