Possibility of Baybayin, Early Text to be Introduced to Schools

Author: Jeg Cadayona
Post Date: September 23, 2020

Baybayin is an historic writing system that was used way back in the Philippines. The people from Luzon amply used this language during the 16th and 17th centuries. In 2018, the Philippine House of Representatives approved a bill that would proclaim Baybayin as the national writing system of the country. The measure seeks to proclaim Baybayin as the Philippines’ national writing system, generating greater consciousness on the script. The term 'baybayín' is described as 'to write' or 'to spell (syllabize)' in Tagalog. From the information that is available, it is clear that Baybayin was used in Luzon, Panay, Leyte and Iloilo, but there is no proof supporting that Baybayin reached Mindanao. It seems direct that the Luzon and Palawan differences have started to develop in different ways in the 1500s, way before the Spaniards arrived the Philippines. The regions that has used Baybayin the first in the Philippines are the islands of Luzon and Palawan. In recent times, Baybayin has been defined Badlit, Kudlit-kabadlit for the Visayans, Kurditan, Kur-itan for the Ilocanos, and Basahan for the Bicolanos. The first printed book in a Philippine language, depicting both Tagalog in Baybayin and adapted 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 described by most Filipinos. But, defined by to William Henry Scott, there were datus from the 1590s who could not sign affidavits or oaths, and witnesses who could not sign land deeds in the 1620s. Eventually Baybayin fell out of use in much of the Philippines because of the hesitancy over vowels (i/e and o/u) and final consonants, missing letters for Spanish sounds and the regard of Spanish culture and writing may have contributed to the demise of Baybayin over time. The incompleteness of pre-Hispanic specimens of usage of the Baybayin script has led to a habitual missapprehension that fanatical Spanish priests must have burned or destroyed massive amounts of native documents. The scholar Paul Morrow also noted that there are no noted instances of ancient Filipinos writing on scrolls, and that the most likely reason why no pre-Hispanic documents existed is because they wrote on decayable materials such as leaves and bamboo. Scripts that are recent and surviving which directly descended from the indigenous 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 fewer extent Kapampangan speaking areas.

The writing tools used to write Baybayin were called panulat and it is usually noted upon palm leaves upon bamboo with knives. Some Filipinos established keeping records of their property and financial transactions, and would write down lessons they were taught in church, 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 viable to type Baybayin directly from the keyboard without the need to use online typepads.