Maratabat: A Double-Edged Sword
The Maranao believe that the mental construct of maratabat, or family honor, has been misunderstood.
The Maranao, indigenous peoples of Mindanao, uphold the deeply-held cultural value of maratabat, or family honor. It is pivotal to their individual, family, and community identity, however some believe the concept is often misunderstood and misused.
Maratabat is heavily borne by all family members and is linked with everyday conduct as well as key life events. A family receives more honor and will express pride when a son or daughter receives a college diploma. The inverse is also true, one would rather die than tarnish the family name. Perceived slights or insults to a family member may result in a cycle of revenge between clans.
In May 2017, the ISIS-backed Maute Group attacked the Islamic city of Marawi, attempting to establish a Caliphate in Southeast Asia. Once known for its bustling trade and commercial centers, the city was ravaged by five months of intense fighting. The formerly affluent Maranao way of life was shattered, and many were left dispossessed and homeless, forced to rely on relatives and emergency shelters.
During and after the event, maratabat was invoked, even abused, to justify retaliation and to motivate further violence. Despite ongoing cycles of revenge, the practice of helping one another—especially among relatives and clan members—still abounds.
In this uncertain time, the Maranao still hold their heads high as they rebuild and reclaim their land, no matter what they might find. For this is the only way to regain family honor and dignity: to live in the land that their forefathers fought for.