Latest Stories


Old Kapampangan writing system now in book


A GUIDE to writing the ‘kulitan,’ the indigenous way of writing by the Kapampangan, as taught in the book of Michael Raymon Pangilinan.

More Kapampangan can now write the way their ancestors did long before Spain colonized the Philippines in the 16th century.

There is no reason they cannot. Everything that is available about “kulitan”—the indigenous writing system of people who lived on the banks of a river that crisscrossed a vast territory in Luzon’s plains—is now in a book.

Michael Raymon Pangilinan’s “Introduction to Kulitan” is regarded as the first book on the topic.

Pangilinan, also known as “Siuala ding Meangubie” (Voice of the Departed), puts in volumes of information on kulitan or Sulat Kapampangan in this book.

He talks about its possible origins, how it survived the Spanish, American and Japanese times, and what Augustinian friars, Mount Arayat mystics, Katipuneros, antiJapanese guerrillas, their heirs and nationalists did to record the ancient script, keep it alive or revive it.

He delves, too, on the things that Kapampangan and non-Kapampangan do to popularize it: Encoding the script in digital format, tattooing, discussing and sharing research on the Internet, holding workshops, writing each other in kulitan, breaking the taboo that it should not be taught to foreigners and introducing innovations to the script.

Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, for example, had the word “Alaya,” which is “east” in Kapampangan, woven in kulitan on his coat of arms.

Pangilinan goes instructive in several chapters, sharing the ways of writing the “Indung Sulat” (“mother” characters “a,” “i,” “u,” “e,” “o,” “ga,” “ka,” “nga,” “ta,” “da,” “na,” “la,” “sa,” “ma,” “pa” and “ba”) and the “Anak Sulat” (“offspring” characters produced by changing the default vowel sound through the location of the garlit or diacritical mark).

“With its copious illustrations, the book marshals the widest range so far seen of images of the script’s characters: These include not only reproductions by early Spanish observers but also more recently uncovered 17th-century archival signatures written by Kapampangan [authors],” Canadian linguist Christopher Miller writes in a review.

Robby Tantingco, executive director of Holy Angel University’s Center for Kapampangan Studies, which published the book, says Pangilinan made kulitan “relevant, accessible and still useful to contemporary Kapampangan.”

“Although kulitan is no longer our writing system today, it is still our obligation to keep it alive, not just for heritage conservation’s sake, but also to keep our direct line to our distant
ancestors unbroken,” he says.

The book, he says, could have settled a dispute in local orthography.

“We who are quarreling today over which one is the original, genuine Kapampangan (with a “k” or with a “c”), well, the answer is, none of the above. The original is kulitan,” he says.

He says the Spaniards replaced it with the Western writing system using “c.” After the Spaniards left, Kapampangan nationalists Aurelio Tolentino and Zoilo Hilario replaced “c” with “k.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Michael raymon Pangilinan , News , northern Luzon , Regions , “Introduction to Kulitan”

  • http://twitter.com/wadjitzain coty

    what a pity, we “Akeanon” have this kind of writing too very similar to this and who knows they must be related! so anybody from our historical authorities doing some research? 

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • 4 Etihad passengers not yet located
  • DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May
  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Summer Mayhem: The ultimate beach experience
  • A haven for steak lovers
  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • DOLE sees more Filipinos hired by South Koreans
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Marketplace