There was no unifying political state encompassing the entire Philippine archipelago. Instead, the region was dotted by numerous semi-autonomous barangays (villages) under the sovereignty of competing thalassocracies ruled by Datus, Rajahs or Sultans or by upland tribal societies ruled by chieftains. States: such as the Kingdom of Maynila and Namayan, the Dynasty of Tondo, the Confederation of Madyaas, the Rajahnates of Butuan and Cebu and the sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu existed alongside the highland societies of the Ifugao and Mangyan. Some of these regions were part of the Malayan empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit and Brunei.
In the year 900 the Dynasty of Tondo centered in Manila Bay flourished via an active trade with Chinese sea-traders in the area. Later serving as a smuggling nexus after the Chinese imposed restrictions on their foreign trade. During this time, the Lord-Minister, Jayadewa: presented a document of debt forgiveness to Lady Angkatan and her brother Bukah, the children of Namwaran. This is described in the Philippine's oldest known document "The Laguna Copperplate Inscription".
By year 1011 Rajah Sri Bata Shaja, the monarch of the Indianized Rajahnate of Butuan sent a trade envoy under ambassador Likan-shieh to the Chinese Imperial Court demanding equal diplomatic status with other states. The request being approved, opened up direct commercial links with the Rajahnate of Butuan and the Chinese Empire. Thereby diminishing the monopoly on Chinese trade by their rivals: the Dynasty of Tondo and the Champa civilization. Evidence for the existence of this Rajahnate is proven by the "Butuan Silver Paleograph".
By the 11th century several exiled datus of the collapsing empire of the Srivijaya led by Datu Puti led a mass migration to the central islands of the Philippines, fleeing from Rajah Makatunao of the island of Borneo. Upon reaching the island of Panay and purchasing the island from Negrito chieftain Marikudo, they established a confederation of polities and named it the Confederation of Madyaas centered in Aklan and they settled the surrounding islands of the Visayas. This confederation reached it's peak under Datu Padojinog and during his reign the confederations' hegemony extended over most of the islands of Visayas.
In 1380, Karim ul' Makdum and Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab trader born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and established the Sultanate of Sulu. At the end of the 15th Century Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johor introduced Islam in the island of Mindanao and he subsequently married a local princess and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao. Islam had spread to other parts of the Visayas and Luzon by the 16th century.
However, during the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521, the Sultanate of Brunei decided to break the Dynasty of Tondo's monopoly in the China trade by attacking Tondo and establishing the state of Selurong (now Manila) as a Bruneian satellite-state. A new dynasty under the Islamized Rajah Salila was also established to challenge the House of Lakandula in Tondo. Islam was further strengthened by the arrival to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia.