Tondo, Manila

Last updated
Tondo Church, Manila, Philippines.jpg
Tondo Church fronting Plaza Leon
Ph fil manila tondo.png
Country Philippines
Region National Capital Region
City Manila
Congressional District 1st and 2nd districts of Manila
  Total8.65 km2 (3.40 sq mi)
 (2015) [1]
  Density73,000/km2 (190,000/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+08:00 (Philippine Standard Time)

Tondo is a district located in Manila, Philippines. It is the largest in terms of area and population of Manila's sixteen districts, [2] with a Census-estimated 631,313 people in 2015 and consists of two congressional districts. It is also the most densely populated district in the city.




The name Tondo derives from Tundun, the Old Tagalog name of the city in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription of 900AD (see below), the earliest native document found within the Philippines. Postma, the first to translate the copperplate, believes the term tundun originated from the old Indian language Sanskrit, [3] which was used alongside Old Malay as a language of politics and religion in the area at the time. Before this landmark discovery, several theories (however incorrect now) existed:

Philippine National Artist Nick Joaquin suggested that it might be a reference to high ground ("tundok"). [4] French linguist Jean-Paul Potet, however supposed that the River Mangrove, Aegiceras corniculatum, which at the time was called "tundok" ("tinduk-tindukan" today), was the most likely origin of the name. [5]

Tondo in early Philippine history

Laguna Copperplate Inscription (c. 900 AD) Laguna Copperplate Inscription.gif
Laguna Copperplate Inscription (c. 900 AD)

The region of Tondo has been settled by humans for over 1,100 years. Historically, Tondo already existed in the year 900 AD according to the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, [6] a legal document that is the earliest document in the Philippines, written in Kawi now housed in the National Museum of Anthropology. According to this document, Tondo was ruled by an unnamed person who held the Sanskrit title of senapati or the equivalent of an admiral. Tondo also had influence all the way to the modern-day province of Bulacan particularly around Lihan (Malolos) and Gatbuca (Calumpit).[ citation needed ]

Tondo was ruled by a line of lakan until the Spanish conquest.[ citation needed ]

Colonial Period

After the Spaniards conquered Tondo in January 1571 they established the Province of Tondo which covered many territories in Northern Luzon particularly Pampanga, Bulacan and Rizal (formerly called Morong), with the city of Manila as its center. In census conducted by Miguel de Loarca in 1583 Tondo was reported to have spoken the same language as the natives of the province of Pampanga. [7] Institute of National Language commissioner Jose Villa Panganiban also wrote that the dividing line between Kapampangan and Tagalog was the Pasig River, and that Tondo therefore originally spoke Kapampangan. [8] although Fray Isacio Rodriquez's Historia dela Provincia del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus de Filipinas stated that Provincia de Tagalos which is Tondo covers all the territories of the future Archdiocese of Manila. Prior to the establishment of the Province of Bulacan in 1578 Malolos and Calumpit were also included in the territory of Tondo as its visitas. In 1800, the Province of Tondo was renamed to Province of Manila.[ citation needed ]

Tondo was one of the first provinces to declare rebellion against Spain in year 1896. In 1911, under the American colonial regime, there was a major reorganization of political divisions, and the province of Tondo was dissolved, and its towns given to the provinces of Rizal and Bulacan. Today, Tondo just exists as a district in the City of Manila.[ citation needed ]

Contemporary period

Slums developed in Tondo along the Pasig River. Authorities sought to improve housing conditions on these areas without condoning the action of squatting committed by the slums' residents. In the 1970s, the World Bank provided funds to improve conditions in Tondo which led the increase of rent prices and a property boom in the area. These caused the poor to be marginalized. The slums that were upgraded were legalized but these areas remain vastly different from other parts of Manila with higher population density, more irregular road and plot patterns, and uncontrolled housing. [9] In the 1987 constitution, Tondo split into two congressional districts of Manila making the first district to the west while the second district in the east. Paco also split by fifth and sixth congressional districts which the fifth in the south and sixth in the north.


