Stories, essays, readings, facts and trivia on Philippine music and the local music industry

Music of the Moros or Muslim Filipino Cultures

The Courtly Elegance of Islamic Unity

Islamized Filipinos of Mindanao, Palawan, and Sulu, namely the Magindanaw, Maranaw, Tausug, Sama, Badjaw, Yakan, Sangil, Iranun, Jama Mapun, Palawani, Molbog, and so on. Their music may collectively be referred to as Moro music (ex. kulintang music).

Most urban Filipinos are aware of the so-called OPM (Original Pilipino Music), but very few among them know much about the true OPM that continues to be created in the regions. This music is of the highest artistic and technical excellence, such as the music of our Muslim brethren in Mindanao and Sulu. In fact, two outstanding practitioners of Moro music, Samaon Sulaiman of Maguindanao and Uwang Ahadas of Basilan, have already been awarded by the government the highest artistic recognition in the Philippines, the National Living Treasures Award or Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (which is equal to the National Artist Award).

Muslim Filipinos are among the most creative in the arts. Their religion cultivates a mystical surrender to God’s will. The music of Muslim Filipinos in Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan, blends West Asian mysticism with indigenous Southeast Asian animism.

The vocables and nature sounds of this indigenous music become parts of a seamless rhythmic and melodic web, achieving a sense of flow that is at once majestic and serene.