“The symbols on the pamphlet were engraved in my brain, and I made it my personal goal to read and write Baybayin,” says Christian Cabuay, founder of the San Francisco, California-based PinoyTattoos.com and Baybayin.com. Cabuay first learned of Baybayin in 1992, when still a student he got hold of an old pamphlet about the Katipunan revolution of the late 1800s. Baybayin was the Philippines’ writing system that existed before the Spanish Era.
“In 2007, I got a Baybayin tattoo from [renowned Filipino tattoo artist] Aleks Figueroa,” the Filipino- American recalls. Looking for a way to show off his new ink but not finding any site that showcased Filipino tattoos, he decided to start one, which he called PinoyTattoos.com. “I posted a photo of my tattoo and wrote about Baybayin,” says Cabuay, who is also a Business Administration graduate.
PinoyTattoos, aside from popularizing Baybayin-inspired tattoos, also offered Baybayin translation. While the business flourished, Cabuay recalls thinking: “There was an art and educational aspect missing in (the website).” So in August 2007, he launched Baybayin.com, a site that promotes Filipinos’ pre-Hispanic culture through videos, lectures, events and other projects centered on Baybayin.
Cabuay is confident that the site will be more than a short-term creative project. “The Philippines is now ready for a Baybayin renaissance and I plan to be right in the middle of it,” he says.
Photo courtesy of Baybayin.com.