9 Meranao Wonder Women Who Heavily Influenced Me

Wonder Woman
This list is more important to me than the list about crush-able men. Because this women helped shape my consciousness. Some of them I have known for years and some I have come to know more recently. Nevertheless, they have gained my admiration through their unique personality, intellect, grace, and beauty.

Before you my lovely readers react and message me about this and that who should make it to my list, let me tell you that I don't know every amazing Meranao woman out there. Those listed here I know personally. I am not posting photos of them, you know, cultural sensitivity. And I believe that Meranao women, so many of them are physically striking, but their character stands out even without them flaunting their beauty. They wear invisible crowns wherever they go.

1. Samira Gutoc-Tomawis

Being one of the first Meranao women who made made a name as a journalist, she tops my list. The first time I met her, she was our resource speaker in a journalism seminar-workshop and she blew me away by her mere presence. Her manner and ease in public speaking was imprinted in my mind. She may not remember, but there were times when I was in college that I volunteered for her. With some friends, we did simple tasks for her like take down notes in meetings and transcribe voice recordings. I couldn't fathom how she was able to juggle so many things at a time. She seems to be involved in everything and she was able to give time to everyone, no matter who they are. One day, we went to her home to submit some documents and I saw her without her makeup and hijab, and I thought she was the most beautiful. In her humility and simplicity, her spirit and good heart won me over. I thought to myself, I want to be like her.

2. Rebecca Alawi

Ma'am Rebecca of the English department in Mindanao State University was an enigma to me. She was never my instructor. But I do remember that she won a national essay writing contest. Wow, a national essay writing contest for God's sake! I have a reverence for writers, they to me are something else. Because most of my college friends are in College of Social Sciences and Humanities, I was always hanging out in the lobby, and I had ample chance to stalk Ma'am Alawi. I used to sit in the hallway and listen to her talk in her class. I observed her from a distance and I saw a graceful woman whose talent with words I wish I can emulate.

3. Jahara Solaiman

If I remember it correctly, she was one of advisers in Collegian, the student publication of Dansalan College, my alma mater. When she writes, she transports you to some place you've never been. She too is an instructor in the English department but I never really had a close encounter with her until I worked for The New Ranao Star when she never fails to provide aide when the paper needs her. What is special with Ma'am Jah is she is unassuming. You'll never guess how wide the horizon of her mind unless she speaks to you. And I believe she has influenced me heavily because when I was starting to hone my craft, her works are the first reference I had.

4. Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph

Ma'am Sor is one of my favorite people, the kind of person whose image in my head is always smiling. She was the department chairman of Communication Studies in MSU, our adviser in World Islamic Call Society, and instructor in my Public Speaking class. I love it whenever I have the chance to talk to her. She has encouraged me in pursuing my passion. She is a ball of positive energy and when she is around. I haven't been seeing Ma'am Sor lately, but I follow her column in Sun Star.

5. Lady Hanifa Mindalano

She is the elder sister of one of my childhood best friends. I have known her since elementary and being the ate of my bestie and one of the popular girls in school, she seemed to be always ahead of us, always cooler than us. We feel like trying hard copycats next to her. (Haha!) Did I mentioned that she is very pretty? Pretty and smart, that is a lethal combo. And although I am very, VERY difficult to intimidate, somehow Ate Lady manages to intimidate me. Napapatahimik kami when she passes by. But after years of observing her, she turns out to be a sweet lady, kind daughter and sister, fiercely passionate about her dreams, and an ideal conservative Meranao woman. Currently, I am enjoying her Facebook page and she makes me kilig with her photos proudly wearing her hijab in an Australian University where she studies.She makes you want to go out into the world and chase your dreams.

6. Princess Habibah Sarip 

Ate Babes is the first hijabi anchor in Philippine national TV! If that is not something, then I don't know what is. She is my senior and I have seen here transform from a teacher to a beautiful news anchor in PTV. What I love about her is her persistence. When she began in her show, she appeared amateurish. I can just imagine the difficulty, how nerve-racking it is to face the camera and deliver news. But she took the challenge. And now whenever I watch her, goodness gracious, she has turned pro. To aspire working for national news is like saying I want to be an artista. It is a small industry and getting in is the most difficult. And Princess Habibah Sarip proved that the seemingly impossible dream is possible.

7. Princess Tarhata Alonto Lucman

She is the stuff of legendary proportion. A true-to-life Meranao princess, she was the first lady governor of Lanao del Sur at a time when politics all over the country was male-dominated.It was said that early in her life, she was schooled and learned to speak English well and served as an interpreter for her illiterate father during his travels to the capital. I have never met her, just her grandsons and granddaughters. Her photos during her prime never fail to amaze me. She was a beautiful woman, the only woman who sat beside Imelda Marcos and looked more regal. The only woman I saw with Imelda whose beauty was never diminished by Imelda's overpowering presence. And that says a lot about her.

8. Atty. Nesrin Bazar Cali

Atty. Nessie is my girl crush. I chanced upon her Facebook page and I stalked her to death after. Because 1. She is #nofilter gorgeous. 2. She is a lawyer. 3. Her posts says a lot about her beautiful mind. I stopped being her mere follower when a common friend, Ate Princess Pacasum introduced us. I swear, na-star struck ako. Over the years, I am seeing more facets of Atty. Nessie's personality. She has a sense of style. She takes care of her loved ones hands on. She is generous. She cares a lot about her homeland. She is humble, soft-spoken, has a mild demeanor, but she can take down any opponent.

9. The Late Madame Raifa Adiong

 More than a week ago, it has caused me great grief when Madame Raifa passed away. The governor's wife, when she was still healthy has always been visible in the public eye, attending social events, spearheading activities, and always a hands-on partner to Gov. Bombits many projects. I have many chances to have close encounters with her. And I remember that she was the kind of first lady who never assumes and air of superiority. She makes you feel welcome, truly welcome. I have seen her wearing simple clothing to gatherings. She doesn't project an air of arrogance. Ang bait ni Madame. You can tell that people loved her by the way her subordinates talk about her. May Allah SWT bless her soul. She will never be forgotten.


  1. 2,3,4 were my instructors in college and they are part and parcel of what I have become.
    6 was my comaj and it was early last year I knew that she's a news anchor and take note, the FIRST hijabi news anchor in Philippine TV which made me proud even more

    1. These women probably don't know they extent of their effect on other women. Ang gagaling nila, nakakainspire.

  2. Salaam! Good starting point for an article. Maybe you can expand it to "Influential Maranao Women" or make another one for modern Maranao women excelling in their field.

    Most Maranao women in the past used to work in the shadow of their husband's spotlight so their work often goes unnoticed by the public. A good example is my late grandmother, who passed away June of last year. Hadja Putri Zorayda Abbas Tamano, wife of the late Senator Mamintal "Mike" Tamano, was a tireless civic leader. She championed the plight of Filipino-Muslim women in all her civic groups. She founded Philmuslima, was a member of countless women's organizations like Zonta, Millenium Women for World Peace, and many others. She was instrumental in forming the Muslim communities in Quiapo and Culiat. She even put up a free preschool in Quiapo in the 90s, out of her own pocket. A selfless giver, she did not expect anything in return, knowing that she will be rewarded in the afterlife by living as a good Muslim. If only you had a chance to meet her, I am sure that you will be inspired by her.

    Keep on rockin', young Maranao women! It's your time to shine!

  3. Salam! Aye! I am browsing online and I saw this page. MashaAllah! Kudos and thank you!


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