History of the Philippines

Tondo (historical polity)
A portrayal of the Ginu class. From the Boxer Codex, c. 1595.
900 Jan 2

Tondo (historical polity)

Luzon, Philippines

Tondo Polity is categorized as a "Bayan" (a "city-state", "country" or "polity", lit. '"settlement"'). Travellers from monarchical cultures who had contacts with Tondo (including the Chinese, Portuguese and the Spanish) often initially observed it as the "Kingdom of Tondo".

Politically, Tondo was made up of several social groupings, traditionally referred to by historians as Barangays, which were led by Datus. These Datus in turn recognised the leadership of the most senior among them as a sort of "Paramount datu" called a Lakan over the Bayan. In the middle to late 16th century, its Lakan was held in high regard within the alliance group which was formed by the various Manila Bay area polities, which included Tondo, Maynila, and various polities in Bulacan and Pampanga.

Culturally, the Tagalog people of Tondo had a rich Austronesian (specifically Malayo-Polynesian) culture, with its own expressions of language and writing, religion, art, and music dating back to the earliest peoples of the archipelago. This culture was later influenced by its trading relations with the rest of Maritime Southeast Asia. Particularly significant were its relations with Ming dynasty, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Majapahit empire, which served as the main conduit for significant Indian cultural influence, despite the Philippine archipelago's geographical location outside the Indian cultural zone.