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Sri Vijayan - Traditional Costumes

The Rulers of Iloilo and the Lost Empire of Panay I


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The Rulers of Iloilo and the Lost Empire of Panay 1

History, Legends of the Lost Empires in South East Asia and the Birth of Iloilo City

Angkor Watt - Sri Vijayan Empire

Angkor Watt – Sri Vijayan Empire

In my next posts, I will be posting a little of history to warm up to my next posts about Iloilo City. I hope I can, through in a little legend and imagery, to light up the glorious history of the Ilonggos. I hope you enjoy it.   – Archian

Hindu Malay Kingdom

Hindu Malay Kingdom

Legend has it that the Island of Panay was inhabited by the Negritos. In the 13th Century, a group of Datus or Tribal Leaders traveled from Borneo, headed by Datu Puti, by way of the sea. The brave leaders brought with them their families to escape the tyrannical rule of the Sultan Makatunao.

Legends of the Lost Empires in South East Asia

Legends of the Lost Empires in South East Asia

Another version has it that the datus were fleeing Pannai, a state in the island of Sumatra. Pannai was a nation who were allies of the Sri-Vijaya Empire that ruled the warring tribes in Malaca Region in Modern day Indonesia. These were the extension of the Hindu Kingdoms extending from Thailand to Bali in Indonesia. Modern day name of Visayas, the middle region of the Philippines, was derived from the Srivijaya (also written Sri Vijaya, Sanskrit: श्रीविजय) a Buddhist Empire that ruled South East Asia.

Pre Spanish - Sri Vijayan - Traditional Clothing

Pre Spanish – Sri Vijayan – Traditional Clothing

The Sri Vijayans were skilled warriors, they are able to defeat larger sea vessels which seek to dominate the waters of South East Asia. This was until the Malacca Strait was taken over by the Chola. Under the ruler Rajaraja Chola, the Chola destroyed the state of Pannai. Yet the people of Pannai refused to submit to Chola’s rule. The scholars, soldiers and nobles of Pannai took their belongings and fled to other islands to set up their own government.

Sri Vijayan - Traditional Costumes

Sri Vijayan – Traditional Costumes

Sailing northward from Borneo along the coast of Palawan, the ten Datus from the Sri Vijaya, crossed the sea, and reached the island of Panay. The datus landed in Siwaragan River and found the island inhabited by dark-skinned Negritos (Atis). The island was originally called Ananipay, and ruled by the tribe cheiftain Marikudo and his wife Maniwantiwan.

Malay Warriors

Malay Warriors

Datu Paiburong, one of the Malay datus negotiated the purchase of the island for one gold Saduk (wide-brimmed hat), Salakot and a Manangyad (a long gold necklace). The Atis agreed to settle on the mountains while the foreigners occupied the coast.

Of the ten datus, three remained in Panay but the rest of the datus sailed northward and settled in the northern parts of the Philippine archipelago. Datu Sumakwel, Datu Bangkaya and Datu Paiburong divided the island into three Sakups (districts): Hamtik (Antique) under Sumakwel; Aklan which included the province of Capiz under Bangkaya; and Irong-irong under Datu Paiburong, where the province of Iloilo got its name. From their settlement in Panay, the Confederation of States grew to be one of the most powerful in the region, rivaling the neighboring states – the Rajahnate of Cebu, the Kingdom of Tondo and the Sultanate of Sulu in terms of prestige and wealth.

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Author: Archian

An Architect, Blogger and Strategic Thinker

12 thoughts on “The Rulers of Iloilo and the Lost Empire of Panay I

  1. Dear Archian,
    I am intrigued by your research on the history behind the ancient inhabitants of Panay. I have been always curious about the history of my family tree, In the Demonteverde family tree, I have discovered that our family’s Patriarch was named Don Ruperto Demonteverde. My question to you is the title of “Don”. Does this title have any significant connection to the title of “Datu”? I am curious to know if the Spaniards extended the titles of “Don” to the village chiefs, for the purpose of creating peaceful relations with the Datus that occupied Panay. I am not familiar with this aspect of Philippine History because my family immigrated to the United States when I was very young 52 years ago. I would truly appreciate it if you can answer my question.


    Ian D.

  2. Mr. Demonteverde,

    Don’t you know that your name means”of the Green Mountains”. My answer is no, Don. Don is a honorary title from the Latin dominus or “lord”. From the Roman, we get all the Romance Languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French. Therefore in Spanish, the lord of the house is the don and his wife is the doña. Meanwhile Datu comes from Malay “Datuk” or “ruler”. Malay is the precursor of the Visayan Languages where modern Ilongo, Cebuano and Bisaya comes from.


  4. The one who killed Makatunaw is the husband of younger daughter of Datu Paiburong, his name is Datu Paibare, he assasinate Sultan Makatunaw when he knew that his sister Bitoon is kidnapped by Makatunaw to be a sex slave.

  5. i guess that the name “Iloilo”is not derived by by the shape of the island in which the writer of the book “History of Panay”came into the idea that i all started from “Irong-irong,to Ilong-ilong,then to Iloilo,. the writer theorizes that “irong” is the local dialect of a”nose”in which he correlate that to the shape of the island..This is ridiculous,how could the locals identify the island by just using a man’s eye view? There were no flying vehicle or device to identify the shape of the island during those time.Therefore,i would say that it all came from the name of “Datu Paiburong”of which having a “stiff nose” that the locals popularized the leaders name “Irong-irong”,..& came the Chinese merchants that cannot pronounce the “R” that the name “Irong-irong”the result it evolves to “Ilong-ilong”,.& to to its present name ILOILO.

  6. My Father was from Mina City Iloilo. Our last name is Beñasfre. I want to know the origin of my last name. My question now …Is there a website or a database where i can research my last name’s origin? Thanks. Great article. Looking forward to read more.

  7. Pingback: Dinagyang Festival 2018: Parties and Celebrations in Iloilo City | Archian Speaks in Bacolod and Dubai

  8. The 10 datu actually not Malay, but Dusunic people of Borneo. Acrroding to the historical fact, the ancient kingdom of Brunei was a Dusunic race kingdom, even one of the sub-tribe of the Dusunic people is “Bisaya”, very identical name for the Bisayan of Philippines. The ancient Dusunic kingdom was named “Poni” by the Chinese historian, other historian such as al-Idrisi named the kingdom as “Muja”. But, other historian such as Nicholl named the ancient Brunei Kingdom as “Sri Vijaya”, accroding to him, there is two Srivijaya, one in Sumatera and one in western coastal area of Borneo. Their empayar stretch from Sarawak, Brunei to Sabah, then to Sulu and Luzon. Accroding to the Dusun Sabah legend and oral history, when the Brunei kingdom fall into a war between the Poni Kingdom (Sri Vijaya) and the A-Liko Kingdom of Sarawak, the Melanau Dayak attacked Poni Kingdom and conquer from Igan Sarawak to Tutong (present day Brunei district). The last Poni Kingdom named Sri Maharaja and most of the noble and followers migrated into two direction :

    1. To Phillipines, 10 datus lead by Datu Putih.

    2. To Nunuk Ragang Sabah, 9 datus led by Datu Gomurun.

    • I heard a rumor there is still are still monarchies of Iloilo, Hamtik (Antique) and Aklan, but they are in hiding

    • Interesting. Where did you find that story im really curious and interested. I really want to know my ancestors origin. Our last name is bangcaya

  9. Hey I want to know more. Can you post your resources here? This is great!

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