It Starts Somewhere

What is Darangen? A quick Google will show a link to UNESCO’s page which explains that it is an ancient epic [pre-dating the coming of Islam] of the Meranaos, the people of the Lake; one of the major tribal communities in the Philippines. The Maguindanaons, the people of the Flooded Plains also share ownership of the Darangen. There is a Meranao as well as  a Maguindanaon version of the Darangen. This shows that both tribal communities really sprung from one. UNESCO has declared Darangen as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005. Sister Delia Coronel, ICM, who is among the forces behind the collection and translation of the Darangen remarked that the epic is comparable to that of the Greeks. Today, several things have been associated with the term Darangen. It is the name of Mindanao State University’s (MSU) first cultural dance troupe, the yearbook of graduates from the MSU’s main campus in Marawi and General Santos City, fancy dolls wearing the Meranao formal landap attire and even a remix music artist from Florida, USA who calls himself Darangen (although he did not give an explanation why or where he got the name).

In this blog, I would like to take on a journey to remember, reclaim and retell the stories of the Darangen.  This long narrative has been used, misused, appropriated, misappropriated and popularized on stage, in books, beauty pageants and official ceremonies; but the stories behind the Darangen and what it really means to the old Meranaos are lost. Its survival

An artwork by an MSU student.

Sarimanok artwork by an MSU student. Sarimanok is a mythical bird whose image is very important to the Meranaos and figures in most of their art pieces.

in different forms  is mostly due to the effort of non-Meranaos who have been drawn to the haunting chanting of the onors. The latter are almost gone, and the true community congregation that happens when the Darangen is retold disappeared into oblivion. The poetic language of the Darangen is more Greek to the Meranao youth today than Korean or Japanese is.
I hope through this digital tale, I will be able to narrate the stories from the Darangen and that of the descendants of Princess Lawanen. Somewhere along the way, I dream of the day that this will be instrumental in making the young Meranaos speak the tongue of the women from the Darangen. Hopefully, they will uncover that the kind of woman that they aspire to become—someone who has broken the glass ceiling—is what the Darangen woman has always been from the very beginning. We only need to reclaim what has always been ours from the very start. Please join me as we travel back in time and together, let us discover ourselves.

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About darangenwomentoday

PhD student University of Melbourne, Australia (Culture and Communication); MA-Media Studies (New School University, New York City); Director, Press and Information Office (Mindanao State University); Former Vice-Head, National Commission on Culture and the Arts Committee on Cultural Information and Special Events; Former member, National Commission on Culture and the Arts Committee on Monuments and Sites; and Former Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension (Mindanao State University).
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