Baybayin is dead, long live Baybayin!

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I’m back on the Blog after a couple of years to discuss death and disruption. I’ve always been fascinated with death. One of my early childhood memories was watching a VHS tape of Faces of Death. I was a compilation of clips of people getting into accidents, beheadings, etc. You know, normal stuff you see on the internet now. Back then, it was more of a shock factor.

As I got older, I became interested in dying cultures in Africa and Asia. It was natural I would somehow connect death with Philippine cultural practices. My first instance was a section of my Intro to Baybayin book in 2009, where I had a section titled “The Death of Baybayin.” About four years later, I was taking part in a Super Bowl street fair. After talking to about 50 people and explaining the basic script history, it wasn’t resonating. Maybe it was my voice or lack of eye contact. Maybe it was the story I was telling. It was then; I decided to experiment with using a strong absolute term like DEATH. Death is a bulldozer that forces conversations. I learned when you use strong terms; you get strong reactions with strong emotions. Strong emotions cause action. Action kicks Idea’s ass all day long. Death = Action

Even though this was only a few years ago, much has changed in the “Baybayin scene.” Interest has increased every year. This is measurable with data from my FB Baybayin page and private group.

Facebook Page
Facebook Discussion Group

Scripts have frequent exposure in news programs, social media, and even movies. New advocates have popped-up in the Philippines to expose scripts to a new generation.

For years, I, along with others, have championed the term Baybayin kill the erroneous Alibata term. Now it’s time to kill the term Baybayin. This will be a much more difficult task because there isn’t an obvious replacement…yet but maybe there shouldn’t be. As a refresher, Baybayin is a term that means to spell. It’s not a name but a description of an action. Maybe there shouldn’t be a name, and it should be called whatever the term is for writing/spelling in someone’s local language. More on this on another article. The timing of this also coincides with the recent activity around the National Script Act AKA the Baybayin Bill.

As I mentioned above, Action beats Ideas. Here are my action items:
– Move the blog domain under I’ll keep the domain as a landing page because people will still use the search term. I did something similar with an Alibata domain landing page.
– Acknowledging the issues with the term when conducting lectures similar to what I’ve done with prePhilippine and preFilipino.
– Get rid of the Baybayin School branding in my upcoming project.

Baybayin is dead, long live Baybayin

Department of Budget and Management

Above is a screenshot of the website for Department of Budget and Management with Baybayin. Looks cool as the people on Twitter mentioned but it’s written wrong!

It’s supposed to be “Kagawaran ng Pagbabadget at Pamamahala” but actually says “kagawarana naga pagabaAbadeta ata pamamahala”

There’s even an extra A there.

With the government support of Baybayin via the pending National Script Act house bill, more government websites are incorporating the script. All is this is good but as I mentioned in a post last year, there are some concerns. One that I talk about in my lectures is that with popularity and passion without a basic understanding will lead to embarrassing errors like this.

UPDATE: I reached out to them to help with the error and as of April 28, 2012, all is good.

Philippine Congress: Baybayin Bill Speech

Privilege Speech
June 6, 2011

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen, a blessed afternoon to all of you.

I rise today on a personal and collective privilege. Mr. Speaker, June 19, 2011 marks the year-long celebration of Dr. Jose Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary. This year’s celebration, organized by the national historical commission, has the theme “RIZAL: HALIGI NG BAYAN,” and will feature the life and works of the Philippine national hero.

In his book DOUBLE LIVES, author DAVID HEENAN said:

JOSE RIZAL, a contemporary of GANDHI and SUN YAT-SEN, is recognized as the greatest Filipino who ever lived. Having traveled extensively in Europe, America, and Asia, Rizal MASTERED 22 LANGUAGES, including Spanish, English, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Greek, and various local dialects.


According to REGALADO TROTA JOSÉ, the new head of National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) Subcommission on Cultural Heritage, and archivist of the University of Santo Tomas Archives, heritage has two aspects: THE TANGIBLE HERITAGE, which are the buildings, the costumes, the artifacts; and THE INTANGIBLE HERITAGE — the dances, the languages and the gestures.

Mr. Speaker, isang karanasan ang nagbukas sa aking kamalayan na tayo pala ay may sariling Salitang Panulat bago pa man dumating ang mga banyagang mananakop. Nakausap ko ang isang kaibigan na galing sa Amerika at naibahagi niya sa akin na nagturo siya roon ng Baybayin sa paanyaya ng isang Pilipinong bihasa sa Filipino Martial Arts. Ang mga tinuruan niya roon ng Baybayin ay mga Amerikano. Dito nagsimula ang aking kaalaman patungkol sa Baybayin, na sa pagkakaalam ko at ng karamihan sa atin ito ay tinatawag na Alibata. Sa aming pag-uusap, Nakita at nadama ko sa kanya ang kakaibang pagmamahal at pagpapahalaga niya sa ating sariling salitang panulat. Ito ay tila isang tilamsik ng liwanag sa akin. Kaya naman, ako ay nahamon sa kanyang marubdob na pagnanais na buhayin ang napabayaan nating salitang panulat – ang Baybayin.


BAYBAYIN is the ancient syllabary script of the early Filipinos, which means “TO SPELL.” Spanish priest PEDRO CHIRINO in 1604 and ANTONIO DE MORGA 1609 wrote about Baybayin as being widely known by the country’s population. This supports the claim of Prof. F. LANDA JOCANO that Filipino ancestors have already established life ways prior to the coming of Western colonization.

JOSE RIZAL, our national hero himself was a skillful writer of the ancient syllabic Pilipino script called BAYBAYIN. He has written manuscripts in Tagalog that contain BAYBAYIN. He also used the BAYBAYIN script in his book, NOLI ME TANGERE, while portions of EL FILIBUSTERISMO was written in pieces of Bamboo called bumbong by Rizal himself in Baybayin now contained in Le Museé du Quia Branly, Paris, France.

He proudly declared in “SUCESOS DE LAS ISLAS FILIPINAS” circa 1609 that the “Philippines had an established barangay government system, a flourishing interisland and regional barter trade and a writing system well known and practiced in the land, contrary to the vulgar name ‘Indios’ that the Spanish friars and conquestadors had called our people then”.

Before the Spanish conquest, the Filipino men and women were known for their advanced knowledge and skill in our indigenous written language, the “BAYBAYIN”. It was a sophisticated written language that was used to conduct commerce and trade with Malaysia, Indonesia, and even in the in Middle Eastern countries. Our ancestors were proud of their race, have a cultural and national identity that were at par with other advanced countries.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, even DON PEDRO PATERNO and DON TRINIDAD PARDO DE TAVERA wrote two (2) volumes of dictionary (circa 1884-1887) now found at the National Library detailing the script, strokes and pervasive use of Baybayin in the Philippines prior to the introduction of the Latin-Roman scripts that we are using popularly today. The Baybayin scripts were culled from our giant shells, the Taklobo, in which our forefathers gathered giant pearls, that is the very reason why we were called the “PEARL OF THE ORIENT”.


According to GRAEME SHANKLAND a leading British architect:

“A country without a past has the emptiness of a barren continent;

and a city without old buildings is like a man without a memory.”

“Ang isang bansang walang kasaysayan ay tulad ng tigang na sanlupain…

at isang nilalang na walang kamalayan.”

Mr. Speaker, ang wika ay may dalawang aspeto: ang WIKANG PASALITA at WIKANG PANULAT. Sa kasalukuyan mayroon lamang tayong wikang Pasalita samantalang ang ating Wikang Panulat ay halos naibaon na sa limot at itinuturing na “ENDANGERED ALPHABET”.

In one of Jose Rizal’s writings, “TO MY FELLOW CHILDREN” (1869) he said:

“This language of ours is like the rest, it once had a syllabic form and its own letters that vanished as though whirlwind had set upon a boat on a lake a long gone”.

Mr. Speaker, sa isang panayam kay TIM BROOK, isang manunulat at direktor ng “Writing Program” sa Shanghai College, patungkol sa “ENDANGERED ALPHABET PROJECTS”, ito ang kanyang sinabi (translated into Filipino):

“Ang pag-aaral at pagsusuring ito na ginanap sa Pilipinas ay naglalahad na matibay ang ebidensya na ang panulat na ito ay masasabing naglaho na dahil sa hindi na ito ginagamit. Ito ang tinatawag na Baybayin. Ito ang ginamit na panulat ng mga katutubo bago pa man dumating sa Pilipinas ang mga Kastila. Normal lamang na ipatupad ng mga mananakop ang pag-aaral, pagsasalita at pagsulat ng dala nilang alpabeto kung kaya’t ito ang naging dahilan kung bakit unti-unting nawala ang paggamit ng Baybayin.

