Is it proper to call Dr. Jose Rizal “The Father of Tagalog Baybayin” today?
Virgilio S. Almario once said, “Rizal presented a new 20-letter alphabet based on the Baybayin in his piece Sobre la Nueva Ortografia de la Lengua Tagala (On the New Spelling of the Tagalog Language), which was published in the liberal newspaper La Solidaridad.”
In “Si Rizal At Ang Ortograpiyang Pambansa” (Rizal And The National Orthography), Almario again emphasized that Rizal’s Tagalog was similar to Baybayin. According to him, in “Estudios sobre la lengua tagala” (Studies on the Tagalog Language), Rizal’s Tagalog had five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and his consonants were fifteen letters (b, d, g, g̃, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, w, y).
We know, however, that the Tagalog alphabet and the native syllabary Baybayin are not the same in the number of letters, perhaps in sound or pronunciation only. Rizal’s Tagalog, with the original 17-sound Baybayin (B17), may have become a 20-letter alphabet (Abakada) but Tagalog was an indigenized language and writing system.
Historically, B17 had A-I-U sound, not A-E-I-O-U; Da and Ra sounds too were interchangeable and, definitely, no Ga with tilde (g̃). The g̃ was used only to shorten the words nang (ng̃) and manga (mg̃á), the original Baybayin had NGA.
In his letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal mentioned that his genuine transcriptions came from the ancient Tagalog characters which are popularly known today as Baybayin.
Now, Filipino alphabet pronunciation is based on English alphabet. If Almario is correct in saying that Rizal’s Tagalog was founded on Baybayin and that the Filipino language is no longer Tagalog, then it is but proper to call Dr. Jose Rizal “The Father of Tagalog Baybayin” today.