Tagbanwa script

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Tagbanwa is one of the scripts indigenous to the Philippines, used by the Tagbanwa and the Palawan people as their ethnic writing system.[1]

Tagbanwa script
Script type
Time period
c. 1300–present
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
RegionPalawan Island
LanguagesPalawanic languages
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
In the Philippines:
Buhid script
Hanunó'o script
In Indonesian Archipelago:
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Tagb (373), ​Tagbanwa
Unicode alias
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.

The Tagbanwa languages (Aborlan, Calamian and Central), which are Austronesian languages with about 8,000-25,000[2] total speakers in the central and northern regions of Palawan, are dying out as the younger generations of Tagbanwa are learning and using non-traditional languages such as Cuyonon and Tagalog, thus becoming less knowledgeable of their own indigenous cultural heritage. There are proposals to revive the script by teaching it in public and private schools with Tagbanwa populations.[3]


The Tagbanwa script was used in the Philippines until the 17th century. Closely related to Baybayin, it is believed to have come from the Kawi script of Java, Bali and Sumatra, which in turn, descended from the Pallava script, one of the southern Indian scripts derived from Brahmi.[4]


Tagbanwa is an alphasyllabary or abugida in which each letter represents a syllable consisting of a consonant and an inherent vowel /a/, a feature that it shares with many related scripts from SE Asia as they derive from variants of the Brahmic scripts of India. Similar to these scripts, vowels other than /a/ are indicated by the addition of a diacritic above (for /i/) or below (for /u/) the letter.[5] Lone vowels are represented by their own, independent letters, thus /a/, /i/ and /u/ since there are only three. Syllables ending in a consonant are written without the final consonant.[6] Tagbanwa is distinguished from Baybayin by the shapes of several letters, most notably ‹ka› and ‹wa› that are markedly different from other varieties.[1]

Tagbanwa is traditionally written on bamboo in vertical columns from bottom to top and left to right. However, it is read from left to right in horizontal lines.[4]


Tagbanwa vowels[6]
Initial Dependent
transcription a i u i u


Tagbanwa syllables[6]
transcription k g ng t d n p b m y l w s
consonant + a
consonant + i ᝣᝲ ᝤᝲ ᝥᝲ ᝦᝲ ᝧᝲ ᝨᝲ ᝩᝲ ᝪᝲ ᝫᝲ ᝬᝲ ᝮᝲ ᝯᝲ ᝰᝲ
consonant + u ᝣᝳ ᝤᝳ ᝥᝳ ᝦᝳ ᝧᝳ ᝨᝳ ᝩᝳ ᝪᝳ ᝫᝳ ᝬᝳ ᝮᝳ ᝯᝳ ᝰᝳ

Tagbanwa writing makes use of single () and double () punctuation marks.[6]


The Ibalnan alphabet
Another sample of the Ibalnan script

In the 20th century, this script was adopted from the Tagbanwa by the Palawan people further south in the island.[1] They call this alphabet Ibalnan and the vowel mark an ulit.[7]


Tagbanwa script was added to the Unicode Standard in March, 2002 with the release of version 3.2.

The Unicode block for Tagbanwa is U+1760–U+177F:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.1
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Miller, Christopher (2014). "A survey of indigenous scripts of Indonesia and the Philippines". Retrieved 21 May 2020. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ ScriptSource: Tagbanwa.
  3. ^ Orejas, Tonette (2018-04-27). "Protect All PH Writing Systems, Heritage Advocates Urge Congress". Inquirer.net. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  4. ^ a b Omniglot: Tagbanwa. Accessed October 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Everson, Michael (1998-11-23). "N1933 Revised proposal for encoding the Philippine scripts in the UCS" (PDF).
  6. ^ a b c d "Chapter 17: Indonesia and Oceania" (PDF). Unicode Consortium. March 2020.
  7. ^ "Palawano B Dictionary". Retrieved 26 May 2020.

External links[edit]