Old Tagalog

Old Tagalog
Lumang Tagalog
Region Philippines, particularly Southern Tagalog (Calabarzon and Mimaropa)
Era 10th century AD (developed into Classical Tagalog in c. 16th century)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None

Old Tagalog (Filipino: Lumang Tagalog; Baybayin: ᜎᜓᜋᜅ᜔ᜆᜄᜎᜓᜄ᜔, Pre-Kudlit: ᜎᜓᜋᜆᜄᜎᜓ ) is the earliest form of the Tagalog language and was the language of Central and Southern Luzon during the Classical period in Luzon. It is the language of the Tondo Dynasty, state of Ma-i, Kingdom of Maynila, and other regions of the northern Philippines. The language originated from the Proto-Philippine language and evolved to Classical Tagalog, which was the basis for Modern Tagalog.


Main article: Tagalog language

The word Tagalog is derived from the endonym ᜆᜄ ᜁᜎᜓᜄ᜔ taga-ilog ("river dweller"), composed of ᜆᜄ (tagá-) ("native of" or "from") and ᜁᜎᜓᜄ᜔' (ílog) ("river"). Very little is known about the ancient history of the language; linguists such as Dr. David Zorc and Dr. Robert Blust speculate that the Tagalogs and other Central Philippine ethno-linguistic groups had originated in Northeastern Mindanao or the Eastern Visayas.[1][2]

The Language

The Tagalog Baybayin script.

Old Tagalog is one of the Central Philippine languages, which evolved from the Proto-Philippine language, which comes from the Austronesian peoples who settled in the Philippines 2000 years ago. This is the language of the Huangdom of Ma-i, the Tondo Dynasty, Kingdom of Maynila, and other regions of Central Luzon.

The early history of the Tagalog language remains relatively obscure, and a number of theories exist as to the exact origins of the Tagalog peoples and their language. Most scholars suggest that the Tagalog people originated in North-eastern Mindanao or the Eastern Visayas. The first written record of Tagalog is the Laguna Copperplate Inscription which dates to 900 CE, and exhibits fragments of the language along with Sanskrit, Malay, Javanese and Old Tagalog.[3] The first known complete book to be written in Tagalog is the Doctrina Christiana (Christian Doctrine), printed in 1593.[4]

Writing system

Main article: Baybayin

Old Tagalog was written in Baybayin, which belongs to the Brahmic family of scripts. Loanwords from Malay and Sanskrit were written in the Kawi script because these words could not be represented in Baybayin.




b ᜊ᜔


k ᜃ᜔


d/r ᜇ᜔


g ᜄ᜔


h ᜑ᜔


l ᜎ᜔


m ᜋ᜔


n ᜈ᜔


ng ᜅ᜔


p ᜉ᜔


s ᜐ᜔


t ᜆ᜔


w ᜏ᜔


y ᜌ᜔


Old Tagalog Vowels
Height Front Central Back
Close i /i/ u /u/
Mid ə /ə/
Open a /a/
Table of consonant phonemes of Old Tagalog
Labial Dental/
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p b t d k ɡ ʔ
Fricative s ʃ h
Tap ɾ
Approximant l j w

