Baybayin

Baybayin Mobile App: An Ancient Filipino Writing System In A Pocket

Baybayin –  Learning Baybayin is a way of preserving our cultural heritage as well as fun and interesting. There are many resources on the internet that could help you learn this writing system, but If you are looking for an on-the-go app that will educate you about Baybayin anywhere you want, this app might help you.

HISTORY

Baybayin – an ancient writing system used by Filipino even before Spanish occupation. The Baybayin was a syllabic writing system, meaning, each letter represented a syllable(Pu-so, Ka-ba-yo, Ba-ta,) instead of just a basic as in the modern alphabet. The Baybayin comes from the word “Baybay”, which means “spell”.

Baybayin
Doctrina Christiana: The Teachings of Christianity in Baybayin

In fact, some documents and even copies of Bible were made in Baybayin as late as the early 19th century.  But due to the modernized education system, Filipino was rarely taught in Baybayin abugida and has been replaced by the Roman alphabet. A, B, K, D, E, G, H, I, L, M, NG, O, P, R, S, T, U, W, and Y.  Baybayin is an abugida,  is a segmental writing system in which consonant-vowel sequences are written as a unit. Each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is secondary.

Baybayin
Baybayin characters written in the window pane of Philippine National Museum

KEEPING THE BAYBAYIN ALIVE

Some people may not appreciate Baybayin nowadays. In fact, I have friends who have no idea what Baybayin is all about and what is the importance of it in our current generation. Most of the youngsters rather see it irrelevant because it is no longer used in the present days.

Wooden Idols with syllabic writings.

READ: House committee OKs Baybayin as national writing system; netizens disapprove

The Baybayin is not hard to write as the character is spelled based on how it sounds. There is no standard way on how to write Baybayin character properly just like in any other alphabet, the writer is free to write a character based on their own style. Nevertheless, there is a guide on how should it look basically. Reading Baybayin is another matter. Yup, it’s easy to write than to read Baybayin characters.

Let me give you an example.

Baybayin Chart

Baybayin Virama

Because the original script was particularly difficult to read, Spanish priest Father Francisco Lopez introduced a new kudlit in the form of the plus sign or cross (+) which is placed under a letter that removes the vowel.

Baybayin characters

WHY SHOULD FILIPINO LEARN BAYBAYIN?

Learning Baybayin is also a way of preserving our cultural heritage as well as fun and interesting.  I think this native script should be preserved academically so younger generations could value our very own writing system. Learning Baybayin is also a way of promoting our very own language and writing system. It also proves that Filipino were already literate prior to the Spanish colonialization.

The more you know about the past the better prepared you are for the future

-Theodore Roosevelt

However, I don’t think to revive it as a primary writing system since we already use Roman alphabet now for how many years. Mahihirapan ng baguhin kung ano ang kinagisnan, plus the Roman alphabet is widely used all over the world. I agree that Baybayin should be taught in schools for our national identity. But using it as our national writing system might not be a good idea.

Baybayin App

I believe, there are still people in this generation who wants to learn Baybayin, that’s why I developed an app that will help and guide them to write and read Baybayin script. Aside from Baybayin Script, there was another abugida-type native writing system used in different part of the Philippines. The Tagbanwa Script, Hanuno’o, Buhid, and kulitan which is closely related to Baybayin.

Variation in script

Source: Paul Morrow.

Some have attributed Baybayin as Alibata, which is technically incorrect, the word was just invented in the 20th century by Paul Rodriguez Versoza after the arrangement of letters of the Arabic alphabet, alif, ba, ta(alibata), “f” having been eliminated for euphony’s sake. Therefore, there is absolutely no record of ancient script related to Arabic arrangement being used in Southeast Asia before. The Baybayin script is a descended from an ancient script used in India, not in the middle east.

Baybayin
Monreal Stones: The Tablet and the stone both found inside the compound of Rizal Elementary School in Monreal, Ticao Island, Masbate. Both stones were engraved with scripts.

4 YEARS IN THE MAKING | Baybayin 3.0

It was all started when my friend asked me to develop a Baybayin app. I don’t want to spoon-feed so I tried to guide them in programming and helped them to create a basic app. It was just only a dictionary back then. I see a lot of potential in the project and I’m actually fascinated by Baybayin even before, I really wanted an app that allowed me to study Baybayin anywhere I want. So I decided to create my own version of it.

Complete syllabic Baybayin characters written in a piece of paper and translated it digitally using Illustrator. I have to buy a Wacom drawing tablet so I can draw the stroke properly.

After months of development, I have successfully published the first version of the app into the play store. It gathers almost 500 downloads in the first 2 weeks as I remembered. Then it rapidly increasing into thousands of downloads. A lot of people patronizing the app and It’s really inspired me to update the current version, fix bugs, add features and so on.

