Maynila (historical entity)

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Kota Seludong
کوتا سلودوڠ
Former vassal polity of the Bruneian Empire




Capital Manila
Languages Old Malay, Tagalog
Religion Philippine religion and Sunni Islam
Government Rajahnate
 •  established by the Kingdom of Brunei under Sultan Bolkiah 1500s
 •  Conquest by Spain 1570
Today part of  Philippines
Part of a series on the
History of Brunei
Emblem of Brunei.svg
Bruneian Empire
to 1888
House of Bolkiah
(15th century–present)
Sultanate of Sulu
to 1578
Kingdom of Maynila
to 1571
Kingdom of Tondo
to 1571
Castille War 1578
Civil War 1660–1673
15th century
to 1841
15th century
to 1846
Sabah (North Borneo)
15th century
to 1865
British protectorate 1888–1984
Japanese occupation 1942–1945
Borneo campaign 1945
Revolt 1962

Maynila, also known as Seludong (Old Malay: Kota Seludong, Jawi script: کوتا سلودوڠ), was one of three major polities[1] that dominated the area by the lower reaches and mouth of the Pasig River before the arrival of Spanish colonizers in the 16th century. It was a vassal polity of the Bruneian Empire. It is the site of present-day Manila, the capital of the Republic of the Philippines.


Early records claim that Maynila was named after the Yamstick Mangrove[2] (Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea, formerly named Ixora manila blanco[3]), whose local name was "nila" or "nilad", by the time the Spanish colonizers arrived in the late 16th century. The name "maynila" itself transliterates as "There is nila (here)",[4] and an alternative name for the place is "maynilad." Emma Helen Blair, in the multi-volume collection of Philippine documents The Philippine Islands, notes "the name Manila is derived from a Tagalog word, ' Manilad ', meaning 'a place overgrown with Nilad' which is the name of a small tree, bearing white flowers"[4] - a description that matches Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea/Ixora manila.

Nila or Nilad[edit]

However, there is some argument among historians as to which plant the name refers to, and whether the plant was actually called "nila" or "nilad." Other plants suggested as being the origin of the name include the indigo plant (Indigoferra tinctori), and a species of mangrove (Lumnitzera littorea).

Historians Ambeth Ocampo and Carmen Guerrero Nakpil[5] assert that nila is popularly referred to as nilad by modern-day people unfamiliar with the actual name of the plant. On his Facebook page, Ocampo notes that "Some idiot added a 'd' to give us: Maynilad, Maharnilad, and Lagusnilad! In Fr. Blanco's Flora de Filipinas circa 1877 we find the Ixora manila. There is no "d" after nila."[6]

A number of early sources disagree, however, suggesting that the plant referred to as "nilad" is the Indigo plant (Indigoferra tinctoria), a different plant altogether.[4]

Julio Nakpil asserted that the dropping of the "d" at the end of the name was probably a mistake on the part of the Spaniards: "Maynilad seems to us reasonable for the following reason: the prefix 'may' means "to have" or "there is" (mayroon) ; and the prefix 'ma' means abundant (marami); and 'nilad' is a shrub, also called sagasa (Lumnitzera littorea), growing profusely on the banks of Manila, and for that reason it was called Manilad before and after the coming of the Spaniards who, because of their defective pronunciation of our language, dropped the last letter, converting it into Manila."[7]



Before the Western contact , the Philippine archipelago had its own rulers and polities roughly equivalent to kingdoms.

The early inhabitants of the present-day Manila engaged in trade relations with its Asian neighbours as well as with the Hindu empires of Java and Sumatra, as confirmed by archaeological findings. Trade ties with China became extensive by the 10th century, while contact with Arab merchants reached its peak in the 12th century.[8]

During the reign of Sultan Bolkiah (1485–1521) the Sultanate of Brunei decided to break Tondo's monopoly in the Chinese trade by attacking Tondo and establishing the polity of Seludong (Maynila) as a Bruneian satellite. This is narrated through Tausug and Malay royal histories, where the names Seludong, Saludong or Selurong are used to denote Manila prior to colonisation.[9]

Beginning of the Spanish Colonial Era[edit]

In the mid-16th century, the areas of present-day Manila were governed by native rajahs. Rajah Matanda (whose real name was recorded by the Legaspi expedition as Ache) and his nephew, Rajah Sulayman "Rajah Mura" or "Rajah Muda" (a Sanskrit title for a Prince), ruled the Muslim communities south of the Pasig River, including Maynila while Lakan Dula ruled non-Muslim Tondo north of the river.[10][11][12] These settlements held ties with the sultanates of Brunei, Sulu, and Ternate, Indonesia (not to be confused with Ternate in present-day Cavite). Maynila was centered on a fortress at the mouth of the Pasig river (Kota means fortress or city in Malay). When the Spanish came and invaded Manila they described, Kota Selurong, "The City of Selurong" of Maynila, as a settlement with a fortress of rammed earth with stockades and in between battlements there are cannons.[13] The cannons were native-made and forged by Panday Piray and these were locally called lantakas. When the Spanish invaded and burned Manila's Kota Selurong to the ground, they built up the Christian walled city of Intramuros on the ruins of Islamic Manila.

Pre-hispanic History of the Philippines
Boxer codex.jpg
Barangay government
Ten datus of Borneo
States in Luzon
Luyag na Kaboloan (Pangasinan)
Kingdom of Maynila
Kingdom of Tondo
States in the Visayas
Kedatuan of Madja-as
Rajahnate of Cebu
States in Mindanao
Rajahnate of Butuan
Sultanate of Sulu
Sultanate of Maguindanao
Sultanate of Lanao
Key figures
Sulaiman II · Lakan Dula · Sulaiman III · Katuna
Tarik Sulayman · Tupas · Kabungsuwan · Kudarat
Humabon · Lapu-Lapu · Alimuddin I
History of the Philippines
Portal: Philippines

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Abinales, Patricio N. and Donna J. Amoroso, State and Society in the Philippines. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005. as referred to in
  2. ^ Saenger, Peter (29 Jun 2013). Mangrove Ecology, Silviculture and Conservation. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 19. ISBN 9789401599627. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, Vol. VIII, p. 96-141. The Arthur H. Clarke Company.; Census of the Philippines, 1903
  5. ^ Ambeth Ocampo (25 June 2008), Looking Back: Pre-Spanish Manila, Philippine Daily Inquirer, retrieved 9 September 2008 
  6. ^ accessed 25 November 2012
  7. ^ Nakpil, Julio. "A Suggestion to the Tagalistas to Elucidate the Origin of the Name of the Capital City of the Philippines: Manila. Which of these Three Terms or Names Is the More Accurate: Maynilad, Manilad, or Manila?". 26 August 1940.
  8. ^ History of Manila. Accessed 8 September 2008.
  9. ^ Carmen Guerrero Nakpil (29 October 2003), CARMEN NAKPIL: MANILA UNDER THE MUSLIMS, Malaya, retrieved 5 December 2008 
  10. ^ Joaqiun, Nick (1990). Manila, My Manila: A History for the Young. City of Manila: Anvil Publishing, Inc. ISBN 978-971-569-313-4. 
  11. ^ Scott, William Henry (1994). Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. ISBN 971-550-135-4. 
  12. ^ Dery, Luis Camara (2001). A History of the Inarticulate. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. ISBN 971-10-1069-0. 
  13. ^ Letter from Juan Pacheco Maldonado to Felipe II, Manila, 1575.

Additional reading[edit]

  • Nick Joaquin's Almanac for Manileños
  • The River Dwellers by Grace P. Odal