Philippine Art : “Baybayin” (Alibata)

Well then, I’m here again for my another blog entry. I plan to post this blog last week but I’m still working on how can I improve more the details about Alibata and the sub-topics I’m going to put in here. I’m also busy about to my deadlines projects because our finals is coming this September so I hope I will not failed any of my subjects this term. Anyway, go back to my topic to discuss, I chose Alibata as my subject because it is also part of the Philippine Art and moreover it is related to the history about Filipino writings and how it all started.

Alibata based on said that Alibata is an ancient writing system that was used in what is now the Philippines. Although it was all but extinguished by Western colonization, variants of it are still used in parts of Mindoro and Palawan, and it is also increasingly used by Filipino youth as a way to express their identity. Others call this as Baybayin.

One of those Dr. Jose Rizal (Philippines National Hero) written articles, he managed to introduced how important the Filipino language was and it is from his old entries “To My Fellow Children”.

This language of ours is like any other,
it once had an alphabet and its own letters
that vanished as though a tempest had set upon
a boat on a lake in a time now long gone.

“To My Fellow Children”,
attributed to
Jose Rizal, 1869
English translation by P. Morrow

The tempest in Rizal’s verse struck the Philippines in the 16th century. It was the Spanish Empire and the lost alphabet was a script that is known today as the baybayin.

Contrary to the common misconception, when the Spaniards arrived in the islands they found more than just a loose collection of backward and belligerent ethnic groups. They found a civilization that was very different from their own. The ability to read and write is the mark of any civilization and, according to many early Spanish accounts, the Tagalogs had already been writing with the baybayin for at least a century. This script was just beginning to spread throughout the islands at that time. Furthermore, the discovery in 1987 of an inscription on a sheet of copper in Laguna is evidence that there was an even more advanced script in limited use in the Philippines as far back as the year 900 C.E.

There where lot of Alibata histories that can be found in the internet but then If I’m going to post the articles in here it will seem to be boring and you will easily get tired reading all those stuff so I will just share some of the best reference to know more the Alibata or the Baybayin History later. Moving on since Alibata is still my subject that I want to share to you, here is my other explanation on which and why Alibata still running in Philippine Cycle of Writings and Livings.

Hanunóo Script is one of three forms of the Baybayin that is still use in today.

The bamboo document and the dagger used to write it.

The Alphabet we used daily and which we are familiar now days are somewhat different in Alibata. Since many of the writing systems of Southeast Asia descended from ancient scripts used in India over 2000 years ago. Although the baybayin shares some important features with these scripts, such as all the consonants being pronounced with the vowel a and the use of special marks to change this sound, there is no evidence that it is so old. The shapes of the baybayin characters bear a slight resemblance to the ancient Kavi script of Java, Indonesia, which fell into disuse in the 1400s. However, as mentioned earlier in the Spanish accounts, the advent of the baybayin in the Philippines was considered a recent event in the 16th century and the Filipinos at that time believed that their baybayin came from Borneo. This theory is supported by the fact that the baybayin script could not show syllable final consonants, which are very common in most Philippine languages. This indicates that the script was recently acquired and had not yet been modified to suit the needs of its new users. Also, this same shortcoming in the baybayin was a normal trait of the script and language of the Bugis people of Sulawesi, which is directly south of the Philippines and directly east of Borneo. Thus most scholars believe that the baybayin may have descended from the Buginese script or, more likely, a related lost script from the island of Sulawesi. Whatever route the baybayin travelled, it probably arrived in Luzon in the 13th or 14th century.

Sample Text in the Baybayin alphabet

Sample Text in the Latin alphabet

Ang lahat ng tao’y isinilang na malaya at pantay-pantay sa karangalan at mga karapatan. Sila’y pinagkalooban ng katwiran at budhi at dapat magpalagayan ang isa’t isa sa diwa ng pagkakapatiran.

Hear a recording of this text here:

Baybayin Sample – Translate


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

As I go through some research, I found some people who use Alibata as part of their life and how it also become art aside from its style which looks like calligraphy.

There were some celebrities used Alibata as their own tattoo. They use this maybe as a kind of symbol that maybe represent them and form as a hidden message to some who doesn’t know how to read Alibata.

UFC Light-Heavyweight contender Brandon Vera has 4 big Baybayin tattoos on his back signifying Mundo (Earth), Hangin (Wind), Tubig (Water) and Apoy (Fire). Based on the photos above, it looks like the MU character is missing a kudlit below it. Without the kudlit, it would read MA-N-DO. While Mundo is conversational Tagalog for Earth, Lupa (Dirt) is probably more proper.




Also after I watched the Nestle: Kasambuhay Habambuhay 2011 an Independent Short Film Anthology Movie Entry from Cinemalaya, I noticed one of the scene from “Oh! Pa Ra Sa Ta U Wa Yeah!” They used Alibata scripts and formulate their own Alibata Book on how to easily you can catch and make someone you want fall for you – Ang ABAKADA ng matamis na OO.

You can watch it here:

Nestle Philippines Kasambuhay Habambuhay Short Film Anthology: \”OH! Pa Ra Sa Ta U Wa Yeah!\”

I enjoy the fact that Filipino people still used and recognized the ancient writings system Alibata. And what I can comment more is that even though we don’t use it regularly because the modernization invades us 😀 Ha-Ha not totally invade, what I mean is that we our now civilized. We still put some time to discussed and learn it in some other ways.

If you think you want to publish more of those Alibata or Baybayin style of writings in your site or in your social networking sites, you can translate your messages using the websites below since Google Translate didn’t formulate this kind of translation yet to their system 😀 Enjoy!

Alibata – Baybayin Translator




13 Replies to “Philippine Art : “Baybayin” (Alibata)”

  1. Well I started my blog in the beginning of March, I have 21 different entries already. How soon do you think the web crawler will pickup my blog and index it into the search engines ?.

    1. I’m not sure if it will took some time like 2-3 days or a week, still depend on how your entries stored but as long as you share and link your blog entries to your other social media sites, it can get lot of hits and might appear on different search engines.

  2. Hello! This post could not be written any
    better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate!

    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Wow! Thank you for your time reading some of my blog post here. Keep reading. 🙂
      Been busy this past few weeks. Haven’t think another idea to post. Maybe if you might like to suggest some stuff to work around, we can make new topics here. By the way, you might also want to read another post from here, you might enjoy learning this kind of business.

  3. Just to point out, It is not Alibata. It is called Baybayin, it was called Baybayin by Filipinos before the Spanish arrived in the Philippines. Alibata is a word coined by a Professor Paul R. Verzosa, in the 20th century, mistakenly linking it to Arabic writing, the Baybayin writing system has origins linking it to Indian writing systems if anything.

    1. Wow! Thank you for your time reading some of my blog post here. Keep reading. 🙂
      Thanks also for noticing this blog posts, readers will know more something about this history in Filipino writings. Your reference will truly helps a lot.
      By the way, been busy this past few weeks. Haven’t think another idea to post. Aside from posting information regarding on my Masters Degree journey, maybe if you might like to suggest some stuff to work around, we can make new topics here.

    1. Wow! Thank you for your time reading some of my blog post here. Keep reading. 🙂
      Been busy this past few weeks. Haven’t think another idea to post. Aside from posting information regarding on my Masters Degree journey, maybe if you might like to suggest some stuff to work around, we can make new topics here.

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