Examples of words

Words in Old Tagalog IPA / PronunciationTranslation in Modern Tagalog
ᜀᜍᜂ*arãɜ (araw) Araw (Sun/Days)
ᜄᜓᜎᜓᜆ᜔*ɠUlu̯t (golot') Kabundukan (Mountain Ranges)
ᜊᜓᜎᜏᜈ᜔*bUlɐ̯ɜn̩ (Bulawan) Ginto (Gold)
ᜊᜓᜎᜅᜌ᜔*bɒlɐ̯ɲAj (Balangay) Barangay
ᜊᜓᜈ᜔ᜏ*bɐ̃n̪wɛ (Banua) Pook/Vanua (Village)
ᜀᜐᜓᜏᜅ᜔ *aʂũɐ̯n̩ Aswang (Ghoul/Monster)
ᜊᜓᜎᜀᜈ᜔*bũLɑ̯n (Bulan) Buwan (Moon/Months)
ᜊᜆ᜔ᜑᜎ*bɐtʜãʟ̩aBathala (God/Deity)
ᜊᜊᜌ᜔ᜎᜈ᜔*bãɓɜjaɲ̩ Babaylan (Priestess)
ᜊᜌᜒ*bãjɜ̯ (Bayi)Babae (Woman/Girl/Lady)
ᜊᜎᜌ᜔*ba̯Lãj (Balay)Bahay (House/Structure/Buildings)
ᜊᜊᜓᜌ᜔ *babə̃j (Babuy)Baboy (Pig)
ᜇᜌᜅ᜔ *dãjãɳ (Dayang)Reyna (Queen) or Prinsesa (Princess)
ᜇᜒᜃᜒ*dəkət Dikit (adhesive/stick)
ᜇᜓᜍᜓ / ᜇᜓᜄᜓ*zuRuʔDugo (Blood)
ᜑᜍᜒ*ʜãRi (Hari)Hari (King, Emperor)
ᜑᜎᜒᜃ᜔*hajəkHalik (Kiss)
ᜎᜓᜈᜆᜒᜀᜈ᜔*jɜnTiãn (luntian)Luntian (Lush)/ Berde (Green)
ᜃᜏᜎ᜔*kão̯ɐL KaualKawal (Knight)
ᜃᜏᜎ᜔*kãɲtǒt KatutKantot (Sex)
ᜋᜓᜆᜒᜌ*ɱuʈɪa (mutiya) Mutya or Perlas (Pearl)
ᜋᜅ᜔ᜋᜅ᜔*Mɐnɠ-Mɑŋɠ Mang mang (Fool) / Bobo (Stupid)
ᜉᜈ᜔ᜆᜐ᜔*pãɳ̩ta̯ʂPantas (Genius/Wise/Gifted)
ᜉᜓᜂᜇ᜔*pũɜd (Puod)Bayan (Town)
ᜉᜉᜄᜌᜓ*papɐgAyɔ (Papagayo)Karpintero (Carpenter)
ᜅᜎᜒᜈ᜔*ŋɡajan (Ngalan) Pangalan (Name)
ᜐᜈ᜔ᜇᜒᜄ᜔*sɑ̃n̩dĩg) (Sandig)Sundalo (Soldier)
ᜆᜓᜊᜒᜍ᜔*tubiRTubig (Water)
ᜆᜍᜅ᜔ᜃᜑᜈ᜔*taRãŋkaħɐ̃ɳ Tarangkahan (Gate)
ᜆᜒᜋᜋᜈᜓᜃ*TěGmāmənùKən Tigmamanukan (Eagle, Bird, Omen)


Old Tagalog TranslationTranslation in Modern TagalogTranslation in English
ᜊᜎᜑᜎ ‖ balahalaKataas-TaasanHighest (Authority).
ᜈᜊᜓᜃ ᜈ ᜊ ‖ Nabuká na ba?Nag-bukás na ba?Is it open now?
ᜋ ᜈ ᜎ| ᜇᜃᜒᜆ᜔‖ Labâ ma na lâ, dakitDalhín mo ang pag-kakataóng itó, sa Dakit (punò). Take this opportunity to the Dakit (tree).
ᜋ ᜈᜒᜌ| ᜋᜀᜈᜄ᜔ᜄ‖Nínu ma niya manggaIyán ay napagkámaláng manggá.That was mistaken for a mango.
ᜑᜒᜌ| ᜎᜀ| ᜅᜌ᜔ ᜀᜈ᜔Gakatkat hiya lâ ngay-anIyán ba ay nakararamdám ng hiyâ? Has that (person) ever felt shame?
ᜊᜌ ᜑ ᜇᜃᜒᜆ᜔ ᜈ ᜈᜓ‖ Bayâ ha dakit na, nu? Pakiusap, lisanin mo na ang punò ng Dakit.Leave the dakit tree now, will you?
ᜇ ᜃᜎᜄ᜔ ᜊᜒᜈᜄᜆ᜔ ᜑ‖ Da kalág binagat, ha?Pakibalík mo ang kaluluwáng iyóng kinuhà, ha?Return the soul that you took away, will you?

Other sets of terms and words in Old Tagalog

Lunar observations

Subang - new moon

Gimat/ungut - full crescent

Hitaas na an subang - high new moon (3rd day)

Balining - the 4th or 5th night

Odto na anbalan - quarter moon

Dayaw/paghipono/takdul/ugsan - full moon

Madulumdulum - waning moon

Banolor - night or 2 later of waning, set on Western horizon just before dawn.

Parik - 5th or 6th night of waning

Katin - 3rd quarter so it crossed the 2nd barrier by the 24th or 25th night.

Malasumbang - 29th night; getting ready for the new moon


Banwanun - When hunters offered their first catch, whether it was wild hogs to deer, to the spirits dwelling in the mountains.

Palahi - The spirit of the balete tree which was given offerings. Ginayaw - Offerings of spherical yellow rice cakes.

Tinorlok - the hog reserved for sacrifice that would be pierced with a spear by the babaylan conducting the ritual and whose blood would soak to the ground for the Anito and Diwata before it was cooked and roasted and laid on the table filled with offerings for the participants to eat.

Bani - the sacred mat to be burned.

Kamangyan - incense, which was often placed in a coconut shell.

Pagpunas - performance when you kill a red rooster and go around the field and put a drop of blood on the rice leaves to pray to the spirits to take care of plants. Kalipayan - a herb used in planting rituals, symbol of happiness. The plant is the Codiaeum variegatum, a tropical shrub native to the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia and South Asia. Ihalasan - secondary dragon burial jars, coming from the term ihas, snake.

Pitarrilas - earthen jar full of rice wine as an offering during paganito.

Salagmat - a term from Bikol that was a table for offerings in atang.

Pang-asi - fermented rice used in rituals

Puso - Offerings, that were made of woven palm leaves in various designs, in paganito rituals according to Alcina. Tuyog - pouring of wine on the ground as an offering to the spirits.

Bongoy - Offering to the anito for the sick, either by hanging a chicken or another animal by a stick.

Galal - offering to the katalona.

Diwang - song or chant to the anito. Was also used as a song to the anito for healing the sick.


Paganito/Maganito - act of sacrifice, ritual

Pandot - Tagalog festival, celebration, worship, usually conducted in the house of the Datu.

Paglihi - Visayan religious observances, rites

Iganito - thing being sacrificed

Atang - Ilocano ritual offering to appease the spirits.

Pagobo - A type of paganito performed to offer to the Diwata of the family hearth when drought threatened: a white hen and a bird shaped rice cake together with leaves or sprouts from the crops threatened were offered.

Dating - a Tagalog menstrual rite and coming of age for a young woman. The eyes were blindfolded for 4 days and 4 nights where she stayed in a room in her house. Meanwhile, friends and relatives were invited to partake in food and drinks. At the end of the period the katalonan took the girl to the water, her feet never touching the ground, ritually bathed her, and washed her head before removing the blindfold from her eyes.

Taruk - term for the babaylan dance during the paganito.

Bodyong - bamboo instrument used in ritual dance

Anahaw or Banay - palm leaves that are shaped like a fan, used when making paganito by the babaylan. It was used in dancing to keep time when preparing sacrifices and offerings. It was also the symbol of the babaylan and was often a symbolic memorial in their graves. The scientific name of the plant is Saribus rotundifolius.

Paguli - Rite performed to call back the departed soul. A coconut shell of water was placed on the stomch of the inert person and rotated while chanting, “uli, uli, kulog” (Come back, come back soul)

Pasalamat - Thanksgiving dinner after harvest.

Babat - to thank the spirits responsible for a good harvest.

Soni or Pagsoni - old term, means Thanksgiving ceremony.

Pag-luon - (smoking). This was a ritual used to cure a diseased plant. Using an incense, kamangyan, go around the field. The incense is placed in a coconut shell with fire in it and then pray to the Goddess of Harvest (Laon) to drive away pests and watch over plants.

Pagtigman - Most important paganito. It was a big gathering where many pigs (both wild and domestic) are slaughtered and sacrificed. To catch the wild ones they bring together the people with their nets, called Batung. One of the men who had a good voice climbed one of the highest palm trees and called out summoning the men. This cry was called Pagaatigman, “what gathers”, or “join us!” Then whatever pigs or deer they captured and the fish that they were able to catch with all the rice and other roots they brought together; they roast the meat then the Babaylan gave them as offerings. Kangai - “union”, feasts, and large feasts.

Tinganok or Paginganor - Meaning “hand over to the current”. This paganito was done on the banks of the rivers which the Visayans called Yraia, which is the nearest to their place of birth. They placed on the banks of the river on both sides various rafts of canes. On them they placed a variety and abundance of all their foods, and allowed them to be taken by the current which carried the rafts down the stream. They didn’t eat this food but left it for the Diwata or the

Humalagad to eat. With this they asked them to care for the fields and guard them from preying animals. They also tied to those rafts rats, locusts, and other animals that they can capture which did damage to their fields. From this they were rendered secure. If this wasn’t performed they would be unsuccessful and lose everything.

Pagadap - It was the same paganito as the Tinganok, however in a smaller gathering. Both of them, their purpose was to assure a good harvest and not to suffer from hunger.

Hola/ hulak/tagduk - spirit possession of the babaylan

Taho - whistling sound when Diwata was speaking through the babaylan

Bayung Danum - literally meaning “new water”, it is a Kapampangan yearly celebration, their New Year, to appease a water deity, Apung Iru, who would cause the floods and monsoons as the monsoon season came. The festival was held in June during the full moon near the Summer Solstice and a water procession was done. Today it has turned to a celebration of St. John the Baptist and the procession toward St. Peter but has retained most of its original celebrations.

Shrines & Places/Things of Worship

Sarila - a Stupa

Dakit - balete tree that was a sanctuary for paganito.

Simbahan - a temple or place of worship. A typical simbahan was often held in the Datu and Rajah’s home for big celebrations. Today it is the term for churches.

Sibi - the roof made in the sides of the house in temporary sheds to protect the people from the rain. They made it so many people can fit and divided it in the fashion of ships into 3 compartments.

Sorihile - small lamps placed in the posts of the house. In the center of the house they placed 1 large lamp adorned with leaves of white palm wrought in many designs. There was also many large and small drums which they beat during the whole feast. This lasted usually for 4 days.

Pantao - a platform constructed that is about a branza or a little more in height. In width it depended on the quantity of things that were being offered. This platform made out of pieces of palm was made with as much ornamentation as they were able.

Pararatgan - It means a place where the Diwata had to arrive or come by because when arranged or adorned they came without fail. They adored it with chains and other decor made of lucai; the white heart of the palms which they make various toys and other ornaments that was called sareman. They adorn with all their draperies and cloth.

atangan - A little house on the shore of the river for a paganito that was for the sickness of a person. In this little house they put only rice cooked with

water called loto, or at best full of the yellow rice cakes called ginayaw. They drew water from the river and sprinkled the tiny house and food.

Maglantang - just like the latangan but they were larger in size and used for larger and major community sacrifice.

Dagusan - Ilocano term for spirit shrine.

The Afterlife

Langit - Heavenly realm

Kinari - Kinnari / Kinnara (an Angel)

Lalangban - a spiritual river which divides Sulad and Saad

Longon - a coffin the size of a grain of rice where the soul was put after it died 9 times becoming smaller and smaller.

Lalangban - a deep cave that is the entrance to Sulad/Saad and that from it a loud noise like the slamming of a door could be heard prior to a ruling datu’s death.

Agrakrakit - from rakit or raft. The Ilokano term for the raftman spirit responsible for ferrying souls to the next life.

Kalag / Kaluluwa - soul or a Preta

The Spirits, Ancestors, & Deities'

Diwata - the term for Gods and Goddesses, commonly used among the Visayans and some ethnic groups in southern Mindanao. In some ethnic groups it is the name of an actual deity.

Maniwata or Magdiwata - to invoke the Diwata

Anito - For the Visayans anito meant “sacrifice”. For others such as the Bikolanos and Tagalogs it meant ancestor spirit often represented by wooden carvings.

Palahi - The spirit of the strangler fig, known as the balete tree, who was often given offerings to appease it.

Tigmamanukan - blue and black bird Garuda that symbolized Bathala Maykapal in which it was also an omen. If one encountered a Tigmamanukan flying in their voyage path, they should take note of the direction of its flight. If the bird‘s flight direction goes to the right, the traveler would not encounter any danger during their journey. If it flew to the opposite direction (meaning from right to the left) the traveler will never find its way and will be lost forever. While today no one knows and remembers exactly what species of bird the Tagalogs revered in the past, most scholars believe it was a type of fairy blue bird, either the Asian Fairy Bluebird of the Philippine Fairy Bluebird

Limokon - A kind of turtledove with striking green and white plumage and red feet and beak that was an omen to the Visayans. It is believed to be a messenger bird from the spirit world.

