A Special Feature
By Rocaya Sumndad Otical Yahya
BALOI, Lanao del Norte
A scion of royal families in the Pat a Phangampong a Ranao has just been crowned as Bai a Labi a Gaus of the Royal House of Greater Balo-i.
Her Royal Highness Ramayana Diamond Alag Ali Pacasum Asum Balt Pangarungan-Basman was enthroned as the new “Bae a Labi a Gaus of Balo-i” in a magnificent ceremony held on Saturday, March 27, 2021, at the Balo-i town complex that seemingly replicated a Monarch’s Royal Court.
Bai a Labi is a Maranao term which may mean ‘Great Lady’ or ‘Queen.’ Gaus may mean ‘Affluent.’ Literally, Bai a Labi a Gaus may mean ‘Affluent Great Lady’ or ‘Affluent Queen.’ But there is more to it than meet the eye in the rich Maranao language and culture.
Called by friends and relatives as Mayan, she was enthroned together with other royalties (Baes and Datus) in the Royal House of Phangampong a Balo-i led by Datu Sumulong Maulana Alag Ali Ampang, the new Sultan of Balo-i.
The grand enthronement was graced by thousands of well-wishers and prominent guests from all walks of life from far and near rarely observed in previous enthronements.
In the Maranao traditional style of Paganao Mranaw which is the way of serving foods to guests and visitors, Dulangs were brought to the court for the distinguished guests and VIPs.
A Dulang is lavish foods carefully arranged in tabak, a big round plate usually made of tin or bronze, placed in motifs, intended to serve distinguished guests and VIPs. It is given utmost significance because it fosters peace and unity.
Balo-i a distinguished Lanao Royal House
In the long Maranao-cherished Taritib and Igma, Balo-i is one of the four divisions of Lanao or what is called Pat a Phangampong a Ranao that may be interpreted as ‘Four Prefectures of Lanao.’
Balo-i is also one of the 26 odi na 27 a Panoroganan sa Ranao or ‘26 if not 27 Royal Houses of Lanao’ that has culturally and traditionally reigned in the heart and midst of the Maranao people for ages.
In the present political and administrative subdivisions though, Balo-i belongs to the province of Lanao del Norte, and is headed by a town mayor with a Sangguniang Bayan system of governance.
Amidst strong Western influence in the Philippines, this part of Maranao culture persistently has survived and remained silent dominant in Maranao’s way of life.
The New Bai a Labi a Gaus
Her father and mother gave her a unique name that reverberates all throughout the ages: Ramayana, a title from an Asian Indian epic story.
Bai a Labi Mayan once told The Ranao Star, “The Ramayana is similar to the Maranao Darangen epic that has been presented in various art forms on stage, in which lead actors always save the oppressed people of the time.”
The new Bai a Labi a Gaus of Balo-i is the daughter of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary and former Lanao del Sur Governor Saidamen Balt Pangarungan and former assemblywoman Princess Diamond Pacasum-Pangarungan.
Ramayana’s father is also the present Sulutan sa Madaya ko Phumagsopa sa Marawi (Sultan of Madaya of the Five Principalities of Marawi) while her mother is also the Bai a Labi a Gaus sa Ranao.
Ramayana inherited the royal title from the former assemblywoman’s blood lineage according to a written lineage pedigree.
Bai a Labi a Gaus Mayan is a full-fledged lawyer and top-notch Shariah Counsellor.
She is married to Datu Abdul Hakam “Tote” Macabando Maruhom Basman, son of the late Sheik Abbas Maruhom Basman and Bai Omilkhair Macabando-Basman, who had both been former Marawi city mayors.
Mayan and Tote have three grown up children: Amayabil (24), Princess Rania (17) and Diamond II, (12). RSOY