The final week of August saw the inauguration of the newly-renovated Lagusnilad Underpass in the city of Manila. The result of a nine-month rehabilitation project, Lagusnilad now boasts colorful murals, redesigned walkways, interactive information desks, and sleek new signs that employ the Philippines’ own writing script, Baybayin.
Reactions from netizens varied and sounded off in succession. At first, they were impressed — anyone who’s ever passed by the previously dilapidated underpass will surely take their time walking through the well-adorned walkway now.
And then they did a double-take, right after some groups emphasized the exercise of Baybayin. Suddenly the question being thrown around the room is: why?
Some users who shared the news about the signs bearing Baybayin were keen to use the term “unnecessary” and “counterproductive,” while some described it as “tokenistic.”
One observation is that the signs lacked a more accessible translation to Filipino, and instead used an ancient writing system that not many are familiar with when they should be readily understood by the general public. According to some, while the decision may have been driven by nationalistic spirit, this also overlooks the reality that the Philippines has various writing systems aside from Baybayin, from regions whose people are amply represented in Manila itself.
Their proposal? Keep the ball rolling. Since Manila’s local government will most likely stick with the signs as they are already made, the sensible action now for the authorities of Manila is to offer educational posts, materials, and drives to instruct its citizens on how to read Baybayin. Otherwise, a straightforward English-Filipino translation should suffice.
On the other hand, other netizens see nothing wrong with the signs being penned in Baybayin. Advocate groups like Buhayin Baybayin even expressed their gratitude to the local government for pushing their agenda of publicizing the use of the local writing script.
Just give it time, so they say. People will struggle before they get used to reading Baybayin, but a place as popular as Lagusnilad is always a good start.
Should they have gone for an easier English-Filipino translation, or does Baybayin help Manila travellers?