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The sarimanok (pronunciation: sá·ri·ma·nók), also known as papanok in its feminine form,[1] is a legendary bird of the Maranao people in Mindanao and part of Philippine mythology. It comes from the words "sari," which means “assorted” or “various,” and "manok," which means “chicken.” Put together, “sarimanok” is meant to say “chicken of assorted colors,” pertaining to the bird having multiple colors.


The sarimanok is derived from a totem bird of the Maranao people, called itotoro. According to the Maranao people, the itotoro is a medium to the spirit world via its unseen twin spirit bird called inikadowa.[2][3][4]


A sarimanok carving

The Sarimanok is derived from a totem bird of the Maranao people, called Itotoro. According to the Maranao people, the Itotoro is a medium to the spirit world via its unseen twin spirit bird called Inikadowa.

According to Islamic legend, Muhammad found a rooster in the first of the seven heavens. The bird was so large its crest touched the second heaven. Its crow roused every living creature except man. Judgement day would come once this celestial rooster ceased to crow.[5]

Cultural significance

According to tradition, the sarimanok is never displayed by itself. It must be displayed with a set of flags, standards and vexilloids. At present, this is not totally true; sarimanok may be placed on the top of the umbrella of a sultan or dignitary, and also, the Mindanao State University has adopted it for the graduation exercises following a non-traditional use.[6][7]

Philippine National Artist for Visual Arts Abdulmari Asia Imao uses the sarimanok as a motif for some of his artworks which helped popularize the creature.[8]

The Far Eastern University seal bears the FEU Coat of Arms and the sarimanok motif. The FEU Coat of arms consists of an eight-pointed golden star that represents the first eight main disciplines of FEU. The sarimanok is a legendary bird in full color that project the nationalistic spirit upon which the university is founded. The university wanted to have a Filipino touch in everything because they were one of the first universities in the Philippines to be founded by a Filipino, Dr. Nicanor Reyes, Sr.[9]

The Philippine television network ABS-CBN used the sarimanok in the network's 1993 station ID and served as the network's mascot from 1993 until 1999. It was first used during its color broadcasts in November 1966, similar to how NBC in the United States created their most famous symbol in 1956 for its color broadcasts: the peacock, which remains the company's official logo to this day. The sarimanok was re-used in 2004 on plugs of its regional broadcasts.

The Philippine float entry for the 1998 Tournament of Roses Parade featured a giant 55-foot sarimanok which also won the Most Beautiful Float from Outside the USA honors.[10][11]

The sarimanok was also the logo of Spirit of Manila Airlines, a short-lived airline that lasted from 2011 to 2012.

See also


  1. Peralta, Jesus T. (1980). "Southwestern Philippine Art". Anthropological papers (National Museum (Philippines)) (7): 32–34.
  2. Philippine Arts and Culture: Sarimanok. Accessed August 28, 2008.
  3. Geocities: Sarimanok. Accessed August 28, 2008.
  4. Kipas: Kulintang Ensemble. Accessed August 28, 2008.
  5. The Manila Times Internet Edition: Adorning the Sarimanok. Accessed July 29, 2007
  6. Royal Sultanates of Lake Lanao Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed August 28, 2008.
  7. ABC: Under the Crescent Moon. Accessed August 28, 2008.
  8. Abdulmari Asia Imao.
  9. Tambayan, The Official Magazine of the FEU Advocate, March 2012, Vol.8
  10. Pelayo, Larry (2011). The Philippines' long history with the Rose Parade.
  11. Giant Sarimanok, Jeepney at Rose Parade (January 2, 1998).