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Lakandula (Baybayin: ᜎᜃᜇᜓᜎ, Spanish orthography: Lacandola) was the regnal name of the last lakan or paramount ruler of pre-colonial Tondo when the Spaniards first conquered the lands of the Pasig River delta in the Philippines in the 1570s.[1]

The firsthand account of Spanish Royal Notary Hernando Riquel[2] said that Lakandula introduced himself to the Spanish as "Sibunao Lacandola", indicating for later Filipino historians that his given name was "Bunao".[3] However, some speculate that the word Lakan which in current Tagalog form means gentleman, was a title equivalent to prince meaning he was Prince Dula. He later converted to Christianity and was baptized Carlos Lacandola.[4] Another common variation of the name is Gat Dula (alternatively spelled as a single word, Gatdula).[5] He is sometimes erroneously referred to as Rajah Lakandula, but the terms "Rajah" and "Lakan" have the same meaning, and in this domain the native Lakan title was used, making the use of both "Rajah" and "Lakandula" at the same time redundant and erroneous.[1]

Along with Rajah Matanda and Rajah Sulayman, he was one of three rulers who played significant roles in the Spanish conquest of the Pasig River delta polities during the earliest days of the Philippines' Spanish colonial period.[3]

While it is unclear whether the entire name "Lakandula" represented a single titular name during his own lifetime, a few of his descendants in the first few generations after his death came to refer to themselves as the "Lakandula of Tondo", taking that name on as a noble title.[6]

Name and title

Over time, Lakandula's name has come to be written in several ways. However, according to the firsthand account written by Hernando Riquel, the royal notary who accompanied Miguel López de Legazpi, the Lord of Tondo specifically identified himself as "Sibunao Lacandola, lord of the town of Tondo"[2] when he went onboard Legazpi's ship with the lords of Manila on May 18, 1571. The lords of Manila introduced themselves as "Rajah Ache the Old and Rajah Soliman the Young, lords and principals of the town of Manila"[2]

In page 13 of "Cracks in the Parchment Curtain", preeminent historian William Henry Scott quotes Riquel's original text, which he found in the Spanish archives under "Archivo General de Indias Seccion Patronato leg. 24, no 24." The relevant part of the text read:[2]

...declaracion llamarse Raha Ache el Viejo y Raha Solimane el Mozo, senores y principales del pueblo de Manila, y Sibunao Lacandola, principal del pueblo de Tondo...(emphasis added)

Modern historians routinely remove the Filipino word "si", an article used for personal names, from recorded names in this era because Spanish writers who had not yet learned the local languages often mistakenly included it in Filipino names. Sibunao thus likely comes from "[Ako] si Bunao" = "[I] am Bunao". Historians thus take this to mean that the Lakan introduced himself as "Bunao Lakandula."[2]

Etymology of "Lakandula"

Banaw was the given name of the lord of Tondo at the time of the Spanish advent, and his title "Lakan" denoted a "paramount ruler" (or more specifically, "paramount datu") of one of the large coastal settlements (known as a "bayan" or "large barangay") of the Tagalog people.[7][3][8] This leaves the matter of the addendum "dula" to be settled. This could not have been a family name such as Filipinos use today, because family names were only introduced to the Filipino culture later, by Governor General Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa on November 11, 1849.[9]

Historian Jose N. Sevilla y Tolentino, however, suggested that Dula was not a personal name at all, but a local word for "Palace," such that "Lakandula" was the local-language title, "Lord of the Palace" of the rulers of Tondo.[10] Analogously, Rajah Ache was also referred to as Rajah Matanda (Old Rajah), while Rajah Sulayman was sometimes referred to as Rajah Muda or Rajamora (Young Rajah).[2][1][3][5][8]

In the Gatdula variant of the name, the word or prefix Gat is a shortened version of the Tagalog honorific "Pamagat", which at the time meant "nobleman," such that the variant literally read "Nobleman of the Palace", which meant essentially the same thing as the Kapampangan version.[5]

In any case, most contemporary historians continue to refer to him as Lakandula. Where historians such as Dery and Scott explain that his given name is Banaw, they then continue to refer to him as Lakandula.[3][5] Joaquin does something similar, explaining that the Lakan's given name is Banaw, and then proceeding to call him Lakan Dula (separate words) throughout his "Manila, My Manila" manuscript.[1]

"Lakan" instead of "Rajah"