Manila North Harbor and slum settlements Cranes and Squatters at Manila North Harbor.JPG
Manila North Harbor and slum settlements

Tondo hosts the Manila North Harbor Port, the northern half of the Port of Manila, the primary seaport serving Metro Manila and surrounding areas. [10]

The area also hosted Smokey Mountain, a landfill which served Metro Manila and employed thousands of people from around 1960 until its closure in the late 1990s. The dumpsite served as a symbol of poverty even at least two decades since its closure. [11]


Busy street near Pritil Market Pritil market tondo manila.jpg
Busy street near Pritil Market

Urbanization as well as the Lina Law which favors squatters over land owners has resulted in Tondo being one of the most densely populated areas in the world at 69,000 inhabitants per square kilometer (180,000/sq mi). [12]


Tondo has developed a reputation for criminality and poverty. In 2010, Manila records state that Tondo has the highest criminal rate in the whole city with the most common crime being pick pocketing. [13]


The district celebrates the feast of the Santo Niño de Tondo annually in January, which is dedicated to the image of the Santo Niño housed within the 16th century Augustinian Tondo Church. The Lakbayaw Street Dance Festival, a competition among Ati-Atihan groups and school, local and religious groups, served as the climax of the feast. [14]


The Manila office of the Department of Education lists 26 public elementary schools and 11 public high schools in Tondo. [15]

Notable people

Related Research Articles

Rizal Province in Calabarzon, Philippines

Rizal, officially the Province of Rizal, is a province in the Philippines located in the Calabarzon region in Luzon. Its capital is the city of Antipolo. It is about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) east of Manila. The province is named after José Rizal, one of the main national heroes of the Philippines. Rizal is bordered by Metro Manila to the west, Bulacan to the north, Quezon to the east and Laguna to the southeast. The province also lies on the northern shores of Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the country. Rizal is a mountainous province perched on the western slopes of the southern portion of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Bulacan Province in Central Luzon, Philippines

Bulacan, officially the Province of Bulacan, is a province in the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is the city of Malolos. Bulacan was established on August 15, 1578, and part of the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region.

Laguna Copperplate Inscription 10th-century inscription found in the Philippines

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription is an official document, more precisely an acquittance, inscribed in the Shaka year 822. It is the earliest known calendar-dated document used within the Philippine Islands.

Rajah Sulayman 16th-century Rajah of Maynila

Rajah Sulayman, sometimes referred to as Sulayman III (1558–1575), was the Rajah of Maynila, a fortified Tagalog Muslim polity on the southern half of the Pasig River delta, when a Spanish expedition arrived in the early 1570s.

Lakandula was the regnal name of the last Lakan of pre-colonial Tondo when the Spaniards first conquered the lands of the Pasig River delta in the Philippines in the 1570s.

Balagtas, Bulacan Municipality in Central Luzon, Philippines

Balagtas, officially the Municipality of Balagtas, is a 1st class municipality in the province of Bulacan, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 73,929 people. 

Calumpit Municipality in Central Luzon, Philippines

Calumpit, officially the Municipality of Calumpit is a 1st class municipality in the province of Bulacan, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 108,757 people. 

Pulilan Municipality in Central Luzon, Philippines

Pulilan, officially the Municipality of Pulilan, is a 1st class municipality in the province of Bulacan, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 97,323 people. 

San Miguel, Bulacan Municipality in Central Luzon, Philippines

San Miguel, officially the Municipality of San Miguel, is a 1st class municipality in the province of Bulacan, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 153,882 people. 

Tagalog people

The Tagalog people are the second largest ethnolinguistic group in the Philippines after the Visayan people, numbering at around 30 million. An Austronesian people, the Tagalog have a well developed society due to their cultural heartland, Manila, being the capital city of the Philippines. They are native to the Metro Manila and Calabarzon regions of southern Luzon, as well as being the largest group in the provinces of Bulacan, Bataan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija and Aurora in Central Luzon and in the islands of Marinduque and Mindoro in Mimaropa.

