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pockets, pores, and calluses





8in x 6in x 6.5in




Animal hide, manga wood, banana paper, papyrus

Balat is a triptych book series, cradling the neglected stories of my Filipino ancestors that leave my skin wrinkled, clogged, and calloused. It aims to humanize Filipino history by shedding light on intimate vignettes of my ancestors’ environments, and that there is more to Philippine history than war, conquest, and colonized peoples. “Pocket” foretells the migration of my patriarchal lineage, coated in rodeo soot and grime. “Pores'' denies their faith with Catholicism and finds refuge in mystical troublemakers that Catholics would deem satanic. And “Callous” embraces the matriarchal resilience passed down to my hands from my ancestral mothers. I share these stories in Baybayin, the ancient alphabet of the Philippines and the non-Romanized form of Tagalog.

Each book is written in Baybayin script and translated from English to Tagalog. Click on an image to read the English Translation...

Before colonization in the 17th century, the tribes of the Philippines used Baybayin, the ancient alphabet of Tagalog and for many other dialects throughout the archipelago. 

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This is the Baybayin alphabet for Tagalog speakers. If you speak Ilocano, you would use Kurdita. If you speak Bicol, you would use Basahan. However, many Philippine dialects or international languages can be translated to Baybayin. This is because Baybayin is a syllabic language. 

The writing systems of Northern and Central Philippines primarily derive from Brahmic script. The islands farther south in the Philippines are primarily influenced by Syriac script.

The archipelago was not a unified country before Ferdinand Magellan named the islands the "Philippines" after King Phillip of Spain. The islands were divided by tribes that spoke different dialects. Each tribe had their own writing systems that cross-pollinated depending upon geographic location.  

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