Bringing Back the Old Baybayin Handwriting System

Author: Jeg Cadayona
Post Date: July 17, 2021

Philippines has an ancient writing system called Baybayin that was used way back many years ago. The people from Luzon extensively used this language during the 16th and 17th centuries. The House of Representatives approved a bill that would announce Baybayin as the national writing system of the Philippines in 2018. This bill will announce Baybayin as the country's national writing system which will generate understanding 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 notes that is obtainable and it is clear that Baybayin was used in Luzon, Panay, Leyte and Iloilo. Way before the Spaniards got a hand of what we know today as the Philippines, it seems direct that the Luzon and Palawan types started to develop in different ways during the 1500s. The regions that has used Baybayin the first in the Philippines are the islands of Luzon and Palawan. Baybayin has been called Badlit, Kudlit-kabadlit for the Visayans, Kurditan, Kur-itan for the Ilocanos, and Basahan for the Bicolanos in current times. The first printed book in a Philippine language, depicting both Tagalog in Baybayin and rewritten into Latin script, is the 1593 Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Española y Tagala. Baybayin was acclaimed by the Spanish priest Pedro Chirino in 1604 and Antonio de Morga in 1609 to be named by Filipinos, and was generally used for secret writings, poetry, etc. But, defined by to William Henry Scott, there were datus from the 1590s who could not inscribe affidavits or oaths, and witnesses who could not sign land deeds in the 1620s. The hesitation over vowels (i/e and o/u) and final consonants, lacking letters for Spanish sounds and the prestige of Spanish culture and writing may have contributed to the demise of Baybayin over time, as eventually Baybayin fell out of use in much of the Philippines. The lacking 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 scholar Paul Morrow also noted that there are no recorded examples of ancient Filipinos writing on scrolls, and that the most likely reason why no pre-Hispanic documents sustained is because they wrote on perishable materials such as leaves and bamboo. Scripts that are current and surviving which directly based from the original Baybayin script through natural development are the Tagbanwa script given to 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. Usually, Baybayin was recorded upon palm leaves upon bamboo with knives, and the writing tools were called panulat.

Filipinos would sometimes write down lessons taught in church and some started keeping records of their property and financial transactions all in Baybayin. The virtual keyboard app Gboard developed by Google for iOS and Android mobile devices was updated on August 1, 2019 Without the use of online typepads, it is also feasible to type Baybayin straight from the keyboard.