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Baybayin (Tagalog pronunciation: (known in Unicode as Tagalog alphabet; see below), known in Visayan as badlit, is an ancient Philippine script derived from Brahmic scripts of India and first recorded in the 16th century. It continued to be used during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines up until the late 19th century. The alphabet is well known because it was carefully documented by Catholic clergy living in the Philippines during the colonial era.
The term baybay literally means "to spell" in Tagalog. Baybayin was extensively documented by the Spanish. Some have incorrectly attributed the name Alibata to it but that term was coined by Paul Rodríguez Verzosa after the arrangement of letters of the Arabic alphabet (alif, ba, ta (alibata), "f" having been eliminated for euphony's sake).
Other Brahmic scripts used currently among different ethnic groups in the Philippines are Buhid, Hanunó'o, Kulitan and Tagbanwa.
Baybayin is one of a number of individual writing systems used in Southeast Asia, nearly all of which are abugidas where any consonant is pronounced with the inherent vowel a following it—diacritics being used to express other vowels (this vowel occurs with greatest frequency in Sanskrit, and also probably in all Philippine languages). Many of these writing systems descended from ancient alphabets used in India over 2000 years ago. Although Baybayin does share some,[clarification needed] there is no evidence that it is this old.
The Archives of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, one of the largest archives in the Philippines, currently possesses the biggest collection of extant ancient Baybayin alphabets in the world.
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