The "People of the Lake" (Maranaw, Ranao, Lanon, Hiloona) are one of the larger groups in the country professing Islam. They are settled about Lake Lanao — the largest deep lake in the country. The land is some 2,200 feet above sea level in the Bukidnon-Lanao plateau.
The national population is about 863,659 (NM 1994) of which some 553,054 are situated in Lanao del Sur. The core areas are Marawi City (86,038), Lumba-a-bayabao (18,603), and Bayang (18,639) (NSO 1990). In Lanao del Norte they constitute the minority population. The genealogies of the families still trace their Islamic origins to Sharif Kabunsuan who introduced Islam among the Magindanao.
The people are basically inland agriculturalist, with some dry rice cultivations in the hilly areas and intensive wet rice in the flood plains. Communities usually cluster about a mosque and a torogan, a royal house belonging to the leading household in the area, which also serves a political function.
The Maranao are widely distributed all over the country and economically are associated with market trade. Wet rice cultivation is the basic mode of food production, with some corn, sweet potato, coffee, cassava, and peanuts. Dry rice is also cultivated. Fishing in the lake is also important although this has declined.
The Maranao, however, are best known for the sophistication of their weaving and wood and metal craft. They have produced probably the most spectacular of Philippine vernacular architecture with their impressive torogan. The design motifs which form the basis for their okil is one of the most systematized in the country. Among the more noted of the design motifs of their okil is the sarimanok and naga, which are abstract animate forms of a cock and the dragon or snake, respectively. The awang, the dugout boat they use in Lake Lanao, is probably the most unique of dugouts in the country, if not the most ornate.
Maranao textiles are also famous for their very ornate designs and colors which reflect the status of the wearer. The tube skirt, malong, is a very versatile article of clothing which serves many purposes.