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the October 13, 2017
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the Sept '06 issue of
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Alibata is an ancient writing system that was used in what is now the Philippines. Although it was all but exstinguished 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.
Origins of Alibata
Although the major languages of the Philippines are now written using the Roman alphabet, the languages were first represented using a script related to and directly or indirectly derived from the scripts of India. The script has had a rather short history, having come into use around AD 1000-1200, and for the most part becoming extinct in the late 18th century. However, two forms of the indigenous scripts still survive to present day: the script used by the Tagbanwa from the island of Palawan, and the script used by the Mangyan from the island of Mindoro. In truth, however, the origin of the script has not yet been ascertained, and various theories abound.
The term Alibata
The script is often referred to as alibata, a term coined inexplicably to mimic the first two letters of the alphabet of the Maguindanao, used in the southern Philippines, which is derived from Arabic. (The term refers to the first two letters, alif and bet.) It is also called baybayin, which means "to spell" in Tagalog.
Theory: Originated in Celebes
One of the most common explanations, given by David Diringer, states that the Philippine scripts were derived from Kavi script or Old Javanese, perhaps indirectly through the Buginese. The Buginese origin of the Philippine scripts best accounts for the fact that the Philippine scripts cannot represent the final consonants of syllables, since Buginese has the same limitation. In Buginese, however, this limitation is not as noticeable, since fewer words in the language have these final consonants.
Documents and Artifacts which use Alibata
What it was used for
Part of the difficulty of determining the source of the script lies in the fact that very few records have survived. Most of the media used for writing was perishable, such as palm leaves and pieces of bamboo. 8 The scripts were not used to record mythology, history, or any similar "deep time" messages, but were rather used for business transactions, love letters, and other personal matters, so that the desire to preserve them may have been minimal. The scripts were also used to record formula of magical and/or religious significance and so might have been destroyed by the Spanish as part of their efforts to convert the inhabitants of the Philippines to Christianity.
Types of artifacts
William Scott describes four types of authentic samples of Philippine writing: early Spanish works using wood block type, Spanish descriptions of the writing, documents and signatures written by Filipinos, and contemporary specimens of living scripts. With regards to preserved ancient records, most of these were actually written by the Spanish, for the purposes of catechizing the native inhabitants of the Philippines. 11 No ancient inscriptions written by the indigenous people have survived to present day, except for the Calagatan pot inscription. However, the authenticity of this artifact has not yet been ascertained.



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