If you have been wondering how our writing system looked like in the pre-Spanish times, then wonder no more. Look at the chart above and you basically have the ancient Baybayin (the term baybay literally means to spell). It was used from the 16th century up until the early 19th century.
There were a dozen or so individual writing systems throughout Southeast Asia and Baybayin is proudly one of these. Hanunó’o, Tagbanwa, Buhid, even the Bisaya and Kapampangan scripts are believed to have descended from this ancient writing system.
Baybayin uses the abugidas which makes use of a consonant followed by an inherent vowel. Diacritical markings are used in expressing which vowels are being used, whether e, i, o, u. As you notice when you look at the chart above, the syllables containing the vowel a are the ones that do not have the said markings. This rule is also apparent in Sanskrit (the lingua franca of the Indo-Aryan peoples).
Soon, we will learn about the origins of Baybayin, why it is not the same as Alibata, and other historical facts that will wow you.
Below is an ABS-CBN feature about how Baybayin is being proposed to become, once again, our national system of writing. And below it, a photo of my daughter's painting with her initials written in Baybayin.
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