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Have fun with the Alibata: Learn how to write Alibata and more!

Who says history is boring? Teaching your child to speak Alibata is not only a cool way to learn about history but can be a bonding activity, too!

Learning the Alibata

If you want to give your older kids fun learning challenge, why not teach them to read or write Alibata? While this script is no longer widely used today, it would be a great way to share some insight about ancient Filipino life with your kids.

In fact, only certain Mangyan tribes continue to use this ancient way of writing. At the same time, there are linguists and historians in the country who work to keep this language alive. By teaching your kids to read Alibata, you will be able to contribute towards this cause, even for just a little bit.

All About Alibata

The language or script, Alibata as it is more commonly called today, is actually formally known as Baybayin. This literally translates to ‘to spell’. It is not an alphabet, made up of individual letters, like the English alphabet or Makabagong Alpabeting Pilipino that we now use. Rather, each character of Alibata is read as a syllable. This type of writing is known as an abugida, a combination of an alphabet and a syllabary. While there are different theories as to where it really originated from, many believe that Alibata came from Indonesia, particularly from the Javanese.

Click "next" to understand the basic Alibata characters!

Basic Alibata Characters

It may seem difficult or complicated to teach children how to read Alibata. On the contrary, once they become familiar with the basic characters, you will see that it isn’t tough to read or write in this script after all. There are 17 basic characters in Alibata, covering common syllables used in Filipino words. There are symbols for syllables such as la, ma, sa and pa.

In all of these basic characters, the syllables begin with a consonant sound, and end with an ‘a’ sound. When writing and reading Alibata, the syllables are taken as is. So for the word bata, which means child, you need to draw the symbol for "ba," followed by the symbol for "ta." Note that there is a separate symbol that represents the sound "a," but there is no need to include this when spelling out bata, otherwise the written word will read as "ba-a-ta-a."

Adding the "i/e" and "o/u" sounds

If you need to add syllables in Alibata ending in the "i/e" or the "o/u" sounds, you can do this by adding a diacritic, or a small mark above or below the written syllable. Alibata syllables that have the mark above it end with an "i/e" sound. For example, when the symbol for "ba" has a mark above it, it is now read as "be" or "bi."

Similarly, adding a diacritic below an Alibata symbol transforms it into one that ends in the "o/u" sound. Therefore, the symbol for "ma," when written with a mark bellow it, now sounds like "mo" or "mu." Once your child is able to identify the basic symbols and remember how the sounds change when diacritics are added, he or she is pretty much ready to start reading and writing words in Alibata.

Learning the Alibata

Learning Alibata may seem like a trivial activity to undertake, but it does provide your child with a skill that is unique. It also helps to firmly establish his or her Filipino roots, by giving the child a peek into how our ancestors used to share their written stories. Ultimately, this is a fun and educational bonding activity that you can do with your children.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia de Castro-Cuyugan

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