The Moro or Bangsamoro people refer to the 13 Islamized ethnolinguistic groups of the Philippine islands who reside in areas of southern Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu archipelago. The culture of the indigenous ethnolinguistic groups of the Bangsamoro is a blend of Islam and adat; a mixture of both pre-Islamic culture and the philosophical interpretation of the Muslims on the teachings of Islam. Islam organically grew throughout the region from the time the first Muslim traders arrived in Tawi-Tawi in 1380. In 1457, the Sultanate of Sulu was founded which spread Islam further and local chiefs began to embrace the faith. In time, the Bangsamoro people and the Sultanate of Sulu would come to produced heroic resistance against the Western colonialism of the Spanish and Americans.
Homecoming gathering in Baung-Baung. Sama culture and religion is also an eclectic reflection of their wanderings; there are Muslim and Christian elements blended in with their indigenous belief system: God’s name is Magbabaya; He is accompanied by the anito (lesser spirits); and sicknesses and calamities are addressed with rituals performed by the balyan (shaman-healer).
The female guests gather around the brassware bearing food for a Maranao pagana, a feast that celebrates the happy occasions of Maranao life such as a wedding or a visit from relatives, friends, or dignitaries. Traditionally, the Maranao were socially divided into the Mapiyatao (pure) and the Kasilidan (mixed), though these distinctions have lessened in importance in modern times.
The Sulu sultanate was the most influential and centralized indigenous political system in the country at the turn of the 20th century, though the sultan’s power was not absolute, depending on the support of his ruma bichara, a gathering of important datus.
To read more about my time spent in some of these communities please see the following post:
Tawi-Tawi: Into the Sulu Archipelgo