With the term "Rajah" and "Lakan" meaning the same thing, the "Rajah Lakandula" variation of the title was also never used in the original sources pertaining to Lakan Dula,[11] and Filipino historian and national artist for literature Nick Joaquin takes pains to point out that the term Lakan, not Rajah, was used by the rulers of Tondo.[1]

Life before the arrival of the Spanish

Little is known about the early life of Banaw Lakandula before the arrival of Legazpi. According to National Artist Nick Joaquin "he is presumed to be of native birth," with mixed Tagalog and Kapampangan descent. Joaquin added that "He was said to be a descendant of King Balagtas."[1]

Joaquin further speculated on Lakandula's religious beliefs:[1]

"Tondo's Lakan Dula may have been unusual in being neither foreign nor muslim. This was indicated by his use of the native term Lakan instead of the foreign title Rajah. Lakan dula can be presumed… to have been reared in the anito cults. One guess is that he converted to islam, then changed his mind and returned to his native faith."

Joaquin also expounded on the economic context of Lakandula's reign over Tondo:[1]

"Tondo had replaced Namayan as the chief port of entry on Manila Bay. Tondo was right on the seaside. This was the advantage it had over Namayan, which was upriver inland. So the merchant ships that came into the bay preferred to unload their goods at the port of Tondo. And now it was the king of Tondo who was responsible for sending the merchandise upriver to the lakeside communities, there to be traded for local products. Tondo was thus the distributing center, or entrepot, on the delta... At the time of Lakan Dula, Tondo was at the height of its career as an entrepot…."

According to Scott (1982), when ships from China came to Manila bay, Lakandula would remove the sails and rudders of their ships until they paid him duties and anchorage fees, and then he would then buy up all their goods himself, paying half its value immediately and then paying the other half upon their return the following year. In the interim, he would trade these goods with peoples further upstream, the end result being that other locals were not able to buy anything from the Chinese directly, but from Lakandula, who made a tidy profit as a result.[2][6][10]

William Henry Scott noted that Augustinian Fray Martin de Rada Legaspi says that the Tagalogs were "more traders than warriors", and elsewhere notes that Maynila's ships got their goods from Tondo and then dominated trade through the rest of the archipelago. People in other parts of the archipelago often referred to Maynila's boats as "Chinese" (Sina or Sinina) because they came bearing Chinese goods.[2]

Arrival of Legazpi, May 1571

When Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came to Manila Bay in May 1571, Lakandula was there to meet him. The two first met on May 17, the day after Legazpi's arrival on the bay, when Lakandula and Rajah Matanda came aboard Legazpi's ship to discuss terms with him. Part of these discussions specified that the Spanish would not land in Tondo, and would instead land in Maynila, which had been burned to the ground the year before. Joaquin suggests that Lakandula would "have seen that Legaspi was being practical. Burned down and emptied, Maynila would be a better spot to fortify, being more strategic."[1] In fact, Manila wasn't conquered, but it was occupied through a peace pact that joined Legazpi and the three kings Lakandula, Rajah Ache and Rajah Sulayman.[12]

On May 18, 1571, Rajah Sulayman, Rajah Matanda, and Lakan Dula acknowledged the sovereignty of Spain over the islands and proclaimed themselves the vassals of Spain. On the following day, May 19, Legazpi landed in Manila and took ceremonial possession of the land in the presence of Soliman, Matanda, and Lakandula.[1][3][8]

Lakandula helped make a house for Legazpi, and a fort for the Spanish, giving them fourteen pieces of artillery and twelve jars of gunpowder, a gift much appreciated by the Spanish, who were running low on ammunition.[2][1][3]

Soon after, Lakandula and his sons became baptized as Catholics. The Spanish had Manila's artillery and arquebuses discharged in honor of the ceremony.[1][3] Bunao Lakandula took on the name Don Carlos Lacandola after Charles I of Spain.[13]

The Battle of Bangkusay, June 1571

When the Spaniards first came to Manila they were kindly accepted, but over time the natives understood that it had meant subservience to them. It wasn't long before Spanish power in Luzon was challenged. A first battle took place on 24 May 1570 where the natives were defeated.[14] A month later, Tarik Sulayman of Macabebe attacked Manila, convincing Rajah Sulayman to join the battle against Legazpi. Macabebe and Sulayman's forces were defeated, and the Datu of Macabebe was killed in what history would record as the Battle of Bangkusay Channel. (The similarity of names has caused some confusion between these two leaders, but Tarik Sulayman and Rajah Sulayman were different individuals – one survived the battle, and the other did not.)[1]

Lakandula had refused to join Macabebe and Sulayman's coalition, but among the prisoners taken by the Spanish after the battle were two of his nephews and a number of his officers. When questioned, they said that they had been on the scene only as observers, not as combatants. Legazpi let them go to demonstrate his confidence in Lakandula.[1]

Joaquin noted that this was a wise choice on Legaspi's part:[1]

"If he had been playing a double game before, Lakan Dula now became earnest in supporting the Spanish. It may be he who persuaded the fugitive Soliman to surrender and return to the good graces of Legazpi."

