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Kulintang Ensemble of Maguindanaon: Cultural Appreciation, Reflection and Preservation (CARP) of their Traditional Practices


· Volume I Issue IV

Kulintang ensemble of Maguindanaon was subjected to a study to determine the cultural appreciation, reflection and preservation (CARP) of their traditional practices. It is a set of gongs believed to have significant connections to the cultural heritage of Maguindanaon. Identification of specific events, time, manner and mechanics on the use of this set of musical instruments was covered in the study. Process documentation, focus group discussions and series of interviews were used to gather data from the tribe elders, cultural team leaders and teachers who have enough ideas about Maguindanaon cultural practices to give the best source of reliable and valid information. It was revealed that Maguindanaon traditional practices have been preserved due to close ties of each member of the family. Series of indoctrinations and attendance to civic, religious and traditional affairs became cultural practices which are not complete without Kulintang music. It also showed that that not all Maguindanaon are aware of the cultural implications and messages of their Kulintang ensemble in relation to their cultural practices. The strong desire to preserve the traditional practices is always in the heart of Maguindanaon and one excellent way of their CARP is a playing of Kulintang ensemble. Tribesmen believe that upon hearing the melodious tune of this set of gongs, they are able to appreciate, reflect and preserve those traditions having social and historical significance they inherited from their ancestors. Thus, this cultural heritage needs to be preserved before it will be totally blown by the winds of modern world.

Keywords: Cultural appreciation, reflection and preservation (CARP), Kulintang ensemble, Maguindanaon and Traditional Practices


Filipino Muslim, about five (5) to ten (10) percent of the Philippine total population, is the most dominant minority in the country. In the 1970s, in reaction to consolidation of central government power under martial law which began in 1972, the Filipino Muslim (Moro) population has been increasingly identified with the worldwide Islamic community, particularly
in Malaysia, Indonesia, Libya, and some Middle East countries (Dacumos, 2013).

In the Philippines, Moros are confined almost entirely to the southern part of the country such as southern and western Mindanao, southern Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago. Ten subgroups could be identified on the basis of their languages. Three of these groups made up the great majority of Moros. They are the Maguindanaon of Cotabato City, North Cotabato (now Cotabato), South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao provinces; the Maranao of Lanao Del Norte and Lanao Del Sur; and the Tausug, principally from Jolo Island. Smaller groups are the Iranon, principally from Parang, Maguindanao, Sangil of Southern Mindanao Region; Samal and Bajau, principally from the Sulu Archipelago; Yakan of Zamboanga Del Sur Province; Melabugnan of Southern Palawan; and Jama Mapun of the tiny Cagayan Islands (Abdullah, 2020).

Maguindanaon comes from two terms “maginged” meaning “people” and “danaw” which means “river”. In other words, Maguindanaon means "people of the flood plain" since they mainly inhabit in the broad valley of Rio Grande de Mindanao, the largest river in Mindanao. The river has its beginning from the mountains of the Ligawasan Marsh, Lake Buluan and Lutayan, Kabulnan and Pulangi Rivers (Kasim, 2012). Maguindanaon are subdivided into two principal groups, each with its own dialect and traditional location: Tawsa-ilud (people of the lower valley), and Taw-sa-laya (people of the upper valley). The Tawsa-ilud are concentrated in the areas around Cotabato City and extend to Datu Odin Sinsuat. They are primarily sedentary wet rice agriculturists. Traditionally, they constituted the Sultanate of Maguindanao (now Cotabato City). The Taw-sa-laya are primarily concentrated in the areas of Datu Piang and extend to southern areas of Mindanao, which include Buluan and Datu Paglas and some municipalities in Sultan Kudarat. They practice semi-sedentary agriculture and grow corn and upland rice. They constitute the Rajahship of Buayan which is the present-day town of Datu Piang, the native place of Maguindanaon (Ethnic Groups in the Philippines, 2020).

Alcarde (2012) stressed that kulintang music is one of the important parts of the ethnic minorities of southern part of the Philippines particularly the Maguindanaon cultures and traditions. However, it should be noted that there is a distinction between music for rituals, which is basically vocal without instruments, and music for entertainment which involves instruments specifically Kulintang Ensemble which is well known entire the Philippine archipelago because of its great influence to the Maguindanaon way of living. Thus, the researcher attempted to have a comprehensive analysis on the cultures and traditions of Bangsamoro People (Maguindanaon) in the broad valley of Rio Grande de Mindanao as influenced by their Kulintang ensemble.