Thursday, December 11, 2014

Worth Repeating

Repeating Homophonic Syllables:
"A Baybayin Tradition worth Repeating."

A sample of an occurrence of vowel sign doubling in old Tagalog script. (Excerpted from a 1635 land deed, University of Santo Tomas Archives, reproduced by Villamor in 1922), provided by Christopher Ray Miller, Ph.D., 2014:
From a 1635 land deed. UST Archives.
Earlier this year, we covered this in our papers and presentations at the International Workshop on Endangered Scripts of Island Southeast Asia held in the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan.

Vowel sign doubling: Tagalog script historically shares with Buginese a spelling convention that can be called “vowel sign doubling”. This consists in marking a consonant letter with two vowel signs, either the same or two different ones, to represent two succeeding syllables beginning with the same consonant.
~ Miller (2011-2014)
In his book on Baybayin, Jean-Paul Potet Ph.D., noted that this same convention occurs in a Bugis script inscription on an old tombstone in Brunei. The inscription shows two i-vowel diacritic marks on top of a "NA" letter/character to be read as néné, meaning "grandfather". (Potet, 2014; Noorduyn, 1993)

Reintroducing Traditions:
Since I introduced the ᜍ "RA" glyph into my fonts a few years ago, it slowly gained acceptance and has become a de facto standard for the "RA" character. Similarly, I there has been an increase of online usage and enthusiasm for Antoon Postma's "pamudpod", from Surat Mangyan, a crescent-shaped virama (for indicating a trailing vowel-less consonant) since I also include the glyph in all my fonts. So, I think that it is about time that we bring back the dual-kudlit for syllable doubling convention. I am confident that the practice will gain acceptance once again, given some time, exposure, and proper education.

There is one hitch though, we need a couple more new markers. Since the /a/ vowel sound inherent to each base baybayin character is obviously not marked, how do we repeat an /a/ ending syllable without doubling a base letter?  ...or repeated compound syllables too for that matter? We have to look into other related South East Asian abugida scripts for answers. Luckily, we didn't have to look too far. I found that the Buginese (Lontara/Bugis) pallawa mark is used to separate rhythmic-intonational groups and also used to denote the doubling of a word or its root. We can borrow the same concept and style/position as the the pallawa mark.

We can actually use the pallawa mark to denote word or root doubling. It would greatly reduce reduplication of words like "halo-halo", "bola-bola", "turo-turo", "Bong-bong", "bato-bato", "sunod-sunod", etc.

Borrowing from the pallawa concept, I introduced the : colon as a padalaw-a mark in my Tokyo paper. The padalaw-a mark also doubles the vowel characters in the same manner prescribed in the book "Ang Wika at ang Baybaying Tagalog" by Tolentino (1937) except that the marker is on the right side instead of being on top or bottom of the ᜁ I and ᜂ U characters. The padalaw-a mark makes it possible to repeat an /a/ ending syllable without doubling a base letter.

Another extended possibility for this type of Kudlit mark is what I call a “pahantig” mark which is a single solid dot • mark on the right side of the a consonantal syllable character; it duplicates the consonant sound at the end of the marked syllable.

Before we could disseminate this, I would have to update all my fonts to include the pallawa mark. Currently only a couple of my commercial license fonts has the updated markers. The pallawa is assigned to the \ backslash key. In the mean time, we can educate baybayin practitioners about this forgotten tradition and updated solution.

Here's a recent chart to explain the dual/doubling/repeating marker system:
Baybayin dual / doubling / repeating marker system chart.

For a larger view of the chart above: CLICK HERE


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Baliktárin Palindrome and Baligtádin Ambigram.

A new exercise in tradition. Try your hand and mind at it; see what you can create.

Baligtádin ( ᜊᜎᜒᜄ᜴ᜆᜇᜒᜈ᜴ ; lit. reversible ) is a Baybáyin equivalent of an ambigram. 

Basically, an ambigram is a typographic, calligraphic, or symbolic art form representation of a word or phrase, whose elements retain meaning when viewed or interpreted from a different direction, perspective, or orientation.

The meaning of the ambigram may either change, or remain the same, when viewed or interpreted from different perspectives.

Baligtadin ( ᜊᜎᜒᜄ᜴ᜆᜇᜒᜈ᜴ ; lit. reversible ). is a Baybayin equivalent of an ambigram.

Faux-Latin Alphabet "Love", ᜃᜊᜌᜈ᜔ "Kabayan" (townsfolk/countrymen) a Multi-Lingual ambigram.

