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By Stephanie Bird
I am a Second Generation half-Filipino living in London; second gen being one of those Fil-Brits that can’t speak Filipino but loves Sinigang. I am currently trying to reconnect with my Filipino roots having grown up in the UK with a Filipino mother. I searched for at least a year trying to find a good Filipino community, language classes, Instagram groups, anything that would re-connect me with my lost culture until I finally stumbled upon the London Filipino Centre (LFC).

Originally, I wanted to learn Tagalog to immerse myself in the culture, to speak to my Lolas and Lolos, to be able to travel with ease and not be seen as a foreigner. Joining LFC I have now realised that this means more than just learning the language, that this means learning about our History, our traditions and our differences. With this, the Centre is always pushing us to learn beyond the language and go to cultural events and to support us in our journeys.


When I heard the news that LFC was partnering with Baybayin Buhayin Inc, I was confused, unsure of what Baybayin was. I first thought that it was some kind of Archeology Group or another Language Centre that we were partnering with but to my surprise, this was a script- used long before the Spaniards came to Philippine soil. This confused me at first as my mother has always spoken Tagalog and Kapampangan, but has always written in these languages with the Latin Alphabet.


I went to the Baybayin Lecture confused about what I was about to learn, thinking that there was no point in learning this Ancient Script if no one was using it currently. The Lecture-workshop was facilitated by John Leyson, co-founder of the movement, who informed us of the history of the script. He told us how the Philippines had gone through Cultural geneside at the hands of the Spanish and how this is when the script along with so much of our history was lost. As a proud Filipino this did not sit well with me that parts of our History was forcefully taken away from us and I was so grateful to LFC and Baybayin Buhayin Inc to have the opportunity to learn something so important for our cultural preservation!


Learning Baybayin was much easier than what I first thought. It can only be written in the Tagalog Language which was the hardest part for me! The symbols are for each letter of the Filipino alphabet with different accents depending on which vowel would follow the letter. I managed to write much more than first anticipated and now even have the Baybayin Keyboard on my iPhone! It was a great experience not only to learn about the culture before the Spanish invasions but also why it is so important to keep our culture alive! Baybayin Buhayin!


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