Having learned of the troubadour’s code—performing in exchange for basic needs like food and housing—while a teenager, Moro took the code to heart and made a name for himself around the world. Originally known as Buddy Bohn, Moro traveled across continents for the price of a heartfelt song played on his guitar. He has played for kings and queens, actors and artists as well as cooks, smugglers, and American troops stationed in Laos. During his travels he also recorded three albums, on three different labels, on three separate continents. His international hit “Vermouth Rondo” helped him build his home and recording studio in Bodega Bay, California, where he continues to record. For 22 consecutive years, the popularity of his music has earned him recognition from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for consistent play of his compositions.
Moro was born Walter Moro Bohn on August 21, 1939, in Evanston, Illinois. Moro’s mother, Charlotte, divorced his father when the musician was very young; his mother then married Jack McCoy, who Moro considered a father. McCoy was a six-day bike racer who competed in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. His mother was an actress who performed throughout the 1940s at Carmel’s Golden Bough Theatre. When he was around two years old, Moro’s family moved from Evanston to Santa Barbara, California, where the more consistent weather suited them better than the changing seasons of the Midwest. From Santa Barbara, the family moved to Carmel, where they lived for eight years.
Moro picked up a guitar for the first time when he was six years old. Having noticed a guitar sitting out at a family friend’s house, he asked for permission to play it. Within seconds of picking it up, Moro was playing a tune. He was hooked. A local guitar store in Carmel became his first classroom. He would go there often to look at and play the guitars. He was coached by a woman who worked there who was an expert guitar player. Moro tried taking piano lessons, but his desire for improvisation infuriated his teacher. She eventually walked out on his lessons, telling his mother that he would never be a musician. When Moro was 12 years old, he gave his first professional concert in Laguna Beach. The money he earned from this event became the down payment for his first concert guitar.
Eventually, Moro’s family ended up in Los Gatos, California, just south of San Francisco. It was here that Moro learned of the way of life that would lead him around the world. The family’s home in Los Gatos had land that connected it to the vineyards of Sacred Heart Novitiate, a school for the Jesuit priesthood. Father Charleton, director of the Novitiate, found Moro in the vineyard one day eating grapes and playing guitar. Father Charleton sat with Moro and listened to him play, eventually telling Moro that he could be a troubadour and explaining what that meant. Moro related to Contemporary Musicians what Father Charleton told him: “A troubadour never uses money as a means of exchange and performs for royalty as well as other folks, directly for his passage, food, lodging, clothing, visas and all other needs. Everything a troubadour gets is given to him from the heart in exchange for something from his heart (music).” This notion and its possibilities stuck with Moro.
After high school, Moro attended Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. Located in a beautiful setting on the banks of the Mississippi River, Principia College is a school geared toward Christian Scientists. Moro’s grandfather had told him about the school and Moro decided to go there after a successful meeting with other prospective students and administrators from the school. On break during the summer of 1959, Moro traveled throughout the Hawaiian Islands, testing out the troubadour life. Hawaii was still a territory at the time and Moro traveled among the islands via tugboats or private airplanes. The next summer he traveled to Europe. Moro graduated from Principia College in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in drama and journalism.
Starting the year he graduated from college, Moro traveled for 14 years. He spent nearly three years traveling solely by the troubadour code. Although most of his experiences were overwhelmingly positive, Moro did have his share of close calls. In the winter of 1961, he arrived in Algeria during the height of the Algerian struggle for independence from France. He was harassed by both the SAO (Secret Army Organization) and the French Army, both of whom thought he was a spy or terrorist for the other group. He was able to
Born Walter Moro Bohn on August 21, 1939, in Evanston, IL; son of Jack (a competitive bike racer) and Charlotte McCoy (an actress). Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism and drama from Principia College, Elsah, IL, 1961.
Performed professionally at Laguna Beach, CA, age 12; toured Hawaiian Islands, 1959; toured Europe, 1960; traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia as a troubadour, 1961-64; performed on the Andy Williams Show, 1965; toured with the New Christy Minstrels, 1967; performed at Paul Newman’s Factory and Howard Hughes’s Cabaret Room, 1968-70; built his home/recording studio in Bodega Bay, CA, 1972; officially changed name to Moro, 1975; released first album on his own Budwick label, 1976.