Baliktárin ( ᜊᜎᜒᜃ᜴ᜆᜍᜒᜈ᜴ ; lit. returnable back and forth ) is a Baybáyin equivalent of a palindrome, or in other words: a palindromic Tagalog sentence written in Baybayin Script; it reads the same from the beginning to the end or from the end to the beginning.

The unit of Baliktarin is mora (per syllable measure) since the Baybayin Script is an Abugida (alphasyllabary or phonetic-syllabary). This syllabic constrained writing differs from a Palindromya (Tagalog Palindrome), which is written using the Latin Alphabet and uses phoneme (per letter measure) as unit.

Baliktarin is very much like the Kaibun (回文; lit. circle sentence), the Japanese equivalent of palindromes which uses their syllabaries, Hiragana and Katakana.

Preferably, traditional Baybayin orthography is used in Baliktarin; where a virama (vowel cancellation mark) is not advised and trailing/leading vowel-less consonants are not written.

  • ᜃᜒ ᜎ ᜎ ᜃᜓ ᜎ ᜎ ᜃᜒ
    | ki-la-la-ko(ng)-la-la-ki |
    Kilala kong lalaki.
    "A man I know."
  • ᜁ ᜊ ᜊ ᜋᜓ ᜊ ᜊ ᜁ
    | i-ba-ba-mo-ba-ba-i |
    Ibaba mo, babae.
    "Put it down, woman."
  • ᜊ ᜅ ᜃᜓ ᜅ ᜊ
    | ba-nga-ko-nga-ba |
    Banga ko nga ba?
    "Is it really my jar?"
  • ᜆ ᜋ ᜐ ᜋ ᜆ
    | ta-ma-sa-ma-ta |
    Tama sa mata.
    "Hit right in the eye."
  • ᜁ ᜃᜓ ᜎᜓ ᜋᜓ ᜎᜓ ᜃᜓ ᜁ
    | i-ku-lo(ng)-mo-lo-ko-i |
    Ikulong mo. Loko e!
    "Put him in jail. He's really crazy!"
  • ᜁ ᜎ ᜋ ᜎᜒ ᜊᜒ ᜎ ᜎ ᜊᜒ ᜎᜒ ᜋ ᜎ ᜁ
    | i-la(ng)-ma-li(ng)-bi-la(ng)-la-bi(ng)-li-ma-la(ng)-i |
    Ilang maling bilang? Labinglima lang e!
    "How many did we miscount? We only have fifteen!"

Baliktarin ( ᜊᜎᜒᜄ᜴ᜆᜍᜒᜈ᜴ ; lit. returnable back and forth ) is a Baybáyin equivalent of a palindrome.

NOTE: An easy way to remember Tagalog term for which is which (ambigram or palindrome):
  • Baliktárin (baybayin palindrome) - key word "BALIK" meaning "RETURN".
  • Baligtádin (baybayin ambigram) - key word "BALIGTAD" meaning "REVERSED" and "UPSIDE DOWN".
Baliktarin palindrome, once you read it forwards, RETURN and read it on the way back.

Baligtadin ambigram), you can turn it around over and over and still read it while REVERSED and UPSIDE DOWN.

From a facebook friend (J. Abelo):
So, BALIKTARIN: Left to Right "pa balik-balik" (vice versa),
and BALIGTADIN: Readable in All Directions (pa bali-baligtad).

Have fun!


Wednesday, October 08, 2014


"Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture" (FPAC) - is the largest presenter of Philippine arts and culture in Southern California presenting over 1200 artists in 9 disciplines and attracting audiences of over 25,000 people from all over the country.

FPAC 2012 @ San Pedro, California.
When FPAC's Pacific Artists Network (PAN) opened up an opportunity for Baybayin Script artist-activists like Kristian Kabuay (, Ray Haguisan (, and myself ("Nordenx", for us to reach and teach more people in Southern California about our advocacy to preserve & propagate our ancient script, we took it.

Since then, we have been in attendance at FPAC every year.

On a side note, I met Kris back in 2010 in San Francisco at a babaylan conference (  and Ray back in 2011 in San Francisco's Pistahan ( event. We've been together at various Filipino festival venues to promote our ancient script ever since.

 FPAC 2014 weekend Post-eventum Report:

Baybayin Artists @ the 2014 FPAC
This year's FPAC weekend-long event at Grand Park, Los Angeles, had one of the most active Baybayin practitioners in attendance; particularly at the PAN pavilion tent.

Despite the 100+ ℉ heat & humidity and the initial hassles of setting up, the rest of the weekend turned out to be very productive and positive. Foot traffic improved in the afternoons. We all had reasonable sales of our Baybayin themed art materials, but that is inconsequential to the amount of people who stopped by to listen & learn about our ancient script.

