How the Maranaos lost Marawi

(Continued from yesterday)

MARAWI City was created in 1940 by Commonwealth Act 592 with its original name Dansalan, meaning “harbor.” The Spaniards under Franco Atienza claimed to have founded Dansalan as a settlement in 1639, under a native ruler known by the allegorical name Datu Buadi Sa Kayo.

Following a roster of American and Filipino officers, the first Filipino Muslim military officer to head Camp Ranao here was Colonel Luis Marohombsar, a World War II hero, appointed by President Manuel Roxas as military governor of Lanao in 1946.

Under its Commonwealth charter, the City Treasurer’s Tax Powers (under Section 23) did not cover revenue collection from land tax declarations, apparently because private land ownership was not allowed under the act.

Marawi City (Photo from

Local revenues were limitedly sourced out from rents and other taxes imposed on properties built on rented lots that formed part of tax-exempted “public lands and properties owned by the United States of America” (under Section 26).

Two more Commonwealth Proclamations state that a portion of the “Poblacion” or the city proper was reserved for two warehouses of the National Rice and Corn Administration under Proclamation No. 412 dated June 23, 1939, and Proclamation No. 476 dated Oct. 27, 1939.

All these were barely repealed by Republic Act 1552, authored by Senator Ahmad Domocao Alonto in 1956, titled “An Act to Amend the Charter of the City of Dansalan, to Change its Name to Marawi City, and Make Elective its Mayor, Vice-Mayor, Councilors, and for Other Purposes.”

Mas Yahya, the veteran journalist and local publisher, had asked how their Maranao forebears allowed the government to allocate so much land away from the city. 

Yahya apparently knew the answer to his own question, taking a cue from his late cousin, lawyer Macapanton Abbas Jr., who in 1988 said: “The Moro people do not have as much admiration on Claro Recto for nationalism as the Filipino people do, for being the principal author of the Quirino-Recto Colonization Act” (or the Commonwealth Act 4197 of 1934).

There will be enough time to look back and aim for the Maranao people’s repossession of Marawi. For local leaders, including Governor Soraya Alonto-Adiong, Vice Governor Bombit Alonto Adiong, Rep. Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong, and Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, efforts are focused on the restoration of normalcy for the safe return of the thousands of displaced residents—to be able to better prepare for a massive reconstruction towards a long-term rehabilitation.

In his address to the National Assembly on December 19, 1935, President Manuel Quezon said: “This law (Act 4197) was passed for-two main reasons—the desire of the Philippine Legislature to assist the solution of the unemployment problem, and to promote the settlement and development of Mindanao. I have given careful consideration to the plans heretofore formulated by the different agencies of the Government entrusted with the accomplishment of the purposes of this Act….”

The potential use of Marawi City in such multi-agency development blue print became evident in its designation with the Kilometer 000.00 reference in the subsequent construction of Mindanao Road Network during the colonial period.

Another Maranao veteran journalist, Ali Macabalang, said in a social media comment that he has known from the start that many “mansion dwellers” in the city do not officially own the lots on which their residential houses stand.

One doesn’t say this without facing a risk of being reprimanded by the local datus for violating some code of the Maranao Maratabat. But Macabalang is no ordinary reporter; he is a direct descendant of the Sultan of Ramain, and grandnephew Colonel Luis Marohombsar, the first military governor of Lanao.

Now, Yahya, also a native of Marawi, sees a “Second Coming” by the Americans, amid the government heavy military campaign to flush out members of the extremist Maute Group, said to be inspired by the ISIS terrorist group.

In a post on social media, Yahya wrote: “Fighting pa more para ma-justify pag lusob ng Amerika sa Morolandia at tuluyan na nila masira at makuha. (So that America’s coming amid this destruction would be justified, then they could take it all).”

Yahya is apparently referring to the US military campaigns to Mindanao and Sulu at the turn of the 20th century when the American colonial forces carried out three major expeditions to neutralize the Moros: 1) The Ramaien (Ramain, Lanao Sur) Expedition in 1904 against the Sultan of Ramain; 2) the Cotabato Upriver Expedition of 1905 against Rajah Muda Datu Ali; and 3) the Jolo Campaign in 1905 against Jikiri, the rebellious henchman of the Sulu Sultan. 

This data comes from the Annotated Bibliography [Preliminary Edition], the Center for Philippine Studies at University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in Honolulu, Hawaii). (To be continued)

Topics: Maranaos , Marawi City , Commonwealth Act 592
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.