Alibata is an ancient Filipino script that is believed to have originated from the Javanese’ old kawi script. There are many theories as to where it actually originated. It is also believed that it have originated from India. Isaac Taylor, a historical writer, believed that Alibata is a derivation of ancient scripts such as Vengi, Assam and Chalukya that originated from the Eastern coast of India.
Baybayin is the proper term for this ancient script. Baybayin in tagalong means “to spell”. The term Alibata was derived from the first two letters of the Maguindanaoan alphabet “alif” and “bet”.
It is believed that alibata was used on the early 14th century to the late 19th century when the Spaniards have started colonizing the Philippines. Spanish influence has introduced the modern Roman alphabet. Despite the influence of the Spaniards, there are two forms of this script that survives up to the present day. Mangyans from the island of Mindoro and the Tagbanwa from Palawan still use this type of script.
Unfortunately, there are only a few records of the alibata script that remains up to this day. This is because alibata scripts were not used by the ancient Filipinos to record mythologies or ancient history that are meant to be passed on from generations to generations. Instead, the ancient Filipinos who used this script would write on perishable items such as bamboo or palm leaves. Their writings are for ordinary transactions like love letters given by a man to a woman or write-ups for business purposes and ordinary day to day needs. Because of the unimportance of the content, those ancient scripts were not given any importance at all and were not thought to be preserved for the modern Filipinos to see and experience how the ancient Filipinos would write.
In our modern world, some people are still interested on this form of writing. To these young Filipinos, they use alibata to express themselves. Tattoos of alibata scripts with different translations are common as well as vandalism on public walls. They find it cool but also, it’s a great way of reviving these young Filipinos’ love for country and they get to learn more about the Philippine’s history.