I am delighted that many young L.A. Fil-Ams are becoming well-versed in our script. I am also pleased that they now know to avoid Alibata and the failures of Google search results. And I am proud that they also believe in the purity & sanctity of tradition; that "modern" doesn't have to be convoluted by the western alphabet's orthography; and that they recognize the difference between stylizing, functionality, and standardization. I lost count of how many people complimented my modern baybayin typography chart and the multitude of cellphone photos of it being taken.
FPAC 2014 PAN Pavilion @ Los Angeles, CA.
  • Kristian Kabuay's art & books are popular as usual, especially among the fan-girls. He did a live baybayin art on-stage and at the pavilion.
  • Malaya Designs' pendants are hot as usual (he sold the most as usual). Hearing him explain the background story to his work always brings in a crowd.
  • We were glad to finally meet and bring to our fold Robert J Sison and his fresh baybayin materials (love the temporary baybayin tattoos!). 
  • Inkanor's baybayin madala shirt & crafts are rockin'!  
  • Aicnelav Diyan's Bukobomba Solar Pyrography was a hit (many took photos and videos of her doing live solar pyrography).
  • Glad to see Clarisse Pastor-Medina Art (coffee painting) and hear her talk to people about baybayin.
  • Always a fan of Ka Faustino Caigoy, I can't believe he was just giving away his baybayin typography prints. But he's just such a nice guy.  
  • Eliseo Art A. Silva was in attendance, his murals speak for themselves, but he did a live art painting with baybayin too.
  • Baybayin on youtube sensation, David Lazaro performed spoken-word poetry on-stage.
  • I sold a few of my remaining Anak Bathala copies of the first Komiks, art prints, and quite a bit of buttons. The best part is talking to folks whose curiosities were piqued by my typography poster. ->
    Modern Baybayin Typography
  • Bayani Art, was selling their usual Historic Filipino Hero-themed shirts; a few with baybayin designs and Jacob Ira Azurin Vijandre's baybayin chart printed on them. 
  • Lauren Benetua's team set up a table for the People of Coloring project where kids of all ages sat down and colored-in the line arts that several of the baybayin artists listed above contributed.
  • I saw a couple of message boards and signages from the Youth Groups with baybayin written on them. Correct & proper baybayin too. 
All in all, this was a successful venue in my humble opinion. We can't get to every visitor but collectively we reached hundreds of people and got confirmation that they are learning from what we teach; also confirming what we do matters to many.

Photo Albums from facebook:
FPAC 2012
FPAC 2013
FPAC 2014


Thursday, October 02, 2014

Old RA is the New RA

3 fonts updated w/ RA and minor clean up.
Mangyan Fonts Update:

I have been meaning to upload the updated Mangyan fonts with the new RA character. So here it is: DOWNLOAD (.zip file containing 3 .ttf files)

Last year the Mangyan people's leaders opted to reintroduce the older Hanunuo RA letter-form based on the LA character (with a minor modification on the rightmost up & down end strokes). They retired Antoon Postma's dash RA that was based on the Buhid variant of Surat Mangyan. New publications from the Mangyan Heritage Center (MHC) started to include the updated character earlier this year, starting with the Surat Mangyan Primer.

I'll update the individual .zip files in each of the font's DeviantArt download hosting later since I still need to update the keyboarding charts for them.

The Postma dash RA and its vowel modifiers (kudlit) are still included in the fonts. Accessed by typing the Uppercase R, 7, and 8 keys. The new RA and its kudlit are now currently set to the lowercase r, (, and ) keys.

A custom keyboard layout for Mangyan script is in the works for Windows 8 and Mac OSX. I just need to optimize the Hanunuo Unicode font and finish up a Buhid font/typeface that will share some of its Unicode range with Hanunuo for similar kudlit positions. The keyboard layout will probably be ready before the end of this year.

I'm also working on a Surat Mangyan children's coloring book for the MHC.

Updated Chart for the Mangyan Postma Font.


If you're looking for another Unicode compliant font,  Google's Noto Sans have both Hanunuo and Buhid here:


Monday, August 11, 2014

Legends & Legacies of Modern Baybayin Fonts and Typography

RIP Hector Santos
We are losing our pioneers. Last year, Bayani Mendoza de Leon passed away (Nov. 24, 1942 - Sept. 13, 2013). Recently, Hector Santos passed away (Sept. 15, 1941 - July 30, 2014). I received the news from another baybayin font pioneer, Paul Morrow.

