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These islands existed long before Magellan stepped on that beach in Cebu.
When he arrived, he found an existing civilization, rather than merely “primitive” tribes. In my mind, at least, the level of literacy, rather than the use of tools or anything else, determines that a civilized people existed.
Baybayin was used primarily in Luzon and the Visayas.
People in Mindanao primarily spoke Arabic, after the Islamic conversion, by the time the Spanish arrived, and Baybayin was largely forgotten in Mindanao (If you are a Muslim, you must be able to read the Koran, which is only officially written in Arabic).
By forcing the native people to learn and speak Spanish, they minimized the incidences of insurrection: Keep them fed and ignorant, so to speak.
By the time of the American colonial period, the Philippines was largely a Spanish-speaking country, with local languages used in the home and colloquially.
By way of comparison, the modern Filipino alphabet was Latinized, the only difference from the modern English alphabet is the addition of the letters “Ng” (Tagalog) and “Ñ” (Spanish).
For the sound, “I” or “E”, the kudlit is placed above the symbol.Think of it as similar to the difference between American English and the Queen’s English: Not quite different dialects, but greater differences than merely different accents.Americans and Brits can normally understand each other, but there are slightly different usages based largely on class and other cultural differences. There were many reasons, but chiefly: The Capitol is Manila, primarily inhabited mostly by Tagalogs; The nation’s founding Fathers were mostly Tagalogs; Most Filipinos at least had a basic understanding of Tagalog at the time of independence (Bisaya was also considered, due to the number of speakers, but because it splintered into many different dialects, it was deemed less suitable than Tagalog as a “national unifier”); and, finally, there were more surviving written records in Tagalog than any other Filipino language (Back to the “civilization” definition).I am a believer that expats have a moral obligation to learn as much about the country in which they live as they possibly can.The Philippines, like any other nation, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years.
The early Spanish friars were literally amazed that the people in the Philippines could read and write. They noted that a greater preponderance of women could read, rather than men, and, initially after the conquest, translations of Spanish into Baybayin were made.