Religious Figures

Babaylan - The prominent term for priestess. They were the bridge between the ancestors, spirits, and deities with the people of her community who communicated between them. She was also a healer and was of a high social rank just after the Rajah and Datu. Alabay - a Babaylans apprentice, one in training to become a Babaylan

Asog - a male priest who considered themselves and were considered by their community, more like women than men in their manner of living. They often were recorded as having relationships with other men. They were just like the Babaylans except they couldn’t produce children. Katalonan - The Tagalog term for the Babaylans for their own priestesses.


Paghimalar - to tell ones fortune by reading the lines on the palm of the hand.

Sibit - term used when getting rid of bad luck. This was done by drawing the palm of the hand what is causing it. They would take a needle, pierce the part where they said was the bad fortune and draw out a little blood. With his the bad luck went away. This was always done on the right hand where good and bad luck is located; they pay no attention to the left. Some rubbed the palm with palm oil and raised the arm of the person whose fortune they were telling. If the oil ran down and came as far as the elbow, it was a good sign and all the bad luck was gone now. If not, it wasn’t.

Luknit - cast lots by 4 crocodile teeth or boar tusks.

Tali - stone or egg made to stand upright on a plate.

Abiyog - to swing; like a bolo suspended from a cord.


Kulam - Black magic

Ginhabit - one bewitched by habit

Lumay/Gayuma - love potion

Buringot - the opposite of a love potion. Also made one fearless in the face of danger.

Mantala - incantations

Tagarlum - herb charmed to make owner invisible

Awug - spell put on coconut palms to make a thief's stomach swell up.

Tiwtiw -spell that made fish follow the fishermen to shore or wild boar follow hunter out of the woods.

Oropok - caused rats to multiply in someones fields.

Tagosilangan - Persons with a charm that enabled them to see hidden things.

Spiritual Healing & Soul Retrieval

Tawag - to call out, summon the spirit that kidnapped the soul. Bawi - to rescue, free the invalid from the grip of the spirit

Chants & Invocations

Balata or lalaw - oaths taken during mourning

Harang/halad - offering Awut - An oath that promised fasting and abstinence. This was done especially after the death of a loved one during the mourning period. Ulango - a term by the Tagalogs meaning a spirit house. It was a home/shrine dedicated to the anito.

Likha/larawan/tao-tao/bata bata - idols and images of the deities and ancestors found in peoples homes, caves, along the rivers, and other natural places. They were the guardians the home and were often invoked and anointed with sesame seed oil, in some cases dressed in cloth and gold.

Sulad - purgatory. The place where all souls go to first after death by being ferried by the Goddess Magwayen.

Umalagad/Humalagad - Ancestral spirit that were guardians and companions to a person. They are the souls of the ancestors who are able to help the living. They were invoked on leaving the house and during agricultural rites in the fields. Some were believed to take the form of a python, which was a symbol of good luck and fortune to the one who was born with a snake twin as their umalagad.

Daitan - Another Visayan term for the priestess, with dait meaning friendship and peace.

Himalad - Palmistry

Dasal- spell

Agaw - It was to carry off by force, to snatch a pain from the sufferer, which was done by the babaylan.

Darangin - perfunctory invocation of ancestor spirits when leaving the house.

See also


  1. Zorc, David. 1977. The Bisayan Dialects of the Philippines: Subgrouping and Reconstruction. Pacific Linguistics C.44. Canberra: The Australian National University
  2. Blust, Robert. 1991. The Greater Central Philippines hypothesis. Oceanic Linguistics 30:73–129
  3. Postma, Antoon. (1992). The Laguna Copper-Plate Inscription: Text and Commentary. Philippine Studies vol. 40, no. 2:183-203
  4. Zorc, David. 1977. The Bisayan Dialects of the Philippines: Subgrouping and Reconstruction. Pacific Linguistics C.44. Canberra: The Australian National University
For a list of words relating to Old Tagalog, see the Old Tagalog category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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