THE UNIVERSITY reached another cultural milestone as the UST Archives’ collection of ancient baybayin scripts were declared as national cultural treasures by the National Archives of the Philippines (NAP) last Aug. 22 at the National Museum in Manila.

The baybayin scripts consist of 14 consonants and three vowels which orginated from the pre-Islamic and pre-Spanish era.

Coinciding with the 2nd Baybayin Conference, the scripts were formally recognized by NAP’s national archivist Victorino Manalo. The conference is a forum aiming to create awareness for the importance of the ancient writing system.

UST archivist Regalado Trota said their collection of baybayin scripts are the first articles of history to be declared as national cultures treasures by the NAP.

A part of history

The baybayin scripts are the fifth of the University’s property to be recognized as articles of cultural importance, along with the Arch of the Centuries and the Main Building among many others.

Trota cited the recognition as an insight to the history and culture of the University.

“It’s a boost for UST’s own heritage. It will make people more aware of UST’s heritage and culture in the context of Philippine and world history,” Trota said.

Trota made note of the significance of the scripts as these were an early glimpse to 17th century Manila. “Bahagi tayo ng daloy ng kasaysayan,” he added.

Series of transactions

The Archives’ baybayin scripts are the only existing complete handwritten baybayin documents.

Divided in two documents from 17th century, the scripts are deeds of sale of irrigated land in Tondo by Doña Catalina Baycan to Don Andres Capiit. The second document contains the sale of land in Mayhaligue (now an area in Sta. Cruz, Manila) by Doña Maria Silang to Doña Francisca Longar.

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Doña Francisca Longar and Don Andres Capiit eventually married and bought the land in Mayhaligue. Longar then married Don Luis Castilla with him selling some parts of the land to UST.

Trota also pointed out the significance of women as entrepreneurs of the time with the likes of Doña Baycan and Doña Longar as landladies.

Actual copies are restricted to the public and are being kept in the UST archives because of its fragile state but replicas are available for public viewing at the Archives bulletin board located at the fifth floor of the Central Library. It will also be uploaded on the UST website later on. Kristelle-Ann A. Batchelor and Ethan James M. Siat


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