July 12, 2021

The Expat’s Guide to Ancient Filipino Script, Baybayin

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  • An indigenous script writing in the Philippines, Baybayin was once considered an endangered writing system, with only one remote village tribe still using the script. But surprisingly, people have shown renewed interest in and a new sense of appreciation of Baybayin. Perhaps it’s due to its artistic appeal just like that of writing Japanese or Chinese calligraphy. Or, Filipinos are simply learning to reclaim a part of their identity.

    For expats, knowing about an ancient language like Baybayin, besides being simply fascinating, can open a window into the country’s culture and history. And the Philippines sure has a lot of things in store for you to discover.

    If you’re curious about this precious ancient script, here is a quick beginner’s guide to learning how to write Baybayin courtesy of Baybayin Pinas Facebook page.

    1. Memorize the 14 consonants (all with /a/ sounds) and 3 vowels, which composes the original alphabet.

    It has three (3) vowels and (14) consonants.

    Baybayin Pinasさんの投稿 2017年7月20日(木)

    1. Use a kudlit (a small mark, usually a dot) to change the pronunciation of the consonants:

    A kudlit above a character will give it an /e/ or /i/ sound.
    A kudlit below a character will give it an /o/ or /u/ sound.
    A krus-kudlit (small ‘x’ mark) or a pamudpod (curved line) below a character will remove the /a/ sound.

    All consonant characters in Baybayin has /a/ sounds. We use kudlit (a dot, slash,etc) on top of the character to make…

    Baybayin Pinasさんの投稿 2017年7月20日(木)

    1. In special cases wherein an English sound has no direct Baybayin equivalent, it has to be “Filipinized.”

    Some english alphabet has no direct equivalent in Baybayin. Hence, it has to be Filipinized.

    Baybayin Pinasさんの投稿 2017年7月21日(金)

    4. Write a word based on its pronunciation.

    Note that there is no ‘v’ or ‘f’ in Baybayin, so you would have to use the ‘b’ or ‘p’ consonant, respectively.

    Write the word based on how you pronounced it.

    Baybayin Pinasさんの投稿 2017年7月20日(木)

    5. Practice writing your name!

    Let's start writing your name in Baybayin.

    Baybayin Pinasさんの投稿 2017年7月20日(木)

    That’s it—as easy as one-to-five! Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can try Baybayin in brush calligraphy or create a romantic Baybayin haiku. Exciting, right?

    Written by Rizelle “Rei” Leaño
    Source: Baybayin Pinas Facebook page

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