Alibata – the lost language of the Philippines

Alibata Type ExperimentThe Philippines is a country with a very rich and diverse culture.  With over 7,000 islands settled in the Pacific ocean in Southeast Asia, it has been a port utilized for trade and a pit stop for countries exploring the open waters.  It is the country’s accessible and convenient location that has also subjected it to imperialism, being used as a strategic post for political advances.  The US of A, Japan, and Spain are countries who have all had their slices of the Philippine pie, the latter ruling the 3rd world country for nearly 300 years, all of which has contributed to reshaping the culture of Filipinos.  The influence of its colonizers can be seen in much of the Philippine culture today – foods have similarities to Spanish dishes, dialects carry the same phonetics as the Spanish and Malay languages, and pop culture is practically a mirror of western media with shows like Pinoy Big Brother and Pinoy Idol.

However, the culture that exists today and has been able to adapt and transform throughout its history of colonization has also left behind significant cultural pieces that once defined and dominated the landscape.  One of those artifacts that I have been obsessed with the past few years is the language of Alibata, one of the Philippines’ earliest and original native writing scripts.  Also known as Baybayin which literally means “to spell”, this language is believed to be used as early as the 14th century.  The introduction of the Spanish in 1521 marked the beginning of Alibata’s decline.  The roman alphabet today is the dominant script in the Philippines and is used to write most, if not all of its 170 dialects.  Despite the fact that it is vanishing, there are still few who have written about the language and have been able to call attention to the fading language.  Luckily, I discovered one of these publications a few years back and have been interested in exploring the history and dynamics of the script ever since.  I have studied the language and have experimented with its type in various processes, creating my own interpretations and compositions of the script.  Below are a few pieces I have experimented with but please mind that they are in their early stages.  I have yet to refine all of them but I wanted to share with you the writing script that is slowly fading away into extinction.  I plan to carry this project to completion to serve as a foundation for the existence of Alibata and its future.  Hope you enjoy.

For more samples of this project, view it in the Portfolio.

27 thoughts on “Alibata – the lost language of the Philippines

  1. Thanks for the comment Christian. Nice work online and for bringing Alibata to the masses, I’m going to add your site to the links section on Makilaban. Maybe we can collab sometime since you’re in the Bay and showcase some work at the Pistahan in Yerba Buena.

  2. Good post! I’m starting a Baybayin Project myself and I’m glad to know that there’s a growing interest and definitely a growing community of Baybayin afficionados on the net.

  3. Thanks Katherine, glad to know there are people who are using the internet to learn more on the language. Its important we build a pool of Baybayin enthusiasts due to the lack of material out there. Stay connected and please keep me informed of your project, would love to showcase it when its finished! :)

  4. Sweet. I might have probably already run into you then. We’ll have to connect sometime before the celebration this year. Definitely keep me updated on the progress and I can post information for you.

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  6. I’m looking forward to the development of your site. At this time, we’re making web pages as our school project and “alibata” is my topic.

  7. may nakita po akong libro nito dati sa bahay its an old book pero nawala yun noong baha ng frank..at narinig ko na ito dati pa kaya lang yung iba di nila alam tungkol sa alibata,kaya ngsearch po ako history ng alibata at dito po ako punta..sana ituro nila ito sa paaralan,,salamat po sa post mo tungkol sa alibata..

  8. grabe ha it help me a lot especially in doing my ditty in English with regards on Baybayin or “Alibata”….thank you so much!!!

  9. ang gara.. ang angas kaya! ang bobo naman mas gus2 ko ang alibata! original… hindi gaya2x! hanggang ngayon ung ibang pinoy nagaya parin!! kya ngayon pinapangako ko sa sarili ko!! hindi n ako manggagya!!!

  10. gusto ko po matuto kung pnu mgbasa at magsulat ng alibata..pwde po ba selfstudy lng po at san po ako makakuha ng mga references…tnx po hintayin ko po sagot mo..

  11. nice work :) i love alibata also, and i’m so glad seeing that there are people wants alibata also. proud ! ^_^

  12. im so proud….. na pilipino ako…… grabe! hilig ko tlaga ang tumuklas ng about sa kasaysayan ng ating bansa…. masaya cguro na pati ito ay mapag aralan rin ng iba……… hnd naman sa ipagmayabang ng wala sa lugar.. kundi.. ma realize ng mga pinoy na kung gaano.. ka interesting itong pag aralan… at malaman na kung gaano katatalino ang mga ninuno natin …

    kung pnoy ka…? i hope maging proud ka sa bayang pnagmulan mo.

  13. proud ako dhl pnoy ako….. grabe! napakatalino tlaga ng ating mga ninuno………… nakakatuwang icpn na.. alive parin ito kht na sobrang modern na ng ating economy… at may mga pilipino parin na interesado paring malaman at mapag aralan ang cnaunan alpabeto…. kc even aq inaamin ko na interesado tlaga aq………………. i know naman na.. lhat ng pnoy are proud 4 being filipino….. : )

  14. I studying alibata with me,myself and I using any references that i have .I am glad and proud to use this scprit kaya kahit anong notebook meron ako ay may nakasulat na alibata. Nosebleed yung mga kaklase ko pag sumusulat ako sa board but then hindi naman ako selfish kaya tinuturuan ko sila kung anu lang ang alam ko at kaya ko. I am now a college student at sana may subject na nito sa grade school man o secondary level para naman lahat tayo aware with alibata kasi atin ito.

  15. Forgot to mention..anu po ba ang mas madaling gamitin yung original baybayin script po ba or yung baybayin script with spanish modifications? i need an answer for this one … Pls. po !

  16. Hi Clifford. Pasensha at hindi ko alam kung ano ba ang mas madaling – kala ko yung baybayin walang spanish modifications kasi gina gamitin nila yung roman alphabet di ba? I wish I could provide more insights.

  17. good day po :)..ammmf salamat po sa replai..ciguro po mas mabuti na alam natin i sulat ang baybayin script sa original baybayin script man o baybayin script with spanish modifications para mas lalo tayong awre dito… :)
    ask ko lng po kung natural lang po ba na iba iba ang stroke ng mga symbols ? i mean dagdagan ng kunting arte ang pagsulat pero sympre andun parin ung meaning..?

  18. Hi Clifford, yung modifications ko, galing talaga sa original. kahit modifications, pede pa din mag kita yung ibang symbols at meaning. nothing can of course replace the original, ito lang yung ibang twist yung gawin ko kasi designer ako. ayaw mo ba mag modify yung original?

  19. good day po… ask ko lng po ulit if kung gagamitin ung phil. modern baybain chart , pwede po bang kahit wag ng i-transleyt ang english word sa filipino pronounciation?… ex. University-Unibersiti/unibersidad.? may mga nakita po kci akong hindi na trinansleyt eh …

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