• What was Metro Manila before the Spaniards came?

Present day Metro Manila as we know from records were divided by two kingdoms, The Kingdom of Tondo on the northern side of the Pasig River and the Kingdom of Maynila on the Southern side. We know the existence of the Kingdom of Tondo based on the inscription in the oldest written record we have found to date, The Laguna Copperplate that dates back to 900 A.D. There are also several other written accounts of the Kingdom of Tondo by the Chinese in the Ming Shilu Annuals, and from Brunei, who we shared strong relations with until the Spaniards arrived which ended our relations. As for the existence of the Kingdom of Maynila we also know from the Spaniards as when they first arrived.

Now I’ll give a short summary.

When the Spaniards came in the late 1500’s the ruler of the Kingdom of Tondo was Lakan Dula, (Lakan was the equivalent of Rajah in some groups), whose full name was Banaw Lakan Dula and was the cousin (or brother? The accounts don’t match up from what I read because they both say they were both. But they were definitely either cousins or brothers. I’m still looking into it) of Rajah Ache, known as Rajah Matanda to his people, who ruled the Kingdom of Maynila. It was an Indianized state in the 10th Century already having ties with China in the Ming Dynasty and having later relations with the Sultan of Brunei. When China closed off from the world in trading from 1371 to 1567 it was only in the Kingdom of Tondo and other parts of the Philippines that trading were allowed to exist. If others parts of Southeast Asia or elsewhere wanted Chinese goods they would have to go to here to get them.

In the 1500’s there was merging of royal families from Brunei with Gat (Lord) Lontok, the son of the fifth sultan of Brunei, Sultan Bolkiah,  and Dayang (Lady) Kalangitan the daughter of Rajah Gambang who was a previous ruler of the Kingdom of Tondo. It was an Islamized state along with the mix of the indigenous Animistic beliefs.

The Kingdom of Maynila was ruled by Rajah Ache taking the role of Rajah from his cousin (brother?) Sulayman II. He then passed leadership down to his nephew, Rajah Sulayman III, who was the son of Sulayman II. He was the ruler at the time of the Spaniards arrival. It was an Islamized state at the time when the Spaniards came.

Again I’m still trying to figure out if Rajah Ache, Lakan Dula, and Rajah Sulayman II were first cousins or brothers. William Henry Scott mentions they were first cousins and in the records from the Spaniards they were first cousins. From the records from the royal family of Brunei however they state that they were brothers. So I’m still trying to figure out which one, but everything else is the same. We do know that the royal families from various parts of the Luzon region and parts of Mindanao as well as Brunei and Moluccas in Indonesia were all related.

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