Sa mga sumunod na mahigit sa dalawandaang taon pa ay naglaho ang Baybayin. Pumalit dito ang Alpabetong Latino. Sa ngayon, ang mga kabataan sa Aparri ay nakikiuso sa paglalagay ng mga tattoo na nasusulat sa Baybayin. At doon makakukuha ka ng mga T-shirts na may mga disenyong Baybayin. May mga biro pa roon na wala raw ni isang nakaaalam doon kung ano ang letrang nakatatak sa T-shirts at kung paano ito bibigkasin. Mga larawan lamang daw ito. Ito’y isang pambihirang pagkakataon na makikita ang kahalagahan at kaugnayan ng panulat sa kahulugan nito. Nakalulungkot isipin na ang naiwan na lamang ay ang mga disenyo ng panulat.

At isa pang bagay , ako’y nalungkot sapagkat ang kakaibang panulat na ito ay unti-unti nang naglaho. Sa tuwi-tuwina sa aking pagmamasid, ang panulat na ito ay hindi na ginagamit o itinuturo sa mga paaralan o ginagamit man lamang sa mga panulat sa pamahalaan sapagkat ang ginagamit na ngayon ay ang Alpabetong Arabo o ang tinatawag na Alpabetong Latino. Ang ating alam at ang ginagamit nating Alpabeto- kakaiba, maganda at natatanging panulat na ito sa buong mundo ay unti-unti nang naglaho. Gumawa ako ng mga pagsusuri na magpapatotoo nito”.

Ironically, Mr. Speaker, foreigners lately have become interested in teaching our Baybayin script abroad with Filipino crowd. If they are passionately interested with Baybayin, how much more should we, as Filipinos, revive or restore our endangered national treasure, the Baybayin script?

Japan has its own scripts, Kanji and Hiragana; China has the Han character. The Koreans, their Hangul. Almost all Asian nations have their own writing system. They use it in their street signs, food labels, books, et cetera. In simple terms, their written language is being used in their daily affairs. The Philippines, being an Asian country, has its own script too, the Baybayin, but it’s been long forgotten.

Gaya nga nang sinabi ni DR. JOSE RIZAL:

Ang salita nati’y tulad din sa iba na may alfabeto at sariling letra,

na kaya nawala’y dinatnan ng sigwa. Ang lunday sa lawa noongdakong ununa.”

Mr. Speaker, because of the aforementioned reasons, SA AKING MGA KABATA, (1869) DR. JOSE RIZAL


The importance of writing in general and of the alphabet in particular for the preservation and progress of civilization is incalculable.

As University of Chicago scholar I. J. GELB has declared:


Before the invention of writing, the preservation of history, literature, and tradition was dependent upon fallible oral transmission and faulty human memory. It is no wonder that the seven ancient peoples (SUMERIANS, EGYPTIANS, ELAMITES, INDIANS, CRETANS, HITTITES, and CHINESE) who devised the earliest forms of true writing considered the art of writing to be a gift or invention of God or the gods.

(GEORGE THOMPSON & JERRY COMBEE, World History and Culture in Christian Perspective (2nd Edition) – A Beka Book)

Mr. Speaker, because of the aforementioned reasons, House Bill No. 4395 AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF BAYBAYIN, AND DECLARING BAYBAYIN AS THE NATIONAL SCRIPT OF THE PHILIPPINES, envisions to protect and preserve Baybayin as part of our cultural heritage and treasures which will serve as our national identity and tool for unification as a people.

Also, it will help inculcate patriotism among our citizenry especially among our youth if Baybayin will become our National Script and will be included in our Basic Education Curriculum.

“EDUCATION IS THE PROCESS OF TRANSMITTING THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF A PEOPLE FROM ONE GENERATION TO THE NEXT. People of all cultures educate their children informally in the home and the community, and many cultures also educate children formally in a classroom setting, where they are taught literacy (reading and writing), mathematics, and other formal subjects. The Sumerians were the first to develop a system of formal schooling.