Awards: Earned 22 consecutive American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) awards for consistent airings of his compositions, 1981-2002.
Member: American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
Addresses: Home and record company —Budwick Music, P.O. Box 11, Bodega Bay, CA 94923-0011. Booking —Arthur Schafman International Ltd., 163 Amsterdam Ave. #121, New York, NY 10023, (212) 799-4814. Website —Moro and Budwick Music Official Website: http://www.moromusic.com.
convince them he was neither a spy nor a terrorist and was allowed to continue his journey. In an interview with Contemporary Musicians, Moro listed some of the people he played for during that time: “I performed for King Fredrick IX of Denmark, Maharaja and Maharani of Gwalior, Queens Sirikit and Elizabeth II, Duchess Francesca in Granada, shaikh of Hofuf, King Bhumibol of Siam, His Highness, Shaikh Shakhbut II bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi, for some friendly Bedouin champagne smugglers (while crossing the Arabian Desert as guest of their camel caravan), for the Maharaja of Sanpur, Baron and Baroness Peiris of Sri Lanka, the International Council of Europe and so on.”
In 1963, after having traveled throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, Moro ended up in Australia. It was here that he recorded his first album, Buddy Bohn—Folksinger. In 1965 Moro appeared on the Andy Williams Show, a popular variety show during the 1960s. In 1967 he toured with the New Christy Minstrels, a popular folk group, as a guest guitarist. From 1968 to 1970, Moro played for the private Los Angeles club owned by Paul Newman called the Factory. Remembering that time, Moro told Contemporary Musicians, “It was possibly the mellowest and most artistic-feedback-rewarding of all the steady engagements I ever played.” He added: “It might be topped only by the occasions when I played personally for Pablo Picasso in a café in Aix-en-Provence, sitting only two feet from him, and when I gave a private performance for Howard Hughes.”
In 1970 he recorded his second album, Places, in Los Angeles on the Happy Tiger label. In 1972 he recorded his third album, A Drop in the Ocean, in the United Kingdom, performing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. One of Moro’s compositions from A Drop in the Ocean, “Vermouth Rondo,” went on to become an international hit. Moro used the money he received on royalties from this album to build his home and recording studio in Bodega Bay, California. In 1975 Moro changed his professional name from Buddy Bohn to Moro, his middle name. Since 1976 he has recorded five albums on his own Budwick Music Company label.
Moro’s music reflects the extent of his travels and the influence they have had on him. As William Ellis stated in reviewing Moro’s 1995 album Amilucience for American Record Guide, “It’s more folksy than you might expect and conjures the Orient… as much as Andalusia.” Continuing to compose, play, and perform, Moro has also begun writing a memoir as well as a screenplay about his life.
Buddy Bohn—Folksinger, Leedon, 1963.
Places, Happy Tiger, 1970.
A Drop in the Ocean, Capitol, 1972.
Rain, Sun and Moon, Budwick, 1976.
Moonset, Budwick, 1979.
Concerta De Alcala, Budwick, 1984.
Pieces of Anda, Budwick, 1988.
Amilucience, Budwick, 1995.
ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, 4th Edition, Jaques Cattell Press, R. R. Bowker Company, 1980.
Who’s Who in Entertainment, 3rd Edition, Marquis Who’s Who, 1997.
American Record Guide, January-February 1997, p. 206.
Christian Science Monitor, July 29, 1963.
Time, February 8, 1963.
Moro and Budwick Music Official Website, http://www.moromusic.com (July 18, 2002).
“Moro: Guitarist,” Arthur Shafman International Ltd., http://ARTHURSHAFMAN.COM/artists/moro (March 27, 2002).
Additional information was obtained from an interview with Moro on May 13, 2002.
—Eve M. B. Hermann
"Moro." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/moro
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POPULATION: 2 million
LANGUAGE: Marano, Maguindanao, Tausag, other Malayo-Polynesian languages
The Moro are the indigenous Muslim population of the Southern Philippines and are composed of more than a dozen ethno-linguistic groups of Islamic faith that occupy Mindanao Island, the Sulu archipelago, and Palawan Island. The Spanish were the first to refer to the Muslim Filipinos as Moros, derived from the name used to describe Spanish Muslims, Moors. The term Moro held a derogatory meaning until the 1970s, when Islamic insurgent groups embraced the appellation.
The history of the Moro is traced back to the arrival of Islam in Southeast Asia. Beginning in the 9th century, regional trade between the Philippine archipelago and Southeast Asia expanded rapidly. Muslim traders from Arabia and India situated in Southeast Asia were the first to introduce Islam into the southern Philippines. By the 1300s the conversion to Islam was in progress among the western most islands situated nearest to the sultanates of Melaka and Johor in modern Malaysia. The first Islamic sultanate in the modern day Philippines was established around 1450 on Jolo by an Arab named Syed Abu Bakr. According to Moro legend, Sharif Muhammad Kabungsuwan, a prince from the Sultanate of Johor, first introduced Islam to Mindanao Island in the early 1500s. By the early 16th century, Islam had spread across the Philippine archipelago, from Mindanao in the south to Luzon Island in the north. During this period the Moro were ruled by local leaders known as datus or sultans.
In the early 16th century, the Spanish began to colonize the Philippine archipelago. The new possession was named the Philippines after the Spanish King Phillip II. In 1565 Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in the Philippines, overthrew the Sultanate of Manila, and commenced the conversion of the northern Philippine islands to Catholicism. The Spanish zeal to extinguish Islam from the Philippines led to stiff resistance in the southern Islands, particularly on Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. Military bases were established on the southern islands, and Catholic missionaries succeeded in converting some of the population, in particular in the northeastern sections of Mindanao, but the Spanish presence in the Moro homeland remained minimal, and the Catholic and Muslim communities remained divided.
In 1898 the United States defeated Spain in a brief war and took control of the Philippines. The United States adopted secular rule, and the new colonial government maintained the territorial unity of the Philippines. The 1899 Kiram–Bates Treaty granted the Sulu Sultanate political and cultural autonomy, while recognizing that the island chain remained part of the Philippines. Over the next several decades, the United States initiated development projects throughout Moro territory in order to integrate the region into the Philippines.
The Philippines gained self-rule in 1935 and control of the Moro homeland came under the control of the Catholic-dominated government in Manila. That year, the new Filipino government passed the Quirino-Recto Colonization Act, opening Mindanao to mass immigration of Catholic settlers. In 1903 the census recorded that 78,000 non-Muslim immigrants lived in Muslim majority regions. Official government support of migration ensured that by the end of the 20th century more than 9 million non-Muslims resided in what had been Moro-majority territory. In addition, the Filipino government abolished the sultanates and ended Moro political autonomy. The Muslim Moro population came under the direct administration of Catholic bureaucrats appointed by Manila, which only inflamed Moro resentment against Filipino rule.
By the 1960s, official corruption, economic underdevelopment, and increased Catholic migration led to deep resentment towards the Filipino government and the Catholic majority. Control of economic resources lay in the hands of non-Muslims and international conglomerates dominated the agricultural industry. The abolition of the traditional sultan-based rule and the social hierarchy that supported it had led to a power vacuum, which was filled by Moro insurgent groups who espoused a revival of Islamic beliefs. The relations between Muslims and Christians worsened considerably during the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines from 1965–1986. Corruption reached extreme levels under Marcos, and Christian settlers aggressively pushed Muslim tribes off their land on Mindanao, which often resulted in violence. In the 1970s, in Cotabato province, Mindanao, the Filipino military armed Christian militias, which attacked Muslim villages. Violence escalated on both sides and tens of thousands of Moros and Christians became internally displaced.
The most prominent anti-government organization was the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which was comprised of Moro nationalists and Islamic revivalists. By 1972 the conflict on Mindanao had worsened to the point that the Filipino government declared martial law. The Libyan government lent its support to the MNLF and by the mid-1970s as much as a third of the Filipino military was deployed to Mindanao. In 1976 Marcos signed the Tripoli agreement, which granted autonomy to the Muslim-majority areas of Mindanao. The Marcos regime adopted a conciliatory stance towards the Moro. The Moro autonomous regions were determined by plebiscite. Regions in Palawan and Mindanao opted not to join either of the two autonomous regions.
The MNLF continued their resistance against the Marcos regime into the 1980s. This was in spite of the government development projects implemented in the late 1970s and early 1980s that were meant to alleviate the economic hardships suffered by the Moro. In 1987 a new constitution provided for a second round of autonomy plebiscites, but only four of thirteen regions opted to join the new Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In 1996, President Fidel Ramos signed a major peace accord with the MNLF, yet the issues of land rights and Christian settlers on traditionally Moro tribal territory remained unsettled.
In the early 2000s, the Islamist fundamentalist group Abu Sayyaf (al-Harakat al-Islamiy ya) grabbed headlines with bombings, kidnappings, and killings of Filipinos and foreigners, and through daring battles with the Filipino armed forces. Situated in western Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, Abu Sayyaf has fought to establish a Muslim homeland in the traditional Moro homeland. After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the U.S. military began assisting the Filipino military in their fight against Abu Sayyaf. In 2006 Abu Sayyaf's leader was killed in battle, and the government's counter insurgency campaign succeeded in expelling the group from a number of their strongholds. In spite of these setbacks, Abu Sayyaf remained capable of carrying out lethal raids and, in 2008, Filipino intelligence agencies revealed a plot by the group to assassinate President Gloria Arroyo.
LOCATION AND HOMELAND
The Moro occupy the southern islands of the Philippines, including Mindanao Island, the Sulu archipelago, and Palawan Island, as well as numerous smaller islands. The Moro home-land is referred to as Bangsamoro, or nation of the Moro. The term Moro refers to Filipinos of Islamic faith and encompasses communities that are divided by long distances and speak distinct languages. While the Moro are the indigenous inhabitants of the Southern Philippines, the arrival of a large number of Christian migrants from the northern islands has reduced the Moro to a minority across much of their homeland.
The Moro ethno-linguistic group includes the Tausag, Badjao and Sama of the Sulu archipelago; the Magindanao, Maranao, Iranun, Kalagan, Kalibugan, and Sangil of Mindanao Island; the Yakan of Basilan Island, off the coast of Mindanao; the Palawani and Molbog of Palawan Island, and the Jama Mapun, situated in southern Palawan and the Sulu archipelago. Of these groups, the largest populations of Moros are the Maranao and Maguindanao, both over 700,000, and the Tausug, more than 300,000. In addition, there are Moro migrant communities located in major urban centers across the Philippines.
The islands occupied by the Moro are mountainous and traversed by tropical forests, rivers, and lakes. The regional climate is dry during the winter months and receives heavy rainfall in the summer, when monsoon rains inundate the Philippines. The region is often struck by typhoons, which can cause extensive damage. Hydropower stations along regional river systems provide the majority of electricity on Mindanao. The Moro homeland also has potential for geothermal energy and may contain substantial petroleum deposits.
The Moro speak more than a dozen languages. With the exception of Chavacano, the Moro languages fall within the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Marano, Maguindanao and Tausag are spoken by more than 1 million individuals each, though not all native speakers of these languages are Moro. There are several Spanish Creole languages, which are known commonly as Chavacano. In addition, English is widely spoken as a second language.
The Austronesian languages of the Moro share a high degree of intelligibility. The intelligibility between Marano and Maguindanao speakers is more than 50%. Common terms shared across several languages include ina (mother), ama (father), isa (one) and dua (two). Common Tausag phrases include Hisiyu in ngan mu? (What's your name?), Maunu-unu nakaw? (How are you?), and Daing hain kaw? (Where are you from?).
Moro folklore has been preserved in oral epics that are composed of communal histories, genealogies, origin stories, and tales of ancient heroes, as well as stories of the Prophet Muhammad and other Islamic figures. Epics are often sung and epic singers undergo lengthy apprenticeships that often include memorization of the Quran and training in traditional music instruments.
Epics are known to only a small minority who have been trained by elders. Among the Sama of the Sulu archipelago and Yakan of Basilan Island, epic poems called kata-kata are only recited by important individuals who have the authority to conduct rituals. During communal festivals and holidays epics are recited for days on end. The kata-kata is sung by Sama narrators during a period over several nights that coincides with a full moon and serves as the main highlight of an important public gathering.
Moro epics often share striking similarities with non-Islamic epics. The epic Tutolan ko Radia Mangandiri (Story of Radia Mangandiri), first recorded by modern scholars in 1939, contains components of the Hindu epic Ramayana. In the epic, the hero Mangandiri searches for Tuwan Potre Malano Tihaia, who has been kidnapped by Maharadia Lawana. Lawana has himself transformed into a golden goat and Mangandiri is aided by his son Laksamana, who takes the form of a monkey. Other epics include the Radya Indara Patra and the Diwata Ksalipan of the Maguindanao, and the Darangen of the Maranao.
The Moro are adherents of Islam and their religion is a defining characteristic of their ethnicity. The Islamic-Christian divide in the Philippines is both religious and cultural in nature. Once an individual or community has left Islam, they are no longer considered Moro.
In the 14th century, Islam was introduced to the Philippine archipelago by missionaries from Southeast Asia. Sufimissionary Makdum Karim is credited with Islamizing the population of Jolo in the Sulu archipelago. The Islamic concept of din wa daula, or unity of religion and state, was adopted by pre-colonial Moro leaders, who held positions of both political and religious significance.
The Moro are Sunni Muslims and Moro communities observe common Islamic norms. Friday is the holiest day of the week in Islam and Muslims must conduct prayers at specific hours of the day, from dawn until dusk. The Friday noon service zubor (prayers) open with a adhan (melody) sung by the imam. Prayers are often accompanied by singing and chanting. Common religious musical texts include poetic verses that recount the lessons of Prophet Muhammad. On Jolo Island the luguh Maulad is sung commemorating the birth of Muhammad. Islamic education prescribes the memorization of the Quran and Moro who are able to recite the entire Quran are held in high regard. Annual Quran-reading competitions choose Filipino representatives to international competitions, where Filipinos have won major prizes in recent decades.
The Moro, as is the case with Muslims across the world, practice a mixture of Shariah (sacred Islamic law) and adalat(customary pre-Islamic traditions). Filipino Muslims hold common beliefs with their animist and Christian neighbors that appear to contradict Islamic teachings. This includes the notion that the world is filled with sprits (dewas and hantus) that are to be feared and must be appeased through offerings. It is commonly believed among the Tausag that mangilit (a head ghost) haunts humans and that precautions must be taken to prevent lagtaw (evil beings) and balbalan (witches) from harming infants. On Mindanao, illness and mental disorders are attributed to evil spirits that can only be appeased through kalilang (honorific ceremonies). Among the Tausag, local imams (Islamic religious leader) participate in food offering ceremonies meant to excise sprits from the body. The Moro also often fail to observe basic Islamic customs, including salat (ritual daily prayers) and zakat (annual alms-tax).
Most Moro holidays are Islamic, and their date is determined by the lunar calendar, thus the days of celebration fall on different dates each year. Ramadan (puwasa) is a major Islamic holiday that celebrates the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad and takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this period Muslims refrain from eating or drinking from dawn to dusk. Pregnant women, children, the elderly, and the ill are exempt from fasting. Eid is the celebratory feast held at the end of Ramadan.
The Kabunsuan Festival is celebrated on December 15 in Cotabato City on Mindanao. The day celebrates the arrival of Sharif Muhammad Kabungsuwan in the early 16th century and the introduction of Islam to Mindanao Island. During the harvest season, celebrations are held throughout the agricultural areas of the Moro homeland. Music is played on percussion beams, bamboo clappers, and log drums and starts immediately after the planting of rice seedlings until the time they break from the ground.
RITES OF PASSAGE
While the Moro are composed of various ethno-linguistic groups with distinct cultures, the Moro as a whole share some traditions of rites of passage, including the initiation of children into a community, circumcision, and marriage.
Among the Moro there is no particular ritual for naming newborn children, but local Moro have ceremonial acknowledgement of an infant as a member of the community. The Tausug of Sulu practice paggunting, or the ceremonial haircut, is conducted on male children around the age of two. The ceremony takes place in the father's home, and a pillar of woven leaves or a pot of rice is placed in the center of the room. Imams are invited, and passages from the Quran are chanted. At the end of the ceremony, perfume is poured on the child's head, and a lock of hair is cut. The child's head is kept shaven for several years following the ritual.
Circumcision is performed on pre-pubescent children around the age of 12. The male circumcision includes the cutting of the foreskin and religious ceremonies. Among the Tausug, quasi-circumcision is practiced on females, whereby a knife is rubbed on the girl's genitalia but no incision is made. Circumcisions may be performed by imams or laypeople, though the practice of circumcision was introduced along with Islam.