I read a lot of positive comments despite being in the early stage. Negative comments couldn’t be avoided but I took it as a constructive criticism, an opportunity to get ideas from the users what is missing and what features should be improved.

Baybayin App
Me using the app I’ve developed. The Baybayin Mobile App.

We all know that there is no perfect software but there is a lot of room for improvement. I admit the fact that the first version of the app is not that smooth as some of the functionality was not working very well especially on low-end devices. Interface design is quite good but I think it can be enhanced. The colors are not that properly executed and it has a lot of flaws especially when the user tracing the characters. The gesture tracking algorithm I made were not that accurately working on some devices. That’s why some user rates a one star in the play store and the app got negative comments. The first version of the app was uploaded around mid-2014 and the last update was last December 22, 2015.

Now it’s 2018, I decided to majorly improve the app from the design up to its functionality. Actually, I started to work on the new design way back in 2016 but due to my busy schedule working on a corporate company, developing freelance projects, editing videos, photography and writing articles on my travel blog WanderHacker, I haven’t got enough time to do it, so it left unfinished.

BUWAN NG WIKA

Since it’s a Buwan ng Wika, I think I need to finish the app before the month of August ends. Apart from that, I saw the latest movie The Day After the Valentine’s starring Ms. Bella Padilla and Mr. J.C Santos. I haven’t watched the movie yet but I’ve already seen the trailer, The character of JC Santos ex’ and Bella have a common interest in Baybayin. So I think, na napapanahon para tapusin yung app 😀

(c) Viva Films

THE DEVELOPMENT

WHEN HISTORY, ART AND TECHNOLOGY COLLIDE.

Baybayin is part of the history of the Philippines, it’s not only a writing system but for me, it’s also an art. As a software engineer, I really wanted to combine art and technology every time I develop an app. UI is the first thing that user might look for an app, then, later on, it’s functionality. The first impression lasts.

Baybayin App

Upon developing the app, I do a lot of research, reading articles and etc. I have also learned the Baybayin rules and how to basically write it. I think that was the most difficult part for me while developing the app, I have to simultaneously do the programming while researching.

I made the app from the scratch. The design, color combination, logos, fonts, and other material used in the app was made during weekends, holidays, late nights and after office hours. So after many sleepless nights squeezing my brain, I have successfully published the app on the play store.

BAYBAYIN APP

The app has 10 features which consist of different modules, it has a discussion module to introduce Baybayin to users where they could learn its history and its characteristics, a flashcard that will help users to memorize each Baybayin characters and etc.

Baybayin App

I’m looking forward to enhancing this app and if you know someone that could help me, please refer it to me. I don’t have enough sources for the content to put in the app, it came from different articles mostly on Wikipedia.

To help me sustain my needs to improve the app, I added some ads, I hope users won’t be annoyed with the randomly showing ads inside the app. There is also an option for users to remove the ads through in-app purchase for only PHP 15.00.

Baybayin App

PLAN AND FUTURE WORK

Currently, the app is only available for Android users, I’m planning to create the iOS version as soon as I have enough time to do it and a budget for the development. I still have many ideas in my mind that I want to put in the app. I have many features still in progress such as performance tracking, character matching, and etc. But, I will leave it there for now until I read user feedbacks. I know bugs are still there, but I promise that I will improve it once I have a free time.

FEATURES

  • Discussion
  • Flashcard
  • Name Converter
  • Assessment
  • Transliterate
  • Character Chart
  • Dictionary
  • Tracing
  • Animated Tracing Guide
  • Share Baybayin name to Facebook

I hope this app will help you to learn more about Baybayin – an Ancient Filipino Writing System.

If you want to learn more about Bayabyin, the newest version of the app is now available on Google Play.

Get it on Google Play

If you found errors or need some modification, please don’t hesitate to send me an email. So I can update it immediately. I would love to hear what you think about the app or what is missing.

Credits: I would like to thanks Mr. Aaron Amar for giving me the permission to use Matatas One Baybayin Type Face.

Disclaimer: I may not a Baybayin expert, but I’m an expert developing software like mobile applications. If you’re interested you can send me an email to [email protected]

Related Articles:

Baybayin and nationalism – By Aliosha Bielenberg

Baybayin – The Ancient Script of the Philippines – By Paul Morrow

THE LAGUNA COPPERPLATE INSCRIPTION

Writing History: The Fiction and Truth of Baybayin

 

Don’t forget to share on Facebook, Twitter or other social media so others may benefit as well 🙂

If you have questions or you spot something that needs to update, let us know in the comments section below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *