Maguindanao is a province of the Philippines located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Its capital is Shariff Aguak. It borders Lanao del Sur to the north, Cotabato to the east, and Sultan Kudarat to the south.
Map of the Philippines with Maguindanao highlighted
Maguindanao is composed of 36 municipalities, which are further subdivided into 508 barangays. Cotabato City is often grouped with Maguindanao for historical, geographical, and statistical purposes, but it is actually independent from the province and not part of the ARMM as Maguindanao is.
The province is divided into two congressional districts. In October 2006, the first congressional district was split off into a new province,Shariff Kabunsuan. However, the ARMM's Act creating the province was nullified by the Supreme Court in July 2008, on the basis that creation of a province is a function of the Philippine legislature. The area has since reverted to the province of Maguindanao.
Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johore introduced Islam in the area at the end of the 15th century. He subsequently married a local princess from the Maranao Tribe of Malabang and Maguindanao Province, and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao. The Cotabato Valley formed the sultanate's heartland but its influence extended from the Zamboanga Peninsula to Sarangani Bay and Davao.
The Spaniards launched expeditions to subdue the area throughout the colonial era but they never gained control of the region until the middle of the 19th century.
During the American period, Cotabato became a district of the Moro Province created in 1903 and a province of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu in 1914.
In 1942, the Japanese Imperial forces entered what is now Maguindanao.
In 1945, Maguindanao was liberated by allied Philippine Commonwealth troops and Maguindanaoan guerrilla units after defeating the Japanese Imperial forces in the Battle of Maguindanao during the Second World War.
The old province of Cotabato was divided in 1966 into Cotabato and South Cotabato. In 1973, the successor province of Cotabato was split into the provinces of Maguindanao, (North) Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
Maguindanao is the only Muslim-majority province of the four created out of the original Cotabato Province. In 1989, majority of its voters opted to join the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao but Cotabato City did not, which, ironically, has since served as the provisional capital of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
On October 31, 2006, Maguindanao voters approved the creation of a new province to be composed of 10 towns from the province. Of more than 500,000 voters registered, 285,372 favored the creation of the province, and 8,802 voted against it. The new province, Shariff Kabunsuan, became the country's 80th province and the 6th in the ARMM. It was composed of the towns of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Upi, Sultan Kudarat, Datu Blah T. Sinsuat, Sultan Mastura, Parang, Buldon, Matanog and Barira. However, in July 2008, the Supreme Court nullified the province's creation, restoring its municipalities to Maguindanao.