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The "People of the Lake" (Meranao, Maranaw, Ranao, Lanon, Hiloona) are one of the larger groups in the country professing Islam. They are settled about Lake Lanao — the largest deep lake in the country.

The Maranao, however, are best known for the sophistication of their weaving and wood and metal craft. They have produced probably the most spectacular of Philippine vernacular architecture with their impressive Torogan. The design motifs which form the basis for their Okil is one of the most systematized in the country. Among the more noted of the design motifs of their okil is the Sarimanok and Naga, which are abstract animate forms of a cock and the dragon or snake, respectively. The Awang, the dugout boat they use in Lake Lanao, is probably the most unique of dugouts in the country, if not the most ornate.

— National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Meranao Culture Bearer Abdul Jabar D. Dimalna


This world premiere choreography—Kiyaprawa a ko Arkat Lawanen (The Abduction of Princess Lawanen) —tells an ancient legend from the Meranao people of Mindanao, Philippines.

Princess Lawanen of Bamberan, beauty without compare, is engaged to brave and true Prince Mabaning Ndaw Rogong, of Gandongan. Emperor Dimasangkay of Kadaraan yearns for Lawanen, so when she is exploring along the shore, he abducts her. Chaos ensues. Prince Mabaning and his warriors sail off: they will fight to retrieve her. When Bae a labi—the Queen—demands peace, Princess Lawanen returns, and her kingdom celebrates.

The Meranao—People of the Lake—live on Bukidnon-Lanao plateau, 2,200 feet high, on Mindanao, the Philippines’ southernmost island. Their farming communities circle the large, deep Lake Lanao farming rice and other crops. They are also known for elaborate symbolic wood carvings; architecture; ornate awang dugout boats; and patterned textiles.

The Abduction of Princess Lawanenis from the Merenao’s epic poem, Darangen, an oral history of 72,000 lines. Now part of UNESCO’s Intangible World Heritage, this major epic originated in ancient Sanskrit traditions with Islamic influences from the 14th century. It celebrates ancestry, mythical heroes, codes of life, death, courtship, politics, behavior, and beauty—with elegant language, symbol, irony, and satire. It has long been a treatise on what it means to be Meranao.

This performance was created with the help of Meranao Culture Bearers Salika Samad and Abdul Jabar D. Dimalna. The finale is inspired from and give tributes to Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group (Pagapir) and Philippine National Artist Lucrecia Reyes-Urtula (Singkil).

Welcoming at the Torogan. While women dance in landap malong tubular skirts, the Onor plays welcoming melodies on kulintang; she chants in the classical language, pananaroon.

“The Parangal Dance Company performance had the dancers sword fighting, swinging the swords violently toward each other while still maintaining a smooth effortlessness.”

— Kate Tinney The Daily Californian

Abduction and Prince Mabaning’s Journey. The men dance katubaw in tubaw kerchiefs, preparing for war. The Prince arrives in his boat. A kapangentonong ritual asks for strength, courage, and forgiveness for taking lives.

Battle, Unity, and Peace. The Meranao war dance is called Sagayan. The queen sings:
Bayok: Pamomolan sa ranao so dikang giginawai:
Stop the battle, you are brothers.

Battle, Unity, and Peace.

The Meranao war dance is called Sagayan.

The queen sings:

Bayok: Pamomolan sa ranao so dikang giginawai:

Stop the battle, you are brothers.

“Parangal Dance Company’s dance was based on a legendary 14th-century poem from the agrarian Maranao people of Mindanao, the Philippines. Part of oral tradition and originally in Sanskrit, it translates to “The Abduction of Princess Lawanen.” This huge group of dancers and musicians on native instruments formed stunning vignettes thanks to a wealth of brilliantly colored silk and satin costuming, umbrellas, and décor.”

— Janice Berman, SF Classical Voice

Celebration— Lawanen returns. Women dance Kapagapir with fans and elegant kini-kini steps; and Singkil with bamboo poles.

Kapagapir Fan Movements Terms & Meaning

  • Kapakaiseg: to move over

  • Kapakatokaw: celebration is taking place

  • Kapamogaw: getting rid of spirits

  • Katangkiri: looking over

  • Kapananalo: calling the people, getting attention of people

  • Kapesionot a lalag: to agree

  • Katondog: to follow

  • Kasorong a kaintad: to peek

  • Kapamangni sa tabang: to ask for help



  • Kini-kini (small steps for Kapagapir)

  • Katpak (going through sticks in Singkil)

“And as you sample the savage beauty of Parangal Dance Company’s Kiyaprawa a ko Arkat Lawanen (The Abduction of Princess Lawanen), from an ancient legend of the Meranao people of Mindanao, contemplate the ongoing atrocities by the Philippine military on that island, perpetrated on the pretext of wiping out Muslim rebels.”

— Carla Escoda, KQED Arts

“Ethnic Dance Festival soars to new heights at SF Opera House.

Parangal Dance Company treated us to an extraordinarily effective dance-drama about an abducted princess, with warriors clad in pink, green and yellow clashing as streams of women waved fans. ”

— Rachel Howard, SF Chronicle

(Dating pananamit ng Meranao)

Photos by Arnel de Leon | RJ Muna | William Lee

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