Lanao Province

Nestled in the heart of Mindanao, Lanao Province is a beautiful and enchanting region that boasts a rich cultural heritage, breathtaking natural wonders, and a unique culinary experience. 

As one of the lesser-known destinations in the Philippines, Lanao Province remains a hidden gem waiting to be explored by intrepid travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Located in the southwestern part of the island, Lanao Province consists of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, offering many captivating attractions and experiences. 

With its vibrant Maranao culture, diverse landscapes, and historical significance, this province beckons visitors to immerse themselves in its distinctive charm and allure. 

Unravel the mysteries and uncover the hidden treasures of Lanao Province as you embark on a journey that promises to captivate your senses and leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Rich Cultural Heritage

The Maranao People

Lanao Province is home to the Maranao people, an ethnic group known for their unique customs and traditions preserved for generations. As one of the Philippines’ most artistic and creative communities, the Maranao people continue to enchant visitors with their vibrant celebrations, intricate artistry, and warm hospitality.

1. Unique customs and traditions

The Maranao people showcase a fascinating array of customs and traditions, including the kulintang ensemble, which features a variety of gongs and drums that create enchanting melodies. Traditional dance performances, such as the Singkil, tell captivating tales through graceful movements and the rhythmic clanging of bamboo poles.

2. Colorful clothing and handicrafts

Maranao handicrafts are a visual feast with vivid colors and intricate designs. The traditional okir motif, characterized by flowing and interwoven geometric patterns, adorns everything from brassware to handwoven textiles. The malong, a versatile tubular garment, displays the Maranao people’s exceptional weaving skills and eye for detail, making it a coveted souvenir.

Cultural Landmarks

1. Torogan houses

The Torogan houses are a testament to the Maranao’s architectural prowess. These traditional royal dwellings showcase distinctive features, such as the panolong (carved wooden beams) and the high-pitched roof, symbolizing the inhabitants’ social status. These historic structures offer a glimpse into the Maranao’s traditional way of life and their deep reverence for their culture.

2. Darangen epic chant

The Darangen is an ancient Maranao epic chant that narrates the heroic exploits of the people of Lanao. Recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, this oral tradition has been passed down through generations, preserving the Maranao’s rich history and cultural identity. Visitors can witness a Darangen performance during special events or in cultural showcases.

3. The Dayawan Festival

The Dayawan Festival is an annual celebration highlighting the province’s vibrant Maranao culture. The festival features various events, such as traditional dance and music performances, colorful street parades, and exquisite art exhibits. The Dayawan Festival offers visitors an immersive experience of the Maranao people’s rich cultural heritage, making it a must-see in Lanao Province.

Natural Wonders

Lake Lanao

1. History and significance

Lake Lanao, the largest lake in Mindanao and the second largest in the Philippines, holds a special place in the hearts of the Maranao people. Steeped in history and myth, this enchanting body of water is believed to have been created by a powerful Sultan’s command. Lake Lanao is a vital regional water source and a centerpiece for the province’s cultural and natural wealth.

2. Breathtaking views and activities

Visitors to Lake Lanao are greeted with breathtaking views of the tranquil waters, surrounded by lush forests and picturesque mountains. The lake offers a variety of activities to suit every traveler’s interests, from leisurely boat rides and fishing excursions to bird-watching and picnicking along its serene shores. The captivating beauty of Lake Lanao promises an unforgettable experience for all who venture to its banks.

Sacred Mountain Range

1. The Sleeping Lady Mountain

The Sleeping Lady Mountain, also known as Mount Mupo, is an awe-inspiring peak revered by the Maranao people. This sacred mountain is named for its unique profile, which resembles a woman lying on her back. Locals believe the mountain holds powerful spiritual energy, making it an important pilgrimage site and a fascinating destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

2. Hiking and wildlife

The mountain range surrounding Lake Lanao offers numerous hiking trails for adventurers of all skill levels. These trails provide ample opportunities to encounter diverse flora and fauna and enjoy panoramic views of the lake and surrounding landscapes. Watch for endemic species like the Philippine eagle and the Philippine tarsier as you explore the region’s verdant slopes.

Waterfalls and Springs

1. Meranao Falls

Meranao Falls, named after the people of Lanao, is a hidden gem tucked away in the province’s lush forests. This multi-tiered waterfall features crystal-clear waters cascading over moss-covered rocks, creating a serene and inviting oasis for visitors to enjoy. Take a refreshing dip in the natural pools or relax and soak in the sights and sounds of this idyllic retreat.

2. Mimbalut Falls

Mimbalut Falls is a majestic cascade nestled amidst the verdant landscape of Lanao Province. The falls’ impressive height and powerful flow create a mesmerizing display, making it a favorite spot for photographers and nature lovers. Visitors can hike along scenic trails, picnic beside the cascading waters, or swim in the pristine pools below the falls.

Historical Sites

Dansalan City

1. The Old Poblacion

Dansalan City, now known as Marawi City, serves as the provincial capital of Lanao del Sur and offers a rich historical backdrop for visitors to explore. As you stroll through the cobblestone streets, marvel at the well-preserved ancestral houses and immerse yourself in the local history. The Old Poblacion, the city’s historic center, is home to several heritage sites that glimpse the region’s storied past.

