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MA. VICTORIA GUGOL

       When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, they found that the inhabitants they called Indio had their own alphabet, and their own system of spelling or orthography, Baybayin (de Tavera). The old alphabet was syllabic and composed of three vowels and fourteen (14) consonants. One vowel represented our a, another thee and the i, (two sounds which Filipino confuse), and the vowels o, u which are pronounced in a confused manner, too. Strictly, however, there were only three (a,i,u). Each consonants in the alphabet was pronounced with a vowel which invariably was the a when not modified by a sign which was placed above or below it. This sign which was called Kudlit (certain virgules or marks which where used in the old system of writing) changed the “a” in the syllable of the consonant to “o” or “u” when placed under it, and to “e” or “i” when placed over it. The “t” Kudlit was introduced by Fr. Francisco Lopez in 1620 but was rejected by writers of that time.

       In many languages the alphabet is called by the first three or four letters in it; thus we say abecedario (for Spanish) or alphabeta for the Greek (a b). The Arabs call it alif-ba-ta, In 1914,  Dean Paul Versoza of the University of Manila erroneously used the term “Alibata” instead of Baybayin  since the “Alibata” is actually the Arabic alphabet. The Baybayin is of ludic origin. The Javanese call their alphabet charakan which means a “message” and the old Tagalog alphabet Baybayin which means “follow-up, to fall in the succession, and the suffix – in thus making baybayin, a succession of alphabet in which its letters succeed one another, always  in the same order falling in simple file or line, thus the letters in Baybayin are read as baybay, kaykay, day-ray,gaygay,… but the Spanish missionaries changed them to baba, kaka, dara, gaga, haha, lala… (Panganiban).

       The Spaniards romanized the Baybayin. They introduced their own alphabet, abecedario and their own system of writing. In oral spelling of a word, they say one letter after the other of the first syllable, and then say the syllable, and do the same with the rest of the syllables of the word. For example, “bathala” /be-a-te / Bat, /ache-a/ha, / ele-a / la = bathala.

The ABAKADA in 1937

       When the national language-based Tagalog was developed, Lope K. Santos wrote the Balarila ng Wikang Pambansa and introduced the Abakada of 20 letters in which only one letter represents one meaningful sound in Tagalog. The 20 letters of Abakada are written and read as:

A B K D E G H I L M N NG O P R S T U W Y
a ba ka da e ga ha i la ma na nga o pa ra sa ta u wa ya

several words used in the Balarila were coined and spelled using only the letters of the ABAKADA.

Balarila (grammar) pang-abay (adverb) panaguri (predicate)
pandiwa (verb) pangatnig (conjunction) simuno (subject)
pangngalan (noun) patinig (vowel) pang-ukol (preposition)
pang-uri katinig (consonant) paningit (inclitic)

The Alpabetong Filipino in 1976

       On July 30, 1976 the Department of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) issued Department Memo No. 194 starting the adoption of the revised Filipino alphabet with 31 letters to conform with the modernization of the national language. With the 20 letters of the Abakada, eleven foreign or borrowed letters were added, c, ch, f, j, ll, ñ, q, rr, v, x, and z. The rules on how these letters were to be named and used were not fully understood and implemented, thus, they were again revised.

The 1987 Alpabetong Filipino

       The 1987 alpabetong Filipino is the revised or enriched Abakada and the 1976 Alpabeto. The alphabet is revised in order to elaborate and enrich Filipino as a national language and official language of the Philippines. The alpabetong Filipino is composed of 28 letters and are read like the letters of the English alphabet as pronounced by Filipinos.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N
ey bi si di ii ef dzi eyst ay dzey key el em en
 
Ñ NG O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
enye endzi o pi kyu ar es ti yu vi dobolyu eks way zi

      Words are orally spelled like these:

xerox – /eks-i-ar-o-eks Dr. – /kapital di-ar UP – /yu-pi/ bata – /bi-ey-ti-ey
H2O – eyts-tu-o MLQ – /em-el-kyu/ cañao – /si-ey-enye-ey-o/ quartz – /kyu-yu-ey-ar-ti-zi/

       Using the source order of the 28 letter of the 1989 alphabet words are entered in the Dictionary of the Filipino Language, 1998 Edition done by the Commission of Filipino Language.

A aagaw…ayop Ñ  
B baak…byuru NG ngabay… nguyo
C

cablkanbon…cymbals/simbals 

O oasis… overnight
D daan…dyuretiko P pa… pyus/piyus
E ebakweysyon…eyesore Q quack… quao ke arranto
F faayaw…fuyu R ra’ang… rwina/ruina
G gaan… gym / dyim S saad… syuting
H haha… hydrophobia T taad… typesetting/tayp-seting
I iabot… iyupi U uad… uyuuyuhan
J jab… juventas V vacuum / bakyum… vugi
K ka… kyutikel W waag… wiwi
L laan…lyeno X xaddan… xylophone
M maabot… myutini Y yaang… yuyot
N na… nunal Z zarzuela… zygote/saygot
About the Author:
Ma. Victoria Gugol is the president of the Association of Educators of Filipino and president of Panitik ng Kababaihan. She heads the Department of Filipino Language and teaches at the Graduate College of the Philippine Normal University.