Speaker Lord Allan Velasco hailed the unanimous approval by the House of Representatives of a measure seeking to promote, protect and preserve Baybayin and other Philippine indigenous and traditional writing systems as part of the country’s cultural treasures.
The legislative chamber on Monday voted 197-0 to approve on third and final reading House Bill 10657 or the proposed “Philippine Indigenous and Traditional Writing Systems Act,” principally authored by Velasco.
“It is time for our country to revisit our past through one of its cultural remnants, our indigenous and traditional writing systems, including the pre-colonial writing system called Baybayin,” Velasco said.
Baybayin is an ancient syllabary script, which means “to spell.” It is said to be one of at least 16 different writing systems that were used by early Filipinos prior to the Spanish era.
“Lost, but not forgotten, Baybayin, together with other indigenous and traditional writing scripts, should be preserved and promoted as part of the country’s resurgence,” Velasco said.
Velasco said Baybayin and other indigenous writing scripts are representations of Filipino tradition and national identity.
“There is a need to promote, protect, preserve and conserve Philippine indigenous and traditional systems as tools for cultural development, for instilling national pride, and for protecting Filipino cultural heritage and identity,” he said.
He added that promotion and preservation of these writing systems are a must in order to “generate greater awareness of indigenous and traditional scripts and to foster wider appreciation of their significance and beauty.”
Under the bill, the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) are mandated to include indigenous and traditional writing systems in relevant subjects of basic and higher education curricula, and to create an elective or specialized course in higher education for the study of the same.
The measure seeks to create or support activities that promote awareness of these writing systems, particularly during Buwan ng Wika and similar occasions and events.
It also calls for conduct of seminars, conferences, conventions, symposia and other relevant activities on the study of Philippine Indigenous and Traditional Writing Systems, as well as good
record-keeping of relevant documents and preservation of oral evidence on these writing systems.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) shall be the lead policymaking unit for the promotion of indigenous and traditional writing systems.
The NCCA is mandated to protect, preserve and conserve these writing systems as National Cultural Treasures, in accordance with Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. It shall coordinate with DepEd, CHED and other relevant agencies for the proper implementation of that mandate.