Moro youth are often married at a young age, in the mid to late teens. Negotiations are initiated by the groom's father and a go-between is frequently employed to negotiate the dowry. The value of the dowry is determined by the social class of the bride's family, with upper class brides receiving the most money. The dowry is considered compensation to the bride's family for the time and effort spent raising her.
In traditional Moro society, interpersonal relations are determined by a hierarchy of relationships. These relationships help establish alliances and regulate conflicts when communities resort to communal warfare, which still occurs between Moro groups. Among the Tausug of Sulu, relations can vary from bagay magtaymanghud (blood brother) and babay (good friend) to tao ha'ut (neutral) to tao hansipak (opponent) and bantah (personal enemy). Bagay magtaymanghud swear a personal allegiance on the Quran that, in theory, cannot be broken without risk of supernatural sanctions. A bagay magtaymanghud relationship can be established either by two friends who decide to cement their friendship to prevent betrayal and increase solidarity or on the order of a legal official who finalizes an amiable conclusion between enemies. Blood brothers have strong obligations to support each other in fighting, assisting with debts, and providing food and shelter. Conversely, bantah are sworn enemies that hold personal grudges and seek vengeance for a past wrongdoing. Often, a bantah is a person held responsible for the killing of a kinsmen or a friend. In battle a man should seek out and kill a bantah. Th rough mediation, bantah can become blood brothers. In a lifetime, relations between individuals experience numerous changes.
Among Moro youth, courtship between men and women is played out in part through music. Young men play narrower rimmed-gongs called gandingan to communicate their love to young women. Common love songs include the baqat of the Tausug, which incorporates archaic language, and the kapranon of the Maranao, a highly sentimental ballad. The Jew's harp, a bamboo wind instrument called kubing by the Maguindanao and Maranao and kulaing by the Yakan, is a favorite instrument of courtship and recreation. Nearly every young Yakan has a kulaing tucked in their headband.
Seventy-five percent of the Moro live in rural areas and are primarily employed in agriculture, while a quarter of Moro live in urban areas. Poverty is widespread among the Moro, and even those who find employment subsist off of meager wages. In many Moro communities, multiple families, as many as five, may live in a single household. The majority of Moro are subsistence farmers and fishermen and Moro families can afford few amenities.
The diversity of culture among the Moro precludes drawing a stereotypical image of Moro family life. The division of labor within the family runs along gender lines. The task of raising the children is primarily the responsibility of the females in the family, while the males in the household work in the fields or fish. One important aspect of many Moro communities is that women often have an equal role in decision making within the household. On the island of Sisangat, near the town of Siasi in Sulu, the Sama women are recognized as the heads of the households. Women on the island marry in their early teens and, in the first years of marriage, the wives play a more obedient role and follow the model of the elders in the home. But, as women mature, they take on more responsibilities, including handling money and making purchases; men on the island must ask their wives for permission before making purchases.
Childrearing is primarily the responsibility of women, though men do assist in caring for the children. Among the Tausag, lullabies are sung by both mothers and older men in the family. Among the Maguindanao, special lullabies (sangel) are sung for either male or female children. The Sama aemboaembo lullaby is sung by the mother while rocking the baby between the mother's raised feet. At the end of the song, the mother's legs are straightened, and the baby slides into the mother's lap.
Divorce is sanctioned among the Moro, and both women and men can initiate divorce proceedings. Among the Sama of Sisangat, the community will attempt to reconcile the couple seeking a divorce, but if reconciliation is not possible a local agama court will judge and settle the divorce proceedings. The panglima (religious functionaries) will divide the communal property and decide who is at fault for the divorce. The guilty party pays the panglima a fee. Divorces can be initiated because of adultery, stealing from one's spouse or their relatives, quarreling, domestic violence, the husband's gambling, and when a man does not surrender his earnings to his wife. The community does not ostracize divorcees; however, adulterers and those who steal from spouses or relatives are frowned upon.
Until recent decades, the Moro maintain traditional styles of clothing, including sarongs, scarves, sashes, and headdresses made of traditional fabrics, weaves, and designs. Materials used in clothing included cotton, silk, grasses, and bark. Designs were composed of plaid, stripes, and cloud-like backgrounds of various colors and images. Each community had their own distinct styles of clothing, and across the entire Moro homeland there was a wide diversity in clothing. The making of clothes was the responsibility of the women in the household and pieces of elaborate weaving could take months to complete. Today, mass-produced clothing has displaced traditional homemade Moro textiles.
The diet of the Moro homeland consists of rice, fish, and sago, a powdery starch made from the pith of the Sago palm tree. Food is not eaten with utensils, but by hand. Common crops produced on Mindanao are banana, coconuts, mango, coffee, durian fruit, seaweed, and pineapple. In coastal areas fish provide the bulk of the daily diet, and fisherman may spend many days on fishing expeditions in search of reef fish and deepwater fish.
Moro education generally lags behind non-Muslim Filipinos. Only 66% of Moro are literate, compared to more than 80% of non-Muslims. Less than 40% of Moro graduate from elementary school and only 18% have achieve a high school degree. The number of Moro university degree holders is very small.
Traditionally, the Moro educated their children in Islamic religious schools (madrasahs). The Spanish colonial government actively discouraged Moro from sending their children to madrasahs and went so far as to close Islamic religious schools and destroy their materials. Children were encouraged to attend Catholic missionary schools, which contributed to the social and economic inequalities between Muslims and non-Muslims.
In the early 20th century, the U.S. government introduced modern schools into Moro territory. These schools were for the children of the Moro elite who cooperated with the U.S. administration and only a small minority of Moro received an education. In 1900, about 25 such schools with 2,000 pupils operated in Moro areas. In 1903, that number had increased to 52 schools and by 1918 over 8,000 Moro children received a public school education. One factor limiting enrollment in public schools was that the administrators were often Christian missionaries and, thus, parents were reluctant to enroll their children in schools. Girls were encouraged to attend school and in 1916 a girl's dormitory was established in Jolo.
In the post-colonial era, new madrasahs and Muslim private schools opened to serve the Moro. The Muslim private schools, which are operated by religious organizations and private foundations, offer six years of elementary course work, four years of secondary schooling, and a two-year collegiate degree that includes courses in reading, writing, math, history, Arabic, and Islamic studies. The Egyptian government has supported these schools by sending Egyptian religious scholars to work in the madrasahs and private schools. In addition, Cairo has awarded hundreds of scholarships to Moro students.
One of the earliest Muslim private schools is Kamilol Islam Maahad Ulom in Marawi City, capital of Lanao del Sur province on Mindanao. The school was opened in 1938 by the Kamilol Islam Society and in 1952 it began to offer both Islamic and western style education. The institute's Arabic department was upgraded to an independent institution, the Jamiatul Philippine al Islamiya. Other notable schools in the Mindanao Arabic Institute, a madrasah in Marawi City run by the Agama Islam Society. Many of the teaching materials used in the schools have been donated by Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The first university on Mindanao, Mindanao State University, opened in Marawi City in 1961. The institute offers dozens of graduate and undergraduate degree programs.
The Moro communities in the Philippines share rich musical traditions. The principle musical instrument of the Moro is the kulintang, a set of graduated gongs laid in a row in a wooden frame. The number of gongs in a set can vary according to culture, with the Tausug using 11 or 13 and the Yakan on Basilan island utilizing as few as 5. The musical tone of each kulintang set differs. The lowest (pangandungan) and the highest (pamantikan) gongs are cast first and the tones of the other gongs are then adjusted accordingly. Young boys and girls practice on a sarunay, a miniature copy of the kulintang made of metal plates with rounded protrusions. The kulintang is important social property owned by individual families and ownership indicates high social status and cultivated taste. The value of a kulitang set is high and can serve as marriage dowries.
Other gong instruments include the agung, a large, deep-rimmed gong; the gandingan, gongs with narrower rims that are played in pairs, and the babandil, a gong with a narrower, turned-in rim. In addition, a drum called the dabakan often accompanies gongs. In Lanao del Sur province on Mindanao the Maranao people play deep-rimmed gongs called pumalsan and the penanggisa-an, and the Tausug people on the island Jolo play a pair of hanging gongs called duwahan.
