Manila: Foreign scholars debunked as a hoax or creation of hobbyists, a stone tablet with old Philippine script that Filipino scholars had found in central Philippines in 2000, a TV station said.
In 2000, Filipino scholars from the University of the Philippines were amazed when a flat stone at the end of the stairs of Rizal Elementary School in Ticao Island, Masbate, was cleaned and was found full of baybayin, a 13th century form of scribbling that also surprised Spanish colonials when they saw it when they invaded the Philippines in the 16th century.
The newly discovered historical rock, now called Rizal stone, could be baybayin's first artifact on stone, UP anthropologist Francisco Datar, one of the stone's founders, told GMA News.
Carbon stenciling was done on the scripts, the written words deciphered, but anthropologists, ethnologists, and scholars of antiquity are still waiting for the final result of the stone's carbon dating.
If found authentic, it could prompt a wild hunt for its other parts, its real geographical origin because it could also establish the connection of the Philippines' baybayin with the ancient writings of the Sumatrans and Javanese (of Indonesia), and India's Sanskrit, said Dr, Arnold Azurin of UP's archeological studies.
Rizal stone's age is important because the oldest artifact with Brahmi script was about 270 BC - 232 BC, and the oldest find with Kavi or kawi script was 8th century.
However, Canadian Paul Morrow, a baybayin scholar also told GMA News, "The writing just looks too modern."
The ancient letters of the Rizal stone were "obviously influenced by the Tagalog and Ilokano Doctrinas that were produced in Spanish printing presses (in the 17th century)," said Marrow.
"It could be a hoax," Marrow concluded although he also said with a benefit of a doubt, "It could have been an innocent exercise of a 20th century baybayin enthusiast who lacked some basic knowledge about the script and had no intention of deceiving anybody."
Rizal stone's ancient letters could have been "copied from the typographic shapes" used in a book on Catholic catechism that was translated into Ilokano (north's dialect) by a Spanish priest in 1620, Christopher Ray Miller, baybayin scholar from Canada, told GMA News on Facebook.
"It was a Spanish typeface, not the handwriting of any Filipino who ever lived (I the olden times)," Miller concluded.
California-based baybayin teacher Christian Cabuay also said the writings on Rizal stone do "not match any ‘old' ways that we used to write. There are missing elements such as kudlits, periods and commas".
Ethnic groups like the Mangyans, Tagbanwas and the Hanunuos in Mindoro and Palawaan in southern Luzon and southwestern Philippines continued using baybayin, on bamboos and barks, the artifacts of which were taken by American anthropologists to museums in the US in the 20th century.
Baybayin is one of about a dozen indigenous alphabets from such Southeast Asian islands as Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi, adding they looked like India's Sanskrit, said American anthropologist William Henry Scott.
In 1590, Spain's Boxer Codex (manuscripts owned Prof. Charles Ralph Boxer in 1947) talked about baybayin for the firs time, saying, "They (Filipinos) have certain characters which serve them as letters with which they write whatever they wish. They are of very different shape from any others we have known until now."
In 1593, baybayin script was included in the Spanish and Tagalog writings of Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Espanol y Tagala, a book by Catholic priest Juan Plasencia in Pila, Laguna. Woodblock was used in the printing of this book.
In 1620, Fr. Francisco Lopez used baybayin on woodblock, in a book, Ilokano Doktrina, a translation of the catechism of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmine, the Italian priest who was also known as the inquisitor of Italian scientist Galileo.
Explaining the other use of baybayin for the Spanish colonials, Fr. Francisco Blancas de San Jose said in his book Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala in 1693, that the Spanish priests used it to teach Spaniards how to speak Tagalog (now Filipinos).