Design

10 Modern (and Free!) Fonts Preserving the Ancient Tagalog Baybayin Script

“It’s more than just a design for your next tattoo or your fashion statement.”
IMAGE Courtesy of Lloyd Zapanta & Aaron Amar
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While it’s not a language itself, Baybayin has been an integral part of the history and heritage of the Tagalog language. The ancient script of the Tagalogs was among one of the many indigenous writing systems of the Philippines before the Spaniards came and replaced our writing systems with the Latin alphabet we use today. Baybayin is descended from the writing system of Aramaic, which was the ancient language of Jesus. 

In recent years, it’s seen a revival as more efforts are being made to preserve the script across the Tagalog region. One way that people, particularly graphic designers, are doing this is through fonts. Translating the written language into the digital format, artists and designers are working to ensure that Baybayin is appreciated for more than its novelty.

“It’s more than just a design for your next tattoo or your fashion statement,” says graphic designer and Baybayin font creator Aaron Amar.

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After studying the writing system extensively, two graphic designers, Amar and fellow designer and advocate Lloyd Zapanta, fashioned modernized versions of the font as a way to intrigue and educate the public. The aesthetic appeal is only the hook that catches attention—it’s the script itself that makes people stay and thus learn. 

So, without further ado, here are 10 modern and completely free Baybayin fonts to download this Buwan ng Wika.

Matatas One

Photo by Courtesy of Aaron Amar.
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Quick refresher: Baybayin is an alphasyllabary (or abugida), not an alphabet, meaning that consonant-vowel syllables are considered a unit versus just one letter. This makes it hard when it comes to typing, but Amar employed ligatures in Matatas One to make it easy by figuring out the consonant-vowel symbol automatically, resulting in more accurate lettering.

Robotika

Photo by Courtesy of Lloyd Zapanta.
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“I wanted to show how adaptable Baybayin is by expanding possibilities through digital [methods],” says Zapanta. Robotika is proof he did just that—it’s easy to imagine the font on the screens of our favorite arcade games or video games.

Sarimanok

Photo by Courtesy of Lloyd Zapanta.

Zapanta took inspiration for this front from the legendary bird of the Maranao people of Mindanao. The sarimanok, a symbol of prosperity and a medium of communication with the spirits of centuries past, is very much in line with the existence of Baybayin itself.

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Malibata Neue

Photo by Courtesy of Aaron Amar.

This modernized typeface of the script is probably Amar’s simplest, but most effective in delivering the message of his cause: “We Baybayin enthusiasts don’t want this writing script to be just a part of our history—but a part of our [present] culture.”

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Chochin Baybayin

Photo by Courtesy of Lloyd Zapanta .

Zapanta attempted to “stretch the visual characteristics of Baybayin through fonts with concepts and aesthetic inspirations,” and for Chochin Baybayin, he was inspired by its namesake—the Japanese lanterns that frequent many restaurants and pubs.

Baybayin Sejong

Photo by Courtesy of Lloyd Zapanta .
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Don’t be fooled—that’s Baybayin, alright. Hangul, the writing system of the Korean alphabet, heavily inspires this Baybayin font by Zapanta. K-pop fans, rejoice. 

Baybayin Sisil

Photo by Courtesy of Lloyd Zapanta .

As its name suggests, this decorative typeface appears as if though the letters were written with an inked brush, giving it an old-world feel. Zapanta shares that he hopes that experimenting with his fonts will make it more fun for people to learn the script.

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Maria Stellar X

Photo by Courtesy of Aaron Amar.

This “techno-ethnic” typeface takes a futuristic approach with the ancient script, giving it a sci-fi vibe reminiscent of Star Trek. Amar clarifies that Maria Stellar X is inspired by Baybayin and isn’t exactly like the script when it comes to every single form and stroke. 

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Bayani Baybayin

Photo by Courtesy of Lloyd Zapanta .

One of the first fonts in his catalog, Zapanta’s Bayani Baybayin typeface is a simple, geometric representation of the ancient script. According to him, it’s his contribution to the nation’s identity.

Baybayin Bayani v2

Photo by Courtesy of Lloyd Zapanta .
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His second shot at his Bayani Baybayin font, this version is more dynamic than the first and was quickly followed by a complete Baybayin font guide and modern Baybayin chart that will equip avid learners with everything they need to know. “I try to make sure that everyone knows how to use it firsthand,” says Zapanta.

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About The Author
Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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