Baybayin UCL

London-based Baybayin Master, John Leyson, teaches second generation Filipinos how to write in baybayin, the ancient Filipino syllabary that was widely used in certain parts of the Philippines before 1521. Photo by Marco Belviz Pajo


22 November 2019, LONDON—Philippine baybayin master John Leyson conducted the first in a series of baybayin writing workshops in the UK this month. The workshops featuring one of the Philippines’ indigenous syllabaries drew crowds of Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike who were interested to learn more about baybayin.

The workshops took place in partnership with the London Filipino Language Centre CIC and other Filipino Community Organisations and Filipino Student Societies. Previous workshops took place in Birmingham, Gloucestershire, and London. The UCL Filipino Society hosted the most recent baybayin workshop last 22 November 2019.

“Culture is future. Filipinos abroad, whether by choice or by necessity, will find themselves at the centre of a highly globalized society. Like other people from other nations, they bring with them their culture: language, values, belief system, traditions, hopes and dreams,” said Leyson. “We are part of that big global tapestry and we have our own colorful identity to share the whole world. We long to inspire and energize our own people so we can propel our immensely rich culture towards a very dynamic and diversified future.”

Ric Patriarca, the founder and director of the London Filipino Language Centre CIC, continues to work closely with Leyson in promoting a renewed appreciation for baybayin among Filipinos in the UK.

“The only way to make baybayin alive is for us to love it, own it, promote it, preserve it and above all, use it,” said Patriarca. Apart from teaching the participants how to write in baybayin, the workshops focus on shedding light on baybayin’s history and how this ancient syllabary can be made relevant to today’s generation of Filipinos.

“Somehow, as a people have forgotten certain elements of our past- our written language, baybayin, for instance, due to the indelible marks of centuries-old colonization. We need to rummage through the remnants of our past and use these sort of “new-found treasures” to bring more colour to our faded identity as a people,” said Leyson.

 “The Embassy lauds the efforts of the Filipino community in promoting baybayin,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo. “As a form of written language, learning and understanding baybayin is integral in truly appreciating our language and culture.” END