1000 Piso Medal of Honor

Bonifacio Comandante Jr. sent in a scan of the new 1000 piso bill with an explanation another Baybayin word in the center of the Medal of Honor.

The word dolapa is not used today as it is but has descended to darapa which is commonly used as nagkandarapa, meaning to fall and/or crawl to be able to achieve something.

12 thoughts on “1000 Piso Medal of Honor

  1. Neat! The medal for the Order of Lakandula. The name starts at 11:00 with the first l(a) and goes counterclockwise around the centre of the medal, ending with the final l(a) at 1:00. You can find the story of how it was designed here, from the designer himself:


    More on the specifics of the design here (linked to in the first site):


    The lettering on the medal seems to be in the Lopez Baybayin font to me. Any second opinions?

  2. Hi Chris Miller, am the designer of the medallion of the Order of Lakandula and yes, that link leads to my web blog. What was wrote above was an incorrect translation. I used research materials provided by the Lopez Library Archives, I have to look for the name of exact syllabary in my files but I assure you it translates to La-Ka-Na-Du-La and yes it goes counter-clockwise.

    • Thank you for the Lakan Dula Medal Design.

      I have deciphered the scripts written on the Manunggul Jar and made presentations about it in the National Museum and UP Archaeological Studies Program. I will present it in Central Bank Manila soon (be my guest).


      • ‘Katolonan’ sounds like ‘pagtolon-an’ — Cebuano roughly “[body of work] to be studied” or “teaching.” Can you point us to links for learning Katon? Also, if possible, links to your Manunggul Jar findings please so we can all share in the knowledge.

      • As far as I understand from the literature, Katulunan is a Luzon (Tagalog, Kapampangan) word, and Babaylan is Visayan (Cebuano at least):


        The Wikipedia articles for “babaylan” and “katalonan” give some basic information about this, too. As for “katon”, it seems to be a borrowing of the Spanish word “catón”, which means a school primer for children learning to read and write. Spanish has an expression for something that is so simple and elementary that anyone should know it: “esto está en el catón” (+/– “you can find that in a school primer”). I haven’t seen any evidence for thinking there is any real connection between “katulunan” and “katon” on the one hand, nor between “babaylan” and “baybayin” (or for that matter “babae”) on the other. These are words that just by chance sound slightly similar.

        As for the “katon”/classical baybayin distinction, the “katon” style B.C. is talking about is the one we know that reflects modern Tagalog pronunciation, where consonants are (almost) always spelled as one syllable with the vowel that follows them. In earlier Tagalog at the time when the Spaniards arrived, many Tagalog words were pronounced so the vowel was separated from the preceding consonant, and the vowel was at the beginning of the syllable. The consonant, being at the end of the preceding syllable, wasn’t written. This must have gone on into the late 18th century at least because Pedro Andres de Castro talks a lot about spelling things this way in his 1776 book Ortografia y reglas de la lengua tagala. I would have to check again to make sure, but I’m pretty sure you can see a lot of this in the 1593 Doctrina Christiana.

      • Thanks Chris, good time for collaboration!

        Caton also means a very wise man or one who affects wisdom (http://www.spanishdict.com/translation). It will be interesting to know how and when the word Caton originated.

        The Boxer codex has numerous accounts that priests and priestesses (in reference to Catolonan, Baylanes and Bayoguin) were the carrier of messages. This is why we have the words tag-alaala and tag-alogalog (San Buenaventura 1613 p 460/516) to mean one who recalls and one who speaks (the word Tagalog was derived from the latter).

        I have been documenting evidences from people who know and/or are still using the Baybayin/Katon scripts today. These will be shared in due time.

        Two works by Padre Francisco de San Joseph, Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala (probably 1590: Paris Codex as described by Antoon Postma) and Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala (1610) are better references than De Castro’s 1776 Orthografia which came almost 200 years later.


  3. While I understand that the original script writing in the medal was intended as Lakan Dula, Eric Ambata was not aware that there are several ways by which Lakan can be written: La- kan or Lak-an. La-kan when written as a Katon form will show la ka na where the baybayin form of na is like an umbrella (Katon was taught to Jose Rizal when he was 3 years old). Lak-an on the otherhand is the proper and classical way (Paris Codex 1590). This is how missing consonants were identified by Pre-Hispanic Filipinos.

