Taraka: preserving Lanao del Sur’s culture

Posted on June 13, 2014

AS THE province celebrates the 55th year of its foundation, Lanao del Sur has managed to preserve its natural beauty and history through the passage of time.

One of the places where Maranao culture holds strong is municipality of Taraka, which has managed to stay at the forefront of Lanao’s cultural conservation and promotion.

The Maranao -- “the people of the lake” -- is the ethnic Muslim group that inhabits the two Lanao provinces.

Taraka, considered as one of the oldest municipalities in the area, boasts of numerous historical sites. It is where Baab Ur-Rahman Masjid, the oldest mosque in Lanao, is found. The Masjid, at almost 300 years, is one of the earliest historical landmarks of Islam in the Philippines and is second earliest mosque built in the country.

Taraka also happens to be one of the few places in the country which still has the Dibarosan, a stone on which criminals were meted with the death penalty. Today it is regarded as a symbol of discipline among Maranaos.

Elsewhere, different kinds of artifacts show the municipality’s historic role as a trade destination. Inside an old house in Salamatullah, Gapao Balindong, are huge Chinese stoneware jars called abdans or gusis, these attest to the affluence of Taraka.

Then there are the lakeside torogans -- antique royal houses with high roofs adorned with intricate carving and supported by whole tree trunks.

The torogans are now considered as heritage sites which the local government is trying to maintain.

With all these Maranao treasures in its midst, the local government working to ensure that these will not be lost to future generations of Maranaos.