On June 11, 2006 IslamOnline.net reported, "Filipino Muslims wholeheartedly welcomed the decoration of sculptor Abdulmari Asia Imao who became the country's first Muslim to belong to the elite Order of National Artists. 'He is a great Moro artist who deserves the award. We are so proud of him,' Hajji Ibrahim, a Manila-based Moro, told IslamOnline.net on Sunday, June 11. He added that Imao's achievement 'brings to fore the art of the Muslims in Mindanao.' Imao received the prestigious Order of National Artists, Philippines' version of Nobel Peace Prize, in a ceremony on Friday, June 9, for his 'significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and to the cultural heritage of the country.' He joined six other national artists for literature, dance, visual arts, film, and fashion design. Imao was named national artist for sculpture. They were honored for their 'preeminent excellence in their own fields and for their national genius that contributes to the artistic heritage of the Philippines and the world.' Muslims make up some five percent of the country's estimated 89,5 million population, according to the CIA online facts book. The mineral-rich southern region of Mindanao is the birthplace of Islam in the Philippines."