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Inaul Malong Lecturette

The Maguindanaons of Central Mindanao are the biggest tribal group in the whole of Mindanao. Up to this present time, there is one cultural material that is part of their daily existence. This is the maguindanao "inaul" malong.

It is said that the malong accompanies the maguindanaon from childbirth to death.

The maguindanao "inaul" malong is a tubular piece of clothing woven in a handloom 36cms. Wide and takes 4 meter of material to make one malong. The colors and designs of the malong is so varied that it matches the numerous manners in which it is worn and used. In the past, certain designs and colors are identified with a particular area or clan.

I am taking this opportunity to bring to your attention the many incorrect uses of this cultural material particularly with regards to dance troupe performances.

I have observed that most cultural troupe perform the kapamalong-malong in manners that the designs and the manner of wearing are entirely mixed with other tribe that uses this cloth. Among them are the Maranaos, Tausugs, Tedurays, Tiboli and B'laans. Another thing is that most groups are not aware of what they are doing. First the malong is never worn without a blouse or banggala. Second, all "inaul" are malong, but not all malong are "inaul".

Please allow me to demonstrate. (show samples of maranao, maguindanao, tausug and teduray malongs.)

For the women of the royalty: most favored type of wearing the malong is either the sinablay, sinipit,or the pimbalok.

As a housewear, the malong is tied over the shoulder to free the hand as the person moves around. When bathing, the malong is tied over the chest and "paigo" is the appropiate hand moves.

The malong is also used as a shield against the heat of the sun or rain, and since the Muslims pray 5 times a day, the women used the malong as "mukna" or prayer habit. When going to the market, the malong is usually tied with a provision for a small pocket where they put their money of even small items bought at the marketplace.

Working mothers usually take their babies along by using a malong slung across the body and used as a hammock. And during the ritual of "kapedtabungao" or the baptism of the child, it is mandatory that the baby should be wrapped in the family's finest malong.

For the males: when lounging, the malong is worn with a deep inverted-v pleat infront and is rolled on the waist. On occassions that requires the wearing of a malong, it is usually worn short and if long; one end of the malong is tucked on the waistline.

When working in the field or river, the malong is worn as a short "kantsu" or pants. The males also makes use of the malong as a "kandit" or belt where they tuck their "kampilans" or " kris".

When carrying heavy loads, the malong is also used as a chest or back strap for easy carrying of whatever is to be brought along, and during cold weather, the malong proves to be an effective warmer. The males also use the malong as a turban as they wrap it around their head. The "tubao" or kerchief that is commonly worn today by maguindanao males is actually a whole malong in the past.

In the field, when harvesting crops or grains, the malong is also used as a sack by tying two ends of the cloth. It is also used as a scoop for shallow fishing on rivers.

In the presence of adversaries, a stone wrapped at one end of the malong serves as an effective repellant for the assault of the enemy.

Other than this, the malong can be used as a stage curtain, an ambulant dressing or comfort room for women, a blanket, pillow or basket, a medium of exchange, a part of the bride price, a gift, a shroud for the dead and on emergency cases, two poles on both sides of the malong becomes a stretcher to transport the ill, wounded or dead.

This are but some of the many uses of this piece of clothing reputed to be the most versatile piece of clothing ever invented by man.

Inaul Malong Lecturette

Benjie Nagata Abarca
Supervising Tourism Operations Officer
Cotabato City