History of the Filipino Alphabet

Before the Spanish arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century, the people of the islands used a writing script called baybayin or alibata. It was the Spaniards who introduced Western letters to the Philippines.


In the 1930s, the renowned scholar Lope K. Santos developed the abakada which is an alphabet representing the sounds in the Tagalog language. It consists of  twenty letters (five vowels and fifteen consonants).

a (a) b (ba) k (ka) d (da)  e (e) g (ga) h (ha)

i (i) l (la) m (ma) n (na) ng (nga) o (o) p (pa) 

r (ra) s (sa) t (ta) u (u) w (wa) y (ya)


a, b, k, d, e, g, h, i, l, m,  n, ng, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y


a, ba, ka, da, e, ga, ha, i, la, ma, na, nga, o, pa, ra, sa, ta, u, wa, ya



In 1976, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) of the Philippines issued a revised alphabet which added the letters c, ch, f, j, ll, ñ, q, rr, v, x, and z. It was called Pinagyamang Alpabeto (Enriched Alphabet).


The Filipino alphabet of 28 letters that is currently being taught in Philippine schools was instituted in 1987 during the Aquino presidency. It is called the Makabagong Alpabetong Filipino (Modern Filipino Alphabet).