Should We Go Back to the Baybayin Days?

I love foreign languages and I admit that I am utterly fascinated with the writing systems of Korea, Japan and China. Those strokes and shapes are really interesting to look at and appealing to decipher. It has always been my dream to be multi-lingual; so ever since high school, I have been studying Hangug-o on my own.

For the past years that I’ve been trying to master the language, it constantly occurs to me why the Philippines didn’t stick using the Baybayin system, more commonly known as alibata. It’s a writing system used by the early Filipinos way before the Spanish colonizers arrive and proclaim that we are illiterate. One of them admitted that. According to a 1567 (?) account of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Visayans had been usingletters and characters similar to those of Malay. Thus, he presumed that our ancestors have learned from our neighbors already, and are thus literate.

We used to have our own language, but something else was pressed onto us – and we succumbed. Now, we use the alphabets and a large portion of our vocabulary consists of borrowed words from the Spanish language.

And we call ourselves a free nation.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very okay with the language our society uses, but knowing how powerful a language is in creating positive impressions, I can’t help but wonder how it would be if we stuck with using alibata and just developed it for modern uses just like how King Sejong the Great of the Joseon Dynasty did with the Korean language. Will it generate a bigger sense of pride and confidence among Filipinos? Will it instill a greater sense of nationalism and patriotism among us all?

Personally, I think that the most important thing about having a unique writing system is that it generate a sense of complete distinction. If ever we did stick with baybayin, there’ll be one major thing that will set us apart from everyone else. Not that we don’t have anything to be proud of though; Philippines is a very beautiful country, with or without baybayin… But how can I deny the greater possibilities, right? Distinction. I guess that's where everything else roots from. If we feel different, there's gonna be no inferiority or insecurity. We could have done better as a nation then. 

I know it’s close to impossible that the society moves back to using baybayin. I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to handle it as well, if ever it happens. I am perfectly fine using the modern alphabets anyway, but these thoughts just had to occur and be expressed. I was just wondering about things, about what could have probably been.

As it is relative to the subject of this blog post, I would like to share to you Dr. Jose Rizal’s Sa Aking Mga Kabata:

Kapagka ang baya'y sadyáng umiibig
Sa kanyáng salitáng kaloob ng langit,
Sanglang kalayaan nasa ring masapit
Katulad ng ibong nasa himpapawid.

Pagka't ang salita'y isang kahatulan
Sa bayan, sa nayo't mga kaharián,
At ang isáng tao'y katulad, kabagay
Ng alin mang likha noong kalayaán.

Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salitâ
Mahigit sa hayop at malansáng isdâ,
Kayâ ang marapat pagyamaning kusà
Na tulad sa ináng tunay na nagpalà.

Ang wikang Tagalog tulad din sa Latin
Sa Inglés, Kastilà at salitang anghel,
Sapagka't ang Poong maalam tumingín
Ang siyang naggawad, nagbigay sa atin.

Ang salita nati'y huwad din sa iba
Na may alfabeto at sariling letra,
Na kaya nawalá'y dinatnan ng sigwâ
Ang lunday sa lawà noóng dakong una.

ENGLISH VERSION (from Wikipedia)
If a nation's people certainly love
Their gift of language bestowed by heaven,
So too will they regain their pawned freedom
As the bird that flies in the sky.

For language is a measure of worth
Of nations, towns, and kingdoms,
And each person alike, deserves
That of any creation born free.

One who does not treasure his own language
is worse than a beast and putrid fish,
Thus it should be nurtured gladly
As our mothers nurtured us.

The language Tagalog is like Latin,
Like English, Spanish, and the language of angels
For it was the Lord, in his wisdom
Who bestowed it, who gave it to us.

This language is like that of others,
With their own alphabet and their own characters,
But vanished as if a sudden storm had come upon
A boat in a lake in an age long past.


  1. The benefit has to be more than cultural because of bigger issues of the country. Art and culture is a lower priority of the government compared to economics. In my Baybayin lectures, I talk about a 3 part platform. Baybayin for 1) Cultural Identity, 2) Promotional use for economic gain leading to 3) Preservation because of the economic benefit. I have video where I talk about it on my site

    1. Thank you for your comment, Christian!

      I agree, art and culture has become a lower (if not non-existent) priority of the government because there are larger things to deal with. I, myself, do not think it possible that we move back to using this writing system. But somehow, it saddens me because every issue has a common denominator. We just have to figure it out.

      I dropped by your site. It's informative. Will make sure to browse through some of your articles as soon as I'm no longer busy. :)