5 things to know about PH's pre-Hispanic writing system

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 25 2018 06:11 PM

Museum-goers have their pictures taken at the Baybayin section of the National Museum of Anthropology in Manila on Wednesday. The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture approved a bill seeking to declare the pre-Hispanic writing as the country’s national writing system. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News

MANILA -- The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture has recently approved a bill seeking to declare Baybayin, a pre-Hispanic writing system used in the Philippines, as the country's national writing system.

Once passed into law, House Bill 1022 shall require all manufacturers of locally produced processed food products to inscribe Baybayin scripts and their translation on the containers of labels.

Here are some things you should know about our pre-Hispanic writing system.

1. The term "Baybayin" came from the word "baybay" or to spell

The term Baybayin came from the Tagalog word "baybay" which means to spell. The name for the pre-Hispanic Filipino script first appeared in "Vocabulario de Lengua Tagala," one of the earliest Philippine language dictionaries published.

2. It was erroneously called "alibata" in the past

The term alibata was coined by Paul Rodriguez Versoza based on the arrangement of the Arabic alphabet alif, ba, ta.

A Baybayin script is seen engraved on a “Monreal stone” displayed as the centerpiece at the Filipino Ancient Script section of the National Museum. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

3. Baybayin is composed of three vowels and 14 consonants

The three vowels are a, i/e, and o/u while the consonants are ba, ka, d/ra, ga, ha, la, ma, na, nga, pa, sa, ta, wa, ya.

In the original form of the Baybayin, a consonant cannot be indicated with a vowel sound; thus, it is usually ommitted in words.

To produce consonant sounds other than the default "a," a kudlit or mark is placed either above (to produce e/i sound) or below (to produce o/u sound) the consonant.

4. The Hanunoo and Buhid of Mangyan in Mindoro and the Tagbanua and Pala’wan of Palawan are among the last few indigenous groups in the country who use a writing system similar to the Baybayin

The Mangyan script, together with the Northern-Buhid in Mindoro and the Palawan script, have been declared by the National Museum as National Cultural Treasures in 1997.

Likewise, these scripts were officially included in the Memory of the World register of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1999.

Museum-goers check the Baybayin section of the National Museum of Anthropology in Manila on Wednesday. The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture approved a bill seeking to declare the pre-Hispanic writing as the country’s national writing system. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News

5. Filipinos stopped using Baybayin when the Spaniards introduced their own alphabet and system of writing

The Baybayin was well-documented by the Spaniards, who eventually romanized the Baybayin. They also introduced their own alphabet and their own system of writing.