Only a Meranaw perspective!

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By Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph

Only a Meranaw

Monday, January 27, 2014


BEING a Meranaw is always a pride yet there are times that we get appreciated or sometimes become misunderstood for so many reasons.

In this maiden article, I would like to introduce my column title 'Only a Meranaw' as my way of inviting both Meranaws and non-Meranaws alike in Cagayan de Oro to share with me insights and perspectives taken from various experiences in our cultural, socio-political, educational and even environmental systems as Meranaws. Articles will bring you to different realities that all of us can relate and make us learn from them.

What is interesting about being one is that we have certain idiosyncratic characteristics that only a few can appreciate. On Google, when we search ‘Meranaw’ not many would come out but when we search ‘Maranaw,’ we’ll have plenty.

Why? Until today, our elders have not decided on which spelling to follow. Nonetheless, the academic community of the Mindanao State University with the help of the circle of linguists, the spelling I am using here is now the closest.

Speaking of our peculiar attitude, while we are in the midst of the torturing cold weather, my Meranaw people can always keep a warm hospitable welcome for anyone who visits a Meranaw home.

Few days ago, my cousin from CDO visited Lanao with her non-Meranaw bosses to inspect Agus River projects and her father willingly invited them to their house and had an afternoon tea with their entire family. I was there and I myself was surprised of the act made by her father. I had the same feeling with that of the visitors – shocked yet overwhelmed when they saw the Meranaw delicacies served in front of them with the warm welcome of the entire family. It was definitely an indescribable feeling. I think, this is common to most Meranaw families I know.

In fact, I can still remember when my Dad told me that when I have a non-Meranaw visitor, I have to prioritize them and make them feel that they are secured. He told me of a foster Aunt from New Jersey, who was an American journalist way back in 1977. She became part of our family when she researched about the plight of Lake Lanao in those days of Martial law. She was protected from the goons who threatened her to write about us and the lake. It is interesting to know that we are capable of doing such act to non-Meranaws.

Indeed, there are so many cultural traits that make us proud as Meranaws but we are not as unique as others may think. We also have paradoxes in my community. We are proud Meranaws but until today our education is challenged by the absence of our orthography. We have no unified coding for the sounds that are uniquely Meranaw, our linguistic landscape would show evidences that until today we are dependent on English words and letters.

While environmentally, our lake has existed as the second largest in the country but only few kinds of lake fishes can survive. Culturally, we value kinship yet we have bloody encounters of family feud known to us as ‘Rido’, and many more.

These observations are but few of the many experiences that we will be sharing in this column. My motivation comes from my being part if this culture and at the same time a part of this country. I wish that this column will enlighten us all on the real Meranaw.

Ordinary yet exceptional!

(Ms. Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph is currently the chairperson of the Communication and Media Department, Mindanao State University, Marawi City.)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 27, 2014.

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