2. Colonial-era structures

Dansalan City boasts several colonial-era structures that testify to the area’s vibrant past. Among these is the Dansalan Old Provincial Capitol, a beautiful building that combines Maranao and Spanish architectural influences. Another important site is the Aga Khan Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of artifacts that showcase the region’s history, art, and culture.

Battle of Marawi

1. Background and significance

The Battle of Marawi, which took place in 2017, is a significant event in the history of Lanao Province. The conflict erupted between Philippine government forces and militants affiliated with the Islamic State, resulting in a five-month-long siege that devastated the city. The battle profoundly impacted the region’s physical landscape and the lives of its residents.

2. Commemorative sites and museums

In the wake of the Battle of Marawi, several memorial sites and museums have been established to honor the courage and resilience of those affected by the conflict. 

The Marawi Siege Memorial Park pays tribute to the fallen soldiers and civilians. 

At the same time, the Marawi City Peace Museum chronicles the events leading up to the battle, its aftermath, and the ongoing efforts to rebuild and heal the community. These poignant sites are potent reminders of the region’s strength and determination to overcome adversity.

Unique Culinary Experiences

Traditional Maranao Dishes

The rich culinary heritage of Lanao Province offers visitors a delightful gastronomic journey. Traditional Maranao dishes showcase a unique blend of flavors and textures that reflect the region’s history, culture, and natural resources.

1. Piaparan

Piaparan is a flavorful Maranao dish that features tender chicken or fish cooked in a rich sauce made from grated coconut, turmeric, lemongrass, and other aromatic spices. This delectable dish is often served with warm rice, making it a satisfying and comforting meal that captures the essence of Maranao cuisine.

2. Rendang

Rendang is a slow-cooked, savory dish made from beef or chicken, simmered in a rich mixture of coconut milk, chilies, and a medley of spices. This mouthwatering dish originated in Indonesia and has been adapted by the Maranao people, who added their unique touch to create a deliciously fragrant and tender rendition.

3. Palapa

Palapa is a versatile Maranao condiment made from a blend of sakurab, a native scallion, toasted coconut, and spices. This fiery and aromatic mixture is often used as a topping for rice, an accompaniment to grilled meats, or a base for various stews and sauces, adding a distinctive kick to any dish.

Food Festivals

1. Lanao Culinary Festival

The Lanao Culinary Festival is an annual event showcasing the region’s diverse and mouthwatering cuisine. Food enthusiasts can indulge in traditional Maranao dishes and fusion creations that merge local flavors with international influences. The festival also features cooking demonstrations, workshops, and live performances, making it a lively and engaging celebration of the region’s culinary heritage.

2. Halal Food Festival

The Halal Food Festival is a gastronomic extravaganza highlighting Lanao Province’s commitment to providing delicious and accessible halal cuisine. This family-friendly event offers a unique and delectable culinary experience for Muslim and non-Muslim visitors. 

Visitors can sample an array of halal dishes from local and international vendors, enjoy live cooking demonstrations, and participate in workshops on the principles of halal cooking.

Community Empowerment and Sustainable Tourism

Local Social Enterprises

Lanao Province recognizes the importance of community empowerment and sustainable tourism in preserving its unique cultural and natural heritage. Several local social enterprises have emerged, providing opportunities for residents to contribute to the region’s growth and development.

1. Weaving cooperatives

Weaving cooperatives in Lanao Province support the traditional art of Maranao textile production and provide sustainable livelihoods for local artisans. 

These cooperatives empower women by teaching them the skills to create exquisite textiles, which are then sold to visitors and collectors, thereby preserving the craft for future generations.

2. Culinary schools

Culinary schools in the province offer training programs that equip residents with the skills necessary to excel in the food and hospitality industry. These schools showcase Maranao cuisine, promote local ingredients, and encourage sustainable culinary practices. Lanao Province fosters a vibrant and thriving gastronomic scene by supporting these educational initiatives.

Environmental Conservation Efforts

Lanao Province is committed to protecting its environment through various conservation initiatives. These efforts focus on preserving the region’s unique ecosystems and ensuring the responsible use of natural resources.

1. Lake Lanao Watershed Rehabilitation

The Lake Lanao Watershed Rehabilitation project aims to protect and restore the lake’s watershed, which is crucial for maintaining its water quality and ecological balance. This initiative involves reforestation, erosion control, and community education programs, all designed to promote sustainable land use and preserve the lake for future generations.

2. Reforestation projects

Reforestation projects in Lanao Province seek to replenish the region’s forests, which provide essential habitats for countless plant and animal species. By promoting the planting of native trees, these initiatives combat deforestation and contribute to the region’s biodiversity and ecological resilience. Through these efforts, Lanao Province is safeguarding its natural treasures and preserving them for years to come.


With its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking natural wonders, fascinating historical sites, delectable cuisine, and commitment to community empowerment and sustainable tourism, Lanao Province stands as a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by intrepid travelers. 

From the vibrant traditions of the Maranao people and the mesmerizing landscapes surrounding Lake Lanao to the mouthwatering culinary experiences and inspiring environmental conservation efforts, this enchanting region offers a wealth of unique attractions and experiences that cater to every traveler’s desires.

So, pack your bags and set your sights on the captivating charm of Lanao Province. Embark on a journey that promises to captivate your senses and leave an indelible mark on your soul. It’s time to uncover the hidden treasures and unravel the mysteries of this enchanting destination, and experience the magic that awaits in Lanao Province.