More than 80% of the Moro population is employed in the forestry, agriculture, and fishing sectors or as laborers. Only a quarter of Moro live in urban settings, where it is more common to open small shops or trade goods. Few Moro work in mining, manufacturing, construction and finance, forms of employment dominated by non-Muslims. Unemployment among Moro is just below 60%, which is slightly above the national average. Non-employed Moro are mostly subsistence farmers who work a small plot of land and have a higher standard of living than their urban, unemployed counterparts. In coastal areas, especially in the Sulu archipelago, many residents are subsistence fisherman.
Unemployment on Mindanao has been exacerbated by an electricity crisis that struck the island in the early 1990s. The hydroelectric plants that supplied 90 % of the regions electricity had their production cut in half when water levels in a lake that fed one of the main plants reached dangerously low levels, which was caused by abnormally hot weather and deforestation in the watersheds that fed the lake. The result was that the region suffered frequent brownouts, causing factories in the region to run at lower capacity. The ongoing conflict between the local Moro and government forces on Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago has further hindered economic development and frightened off outside investment.
Basketball, a legacy of the U.S. occupation of the Philippines, has a strong following in the Philippines and several teams from the Mindanao Visayas Basketball Association are situated on Mindanao. The Filipino marital art Eskrima, also known as Kali, putatively has its origins in Moro culture and history. The sport has its origins in the tribal warfare that was widespread across the Philippines in the pre-modern period. The term Eskrima is derived from the Spanish word for fencing. Eskrima practitioners strike with their hands, feet, swords, and sticks and grapple or throw opponents.
ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION
The Moro have a mix of traditional and modern forms of entertainment and recreation. In larger cities, particularly on Mindanao, all forms of modern entertainment are available, including theaters, bars and professional sports. In rural areas and remote islands, traditional music remains a popular form of entertainment. Music is often performed at weddings and other social gatherings.
Music frequently accompanies agricultural work and it is believed that songs not only pass time but also encourages plant growth. Farmers often employ music to pass the time, including drums and wind instruments. The Yakan utilize a log drum (tuntungan), while the oniya-niya wind instrument of the Maranao is made of a coconut leaf and a stalk of rice, which when blown on produces a sound thought to frighten away wild animals. Sama children sing the puk lara while sitting in a circle and playing a game of catch.
FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES
Until the mid 20th century, Moro artistic creativity was expressed through in traditional weaponry, namely swords and daggers. Moro edged-weapons often were ornate, carved from fine woods, and included silver and gold overlay and inlay. Weapons made for wealthy elite had handles made of ivory, inlayed jewel, and were formed in the shape of birds or spirits.
The kris is a double-edged dagger that is more than a foot in length and has a blade with multiple curves that form a pattern of waves, which enhances the blade's ability to cut flesh. The kris was a common weapon among Moro warriors, who used the daggers to slash their enemy. Kris blades contain nickels, which form grainy patterns, and the finest blades are reportedly made from iron extracted from meteoroids. Kris swords were commonly thought to hold spiritual powers that could be good or evil in nature. Other common Moro weapons include the kalis, a sword similar in style to the kris, and the kampilan, a single edged sword several feet in length.
The primary social problems amongst the Moro remain lack of economic opportunities and violence tied to the Christian-Muslim conflict and anti-government insurgency. Since the traditional Sultanate system of government in Moro territories was abolished in the 1930s, the Filipino government has favored the consolidation of arable land into the hands of non-Muslims with close ties to the government. Wealth derived from large plantation style agricultural projects on Mindanao often is not reinvested in the local community and is funneled into the hands of non-Moro elite. The local Moro population remains impoverished and has little access to higher education.
In Moro society there is a clear division of gender roles. While 75% of all employed men work in agriculture, only 40% of employed women are engaged in agriculture; 45% of employed women are employed in retail business or social services, mostly in urban areas. Women are more likely than men to have no educational degree and are much less likely to have a higher educational degree.
The division between genders carries over into musical traditions. Among the Sama of Sulu, women play the kulintangan gongs, while men play the hanging gongs. Wooden castanets are used exclusively by female dancers. The tariray dance is performed by young women with subtle erotic movements of the hands and body, the titik tabawan is usually performed by older women. The Maranao kulintangan is composed of two principle instruments: the kulintang, played by a young woman, and the dubakan, reserved for men. The musical performance is likened to a dialogue or courtship between the performers.
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—-by David Straub
"Moro." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/moro
"Moro." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Retrieved January 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/moro