When I started researching about Philippine culture & history back in the mid 90's, there wasn't much about baybayin & surat Mangyan online until Hector Santos' & Paul Morrow's sites came along.
They were one of the first to publish reliable information about baybayin online. Hector Santos was the first to offer commercial digitized baybayin fonts online. Paul Morrow followed suit and was the first to offer free fonts from historic typefaces and the first modern stylized and uniformed typeface. Bayani Mendoza de Leon's manual introduced me to current modernization attempts. Their collective work inspired me to be more pro-active with my research. Five years later, after catching up with all the foreign language materials borrowed from library archives from all over, I began sharing what I've learned and fonts/typefaces I created to the world. Without Paul & Hector's work, surely my baybayin knowledge & fonts would've been poorer.

I regret not being able to meet the Hector Santos and Bayani Mendoza de Leon in person to thank them. Their legacy will live on through every baybayin font that will ever come along.

Hector Santos' website:


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bane of Baybayin Fonts

Several of my typeface designs has become so popular over the years that people tend to forget to give me credit for the fonts and neglect my copyright restrictions about commercial use. My commercial licensing prices are quite reasonable. And, if you're operating a non-profit or a student/school or just a small group of enthusiast/activists, you'll find me very agreeable and happy to oblige with giving you and your group permission to use any of my font for a short-run low-volume distribution (or even sales). I do appreciate the mention even in small print, but if you ask kindly, you don't even have to credit me or provide a link back to this blog or my site ( ).

This has always been in every download page for my fonts ( especially at ) :
© All of Nordenx Baybayin Modern Fonts are for personal and non-commercial use only. Please contact me at for any inquiries about commercial use and licensing for branding, printing, publications, and/or other electronic applications.
As it stands, I have sold four commercial licenses for my fonts; two for branding, one for specific font sets, and one major license for full use of every typeface I release publicly and privately. I take my role as a licensor seriously and will protect the interests of my licensees. This is why when one points out certain issues, I respond quickly. is my major licensee. I greatly appreciate that he is also pro-active with regards to protecting both his brand and art as well as looking out for people who commits abuses with unlicensed distribution & copyright infringement on my typeface designs. Recently he wrote:
A new Baybayin app was released recently but stay away! #1) It’s inaccurate and #2) The developers used fonts by Norman de los Santos (Baybayin Modern Mono and Baybayin Modern Unicode).  ... The developers are making money or released the app with the intent to make money via serving advertisements.
( I already emailed the company who designed the app. We'll see if they respond and how. )

I guess some folks either ignores or don't read my copyright terms or they just plainly lack ethics. This is not the first time this happened.

A couple of years ago, a popular and respectable Philippine Culture store carried shirts & tote bags that used my fonts prominently in their designs. I'm very happy that the store immediately responded to my email about the matter and promptly dropped the products from the company/designer who sold them the items.

Even Kristian Kabuay of has to battle the big company "Walker Underwear Philippines" for theft of his personal font.

Bottom line: I wish that people respect and value artists' & designers' work and give them the credit (or financial compensation) that they deserve.

For the most part, I wish that the general public would learn how to use the fonts properly and learn how to read & write Baybayin correctly and more proficiently.


UPDATE: [Aug. 20, 2013] After a short disappearance from the Google Play store, the app is back up again. Updated photos suggests that some updates where made. A limited dictionary using Paul Morrow's Tagalog Stylized font shows that the app's author/s seem to know how to properly write in classical & traditional baybayin, even transliterating borrowed Spanish words correctly. Yet, the "translator" part of the app still uses my Baybayin Mono font and can not transliterate properly, it can't even "transliterate" simple words and names that it deems "foreign". *sigh... I sent another legal report of the copyright violation to Google Play.

 [Aug. 6, 2013] After a stern email & report to Google Play, the offending app has been removed from the Google Play store. Since I did not get any response from either company, I'm not sure which one pulled the plug.

Font Law & Licensing


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Noto Bad, Noto Good. Just okay.

I just saw that the Google code project "Noto" font for world's scripts has been made available - Tagalog/Baybayin, Buhid, Tagbanwa, and Hanunoo are included in the Noto Sans font lineup:

As they are right now, when I tested the font (Noto Sans), the Philippine scripts are still mostly useless;  a big chunk of the Surat Mangyan scripts are not mapped (incorrect character shapes plus Unicode still does not have the range for the various proper kudlit markers) and the updated RA are not included. The kudlits and virama still doesn't stack or render correctly, the baybayin characters are a mix of styles and not uniform, the whole collection does not really visually "harmonize" well. And unless you specifically chose Noto Sans as your default browser or mobile font, it still won't show or show properly (in other non Google/Chrome browsers). Also, you still need a custom keyboard layout to type Baybayin.

