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									                        Maranaw Flags of Pageantry

                         By Abdel aziz Dimapunong

According to Wikipedia, “a flag is a piece of cloth, often flown from a pole
or mast, generally used symbolically for signaling or identification”. By this
definition, the Maranaw Sambolayang is a flag. It is always made of cloth
and it is flown from a pole. It is among the colorful traditional flags of
Maranaw pageantry. The other flags include thePasandalana Murog,
Pandiya Ranao, Binaning o Taraka Tarapaso Tamparan Paramata
Bantugun, Pandio masiu Dagalangit , Usunan, Tokodalangit Datusalangit
and many others.

For centuries, the Sambolayang and other Maranaw traditional cultural
flags had been in use in the two provinces of Ranao in the Autonomous
Region of Muslim Mindanao, Philippines. Although flag-like symbols of
Maranaw pageantry were in used even before the coming of the Spaniards
in 1521, the origin of Sambolayang flags in the modern
sense is a matter of dispute. According to Grande Dianaton of the Maranaw
Cultural Heritage, some Maranaws believe that the Sambolayangs
originated in China. Renayong Dimapunong has a different view. He claims
that the Maranaw flags were inspired by the Srivijaya Empire during the 8th
century much earlier than Chinese influence

When the Sambolayang is flown, it signals that there is an ongoing
Maranaw pageantry. It identifies the location to be having a magnificent
ceremonial display of a highly
colorful event, splendid, a stately ceremony. All Maranaw ceremonies are
marked with a historical or traditional flavor. The master of ceremony
usually speaks of the historical
background or a traditional flavor of the occasion. The event could be a
royal wedding. In this case, the genealogy of both the groom and the bride
serves as the historical
backgrounder. The occasion could be the crowning of a Sultan, whose
genealogy is presented as the historical background. The occasion could
also be just a splendid display
of Kalilang, a festival event that marks a holiday.

                                Various flags
            on display at the provincial capitol of Lanao del Sur

re of a newly appointed or elected government official. Nowadays, the
Sambolayangs are used in many ways including rallies and
demonstrations. The use of the Sambolayangs now extends to corporate or
political advertising. In its simplest usage, it could be used just for
decorative purposes in an informal way. The Maranaw so love the use of
flags. There are even house flags of various designs or form used to
identify a certain family, especially those who claim to belong to a certain
royal family. The Maranaw cultural flags are potent patriotic symbols with
varied wide-ranging interpretations, often including cultural and political
associations due to their original andongoing cultural uses. The existence
of so many kinds of Maranaw flags coupled with various designs of royal
seals as the seal of Paramata Bantugan could only mean that there were
vexillographers among the Maranaws. The scholarly study of flags is
knownas vexillology.

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