Maguindanao is a province in the Philippines situated in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) occupying the Sulu Archipelago and the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao in central Mindanao. Its capital is the Municipality of Shariff Aguak.
The province has a land area of 9,729.04 square kilometers or 3,756.40 square miles. Its population as determined by the 2015 Census was 1,173,933. This represented 31.05% of the total population of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 4.86% of the overall population of the Mindanao island group, or 1.16% of the entire population of the Philippines. Based on these figures, the population density is computed at 121 inhabitants per square kilometer or 313 inhabitants per square mile.
The Maguindanao are one of many groups of lowland Filipinos. Apparently, they migrated to the islands from Southwest Asia several thousand years ago. Today, they live primarily on the island of Mindanao, which is located in the Southern Philippines.
The name MAGUINDANAO, meaning people of the flood plain, was given to both the people and the island on which they live.
According to legend, the MAGUINDANAO were converted to Islam by Shariff Kabunsuan, a Muslim prince, who claimed to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. The legend states that he won his converts by a combination of his wisdom, the appeal of his message, and certain supernatural powers. This prince married a local woman who is said to have been born miraculously from a stalk of bamboo!
The Maguindanaon, or Maguindanaw for some, inhabit North Cotobato, South Cotobato, Sultan Kudurat, Zamboanga del Sur, and Maguindanao; the latter having the largest concentration. Maguindanaon means “people of the flood plain” for they primarily inhabit the broad Pulangi River valley and delta which occasionally flood. The Pulangi River had its origins in the mountains from the Liguasan Marsh and Lake Buluan. Since the authority and influence of Maguindanaon rulers once extended over a wide territory from Sibugay Bay in the west to the coasts of Davao in the east, the name ‘Mindanao’ was applied to the second largest island of the Philippines. They are found predominantly in four provinces: Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, thus forming the Cotabato region. As a people, they practice Islam which significantly influences their way of life and social structure. At one point in history, the Maguindanao sultanate asserted ritual influence over southwestern Mindanao. Their socio-political system and hierarchical organization are related to the Sulu sultanate, with three royal houses: Maguindanaon in Sultan Kudarat, Buayan in Datu Piang, and Kabuntalan in Tumbao; all of which trace their ancestry to Sharif Kabunsuan who was one of the first Muslim missionaries and Sultan Kudarat. The paluwaran code includes provisions on every aspect of life. Celebrated for their exquisite handwoven fabric Inaul, interlaced with multiple colors, as well as, gold and silver threads. The colors of the fabric and depicted symbolic-motifs reflected the splendor of Muslim culture.
The Maguindanaon are divided into two principal groups, each with its own dialect and traditional location: The Tau-sa Ilud (people of the lower valley) and the Tau-sa Laya (people of the upper valley). The Tau-sa Ilud are concentrated in the areas around Cotabato City and extend to South Dinaig. Traditionally, they constituted the Sultanate of Maguindanao based near present day Cotabato City. Their dialect is characterized by more rapid, “harder” consonant intonations, with preference for using “d” rather than “r” and variations on the use of “l” and “r”. They’re renowned as sedentary wet-rice agriculturalists.
The Tau-sa Laya, on the other hand, are concentrated in the areas of Datu Piang and extend south to areas which include Buluan. As a group, they constituted the Rajahship of Buayan based near present-day town of Datu Piang. Their dialect is distinguished by a slower cadence, a drawl, with frequent omission of the consonants between vowels and a preference for using “l” rather than “r”, periodic variations of “r” for “d” and some differentiated vocabulary. Their primary means of livelihood is a semi-sedentary agriculture and grow corn and upland rice.