Lanao del Norte Governor and newly appointed Regional Development Council Region 10 (RDC-X) Chairperson Imelda “Angging” Dela Cruz Quibranza- Dimaporo, hosted a Pagana Meranaw for the government and executives of the various chambers of commerce of Mindanao at a local hotel following the October 26 launch of the twin exhibits of the recently concluded Mindanao Food Congress 2022.
The delegation from the India Business Forum (IBF) led by H.E. Shambhu S. Kumaran, Ambassador of India to the Philippines graced the occasion along with Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando “Klarex” Uy, Misamis Oriental Governor Peter “Sr. Pedro” M. Unabia, and chamber executives led by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Vice President for Mindanao Art Milan, PCCI Region X Governor and Mindanao Food Congress Director Ruben A. Vegafria, and Oro Chamber President Ray Talimio, Jr. The Pagana was also graced by members of the Lanao del Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by Vice Governor Allan Lim.
Pagana Meranaw is a traditional feast of the Meranaws to welcome special guests and visitors with foods and delicacies.
Pagana is a Meranaw term literally means to serve halal food for the guests and visitors in the tabak (a food tray with stand made of gold brass) setting on a floor just like the old ways in a wide and spacious living area of a torogan (traditional Meranaw houses).
Pagana would also means treating the visitors and very important guests with the highest form of hospitality, kindness and respect. This also signifies the host’s level of civility and indicates the degree of the host’s grace. Sitting on the floor reminds everyone that we are all equal and our utmost humility as host. Pagana is given utmost significance by Meranaw of Lanao because it fosters peace, solidarity and unity.
Traditionally, the hosts and the guests of a Pagana Meranaw are dressed in malongs or tutubs, the Meranaws traditional attire. All the guests present were given malongs as gift with a customized lampanakanay basket by the kind and generous Gov. Angging.
Rep. Abdullah “Bobby” D. Dimaporo explained that the Pagana is a customary and traditional banquet depicting their innate hospitality, carried out in an elegant festivity and gaiety in a manner acceptable to Islamic laws and principles.
Pagana is afforded to guests during special occasions such as enthronements, weddings, graduations, engagements, merrymaking, and homecoming of people who had gone to the Hajj or Islamic pilgrimage—and during the two religious feasts, Eid’l Adha and Eid’l Fitr.
The occasion began with a solemn prayer, followed by a welcome message from the host Gov. Angging.
“I want you all to know that by sitting on the floor, I am not punishing you. This is just the way we do it the Meranaw way,” Governor Angging explained .
This was immediately followed by a cultural presentation from the LaNorte Dance Artists for Peace.
MSU-LNAC Culture Affairs Coordinator, Bongbong Umpa Busran (who headed the Pagana venue decoration) then briefed the guests with an overview of the Pagana Meranaw.
Kalumbayan sa Ranao followed with their presentation of Kapagonor (traditional Meranaw kulintang performance showcasing the unique skill and artistic ways of using the basal (decorated stick used to strike the kulintang) in a musical performance, after which guests were lavishly treated with a sumptuous banquet, and a Cultural Performers Showcase of Maranao Music and Dance as they enjoyed their meal.
The banquet is arranged in a dulang dining set, with traditional Maranao dishes served on tabak (brass food trays) around which four guests are seated on cushions. The food trays are covered with ampas (decorated tabak cover). Utensils and plates are upside down to stress sanitation.
The whole display in the dining hall (dressed up as a living room in a traditional Torogan) was decorated with accents of gold and silver, symbolizing the colors of prestige and nobility.
Since Meranaws are Muslims, food should be Halal (permissible under Islamic law). Pork is strictly prohibited.
The typical yellow hue of Maranao dishes, which can be seen in many dishes like kuning (yellow rice), comes from kalawag (turmeric powder), which is believed to have medicinal properties.
The entrees served include beef, chicken, and fowl which are cooked and served with coconut shavings as the main ingredient, fried with vegetables or cooked in other ways. Another salient feature of the Pagana is the palapa spice made from onion bulbs, ginger, and chili pepper simmered in coconut oil.
The spirit of hospitality is highly valued by the Meranaws seeing that it fosters a sense of belongingness, peace, unity, and harmony in their society. Thus, the Pagana remains a signature of the timeless beauty of Meranaw culture in the Land of Beauty and Bounty.
This Pagana Maranao was made possible through the efforts of the Lanao del Norte Provincial Tourism Office headed by Alerma Grace Y. Montañez, and the MSU-LNAC through the Office of Cultural Affairs headed by Bongbong Umpa Busran as Coordinator, and Campus Head, Dr. Indihra B. Dimaporo-Tawantawan for appropriately decorating the venue befitting a traditional Pagana Meranaw. (with Bongbong Umpa Busran, Ruby Leonora R. Balistoy/PIA-10 & PIO-LDN)