Expedition to Pampanga and Bulacan, late 1571

Later that year, Legaspi sent Martin de Goiti to spread Spanish rule to the peoples of what are now the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga, particularly the territories of Lubao with Macabebe, Guagua on September 14, 1571. One month later they conquered Calumpit and Malolos in November 14 of the same year. Legazpi conceded these settlements under Spanish rule. He sent Lakandula and Sulayman with him, because, as one account has it, "if so great a chief should go with him, when the Tagalogs and Pampangos saw that he had given obedience to His Majesty, they would give it also."[2][3]

The account continued:[2]

"Lacandola agreed to go, and served with two ships provided at his cost, and distinguished himself by performing much service for His Majesty, and went along so the said Pampangos would give him obedience, as in fact they did."

These boats were joangas (karakoa), a type of seacraft capable of carrying 300 men each,[3][8] which, as Dery[3] points out, were common in Maritime Southeast Asia.

Attack by Limahong, 1574

Lakandula's close association with the Spanish continued despite Legaspi's death on August 20, 1572, and his replacement as governor by Guido de Lavezares, who had been the colony's treasurer. The possession of the Islands was unsuccessfully disputed by a rival expedition under the command of a Chinese, Li-ma-hong, a pirate, who had been outlawed by the Celestial Emperor of China. Lakandula was on hand to help repel the invading corsair Limahong when he came to try and sack Manila in 1574.[2][1][3] Lakandula was able to raise a rebellion against the Spaniards. The natives of Mindoro Island revolted too but all these disorders were solved by a detachment of soldiers.[15]


Mentions of Lakandula's death are few, but Scott indicated that he died in 1575, "three years after" Legazpi and Rajah Matanda, who both died in 1572.[2][8]

Lakandula's role as ruler of Tondo was then taken up by his grandnephew, and Rajah Soliman's adopted son, Agustin de Legazpi.[2][8]

Agustin de Legazpi, who was married to the cousin of Sultan Bolkiah, would lead Tondo as a territory under Spanish rule until he rose up against them in 1587–1588 Revolt of the Lakans, and was deposed and killed as a result.[2][8]

According to Fray Gaspar de San Agustin in "Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas 1565–1615", as cited by Kimuell-Gabriel (2013), Lakandula had ruled Tondo from an elevated site near Manila bay, facing the shore and fronted by fishermen's dwellings.[16] According to local oral histories, this site eventually became the site of the Sto. Niño of Tondo Parish church.[17][18]

Documentary sources

Primary documentary sources about Lakandula are sparse, so much so that there has been debate about the actual name of the Lakan. Luis Dery identified three types of sources regarding Lakandula:[3]

  • direct accounts of Legaspi's 1571 conquest, and indirect references from other documents of the period;
  • a record group in the Philippine National Archives collectively referred to as the "Lacandola Documents" containing mostly 18th-century genealogical documents; and
  • folklore, which "suggests prior lineage where documentation definitively identifies only descendants".

Direct accounts and references from period documents

In his "Bibliographic Essay" at the end of his book "Barangay:Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society", William Henry Scott[8] identified the three accounts directly detailing the events of Lakandula's lifetime:

  • An account written by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi himself;
  • An account by royal notary Hernando Riquel who was part of Legazpi's expedition; and
  • a third account which is anonymous, but which Scott suggests is probably written by royal notary Hernando Riquel.

