Here’s a short interview I did with Victor Quimson from Eagles Corner. He’s the man that created one of the 1st online Baybayin translators.
Christian – What is your Baybayin story? How did you 1st come across it?
Victor – I first learned about Baybayin from history class back in high school. The late Teodoro Agoncillo wrote about it in his book “History of the Filipino People” and included pictures of the symbols. I was quite amazed to learn that the early Filipinos had their own system of writing.
Christian – Your Baybayin translator has helped so many learn the script quickly and fairly accurately. What inspired you to create the tool and what were some of the challenges?
Victor – I had just taken a Perl programming class and was looking for an interesting project to work on so I can practice web programming. At around the same time, my interest in Baybayin was reborn after seeing the Baybayin pendants being created by Ray Haguisan of Malaya Designs (www.malayadesigns.net). It was a natural fit. Thanks to Hector Santos’ website, I decided to read more on how Baybayin is properly written. From there the Baybayin translator was born. I’m still amazed at how often it’s used.
It turns out that it wasn’t too difficult to do. There really weren’t any challenges. Baybayin isn’t difficult to learn, so writing the code for it was fairly easy.
Christian – Do you plan to release an updated version?
Victor – It’s been almost 10 years since I created the site, and I’ve barely touched it since. I had been toying with the idea of writing either a Facebook or iPhone app, but my time is limited nowadays.
Christian – Regarding your disclaimer, has anyone comeback advising of a messed up tattoo based on the output of your translator? I’ve come across people who9 think they could enter “Sister” and receive a translation.
Victor – I haven’t heard from anyone who had a messed up tattoo. Every now and then I come across people with tattoos with symbols that seem to have been copied from my site, and once in a while I’d find tattoos with really bad translations.
I added that disclaimer after I realized that people have been using them for tatoos. Except for a few special cases, I’m pretty confident in my translator’s accuracy in translating original Tagalog words (not words borrowed from Spanish or English), however; I can’t control what the user types in.
I still get a few requests for translations for tatoos every week, but I rarely answer them. Most of the questions I get could be easily answered by going to the “tips” page or through any other Baybayin website. My belief is that if you really want a tatoo that represents your culture, then you should take the time to learn more about it. Baybayin is so simple that one can learn it in a few hours. I’ve heard from some people that other sites charge up to $25 for translations. I’m thinking of doing the same, but I’ll send the money to one of the charities I support back home.
Christian – Does your program log any statistics? It would be interesting to see what the % breakdown would be for Original vs Spanish modified. What do you think people are using?
Victor – I don’t keep any statistics other than the number of words that have been translated. I would prefer that people would use the original version more than the modified one, of course that’s not entirely realistic.