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These islands existed long before Magellan stepped on that beach in Cebu.When he arrived, he found an existing civilization, rather than merely “primitive” tribes. In my mind, at least, the level of literacy, rather than the use of tools or anything else, determines that a civilized people existed.By forcing the native people to learn and speak Spanish, they minimized the incidences of insurrection: Keep them fed and ignorant, so to speak.

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By way of comparison, the modern Filipino alphabet was Latinized, the only difference from the modern English alphabet is the addition of the letters “Ng” (Tagalog) and “Ñ” (Spanish).

Ilocano, Bisaya, Tagalog and other native languages were spoken here for centuries, and were each very different, as they are today.

For the sound “O” or “U”, the kudlit is written below the symbol.

If a syllable doesn’t have a consonant (like “Oo”, or “yes”), then one of three vowel symbols could be used: There are many syllables that end in a consonant, leaving a slight problem in reading Baybayin: There’s no way to write that consonant, so the reader must guess as to the meaning.

However, they all used the same alphabet (script) when they were written, with a few regional variations.

The ancient script was called Baybayin (or, sometimes, Alibata).The Spanish solved this problem by developing a special kudlit, in the form of a small cross, which was written below character of the ending consonant, thus making Baybayin easier to read. Words were written bottom to top, and left to right.The early Filipinos usually had more of an oral tradition, rather than a written tradition, but written records of epic poems and religious works were kept.Many Friars noted with pride their destruction of “pagan” documents written in Baybayin, and most of the documents written by the ancient Filipinos were lost forever.However, as this article noted in the beginning, “History is written by the victors”, and the Spanish used language as a means of control.However, by the 19th Century, the use of Baybayin had largely died out, except occasionally as personal signatures on documents.