    As it is in the new 1000 Peso bill, the medal of honor baybayin will be read as la ka na du la. It is a mistake. By simply changing one “la” as “pa” which is possible, la ka na du la becomes pa ka na du la or by re-arranging becomes dolapa ka na as seen in my previous email. This is the right word for the medal of honor.

    • It’s true that there have been important changes in Tagalog pronunciation over the past five centuries, especially the disappearance of glottal stops at the beginning of syllables after a consonant, so that words that were once pronounced like lak-an etc. are pronounced la-kan now. It’s natural that nowadays people would not know how these words were pronounced back then and would not naturally spell them the way they used to be spelled.

      You could compare this to the confusion in Spanish nowadays (or even back in the 1500s) about whether to spell something with b or v (which used to be different sounds but are pronounced the same now) or z/c versus s (ditto). Or perhaps more to the point, this could be compared to the changes in pronunciation between Latin and Spanish, so a name like Horatio that the Romans pronounced o-ra-ti-o is now pronounced o-ra-si-o (or o-ra-thi-o in much of Spain) and spelt Horacio. You could say that strictly speaking, the new spelling is not correct because it’s not how the Romans spelled it, but for the modern pronunciation the new spelling makes more sense.

      Same for the spelling of Lakandula on the medal: it represents the modern pronunciation phonetically pretty well. Keeping up with changing pronunciation is one reason why many languages regularly have spelling reforms that replace old spellings that reflect old pronunciations.

      Your point about the n- letter is a good one: I have been trying to see if it has the López cross underneath it, but the images are too blurry to tell.

      As for l[a] and p[a], it’s true that *some* people (including Lakan Dula’s son Dionisio Capulong/his scribe) wrote it with a wavy line that curled downward like a ribbon in a breeze rather than the short horizontal dash that most people used, which made it kind of similar to the way some people wrote l[a]. Still, the l[a] we usually see, with the squiggly descender, cannot be mistaken even for that version of p[a]. It’s like saying we should read the Latin letter g as q, or y as v. The font on the medal, as far as I can see, is the Baybayin Lopez font, and the two letters at the top of inscription are unmistakably the way l[a] is drawn in that font.

      I think it’s also worth mentioning that when inscriptions are designed to fit around a circle, they are probably without exception designed to be read around a vertical axis of symmetry, like the word “lakandula” that is written here.

      • Good.
        It may be wise for you to learn KATON first.
        But the classic manner is more exciting. These were not taught to early Spanish friars because the “learned” Filipinos back then saw that the brand of Christianity being taught was diluting the ancient culture in many ways.

        The changes made by Padre Lopez may have sealed the attitude of Katolonans and Babaylans (teachers of Katon and Baybayin respectively) in sharing further what they knew about the classic way of writing the script. Side by side with the development of doctrinal books and booklets, Filipino spiritual leaders developed Katon to shield the secrets from the friars, reason why we had Kartilya at Katon. I had the chance of learning it before going to school although what was emphasized were the Alphabetos or Abakada. A living testimony is 99-year old Jesus Maravilla who can write Katon himself.

        In spite of having just a few people who have kept the writing tradition intact, it is good enough to be the springboard of putting back the ancient syllabary into the main stream. Arnis, the Filipino martial arts has been legislated to be taught in all schools and we have started to teach it using the Katon and Baybayin script as Kata forms.

  4. ‘Katolonan’ sounds like ‘pagtolon-an’ — Cebuano roughly “[body of work] to be studied” or “teaching.” Can you point us to links for learning Katon? Also, if possible, links to your Manunggul Jar findings please so we can all share in the knowledge.

    • Thanks RT.
      The first mention of Katolonan can be found in Boxer Codex 1590 (p 429). They were the early priests with practical teachings. It was branded as quack by the friars for propaganda purposes. Today, remnants of the teachings can be found in genuine Babaylans, albularios, hilots and antingeros. Some antingeros are associated with Katalonas who embody Kabal and Katon. A good booklet to start learning Katon is the one found in Ateneo de Manila University and National Historical Institute, Kartillya at Katon (Canseco 1961).
      I will arrange with Baybayin.com so that some of my works can be posted. Mabuhay and keep asking!

  5. Thank you for this enlightening discourse, as it is thorough appreciation for this subject is still very scholarly at best. The circumstances which resulted in my final design did not go deeper than what was made available to me; the things I learned in the course of my research and dialogue; and the final review of my work before the official imprimatur stamped it ready for minting. This type of information should be disseminated and discussed further.

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