Geographical History
Maynila: A Great Island of the Ancient Kingdom of Maynilad

Long before the discovery of the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, the site of the Walled City has already been a portion of a settlement of early Filipino ancestors with their own style of government known as barangay or balangay, led and ruled by brave datus (royalty), rajahs and lakans (kings), gats (rulers), and the maharlikas (nobles) of the pre-Spanish era.

This pre-Hispanic island settlement where Intramuros was built up was known as Maynila, said to be last ruled by Rajah Soliman, a young king and a descendant from one of the two waves of barangay expeditions coming from Java or Sumatra during the 10th century, particularly the Tagalog ("taga-ilog" - of the river) pilgrim, the other one being the Pampango ("taga-pampang" - of the seashore). Maynila was composed of about thirty (30) families. Intelligent as the community was, it has nurtured its own culture and has developed its own system of writing, known as Alibata. Maynila ("May Nilad" - there's a Nilad) took its name from the star-shaped, white-flowered mangrove plant of Nilad which has grown abundant in the kingdom of Maynila.

The ancient Maynilad, already then an established entreport and prosperous center of international trade and commerce, as well as a political and military center of the region, was also the seat of power for native chiefs who ruled the area before the Spaniards set foot on Philippine soil.

Long before the conquest of Manila by the Spanish explorers led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, Maynila used to be a fortification of palisade of palm logs and banked earth ruled by Rajah Soliman –– though even then the city limits extended well beyond the Malay settlement to encompass what is today the Manila Cathedral site and the adjoining land up to where the San Agustin Church still stands.