Lakan originally referred to a rank in the pre-Hispanic Filipino nobility in the island of Luzon, which means "paramount ruler." It has been suggested that this rank is equivalent to that of Rajah, and that different ethnic groups either used one term or the other, or used the two words interchangeably. In Visayas and Mindanao, this rank is "Datu". "Sultan" was also used in the most developed and complex Islamized principalities of Mindanao.
Today, the term is still occasionally used to mean "nobleman", but has mostly been adapted to other uses. In Filipino Martial Arts, Lakan denotes an equivalent to the black belt rank. Also, beauty contests in the Philippines have taken to referring to the winner as "Lakambini", the female equivalent of Lakan. In such cases, the contestant's assigned escort can be referred to as a Lakan. More often, a male pageant winner is named a Lakan.
The title Lakan can be spelled separately from a person's name (e.g. "Lakan Dula"), or can be incorporated into a singly spelled word (e.g. "Lakandula").
Rajah and Lakan. It is sometimes argued that since the words Rajah and Lakan mean more or less the same thing, the two should not be used together. Thus, popular reference to Rajah Lakan Dula are said to be the result of mistaking Lakan Dula to be the full proper name of the historic king.
Users of the title Lakan that figure in 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial accounts of Philippine History include:
- Lakandula, later renamed Don Carlos Lacandola, the king of Tondo, when the Spanish colonization of the Philippine Islands had begun.
- Lakatagkan, the greatest ruler of the Kingdom of Namayan.
- Lambusan(Lakan Busan), a king in Mandaue in the Pre-Hispanic era.
- Lakan Usman,the king of bangsa Usman.
In popular culture
The name of Malacañan Palace, the official residence of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, is traditionally attributed to the phrase may lakan diyan, or "where the king [or head] resided".
- Scott, William Henry, Barangay: Sixteenth-Century Philippine Culture and Society, Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994.
- (Tagalog) Buhay Sa Nayon
- Ocampo, Ambeth (1995). "Inside Malacañang". Bonifacio's Bolo. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing Inc. p. 122. ISBN 971-27-0418-1.