27 May 2016

Antique Book Suggests Batangas Tagalog was Once More Widely Spoken in Pre-Hispanic Times

Image credit: by Juan de Plasencia - http://www.flickr.com/photos/rafael-minuesa/5298669569/in/photostream/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12460239

The book’s complete title, in Spanish, is “Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Española y Tagala Corregida Reglos por Los Religiosos de las Ordenes.” In English, “Christian Doctrine in the Spanish Language and Tagalog, with Correct Rules for the Religious of the Orders.1

The importance of this book cannot be understated as this was the tool that the earliest Spanish missionaries in the Philippines used to convert the local population to Christianity. It is considered among the earliest – if not the earliest – books ever published in the Philippines.

Very few of the earliest Spanish publications in the Philippines survived the passing of time because these were printed mostly on flimsy materials that were vulnerable to the tropical climate. Most of the books that survived were those that were sent to Europe.

Among these was a copy of the Doctrina Christiana that was published in 1593 but then disappeared for 450 years. In 1946, a New York dealer in rare books purchased from a Paris bookseller a copy that would eventually end up in the United States’ Library of Congress.2

Wikipedia credits the Franciscan friar Juan de Plasencia with the book’s authorship. However, Edwin Wolf’s suggestion was that the book’s author was unknown and that, instead, it was edited and corrected by priests of more than one order.

The book was written in three ways: Spanish, Tagalog and the ancient script Philippine Baybayin.3 For the purposes of this article, we examine excerpts from the book that show usage of Tagalog that will be familiar to many who live in Batangas and neighbouring localities even in the present day.

In reading these excerpts, bear in mind that the Spanish author(s) was(were) transcribing Tagalog words as he(they) heard them; i.e. spelled them as he(they) would his(their) native Spanish.

“Y pasonor (ipasunod) mo ang loob mo. dito sa lupa parã sa langit…” (from the Pater Noster or the Lord’s Prayer)

“…bucor (bukod) naman doon ang sa diling casalanan nang balan nang tauo nagcasasala sa dios arao arao.” (from Catechism)

“...ãg (ang) yca nim, houag cãg (huwag kang) maquiapir (probably makikiapid, apid apparently meaning to fornicate) sa di mo asaua. (asawa)” (from the Ten Commandments)

It is unfortunate that the use of the “d” in place of the “r” to end certain words has become the norm in Batangas in the present day, the increasing preference for the “d” probably accelerated by modern media. However, if one looked hard enough, particularly in off-the-main road pockets of agrarian communities away from the urban centres of the province, one will probably still find elderly people who say “tuhor” instead of “tuhod”; “ngirngir” instead of “ngidngid”; or “bukir” instead of “bukid.”

They are a dying breed, admittedly; but proof, nonetheless, that traces of old Tagalog as the language was spoken at the dawn of the Spanish colonial era continued to be spoken in Batangas as recently as a generation or two ago.

“Aba guinoo Maria ma toua (matuwa) cana (ka na), napopono ca (ka) nang graçia. ang panginoon di os, ce (siya ay?), nasayyo. Bucor (bukod) cang pinag pala sa babaying lahat.” (from the Aba Ginoong Maria or Hail Mary)

The use of the word “babaying,” adjective form of the noun “babayi,” is something that I do not even have to research for veracity as to usage in Batangas because I used to hear this a lot from the elderly, particularly when I was much younger. What I used to hear was more “babaye,” however, rather than “babayi.” But then again, the “i” and “e” sounds, among simple folks hereabouts, even to this day, are often interchanged liberally.

Similarly, the vowels “o” and “u” also tend to be as liberally interchanged (such as in napopono/napupuno), as I pointed out in a previous article; and Batangueños who make fun of Visayans for doing the same are actually guilty of misinformed bigotry. In fact, in the ancient Baybayin script, there was just one character for the “e” and “i” sounds and another for the “o” and “u” sounds.3

“Ang pitõg (pitong) naholi ang sabi, a, ang atin pangi noon Jesuchristo ang pagcatauo (pagkatawo) niya… Nag catauan (nagkatawan) tauo (tawo) siya salang nang es piritusancto…. Sa caparito (probably pagparito) hohocom sa nabubuhai, at sa nanga matai (nangamatay) na tauo.” (from the Sumasampalataya Ako or the Apostles’ Creed)

It probably used to be the practice with old Tagalog to insert a “w” before an “o” if it is preceded by another vowel. Hence, the “tauo” in Doctrina Christiana is really “tawo” or, contemporarily, “tao.” That said, there are likely still elderly people in Batangas who still persist with “tawo.” I myself have heard people say “uwo” instead of “oo” and “nabuwo” instead of “nabuo.”4

“Ycao (Ikaw) din ang ypinagbubuntun hininga na min nang amin pagtangis dini sa lupã baian cahapishapis. (kahapis-hapis)” (from the Salve Regina or the Hail Holy Queen)

Even to this day, the word “dini” or “dine” is still widely preferred by many Batangueños, and not just the elderly, instead of the “dito” of standard contemporary Tagalog. In fact, “dini” or “dine” is generally recognised as Batangas dialect, apparently having stayed around since the dawn of the Spanish colonial era.

“Ang ycanim (ika-anim) su mangpalataia ang atin pangino on Jesuchristo nacyat sa langit nalolocloc sa canan nang dios ama macagagaua sa lahat.” (from the Sumasampalataya ako or Apostles’ Creed)

Beyond merely enumerating vocabulary that has survived the passage of time to this very day at least in the province, the above excerpt from the Apostles’ Creed shows that the Batangueños’ preference for using certain verbs in the past passive tense is apparently another thing that has persisted since the dawn of the Spanish era. The word “nacyat” from Doctrina Christiana likely means “naakyat” and, therefore, “umakyat” or “umaakyat.”

Whereas in standard Tagalog, “I am eating” is translated as “Kumakain ako,” in Batangas dialect, the same may be said as “Nakain ako.” Translated into English, the latter may sound odd to others because direct translation yields “I was eaten.” Similarly, “I am getting” in standard Tagalog is “Kumukuha ako.” In Batangas dialect, one might say “Nakuha ako” which is really more like “I was taken” when translated into English.

* * * * * *

The question going through my mind after painstakingly going through the Tagalog contents of Doctrina Christiana is this: Did the Tagalog language as we know it in the present day originate in Batangas and spread out to other provinces; or was Tagalog as it is still spoken in pocket communities in the province once more widely spoken, but for some heretofore unknown reason, Batangueños resisted its evolution to its modern form and held on for as long as they could to how the language was spoken at the dawn of the Spanish era?

Unfortunately, the book is so obscured that its authorship is not even firmly established. If Wikipedia’s assertion that it was authored by de Plasencia is true, then the Tagalog used in the book was likely that which he absorbed while doing his missionary work in what is present day Laguna and northwards.5

However, there is no real point in jumping to any conclusions. After all the laborious research just to establish the book’s authenticity, the hypothesis proposed by Wolf, who wrote an introductory essay to the Doctrina Christiana, was that it was co-authored by many friars.

Besides, even linguists are undecided as to the origins of the Tagalog language, apart from that it is of Austronesian origin; that it is part of a language family called the Central Philippine Languages; that its original speakers probably came from Mindanao or the Visayas; and that the oldest artefact using the language (the Laguna Copperplate Inscription) has shown elements of Sanskrit, Malay, Javanese and Old Tagalog.6

While this article has by and large tried to show from the Doctrina Christiana that Batangas has persisted with some elements of the Tagalog language as it used to be spoken at the dawn of the Spanish colonial era, it is also worth pointing out that the book betrays Tagalog’s kinship with Visayan languages.

“T. tatlo caia ang dios? S. dile tatlo ang dios, ang personas siyang tatlo, ang dios ysa lamang.” (from Catechism)

“T. humabilin dito sa lupa ang atin panginoon Jesuchristo? S. di le humabilin dito sa lupa, nac yat sa langit nang magycapat napoung (mag-ikaapatnapung) arao”

To my own personal knowledge, “dile” or “dilî” means “hindî” or “no” at least in Ilonggo and Cebuano; and likely in other Visayan languages. In fact, nowhere in the Doctrina Christiana was the word “hindî” or what sounds similar used.  It is only now that I am discovering that “dile” was once a Tagalog word. While we are at it, “tawo” is also used in Cebuano.

Notes and References:

1 Doctrina Christiana, Wikipedia
2 Doctrina Christiana The first book printed in the Philippines, Manila, 1593. A Facsimile of the copy in the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection, Library, Edwin Wolf, Editor. 2005.
3 Baybayin, Wikipedia
4 The town of Tiaong, whilst part of Quezon is right next to Batangas and is populated in Batangueños, is referred to by some of town’s elderly as “Tiawong.”
5 Juan de Plasencia, Wikipedia
6 Tagalog Language, Wikipedia

If you like this post, please share it freely on social media. It helps to pay this site's domain name and maintenance costs.

Share |




If you wish to support this site by making a donation for the maintenance costs of this site, please click the PayPal button below:

Big thanks to donors:
Glenn Amante
Timothy Guevarra
John Toomey



Email *

Message *