GMA's Philippine Treasures

GMA should win a cultural award for their promotion of Baybayin this year. This past Sunday Sept 11, GMA aired they much hyped Philippine Treasures special. In one of the segments, they featured… guessed it! The rock you love to hate, The Ticao Stone, AKA Rizal Stone, AKA the rock that may have buried Lapu Lapu (yes, that’s a real quote), AKA the Dremel Stone and AKA (insert your own).

Why was there so much emphasis on the Ticao Stone when it hasn’t even been proven an artifact? I get why but it’s an insult to the Golden Tara.

Besides the unproven Ticao artifact, they briefly showed the Laguna Copper Plate, Calatagan Pot and various Hanunóo and Tagbanwa scripts.

Overall it was pretty good and worth watching.

My favorite part was seeing the ex-long “distance speculator”, Christopher Miller checking out the rock.

Watch the Baybayin segment while you can

Return of the Ticao Stone!

It’s the return of the Ticao AKA the Rizal Stone! This past August 5-6 was the 1st Philippine Conference of the Ticao Stones where various speakers from different disiplines provided their insight on the infamous stones and other related topics.

Many of us couldn’t go but the organizers have just uploaded the presentations for the 2 days. I’ve read through some of it a couple weeks ago thanks to Christopher Miller who was in attendance. I must say the research is very comprehensive and well documented. However, there was no definitive conclusion as to the authenticity of the stones. As expected, it will take more time. The question is how long and what will be the communication method?

One of the interesting presentations was:
Integrating Baybayin Scripts into the School Curriculum
(Speaker: DepEd Region V Curriculum Expert)

Download all the presentations


  • What do you think of this conference?
  • Is it premature make Ticao Island the epicenter of Baybayin when it hasn’t even been proven to be a “real” artifact?
  • What are some of the interesting things you read in the documents?

Itinaga sa Bato – GMA iWitness

Baybayin was again featured in GMA’s iWitness with Howie Severino featuring the controversial Ticao Stone  aka Rizal Stone. You may remember that a stone was found with Baybayin carved on it. I 1st posted this back in June asking opinions if the stone is real or not.

GMA news is reporting that a stone was found in Masbate with Baybayin. If it turns out to be real, it will be the 1st artifact that clearly has our writing system on it.

Since then, there’s been a lot of back and forth dialog leading to a conference in Masbate on Aug5-6.

Check out the whole episode that aired last night.

The interesting part is when Howie visited the Amaya set and asked Vic Villan, a history professor from UP, if there was a connection with Baybayin and the designs we used on furniture. Check it out at 5:12

It was a good exposure for Baybayin but as you can tell by the teachers who attended a talk, there is some hesitance. After watching it, I wanted more. There needs to be a follow-up. What do you think?

Romancing the Stone – Ticao Conference

Well this is interesting….

On August 5-6, 2011 there will be “The 1st Philippine Conference on the Baybayin Stones of Ticao, Masbate”.

Here the info from the registration site

Conference Information
WHAT: The 1st Philippine Conference on the “Baybayin” Stones of Ticao, Masbate

WHEN: August 5, 2011 (8AM- 4PM); August 6, 2011 (8AM-12NN)

WHERE: Monreal Gymnasium, Municipality of Monreal, Ticao Island, Masbate Province, Philippines

The UP Ticao-Masbate Anthropological Project Team
Department of Education, Region 5
Local Government of Monreal, Masbate
The Masbate Provincial Government
The National Museum
170+ Talaytayan MLE Incorporated

1) To make a preliminary but comprehensive report on the “baybayin” artifacts found in Ticao, Masbate including but not limited to its probable origins, geo-socio-cultural context, age, authors, authenticity, and transcriptions.
2) To heighten awareness among Filipinos on the historical and cultural importance of the baybayin script and other cultural artifacts.
3) To provide a forum for stakeholders on how to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the peoples of Ticao and of Masbate.

1) DepEd teachers and administrators
2) Local government officials and employees
3) Educators, linguists, researchers, artists and cultural workers
4) Tourism officers and staff
5) “Baybayin” enthusiasts

1) P1,200 for participants coming from DepEd Region V and from local government units of Masbate province
2) P1,500 for all other participants

According to the program, it looks like they are taking the opportunity to present other topics besides the stone. As many of us in the Baybayin community said, this is a excellent opportunity to promote Baybayin and our ancient culture even if the stone is real or not.

The Language Bridge between the Proto-Philippine Archipelago and the Surrounding Hindu-Buddhist Kingdoms (Speaker: Arnold M. Azurin, UP Archaeological Studies Program)

Integrating Baybayin into the School Curriculum
(Speaker: DepEd Region V Curriculum Expert)

What We Now Know About the Ticao Stones
(Speaker: Prof. Francisco Datar, UP Diliman)

Ticao Island as an Archaeological Paradise
(Dr. Roger Lim of San Jacinto)

Integrating Baybayin into the School Curriculum
(Speaker: DepEd Region V Curriculum Expert)

I’m most interested in the school curriculum part. If this stone is the reason why Baybayin is pushed up a level, then it’s a good thing.

Hopefully the sessions will be recorded for the long distance speculators 🙂 I hope it’s real

The Rizal Stone and the Hot Chick

Prediction: They will not be able to scientifically date the stone and will be left with a blah statement that it’s probably pre-colonial because of the old words and “primitive” nature of writing without kudlits. The statement will say that kudlits were probably not invented yet but have no hard facts why the resemble writing samples found in Spanish texts. It could be a simple coincidence or natural marks of. The stone will be place back on the mantle and will be declared an ancient artifact.


Today, another linkbaiting article came out by our friends at GMA “Heated debate surrounds origin of recently found stone” by JM TUAZON

“An international debate has erupted over a stone slab recently found in Masbate engraved with ancient Tagalog writing after some overseas experts suggested that it may not be more than a century old. “

Expert Baybayin carver, Ray Haguisan said the other day that “This Baybayin Ticao Stone drama is almost as bad as passing a kidney stone.

Yes it is and I want to piss it out so that I can personally move on to other things like my mobile Baybayin translator app. However, some comments by Arnold M. Azurin in the article need to be responded to.

“It is too presumptuous to regard the kudlit-studded style of baybayin syllabary as the only authentic way. It oversimplifies the need or presence of such markings,” Azurin told GMA News Online via Facebook.

We can only presume this because that’s what we currently know about the script. That’s what is tought in Philippines schools via recycled material. When has Baybayin ever been written without kudlits? All the related predecesor abugida scripts I’ve seen have the virama (vowel cancellation) and kudlit. Where is that brand new information coming from? What book? What research paper? What documentary? How come I haven’t heard about this. I need to know to curb my strange obsession with the script.

He pointed out that some Mangyans knowledgeable in baybayin use dashes or underscoring etches, the group’s variant of inscribing which they have innovated over time.

Innovated overtime with the external help of Antoon Postma. If it had not been for his intervention and introduction of the pamudpod, the script would most likely have had gone the way of the ignored Tagbanwa and Buhid scripts.

“It is like using the Roman alphabet. One may inscribe it slanting or upright, all caps or lower case, or mixed with texting symbols,” he said.

Azurin is mixing up writing style with general “rules” of writing systems. If I write cat as CAT, cat or jejemons style cAt, or graffiti style they still spell cat. It would be different if I wrote CT. We can agree that CT isn’t cat.


Azurin went on to say that “knee-jerk conclusions… reek of arrogance to presume that there’s only one way of writing the baybayin.”

Nobody is coming to any conclusions. Azurin mistakes common and current knowledge as arrogance. Is it arrogant to think that 1+1=2 based on what we were taught since gradeschool? One can argue that it can also equal 11. Why not presume that Baybayin was written with kudlits when that’s what is currently taught in Philippine schools? When and where did Azurin get this idea that pre-colonial Baybayin was written without kudlits? Was it just recently as a response to “critics” or was it hidden in a stack of papers? Why wasn’t this idea brought to light a long tim ago to correct school material?

