Possibility of Baybayin, Aged Handwriting System to be Introduced to Schools

Author: Jeg Cadayona
Post Date: June 07, 2021

Baybayin is an ancient writing system that was used way back in the Philippines. It was amply used in Luzon and other parts of the Philippines during the 16th and 17th centuries. The House of Representatives approved a bill that would proclaim Baybayin as the national writing system of the Philippines in 2018. The measure seeks to proclaim Baybayin as the Philippines’ national writing system, generating greater understanding on the script. The term 'baybayín' is described as 'to write' or 'to spell (syllabize)' in Tagalog.

There is no proof supporting that Baybayin reached Mindanao based from the information that is at hand and it is clear that Baybayin was used in Luzon, Panay, Leyte and Iloilo. It seems direct that the Luzon and Palawan classes have started to develop in different ways in the 1500s, way before the Spaniards got a hand of the Philippines. The regions that has used Baybayin the earliest in the Philippines are the islands of Luzon and Palawan. In recent times, Baybayin has been denoted Badlit, Kudlit-kabadlit for the Visayans, Kurditan, Kur-itan for the Ilocanos, and Basahan for the Bicolanos.

The earliest printed book in a Philippine language, depicting both Tagalog in Baybayin and transliterated into Latin script, is the 1593 Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Española y Tagala. Baybayin was generally used for secret writings, poetry, etc. which was acclaimed by the Spanish priest Pedro Chirino in 1604 and Antonio de Morga in 1609 to be known by most Filipinos.

There were datus from the 1590s who could not inscribe affidavits or oaths, and witnesses who could not sign land deeds in the 1620s descibed by to William Henry Scott. Eventually Baybayin fell out of use in much of the Philippines because of the uncertainty over vowels (i/e and o/u) and final consonants, missing letters for Spanish sounds and the status of Spanish culture and writing may have contributed to the demise of Baybayin over time. Because there's missing of pre-Hispanic specimens of usage of the Baybayin script has led to a regular misunderstanding that fanatical Spanish priests must have burned or destroyed massive amounts of native documents. The most likely reason why no pre-Hispanic documents sustained, according to scholar Paul Morrow who also noted that there are no recorded instances of ancient Filipinos writing on scrolls, is because they wrote on perishable materials such as leaves and bamboo. Scripts that are recent and surviving which directly descended from the native Baybayin script through natural development are the Tagbanwa script left on from the Tagbanwa people by the Palawan people and named Ibalnan, the Buhid script and the Hanunóo script in Mindoro.

The people who typically use Baybayin are Tagalog and a lesser extent Kapampangan speaking areas. The writing tools used to write Baybayin were called panulat and it is usually recorded upon palm leaves upon bamboo with knives. Filipinos would sometimes write down lessons taught in church and some began keeping writings of their property and financial transactions all in Baybayin. The virtual keyboard app Gboard programmed by Google for iOS and Android mobile devices was updated on August 1, 2019 It is also possible to type Baybayin straight from the keyboard without the need to use online typepads.