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Datu is the title for tribal chief (king) and monarchs in the Philippines. Together with Sultan and Rajah, they are also titles used for native royalty and are currently used in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. These titles are the equivalent of European dukes and marquesses. The word datu was derived from the Malay word: Dato' or Datuk, which are royal titles of the Malay people. According to Philippine folk tradition, the arrival of the ten Bornean datus is celebrated in the Binirayan festival in the island of Panay, which in ancient times was known as the island of "Aninipay" in the Visayas.




Datu in Filipino Muslim society

The Moros, a term inherited from the Spaniards, are the main indigenous tribes of the Philippines. In the traditional structure of Muslim Filipino societies, Sultans were the highest authority followed by the datus, with their rule being sanctioned by the Qur'an. Datus were supported by their tribes. In return for tribute and labor, the datu provided aid in emergencies and advocacy in disputes with other communities and warfare through the Agamat and Maratabat laws. A datu is basic to the smooth functioning of the Muslim Filipino society. Datus continued to act as the community leaders in Islamic and Indigenous tribes in the Philippines.

Datu during the Spanish period

Upon the Christianization of the Philippines, the datus (king) of the pre-hispanic kingdoms retained their right to govern their territory under the Spanish Empire. King Philip II of Spain, in a law signed June 11, 1594,[1] commanded that these nobles be given the same respect, and privileges that they had before their conversion. They later formed part of the exclusive, and elite ruling class, called the Principalía (Nobility), in municipalities of the Philippines.

Datu in Filipino martial arts

The title of Datu has been used by athletes in the modern day Filipino martial arts community. It was founded by various practitioners of the Modern Arnis system, including Remy Presas, the founder of the martial arts. It has also been subjected into some controversy.

Recorded list of Datus in the Philippines

Datus of Pre-Hispanic Philippines (12th to 16th century)

The following category is a list of leaders who governed Mindanao, the Visayas and Luzon region.

  • Datu Daya - King of Daanbantayan, Cebu
  • Datu Dinagandan - King of Aklan in Panay in the 12th century
  • Datu Kalantiao - King of Aklan in the 14th century
  • Datu Padojinog - Governed the Visayas region with his wife Ribongsapaw. According to Visayan folk tradition, about 900 years ago between the 1100s to 1200s, ten noble Malay warriors were believed to have settled in the Philippines. They migrated from the kingdom of Borneo, escaping the wrath of a wicked ruler called Rajah Makatunao. They boarded on large boats and canoes and set out to sea to find a place where they can live in peace and harmony.
  • Datu Bangkaya - Settled and became King of Aklan after migrating from the kingdom of Borneo.

Datus in the Maragtas epic

  • Datu Irong-irong
  • Datu Kalantiaw III /Rajah Bendahara Kalantiaw - Founded the Code of Kalantiaw in 1433.
  • Datu Puti - One of the 10 Bornean Datus to arrive in Iloilo before the Spanish colonization.

Datus during the Spanish colonization

  • Rajah Colambu - King of Limasawa in 1521, brother of Rajah Siagu of Butuan. He befriended Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and guided him to Cebu on April 7, 1521.
  • Rajah Humabon - King of Cebu who became an ally of Ferdinand Magellan and the Spaniards. Rival of Datu Lapu-Lapu. In 1521, he and his wife were baptized as Christians and given Christian names Carlos and Juana after the Spanish royalty, King Carlos and Queen Juana.
  • Sultan Kudarat - Sultan of Maguindanao.
  • Rajah Lakan Dula - King of Tondo, one of the last princes of Manila.
  • Datu Lapu-Lapu - King of Mactan Island. He defeated the Spaniards on April 27, 1521.
  • Datu Sikatuna - King of Bohol in 1565. He made a blood compact with Spanish explorer, Miguel López de Legazpi.
  • Datu Pagbuaya - King of Bohol. He governed with his brother Datu Dalisdisan, a settlement along the shorelines between Mansasa, Tagbilaran and Dauis, which was abandoned years before the Spanish colonization due to Portuguese and Ternatean attacks. He founded Dapitan in the northern shore of Mindanao.
  • Datu Dalisdisan - King of Mansasa, Tagbilaran and Dauis and governed their kingdom along with his brother Datu Pagbuaya. His death during one of the Portuguese raids caused the abandonment of the settlement.
  • Datu Manooc - Christian name - Pedro Manuel Manooc, son of Datu Pagbuaya who converted to Christianity, defeated the Higaonon tribe in Iligan, established one of the first Christian settlement in the country.
  • Datu Macabulos - King of Pampanga in 1571.
  • Rajah Siagu - King of the Manobo in 1521.
  • Apu Noan - Cheiftain of Mandaue in 1521.
  • Rajah Sulaiman III - One of the last King of Manila, was defeated by Martín de Goiti, a Spanish soldier commissioned by López de Legazpi to Manila.
  • Rajah Tupas - King of Cebu, conquered by Miguel López de Legazpi.
  • Datu Urduja - Female Leader in Pangasinan.
  • Datu Zula - King of Cebu.
  • Datu Bangkaya - King of Antique

Present day Datus

A list of Sultans of Sulu.

  • Datu Pax S. Mangudadato - Present day datu and governor of Sultan Kudarat (2001-2004)
  • Sultan Hajji Datu Amir bin Muhammad Baraguir - The 25th Sultan of Maguindanao.
  • Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan - Regional Governor, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mundanao
  • Datu Zamzamin L Ampatuan - Undersecretary, "Department of Energy"

See also


  1. ^ “It is not right that the Indian chiefs of Filipinas be in a worse condition after conversion; rather they should have such treatment that would gain their affection and keep them loyal, so that with the spiritual blessings that God has communicated to them by calling them to His true knowledge, the temporal blessings may be added and they may live contentedly and comfortably. Therefore, we order the governors of those islands to show them good treatment and entrust them, in our name, with the government of the Indians, of whom they were formerly lords. In all else the governors shall see that the chiefs are benefited justly, and the Indians shall pay them something as a recognition, as they did during the period of their paganism, provided it be without prejudice to the tributes that are to be paid us, or prejudicial to that which pertains to their encomenderos.” Felipe II, Ley de Junio 11, 1594 in Recapilación de leyes, lib. vi, tit. VII, ley xvi. Also cf. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, The Philippine Islands (1493-1898), Cleveland: The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, Vol. XVI, pp. 155-156.

External links


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