Tondo (historical polity) City-state in what is now Manila, Philippines, from c. 900 to 1589

In early Philippine history, the Tagalog settlement at Tondo was a major trade hub located on the northern part of the Pasig River delta, on Luzon island.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Malolos

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Malolos is a Roman Rite diocese of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The mother church of the Diocese is the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception located in Malolos City, Bulacan.


Namayan, also called Sapa, Maysapan or Nasapan, and sometimes Lamayan, was one of three independent polities that dominated the banks of the Pasig River in the Philippines during the 16th century, just prior to the Spanish colonization of the Philippines.

Maynila (historical polity)

In early Philippine history, the Tagalog Bayan of Maynila was a major trade hub located on the southern part of the Pasig River delta, where the modern day district of Intramuros currently stands.

History of Manila

Manila's history begins around 65,000 BC the time the Callao Man first settled in the Philippines, predating the arrival of the Negritos and the Malayo-Polynesians. The nearby Angono Petroglyphs, are then dated to be around 3,000 BC and the earliest recorded history of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, dates back to the year 900 AD as recorded in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription. By the thirteenth century, the city consisted of a fortified settlement and trading quarter near the mouth of the Pasig River, the river that bisects the city into north and south.

The geography of the City of Manila is characterized by its coastal position at the estuary of the Pasig River that flows to Manila Bay. The city is located on a naturally protected harbor, regarded as one of the finest harbors in Asia. The scarce availability of land is a contributing factor that makes Manila the densest populated city in the world.

Datu Magat Salamat was a Filipino historical figure best known for co-organizing the Tondo Conspiracy of 1587. He was one of at least four sons of Lakandula, and thus held the title of Datu under his cousin and co-conspirator Agustin de Legazpi, who had been proclaimed paramount ruler of the indianized kingdom of Tondo after the death of Lakandula, although the position soon became little more than a courtesy title.

Bulacan is a province of the Philippines. It was established on 15 August 1578.

Manila (province) Former province of the Philippines

Manila, also formerly known as Tondo until 1859, was a historical province in the Philippines, encompassing the former pre-Hispanic polities of Tondo, Maynila and Namayan. In 1898, it included the City of Manila and 23 other municipalities. It was incorporated into the Province of Rizal in 1901.


  1. "Highlights of the Philippine Population 2015 Census of Population". Philippine Statistics Authority . Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  2. "Republic Act No. 409: AN ACT TO REVISE THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF MANILA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES". Official Gazette. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  3. Postma, Antoon (1992). "The Laguna Copper-Plate Inscription: Text and Commentary". Philippine Studies. 40 (2): 183–203. JSTOR   42633308.
  4. Joaqiun, Nick (1990). Manila, My Manila: A History for the Young. City of Manila: Anvil Publishing, Inc. ISBN   978-9715693134.
  5. Potet, Jean-Paul G. (2013). Arabic and Persian Loanwords in Tagalog. p. 444. ISBN   9781291457261.
  6. Morrow, Paul. "The Laguna Copperplate Inscription". Archived from the original on 2008-02-05.
  7. Miguel de Loarca's Census of 1583
  8. Panganiban
  9. "Settlements & Growth". Creating Neighbourhoods and Places in the Built Environment. Taylor & Francis. 2 September 2003. p. 39. ISBN   1135817901.
  10. "SMC wrests control of port from Romero". Manila Standard. 18 February 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  11. Endo, Jun (10 March 2017). "Mountain of garbage blights Manila". Nikkei Asian Review. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  12. "Tondo: The space in between". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  13. "Tondo has highest crime rate in Manila". ABS-CBN (in Filipino). 21 August 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  14. Santos, Mat (20 January 2018). "Celebrating the Feast of the Sto. Niño". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  15. "DepED Manila Public Schools". Department of Education Manila. Department of Education Manila. Retrieved 17 March 2018.

Further reading

Coordinates: 14°37′01″N120°58′01″E / 14.617°N 120.967°E / 14.617; 120.967