Scott singled this third account out as particularly useful, because it included careful observations of the islands and people contacted.[8]

Scott also identified other accounts that didn't directly refer to that occasion, but provided additional information about conditions at the time. These included two accounts of the Magellan voyage, reports from the attacks on Borneo in 1578–79, letters to the king from royal auditor Melchor de Avalos, Reports by later Governors General, passing details in sworn testimony about Augustinian activities (the latter two recorded in Blair and Robertson), Correspondence of Augustinian Fray Martin de Rada, the Relacion accounts of Miguel de Loarca and Juan de Plasencia, and the Boxer Codex, which "can be dated to 1590 on internal evidence."[8]



Lakan Dula was the most prolific of Luzon's ancient rulers. His descendants were spread out all across the Kapampangan Region during the Spanish colonial era.[6] Genealogical research by Filipino historian Luciano P.R. Santiago indicated that Lakan Dula fathered at least five children:[6][3]

  • Batang Dula, the eldest son of Lakan Bunao Dula;
  • Don Dionisio Capulong,the Datu of Candaba;
  • Don Magat Salamat, who would later rule Tondo with his cousin Agustin de Legazpi after Lakandula died, and who was then executed by the Spanish in 1588 for his role in the Revolt of the Lakans;
  • Don Felipe Salonga, the Datu of Pulu;
  • Doña Maria Poloin, his only historically recorded daughter, who married Don Juan Alonso Talabos; and
  • Don Martin Lakandula who entered the Augustinian Order as a lay brother in 1590.

Other documentary sources[3] also mentioned a "Don Luis Taclocmao" (or "Salugmoc"), a supposed son Lakandula of who was killed in the 1603 Chinese rebellion, fighting the Chinese rebels.[3]

Other relations

Local folk legends recounted that conquistador Juan de Salcedo fell in love with an 18-year-old noblewoman called "Dayang-dayang Gandarapa", who was said to be the niece of Lakandula.[19]

Later descendants

In 1990, Filipino historian Luciano P.R. Santiago wrote an article for the Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society which detailed the identities and life stories of some of the descendants of Lakan Dula, mostly based on the "Lacandola Documents," a collection of legal documents held by the Philippine National Archives.[6] Another Filipino historian, Luis Camara Dery, in his 2001 book "A History of the Inarticulate",[3] noted that a purported 1539 document called the "Will of Fernando Malang Balagtas," which, although its exact provenance has been determined to be doubtful,[2] corroborated the information from the Lacandola documents.[3] The Lacandola of Arayat came from one of the grandchildren of Lakan Dula of Tondo named Dola, who was from San Luis, Pampanga. When Dola married, she insisted to use the surname Lacandola for her children to maintain connection with his grandfather from Tondo and partly, to hide from Spanish authorities.She was married to a Spanish mestizo surnamed Reyes.Eventually, the Reyes-Lacandola was married into a Macapagal.

Dery, Scott, and Santiago recounted that the privileges accorded to the descendants of Lakan Dula had been discontinued for a while in the aftermath of Lakan Dula's death, because some of the descendants came into conflict with the Spanish authorities. According to Dery,[3] the Balagtas document recounted that these privileges were restored when a Juan Macapagal, who claimed to be a great grandson of Lakan Dula (through Dionisio Capulong's son Juan Gonzalo Capulong),[3] aided the Spanish authorities in suppressing the 1660 Maniago revolt, the 1660-61 Malong revolt, and the 1661 Almazan revolt, performed his role as Master-of-Camp and Datu of Arayat.[3][6]

In 1758, A Gremio de Lakandulas was created to safeguard the rights and privileges of the Kapampangan descendants of Lakan Dula as assured by the Spanish crown.[6] During the British invasion of 1762–64, the descendants of Lakan Dula, concentrated in the province of Pampanga, formed a company of volunteers to fight the British and were granted autonomy by Governor General Simon de Anda.[6]

Macapagal (rare variant: Makapagal) is a Filipino surname derived from the Kapampangan language. The family claims noble descent from the legitimate grandchildren of Lakandula, the last "王" or King of Tondo "東都" (Dongdu). It is the only known branch of the Seludong's royal family to have survived the Majapahit Empire's invasion, the Sultanate of Brunei's pogrom against native royals, Chinese warlord Limahong's massacres, and the fallout from the Tondo Conspiracy. The family survived due to Martin de Goiti's giving of his Mestiza (Half Aztec and Half-Spanish) daughter in marriage to Batang Dula. As time went on, they incorporated the descendants from the two other royal houses: the house of Rajah Matanda (ऋअज ंअतन्द) and the house of Tariq Suleiman (سليمان). The family then migrated to Pampanga and Northern Samar after the Spanish assumed control of Manila.

By Santiago's genealogical reckoning, prominent Lakan Dula descendants of the 20th century include the former Philippine Presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former Philippine Senate President Jovito Salonga, international stage celebrity Lea Salonga, pioneer Filipino industrialist Gonzalo Puyat, and former Philippine Senate President Gil Puyat.[6]


The insignia of the Order of Lakandula
  • The Order of Lakandula is one of the highest honors given by the Republic of the Philippines. It is an order of political and civic merit, awarded in memory of Lakan Dula's dedication to the responsibilities of leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage and resolve in the service of one's people.
  • The BRP Rajah Lakandula (PF-4) was the destroyer escort / frigate and is the only ex-USN Edsall-class destroyer escort that served the Philippine Navy. It was also the flagship of the Philippine Navy from 1981 to 1988. Struck from the Navy List in 1988, it was still in use as stationary barracks ship in Subic Bay as of 1999.
  • A number of Lakan Dula elementary and secondary schools are named after Lakan Dula, notably in the City of Manila, and the Province of Pampanga, both closely associated with Banaw Lakan Dula.

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Joaqiun, Nick (1990). Manila, My Manila: A History for the Young. City of Manila: Anvil Publishing, Inc.. ISBN 978-971-569-313-4. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 Scott, William Henry (1982). Cracks in the Parchment Curtain and Other Essays in Philippine History. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. ISBN 978-971-10-0000-4. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 Dery, Luis Camara (2001). A History of the Inarticulate. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. ISBN 971-10-1069-0. 
  4. The Philippine revolution and beyond: papers from the International Conference on the Centennial of the 1896 Philippine Revolution, Volume 1, National Commission on Culture and the Arts (Philippines), National Centennial Commission (Philippines), Philippine Centennial Commission [and] National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1998, p. 111
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Scott, William Henry (1992). Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. ISBN 971-10-0524-7. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Santiago, Luciano P.R (March 1990). "The Houses of Lakandula, Matanda, and Soliman [1571–1898]: Genealogy and Group Identity". Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. 18 (1). JSTOR 29791998.
  7. Pre-colonial Manila. Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (23 June 2015).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Scott, William Henry (1994). Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 192. ISBN 971-550-135-4. 
  9. Jernegan, Prescott Ford (1905) "A short history of the Philippines: for use in Philippine schools". pp. 232-234. D. Appleton and Company, New York.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sevilla y Tolentino, Jose N. (1922). Mga Dakilang Pilipino o Ang Kaibigan ng mga Nagaaral (in tl), 12–13. 
  11. Laput, Ernesto J.. Buhay sa Nayon (tl). Pinas: Munting Kasaysayan ng Pira-pirasong Bayan. Ernesto J. Laput.
  12. the peaceful king takes his Stand Retrieved on 08 Jan 2018
  13. A history of Brunei, Graham E. Saunders, Routledge, 2002, p. 54
  14. Battle of Bangkusay: A Paradigm of Defiance against Colonial Conquest Retrieved on 08 Jan 2018
  15. story of Li-ma-hong and his failed attempt to conquer Manila in 1574 Retrieved on 08 Jan 2018
  16. San Agustin, Gaspar de. Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas 1565–1615, 1st bilingual ed [Spanish and English] (in es, en), Intramuros, Manila, 1998: Pedro Galende, OSA. 
  18. Kimuell-Gabriel, Nancy A. (2013-03-03). Ang Tundo sa Inskripsyon sa Binatbat na Tanso ng Laguna (900 MK.-1588). Bahay Saliksikan ng Kasaysayan -- Bagong Kasaysayan (BAKAS), Inc.. “"Itatatag nila ang simbahan ng Sto. Niño sa mismong lunan ni Lakandula, isang mataas na bahaging nakaharap sa dagat at kabahayan ng mga mangingisda, at magiging sentro ng buhay-ispiritwal ito ng mga katutubo at Tsino na magpapabilis ng integrasyon nila sa bagong kolonyal na kaayusan. Si Alfonso de Alvarado ang mahahalal na Prior (o Superior, ang superbisor ng mga prayle) ng Kumbento ng Tundo."” Gray literature partly based on Kimuell-Gabriel, Nancy A. (2001). TIMAWA: Kahulugan, Kasaysayan at Kabuluhan sa Lipunang Pilipino. Tesis Masteral (PhD Thesis). Departamento ng Kasaysayan, Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, Diliman.
  19. Ordoñez, Minyong. "Love and power among the 'conquistadors'", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2012-08-19. (in en)