Can Schools Teach the Ancient Handwriting System Baybayin

Author: Veronica Sabanillas
Post Date: June 07, 2021

During the early times of the Philippines, an early writing system was used by its people The people from Luzon widely used this language during the 16th and 17th centuries. In 2018, the Philippine House of Representatives approved a bill that would state Baybayin as the national writing system of the country. This bill will state Baybayin as the country's national writing system which will generate awareness to the script. In the Tagalog language, 'baybayín' means to write or spell. There is no proof supporting that Baybayin reached Mindanao based from the data that is at hand and it is clear that Baybayin was used in Luzon, Panay, Leyte and Iloilo. It seems logical that the Luzon and Palawan classes have started to develop in different ways in the 1500s, way before the Spaniards arrived the Philippines.

This puts Luzon and Palawan islands as the earliest regions where Baybayin was and is used in the Philippines. Baybayin has been described Badlit, Kudlit-kabadlit for the Visayans, Kurditan, Kur-itan for the Ilocanos, and Basahan for the Bicolanos in current times. The earliest printed book in a Philippine language, describing both Tagalog in Baybayin and rendered into Latin script, is the 1593 Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Española y Tagala. Baybayin was generally used for personal writings, poetry, etc. which was regarded 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 defined 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, lost letters for Spanish sounds and the honor of Spanish culture and writing may have contributed to the demise of Baybayin over time. Because there's inadequateness of pre-Hispanic specimens of usage of the Baybayin script has led to a habitual misconstruction 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 samples of ancient Filipinos writing on scrolls, is because they wrote on perishable materials such as leaves and bamboo. Scripts that are current and surviving which directly descended from the original Baybayin script through natural development are the Tagbanwa script inherited from the Tagbanwa people by the Palawan people and named Ibalnan, the Buhid script and the Hanunóo script in Mindoro. Baybayin historically was used in Tagalog and to 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. Some Filipinos started keeping records of their property and financial transactions, and would write down lessons they were taught in church, all in Baybayin.

For iOS and Android mobile devices, a virtual keyboard app Gboard was made and updated last August 1, 2019. Without the use of online typepads, it is also viable to type Baybayin directly from the keyboard.