A pre-colonial couple belonging to the Datu or nobility as depicted in the Boxer Codex of the 16th century.

Datu is the title for chiefs, sovereign princes, and monarchs [1] in the Visayas [2] and Mindanao [3] regions of the Philippines. Together with Lakan ( Luzon), Apo in Central and Northern Luzon, [4] Sultan and Rajah, they are titles used for native royalty, and are still currently used especially in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan. [5] [6] Depending upon the prestige of the sovereign royal family, the title of Datu could be equated to sovereign princes or European dukes. [7] In large ancient barangays, which had contacts with other southeast Asian cultures through trade, some Datus took the title Rajah or Sultan. [8]

The word Datu is a cognate of the Malay terms Dato' or Datuk, which is one of many Malay styles and titles in Malaysia, and to the Fijian chiefly title of Ratu

Proofs of Filipino royalty and nobility (Dugóng Bugháw) can be demonstrated only by clear blood descent from ancient native royal blood, [9] [10] and in some cases adoption into a royal family.[ clarification needed]

In the state of Sawark in Borneo this title is awarded to the recipients of the Darjah Jasa Bakit Sawark (D.J.B.S). Although they are not equated to traditional Datus from the Philippines.


Datubaylan is a contemporary term sometimes used to refer to all the territories of the Philippines and is also referred to a passable and possible new name for the country. The term Philippines came from the Spanish King at the time when the country was colonized. In contrast, the term Datubaylan is a convergence of the datu (chief, ruler, or king) and the babaylan (spiritual leader and holder of science, arts and literature). The datu is the common term for political leader among central and southern ethnicities while the babaylan is the commen term for spiritual leader in northern ethnicities. Datubaylan is also a resounding configuration of the Asian roots of the country and has an indigenous coinage in its pronunciation and general spelling. Another term being pushed to become the country's new name is Maharlika, however, the term itself is profoundly Tagalog-centric and thus non-inclusive for other ethnicities.

Other Languages
العربية: داتو
Deutsch: Datu
eesti: Datu
español: Datu
Ilokano: Datu
Bahasa Indonesia: Datu
italiano: Datu
Bahasa Melayu: Datu
Nederlands: Datu
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Datu
Tagalog: Datu
中文: 達圖