Reviving the Philippines’ Oldest Known Form of Writing for a Contemporary Font

TBWA\Santiago Mangada Puno Philippines has created “BayBayan” – a typography project for the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ 50th anniversary that involved taking the country’s oldest-known form of writing and integrating it with the modern Romanized alphabet and creating the institution’s official font.

The BayBayan font combines pre-colonial Baybayin scripts with the modern alphabet for a typeface whose origins tie deeply into Philippine heritage. Literally translated, “Baybayin” in Tagalog means, “to spell, write, and syllabize”.

With evidence of its use going back to the first century, the use of Baybayin as the country’s first-known writing system empowered early Filipinos.

“The Baybayin is a way of writing that was handed down to us by our ancestors,” said Chris Millado, CCP Vice President and Artistic Director in an interview with CNN.

“We had a way of expressing our thoughts, our feelings, and capturing what was happening around us. And basically, by bringing back the Baybayin [through the font], it’s opening a channel back towards this kind of legacy.”

Baybayin was noted by the Spanish priest Pedro Chirino in 1604 and Antonio de Morga in 1609, but goes much further back with evidence found in the Angono Caves in Rizal province featuring visible Baybayin script forms.

Other evidence of Baybayin scripts is the Manunggul Jar (a secondary burial vessel) taken from the same named cave in Palawan “that was carbon dated to be 890-710 BC,” according to Bonifacio Comandante writing in Esquire.

The CCP official website says:

Apart from baybayin, there were 16 other official forms of writing; proof that our culture was constantly molded and cultivated for the next generation of Filipinos to use and promulgate.

Baybayin is a form of writing that is expressed using 17 symbols. Compared to other forms of writing that uses letters, each symbol of the baybayin is represented by one “pantig” or syllable.

The idea behind the concept is that BayBayan will allow both today and tomorrow’s generations a way to discover an important piece of their identity. Beginning in September, the font will be integrated into all corporate documents and major signage around the CCP complex.

To download the BayBayan font, go to


Advertiser: Cultural Center of the Philippines
Chief Creative Officer: Melvin Mangada
Executive Creative Director: Melvin Mangada
Creative Directors: John Ed De Vera, Chino Jayme
Copywriters: Chino Jayme, Greg Hernandez
Designers/ Art Directors: John Ed De Vera, Patrick Gañas, Julian Vinzon
Accounts: Dhanice Mengote, Miele Dungo, Portia Catuira

Production Team: Dennis Carlos
Final Art: Jon Tan

AVP Credits:
Producers: Mich dela Cruz, Sunny Lucero
Editors: Vince Belen, Kyle Chu, Johann Tanhueco, Dayn Hinkle, Elisha Pablo

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