Filipino Artist Christian Cabuay Revives Ancient Baybayin Script|Philippines

Filipino Artist Christian Cabuay Revives Ancient Baybayin Script|Philippines


The nearly forgotten Philippine script called Baybayin resurfaced in Europe this month through a series of exhibitions and workshops led by a passionate Filipino-American artist Christian Cabuay. Tagalog words and phrases were seen in a modern version of Eastern calligraphy using the ancient script.


Christian Cabuay, who was born in Mandaluyong and raised in San Francisco, brought the Philippine script to life through his artworks showcased in exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, London and Brussels, alongside workshops and lectures. Inspired by graffiti and calligraphy, Cabuay uses paint and brushes to imprint Baybayin characters on paper or canvass, which often has an abstract visual quality. The 38-year-old artist also uses Baybayin in everyday objects, including accessories, clothing and ornaments, as well as designs for personal tattoos.
“It’s not just art - art is a good tangible aspect of it and it’s something that is visible, but the ultimate goal is to use it as to identify us as Filipinos,” he said.

As part of his mission to promote Baybayin, Cabuay engages with crowds through talks, lectures and live performances. He previously appeared in the University of Stanford, Asian Art Museum, the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, and the University of the Philippines.
In his lecture in London, he regaled a group of second-generation Filipinos and embassy staff with personal stories of his experiences with Baybayin, as well as a brief history of the script, from its roots in India to its gradual decline into obscurity through colonialism and Westernization.
“I use Baybayin as my fountain of youth: when you leave a legacy, you live forever,” he concluded.

Cabuay said he would like to see the script widely used and recognized in the Philippines and the diaspora. He is a supporter of House of Representatives Bill No 4395, otherwise known as Baybayin Bill or National Script Act of 2011. The legislation states that Baybayin should be recognized as the national script of the Philippines, which must be taught in schools and used in Filipino products, organizations and establishments.

Baybayin derives from the Tagalog word “baybay,” which means “to spell.” It is considered as a native script from the Philippines, believed to be in existence between 13th to 19th centuries and can be found in some historical documents and artifacts.

It is also known as Alibata, a controversial term coined by Paul Rodriguez Versosa in 1921, which was widely accepted in the 20th century but is now being challenged by some as incorrect primarily due to its Arabic origins. - a summary of the news found in

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