“If we can decode it and it would appear to convey that Lapu-Lapu was buried beneath it, that would be a good lead as to its historic significance or provenance,” he said.”

This seems like he’s reaching to find the next LCI or Manunggul Jar. Again, too early to speculate? It’s only opinions. If we see an unidentified object crash to the earth, we as curious beings guess what it is. It’s human nature. Is it too early to speculate what features the iPhone 5 will have? Nope, it’s not a big deal. The question is, why don’t they want the Baybayin community to speculate?

Real or not, the “Rizal Stone” has flushed out some longstanding issues and they are not necessarily Baybayin or even Filipino related.

1) Pinoy vs Foreign
As mention in my last post

2) Digital divide
I come from a generation spoiled with technology. I’m want information now. The frustration from the Baybayin community is that they are also used to getting information instantly. If it’s not found on Google, it DOES NOT EXIST for them. Is that fair? No, but it’s reality. We expect the professors to act fast, document what exactly is being done, who’s doing it, with times/dates, photos, Youtube videos with Twitter and Facebook updates so that I can read about it on my iPhone. Is it fair for the professors? No way but that is the world my generation lives in. We don’t like to rely on others but in this case, we must. The professors are in an offline world while we are hooked-up 24/7.

2) Traditional academia vs crowdsourced education
This issue reminds me of this time when I was living in Manila and was helping my friend work out. I was giving her suggested exercises and spotting her. I knew what I was doing because I took physical therapy courses and worked out a lot. One day, the resident muscle head pulled me aside tells me that I shouldn’t be training her because I’m not certified like he was. I was pissed and thought, what an ass. I didn’t stop helping my friend but though about his intentions. It was either 1) He was jealous because my friend was hot or 2) He sincerely didn’t want to see her get hurt.

I think it was #1 because he never pulled anyone else aside to tell them to stop but # 2 is valid also.

This scenario reminds me of the professors and the Baybayin stone. Why do they want us (me) to stop speculating or talking about the stone? Who would get hurt if we continue?

Who’s the hot chick that might get hurt?

General public?
– Nah, they really don’t care about Baybayin

Baybayin community?
– Nope, most are skeptics

– Maybe but most just care about is passing the “Alibata” exam

People of Ticao who enshrined the stone like in an Indiana Jones movie?
– Perhaps as they might loose some tourism money or a sense of pride

I think the hot chick is the professor’s reputation

They have a lot to lose while I really don’t. If I’m wrong, it doesn’t hurt me because I already called out that I want to be wrong and that it’s PROBABLY modern. If it turns out the Rizal Stone is “ancient”, I continiue my day job as a web analyst, launch my school, mobile application, documentary, writing another book and run my Baybayin consulting and art business.

If the stone turns out to be “modern”, a lot of questions will arise that they have to answer.

I keep reading quotes about us “Not helping” because of long distance speculations. Then tell us what we can do to help. The community I run is the the go to place to find actual writers of the script. There you will find artists, fans, amateurs, scholars, practitioners and everyone in between. Post a question for an opinion and you will get honest answers. The truth is that they don’t want our help because they are used to this type of investigative work and have done it numerous times. It’s their job. Would you want someone you don’t even know to meddle in your job? Probably not. They just want us to shut the hell up and let them work. Bottom-line is that they don’t want anyone to speculate who’s not a professor. I respect that but it’s not the world we live in. The new way is though transparent collaboration and constant iterations.

I don’t think they anticipated the loud voices of the Baybayin community or even knew it existed.

The Philippine educational system has failed to teach Baybayin properly and without context. Where are the books? I’ll answer my own questions. It’s because Baybayin in the Philippine context DOES NOT MATTER because of bigger issues such as poverty. Baybayin only becomes relevant when the media grabs hold of a story like the Baybayin on the new peso bills or this Rizal Stone.

Why didn’t any anyone in the Philippines call out the irony that a non-Filipino created the fonts for the new bills? It’s because they simple don’t know or don’t care…..and there’s NOTHING wrong with that.

My issue is why all of a sudden these professors care about Baybayin when they have not contributed anything significant to the Baybayin community? If they have, where is it? the output is really lacking. Some typed dissertation sitting on a bookshelf? Get that out there in the open. Publish it please. Why are we doing your jobs?

Why did Paul and Norman have to create all these fonts?
Why does Ray spend his own money to teach hundreds of people every year at Filipino festivals?
Why is Baybayin Buhayin the leaders of promoting Baybayin in the Philippines?
Why did I have to create an online “translator”?
Why did I have to write An Introduction to Baybayin?
What about the team over at Bahay Nakpil?

The community has done a lot, yet our work is dismissed by academia.

Enough of my ranting, what does Kris Aquino have to say about the Rizal Stone?

The Passion of Baybayin

Received this statement as a comment on my Rizal Stone: What’s Next post:


Press Statement
June 22, 2011

UP professors studying the Rizal stone have responded to critics by asserting that long distance speculations will not help in determining the artifact’s authenticity or antiquity.

Critics have claimed that the inscriptions on the Rizal stone are “modern” or that it could be a hoax, on the basis of the absence of kudlits and the alleged similarity of the inscriptions to the type fonts in the baybayin version of the Doctrina Christiana. The Doctrina Christiana is the oldest book published in the Philippines.

Dr. Francisco A. Datar of the UP Anthropology Department said that issues regarding the diacritical marks and the symbols can only be resolved by undertaking a definitive transcription of the inscriptions. This still has to be carried out in a more rigorous and scientific way by actual examination of the specimen under the direction of the National Museum.“We cannot overemphasize the need for situating the find within its specific social and cultural context. This means among others conducting more interviews among the residents and locating the stone’s origins. We urge all scholars and interested parties to refrain from passing judgment about its age or its other characteristics without concrete facts, “ Datar added.

You heard that, Paul Morrow and Christopher Miller! Shut up and let the professors do their job. I knew this would happen. Right when this hit our radar, the passionate Baybayin fans people over on the nearly 6K member page on Facebook began speculating. That’s what the passionate do when there’s news like this. Eventually, the press reached out to some us asking for our opinions. GMA did a good job in capturing what we thought the stone is but we still kept an open mind because it could be “real”. Nobody said that it’s a hoax as a fact. That would be stupid.

On the flip side, the Bureau Chief of Gulf News, Barbara Mae Dacanay, did a horrible job in her article titled “Foreign scholars debunk stone tablet with old Philippine script as modern-day hoax“. The headline looked to strengthen a Foreign vs Pinoy underlining issue. Nobody was out to debunk any hoax. I don’t believe anyone intentionally carved the stone and placed it in the school.

It’s said that the stone was found about 10 years ago. If that’s the case, then the way the words were “written” matches how some people wrote Baybayin during that time due to a lack of educational materials and misread “Alibata” charts. There were only 2 Baybayin websites out that that time belonging to Paul Morrow and Hector Santos. I’ve seen incorrect tattoos from that time that use each character as a letter rather than a syllable.

Let’s breakdown this Press Statement from UP Profs

UP professors studying the Rizal stone have responded to critics by asserting that long distance speculations will not help in determining the artifact’s authenticity or antiquity.

If the stone was right next to me, I would still speculate as would most Baybayin aficionados. It’s natural human curiosity. If I ran a car website and there’s news that Toyota invented a car that runs on chocolate, I’m going to speculate. Is “Long distance” code for outsiders? Non-Filipino?

We urge all scholars and interested parties to refrain from passing judgment about its age or its other characteristics without concrete facts

Nobody in the Baybayin community passing judgement. A few of us want it to be real (pre-colonial). It’s OK for a professor to speculate that it could be pre-colonial, but we cannot speculate the opposite? You should be able to say right away what kind of stone it is and if it’s indigenous to the area it was found. I’m no expert on rocks but I would expect a professor of anthropology should be able to.

Renante Tomas from the Baybayin Facebook page comments:

There seems to be a serious lack of scholarship regarding Baybayin among Pilipinas-based Pinoys. The few I’ve seen on the web seem more concerned with the mystical–almost like they want a babaylan’s mantle–that could explain why no Pinoy professor is calling out the obvious.

Who are the Baybayin experts in the Philippines that will help?

I would like to know who they will consult with in the Philippines. I hope it is someone who has the depth of knowledge of say, Antoon Postma who lives in Mindoro.

asks Paul Morrow

Ray Haguisan of Malaya Designs, an active Baybayin practitioner for over 15 years commented about the statement on Paul Morrow’s Facebook page:

Somebody is a bit miffed with people, of varied backgrounds outside of Philippine academia, who have been studying, practicing and propagating Baybayin. Our opinions should not be looked upon as passing judgement but rather sharing information. Instead of calling us out, how about extending some consideration?…actually, alot of consideration. After all, we ultimately have the same goals, to preserve and educate. Discounting our efforts as mere interested parties is kinda offensive. If anything, they have passed judgment on us. Good luck I say because in my opinion, any further forensic work on the stones will be very difficult and would require extensive monetary resources. So all they have left is to turn to “other scholars” and “other interested parties.”

If anyone would know if the Baybayin on the stone was made using a machine, Ray would know. He’s been carving, scratching and drilling Baybayin in wood, stone, metal, plastic, paper and pretty much every material out there for over a decade.

I was meaning to post some of my comments on the Rizal Stone post but decided to let it go. However, with the statement from the UP Professors, I have to bring up an issue that I have personally experienced with the academia.

About 2 years ago, I was showing my Baybayin artwork, doing free translations and giving quick lessons on the script at a Filipino festival in San Francisco when a Pinoy professor from SF State questioned why I was teaching. He said that what I was doing was wrong and I wasn’t qualified. We talked for a bit and I found out that he didn’t even know Baybayin. Ray Haguisan has experienced the same as well and told me that we shouldn’t ever stop what we are doing because while the professors are teaching behind a desk, we are at ground zero spreading Baybayin and Filipino culture within the community. No money, with little accolades.

I’ll speculate and give my opinion on ANYTHING Baybayin related. I’m not afraid to be wrong. That’s what you would expect from a site called No BS and full transparency.

“Nothing personal, just doing my job” – Manny Pacquiao

Rizal Stone: What's next

Here’s another video about the Rizal stone. I was able to get a screenshot of the carbon tracing that has 1 cross kudlit. It’s either a cross or just natural indents in the stone.

While I believe that the Baybayin on the stone is modern, I do want to be wrong. It would be great to have an artifact like this. Modern, ancient, innocent carving or hoax…..the benefit this stone brought to the modern-day Baybayin movement is great.

Just in the past 30 days, we had a few Baybayin newsworthy events like the Baybayin Bill, taping of a feature for GMA USA’s upcoming show Power ng Pinoy and a soon to be release translation app. With the start of school in the Philippines, I hope it will spark and interest in learning the script. Because of the Rizal stone story, Google searches for Baybayin has gone up significantly with the media’s romanticizing of the stone.

I don’t get many visitors to this site but because of the media coverage, the traffic has nearly doubled.

So what’s next? Obviously, we need to prove the age of the stone if even possible.

1) It’s proven pre-colonial – We would need to then explain the callouts discussed in the 1st Rizal Stone post but who will do this? The most vocal advocates from the US and Canada will most certainly speak out but who will talk about it in the Philippines? We need that voice back home. This voice not only needs to do the usual traditional media run but also penetrate the internet. An article titled “Foreign scholars debunk stone tablet with old Philippine script as modern-day hoax” came out a few days ago and left a bad taste in my mouth because it strengthens an underlining issue of foreign vs local. However, why didn’t any scholars from the Philippines call out some of the obvious or cast any doubt?

2) It’s not pre-colonial – We would need to build on the momentum as a community by producing more relevant and compelling content. Sure, everyone talks that we need to bring back the script but what are YOU personally doing to push this forward.