The project team are still ironing out some issues with the other language's scripts. I'll wait and see how they resolve those issues as well. It's still a little early to tell if the Noto project will be helpful to Baybayin scripts or not. Kulitan is still not included in Unicode. And Noto got most of its language data & sample texts are from the Unicode CLDR project.

The best thing to come out of it is that Chromebook laptops and Google tablets will have baybayin Noto fonts bundled with it. I guess it's a big step for Google fonts, but it's still barely a crawl for Baybayin fonts. We'll take what we can. Baby steps till we get there. :)

Moving on...

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Saving Baybayin through Technology, Typography, and Standardization.

I was in attendance at the International Workshop on Endangered Scripts of Island Southeast Asia last month (Feb. 27 - Mar. 1) in Tokyo, Japan. Hosted by Linguistic Dynamics Science Project (LingDy), a strategic project of the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA), at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS).

The workshop discussed the writing systems and traditions of Southeast Asia, focused on (but was not limited to) the endangered Indic scripts of the Philippines, Sumatra and Sulawesi. We presented our papers which covered topics regarding historical and structural relationships, literature, documentation, revival, modern functions, adaptations and social/cultural meaning.

In addition to the academic component of the workshop, the organizers encouraged participation by culture-bearers, activists, and artists - this is how we got included.

Philippine script representatives:

- Kristian Kabuay (
- Anya Postma (Mangyan Heritage Center)
- Kanakan Balintagos (Solito Arts Productions)
- Norman de los Santos (BHM Publishing House, Inc.)
- Emerennciana Lorenzo Catapang (Mangyan Heritage Center)
- Christopher Miller (Independent Researcher, Montreal, Canada)
- Bruno Tiotuico (Alexandre Dayrit Tiotuico) (Ágúman Súlat Kapampángan)
- Michael Raymon M. Pangilinan (ILCAA, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)

From left to right: Mr. Christian Cabuay (a.k.a. Kristian Kabuay, Baybayin Artist, Calligrapher, Entrepreneur), Mrs. Emily Lorenzo Catapang (Executive Director of the Mangyan Heritage Center), ME: Norman de los Santos (a.k.a. Nordenx, Baybayin Typographer, Graphic Designer), and the young Mr. Bruno Tiotuico (Sulat Kapampangan activist, Photographer).

From left to right: Ms. Anya Postma (Sulat Mangyan advocate and Daughter of anthropologist and linguist Antoon Vreeze Postma), Mr. Christopher Ray Miller (Linguist, scholar, and expert on Philippine and SouthEast Asian scripts), Mr. Auraeus Solito( a.k.a. Kanakan Balintagos, internationally acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker and indigenous peoples rights advocate) and Mr. Michael Raymon Pangilinan (a.k.a. Siuálâ ding Meángûbié, Kapampangan Culture activist, scholar, and author of "Kulitan")

The abstracts and proceedings of everyone who presented can be accessed here:

My well-received handout on Baybayin Typography and Standardization.

My paper and abstract are available at the LyngDy page linked above.

My handout is available here:
Note: You can download and print a copy of the handout image above for your own personal use. However, please don't publish or distribute this image commercially without prior consent or licensing from the author.

The workshop answered a lot of questions regarding the history & relationships of SEA scripts and Philippine scripts. It opened up a lot of ideas and it offered up a lot of insight and exchange between academic and non-academic culture bearers. Expect that my experience and what we've learned in Tokyo will work its way into my font development.

Essential Links:


Saturday, March 29, 2014


Yeah, yeah... Ha ha...

I do not like to create new character forms without merit. I don't like developing new characters and glyphs that has no precedent shape or form from old samples or relative scripts.

I have considered a JA // alternative but am still trying to figure out how to deal with SHA and CHA. For now, the phonetic approximated combination of characters ᜐ᜔ᜌ S'YA and ᜆ᜔ᜌ T'YA along with ᜇ᜔ᜌ D'YA should still be our norm.

But if ever a unified reform is seriously being looked at, I reckon that the alternative JA, based on the old Philippine & Javanese JA that coincidentally looks combination of DI & YA, should be considered as a good candidate for a JA character.

Hopefully, it would be as well received as my ᜍ RA.

While I was in Japan, some of the examples above were explained by a couple of presenters during the International Workshop on Endangered Scripts of Island Southeast Asia (Feb. 27 - Mar. 1) in Tokyo.

SEA Script expert, Uli Kozok at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies