The term Lanao is derived from a Maranao word “Ranao” meaning a body of water. “Maranao” means lake dweller. They are the natives of the place occupying the land around Lake Lanao, which is situated at the central part of Lanao del Sur. Lanao, applies to the entire area before its division. When it was divided into two provinces, the southern portion became Lanao del Sur and the northern part became Lanao del Norte.
Dansalan, Marawi City’s old name, was explored by the Spaniards as early as 1639. It is said that at that time, Marawi was already the citadel of Malayan-Arabic culture in Mindanao. Feeling the pulse of strong refusal among its inhabitants to adopt Christianity, the Spaniards abandoned the project of colonizing the area. Dansalan, physically speaking, would have satisfactorily qualified to become a town or municipality during the time of said exploration based on the Spanish Policy of “Ecclesiastical Administration” except for one factor – religion.
Attempts were made later by foreigners to capture Lanao but fierce and fanatical resistance of the Maranaos to colonial rule made the planting of Christianity in Dansalan an unlikely outcome.
A strong Spanish expedition to conquer the Maranaos was fielded in 1891 during the time of Governor General Valeriano Wayler, but this force was driven back to Iligan after failing to capture Dansalan. In 1895, Governor General Blanco sent a stronger force to take Marawi. Superior firepower forced the Dansalan defenders to leave the city. Here the conquerors established the garrison that remained until the outbreak of the Spanish – American War in 1898. Spain claimed this event as its victory but the verdict of history revealed that while the Spaniards were able to erect a garrison in Dansalan, they failed to conquer its people who stubbornly refused to adhere to the colonial yoke of Spain. Muslim religion and Maranao culture remained intact and untarnished.
On May 24, 1904, the American Colonial Government proclaimed Dansalan a regular Municipality. The Philippines was still under the Commonwealth regime of the Americans when Dansalan was chartered into a city in 1904. In 1942, the Japanese troops invaded Northern Lanao and established their own garrison. In 1945, following a three year occupation by Japanese forces, troops from the 6th, 101st, 102nd and 108th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, 10th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary and Maranao guerrillas attacked the Japanese garrison in the Battle of Lanao. The guerrillas attacked using traditional Maranao Kampilan, Barong and Kris swords. Eventually, the Japanese were defeated, however Dansalan was not renamed to Marawi City until June 16, 1956.
Republic Act No. 2228 divided Lanao in to two (2) provinces giving birth to Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. The new province was inaugurated on July 4, 1959 making Iligan City as the capital. The Salvador T. Lluch was the first Governor. The second was Honorable Mohammad Ali Dimaporo, from January 1960 to September 1965 when Governor Dimaporo ran and won the congressional seat of the province. By operation of the law of succession, the Honorable Vice Governor Arsenio A. Quibranza became the third Provincial Chief Executive. By mandate of his people, Governor Quibranza was elected Governor in 1967 and almost unanimously was re-elected in 1971 and again in 1980.
In 1977, President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Resolution No. 805 series of 1977 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Parliamentary Bill No. 586) sponsored by Assemblyman Abdullah D. Dimaporo, into Presidential Decree 181 transferring the province’s capital from Iligan City to the municipality of Tubod.
In October 1984, inaugural ceremonies were held to celebrate the occasion of the transfer of the Provincial Capitol from Poblacion, Tubod to the Don Mariano Marcos Government Center (now Governor Arsenio A. Quibranza Provincial Government Center) at Pigcarangan, Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
By virtue of the power and impact of the People’s Power Revolution at Edsa, Manila on February 25, 1986, local government all over the Philippines changed the political atmosphere overnight. Lanao del Norte became one among the many provinces affected by the sudden changes brought by the “Snap Election” on February 1986. Local heads of offices and employees particularly those holding political positions were destabilized but with the installation of President Corazon Aquino as president, OIC Atty. Francisco L. Abalos became the appointed governor of the province on March 3, 1986. On February 2, 1988, Atty. Abalos was elected as governor of the province.
In the Synchronized National Election of May 11, 1992, Congressman Abdullah D. Dimaporo, a legislator and economist, was elected Provincial Governor. The Provincial government embarked on a comprehensive planning and set the groundwork for the development of the province
In the 1998 national and local elections, Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo, wife of Governor Abdullah. D. Dimaporo was elected as Provincial Governor. Despite the outbreak of the conflict of the MILF and the GRP in Kauswagan last March 2000, through the provincial government’s effort, peace and order was restored in the province.
The Provincial Government was also able to bring the province into the limelight with full media coverage, through the hosting of the First Mindanao Friendship Games at the Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod on November 11-15, 2001. Participants came from all over Mindanao representing the various LGUs in the island. The event was opened by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.