LANGUAGE AND WRITING THROUGH THE AGES by GEORGE THOMPSON & JERRY COMBEE, World History and Culture in Christian Perspective (2nd Edition) – A Beka Book

Mr. Speaker, A new wave of nationalism must rise for the development of our nation. It is time that we reclaim a national heritage that is threatened by globalization, and the rapidly changing times. It is time that we establish our national identity. The declaration of Baybayin as our national script would be a unifying element for us Filipinos. We owe it to our children and the generations to come to establish an identity uniquely Filipino.

So, Mr. Speaker, I urge this Congress to expedite the passage of House Bill No. 4395,


Related to this, I strongly request the government agencies concerned to immediately issue the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10066, the 2010 Heritage Law. Section 38 & 39 of the said law It specifically states:

SECTION 38. INCORPORATION OF NATIONAL CULTURAL TREASURES AND IMPORTANT CULTURAL PROPERTY IN THE BASIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. – Within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, the Department of Education in coordination with the Commission’s Philippine Cultural Education Program shall formulate the cultural heritage education programs both for local and overseas Filipinos to be incorporated into the formal, alternative and informal education, with emphasis on the protection, conservation and preservation of cultural heritage property; and

SECTION 39. CULTURAL HERITAGE EDUCATION PROGRAM. – Within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, the Department of Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Commission on higher Education in consultation with the Commission shall set forth in its teaching programs nationwide the following cultural heritage education programs with emphasis at the provincial, city and municipal levels:

(a) Protection, conservation and preservation of cultural heritage properties;

(b) Instructional materials in prints, film and broadcast media on the cultural and historical significance of cultural properties; and

Mr. Speaker, To borrow the words of DR. JOSE RIZAL:

“If (this) succeeds to awaken your consciousness of our past, already effaced from

your memory…then I have not worked in vain, and with this as a basis,

however small it may be, we shall be able to study the future.”

Bilang pagtatapos, Mr. Speaker,

Ating Isigaw na!

Ating Isabuhay na!

Ating Isagawa na!


Maraming Salamat po!

Baybayin Bill – National Script Act of 2011

baybayin bill - national script act 2011
Baybayin Bill – House Bill no.4395

As part of a Baybayin talk I participated in last week at Guro Dan Inosanto’s Academy, the presenter (Jay Enage of Baybayin Buhayin Inc.) showed me the “Baybayin Bill” known as the “National Script Act of 2011” sponsored by Representative Leopoldo N. Bataoil.

Yes, an actual law that will require that Baybayin be taught in schools and be used in everyday life! This is something the Baybayin community has been talking and debating about for years and now it may become a reality.

Here are the bill Sections:

An act providing for the protection and conservation of Baybayin, and declaring Baybayin as the National Script of the Philippines

SECTION 1: This Act shall be known as the “National Script Act of 2011”

SECTION 2: It is a declared policy of the state to inculcate, propagate and preserve our cultural heritage and treasures for the evolution and development of patriotism among our citizenry. The state shall give utmost priority to the conservation and promotion of arts, letters and culture of our nation as a tool for cultural and economic development.

SECTION 3: Babayin also known as Alibata is herby declared the national script of the Philippines. The official adoption of Baybayin as the national script shall be promulgated by inscribing Baybayin in all products locally produced or processed in the Philippines. Manufactures of processed or food products shall include on the label a translation in Baybayin. The Department of Trade and Industries shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this Act.

SECTION 4: Baybayin shall also include in the curriculum of the elementary and secondary schools. The Department of Education shall likewise promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this Act.

SECTION 5: Any provision of law, decree, executive order, rule or regulation in conflict or inconsistent with the provisions and/or purposes of this Act is hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

SECTION 6: This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

One item in the bill that will cause controversy is the claim that “The Baybayin scripts were culled from our giant shells, the Taklobo, in which our forefathers gathered giant pearls, that is the reason why we were called the “Pearl of the Orient”.

I sincerely applaud the mission of the bill it will certainly bring up many important points:

1) No standardization
2) What is the government cost to roll-out?
3) How will this affect businesses in an already bleeding cash?
4) Is the script name too Tagalog-centric?
5) What about other living scripts like the Mangyan, Palawaan or Kapampangan?
6) Who will teach the teachers?
7) Who will create the educational materials?
8) Who will coordinate all of this?

What do you think? Is it a good idea for the government to implement something that appears yet to have a solid foundation?

Is this something that can be compared to changing the name of the Philippines?