WATCH: How Filipino Muslims celebrate Ramadan in UAE

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WATCH: How Filipino Muslims celebrate Ramadan in UAE
Friends and relatives of Sahron Roy Tamano end their fast at his residence at Al Naaba area in Sharjah on Tuesday 07.

Khaleej Times reporter joins Tamano family in Sharjah for Iftar.

By Angel Tesorero

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Published: Thu 9 Jun 2016, 7:26 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Aug 2016, 4:39 PM

We never thought it will turn out to be a voyage into history of Philippines and its ties with Arab world, as we entered the "humble abode" of the Tamano family in Sharjah for the Iftar.
It was not just the inviting aroma of the food which welcomed us - It was more of the warm embrace, cordial smile and friendly handshake that greeted us. Sahron Roy Tamano, head of the family, introduced us to his wife, Noraisa Abdulrahman, who was busy putting the final touches on the authentic Maranao dishes they are preparing for relatives and friends; and daughters Hanna Sophia, 11, and Shaikha Shahronisa, five.
The family hails from Marawi City, the capital city of Lanao del Sur in Mindanao, southern Philippines.

Roy, as he is commonly known in the Filipino community in the UAE, is the former president of Filipino Maranao Community in the UAE (MarCom). We came before 6pm and we can really sense the anticipation on Roy's face.
"We are expecting around 50 guests tonight. We live in a humble house but I'm sure everyone will have a filling and happy Iftar," he said.

Iftar for all
The people of Maranao or Maranaw are called People of the Lake or Lake Dwellers. They live in Lake Lanao (or Ranaw) which is the second largest and deepest lake in the Philippines which was formed by the tectonic-volcanic damming of a basin between two mountain ranges and the collapse of a large volcano.
According to Roy, 'Piyaparan na manok' is one of their best dishes and is made especially for guests. Back in their home province each family with raise chickens and during festivities, they will prepare their best poultry for the guests.
Roy said hosting Iftar is not just reserved for those who are well-off. Even ordinary people, like farmers, would host politicians and leaders at their homes so they can also have a taste of the "humble food prepared by common people."
While waiting for the guests to arrive, we had a chat with Roy and he gave us a brief history of Muslims in the Philippines, which is the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia.
Roy said that his tribe - the Maranao -- traces its history to 14th century Arab traders who converted tribal leaders like Sharif Kabunsuan to Islam.
"Islam came before Christianity in what was to be known as Philippines," Roy told Khaleej Times.
"If not for the 'rediscovery' of our islands by Spanish coloniser Ferdinand Magellan, we would have been a Muslim country like our neighbours Indonesia and Malaysia."
"The beautiful Maranao language can be traced to the Southern Philippine sub-branch of the Western Austronesian language family and is closely related to the Ilanum language spoken in Sabah and Malaysia and the Maguindanaon language," Roy continued.
"In fact the first-ever translation of the Holy Qur'an in a Philippine language is actually in the Maranao language," he added.
"It is this strong pride in our culture and tradition that we always bond together wherever we are," Roy said.
"That's why MarCom was formed in November 2004 by nine Maranaos in Dubai and that was also the first Eid gatherings of Maranaos in the country."
Roy said the organisation is not just merely a club or association but one based on brotherhood and is open to all Maranaos residing or working in the UAE who claims and traces his/her roots to the Maranao tribe.
As Maghrib prayer was approaching, guests also arrived one by one and by families with kids in tow. They also brought their own food to share so we could all have a bountiful spread aside from the delicacies such as pizasati, a Maranao dish similar to falafel but made of tuna, coconut and eggs, which Roy prepared the night before.
Roy's family also cooked beef randang, originally an Indonesian dish but with a Maranao twist; konin (yellow) rice with turmeric; Chinese noodles and the Maranao speciality 'Piyaparan na manok' - chicken with coconut.
At the strike of 7.10pm everyone was settled and said their dua or supplication. We ended the fast with dates, water and fruits then the men went to the nearby Omar bin Al Kattab mosque while the women and children stayed at the house for prayers before we had a sumptuous Iftar.  

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