My first encounter with this legendary bird wasn't very overwhelming. The Sarimanok appears on the station ID of a local TV station in the Philippines back in the late 90's which one can probably see at least twice a day. It became just a nice bird with lots of colors. It doesn't seem very special, and it looks like a rooster.
But then again, the bird is very symbolical.
It means wealth and prosperity to the Maranaos. Tracing its roots to Islam due to the involvement of Muhammad in this, it is of no surprise that its popularity is widely accepted in the southern parts of the country. The Maranao legend says of a sultan's daughter being swept by a colorful rooster that turned to a dashing, handsome young man and the two was never seen ever again. The sultan then created visual replicas of the bird so that she can remember her daughter through it. Maybe he finds it easier to remember the chicken, rather than her daughter.
It is surprising that we Filipinos have a legendary bird too, just like the Phoenix. It is through the nature of its appearance that it probably got its name. Sari means cloth or garment, which is generally full of colors and Manok (you should go back to being a baby if you're Filipino and don't know what manok is). The Sarimanok is a colorful chicken indeed.