Sundae Scroll #5: Baybayin


To continue our celebration of the Akdang Pinoy (Filipino Literature) month, we went all the way back to the pre-colonial period.

Baybayin is the pre-Hispanic syllabic writing system used in the Philippines wherein each symbol is a syllable. The term baybayin comes from the root word baybay, which means spell. The pre-Hispanic Filipinos wrote baybayin by carving on different materials such as bamboo, tree barks, leaves and fruit rinds with the use of daggers or small pieces of iron.

Based on the early Spanish reports, pre-Hispanic literature are commonly handed down from older to younger generation without written records. The baybayin is mainly used for writing letters and poetry and, for writing incantations on the entrances of their homes to ward off evil spirits.

They have neither books nor histories nor do they write anything of length but only letters and reminders to one another… [And lovers] carry written charms with them.

Charles Ralph Boxer

To learn more on how to write using baybayin, you can check the article (How to Write the Ancient Script of the Philippines) written by Paul Morrow.

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