Lanao (province)

Lanao Province was one of the former provinces of the Philippines from 1914 to 1959. Today the province comprises Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur.


The term Lanao is derived from a Maranao word “Ranao” meaning a body of water. “Meranau” means lake dweller. They are the natives of the place occupying the land around Lake Lanao, which is situated at the central part of Lanao del Sur. Lanao, applies to the entire area before its division. When it was divided into two provinces, the southern portion became Lanao del Sur and the northern part became Lanao del Norte.

Dansalan, Marawi City's old name, was explored by the Spaniards as early as 1639. It is said that at that time, Marawi was already the citadel of Malayan-Arabic culture in Mindanao. Feeling the pulse of strong refusal among its inhabitants to adopt Christianity, the Spaniards abandoned the project of colonizing the area. Dansalan, physically speaking, would have satisfactorily qualified to become a town or municipality during the time of said exploration based on the Spanish Policy of “Ecclesiastical Administration” except for fanatical resistance of the natives who were mostly under Muslim rule.

A strong Spanish expedition to conquer the Maranaos was fielded in 1891 during the time of Governor General Valeriano Weyler, but this force was driven back to Iligan after failing to capture Dansalan. In 1895, Governor General Blanco sent a stronger force to take Marawi that thanks to superior firepower finally overrun the last defenses. The Spanish forces won a decisive victory and were able to erect a garrison in Dansalan and they already took with them Chabacanos and Chabacano-speaking Muslims from Zamboanga and Basilan and Cebuanos. However, they had to abandon it just four years later after the outbreak of the Spanish–American War in 1898, leaving it on the hands of the new American colonizers, who imposed their own rule on the population.

American occupation

On May 24, 1904, the American Colonial Government proclaimed Dansalan a regular Municipality. The Philippines was still under the Commonwealth regime of the Americans when Dansalan was chartered into a city in 1904. In 1914, the Department of Mindanao and Sulu was created and Lanao was converted as a province.

Japanese occupation

In 1942, the Japanese troops invaded Northern Lanao and established their own garrison. In 1945, following a three-year occupation by Japanese forces, troops from the 6th, 10th, 101st, 102nd and 108th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, 10th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary and Maranao guerrillas attacked the Japanese garrison in the Battle of Lanao. The guerrillas attacked using traditional Maranao Bangkau Sebat,Salibat,Gunong, kampilan, barong and kris swords. Eventually, the Japanese were defeated, however Dansalan was not renamed to Marawi City until June 16, 1956.


The passage of Republic Act No. 2228 divided Lanao into two (2) provinces giving birth to Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. The new province was inaugurated on July 4, 1959 making Iligan City as the capital of the north and Marawi City for the south.


See also

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