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‘Alibata’ is incorrect, says NCCA

ILOCOS SUR, Philippines – Contrary to what has been taught in schools, the Philippines’ ancient alphabet is actually called the “Baybayin,” not “Alibata,” clarified by an official of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in a youth forum held here recently.
Dr. Edwin Antonio, head of the national committee on northern cultural communities of the NCCA, explained that unlike what has been etched in history books, the country’s ancient alphabet is “Baybayin,” which should not be misconstrued as the Alibata.
Antonio read from an announcement posted by the national government on Facebook through the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines that Alibata was invented by a teacher who thought that Baybayin was only derived from the method of writing in Arabic.
“Kaya naisip niyang likhain ang ‘alibata’ mula sa tawag na alif at bata para sa dalawang unang titik ng alpabetong Arabe,” he explained.
“Therefore, Baybayin is correct. It is the name of the ethnic alphabet of our country. It came from the root word ‘baybay’ which means spelling. It is ours and not borrowed,” he told the students of the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC) who participated in the youth forum.
Dr. Antonio taught over 200 students of ISPSC-Sta. Maria campus on how to write and read the Baybayin and enjoined them to save this knowledge and use it to help in keeping alive the Philippines’ ancient script.
He also asked the educators to spread this information to their students to rectify the mistake made in history books.
The said youth forum was organized by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in the Ilocos and the NCCA to highlight and encourage students to help in the development, promotion and preservation of local culture, heritage and arts in the region.
In a message, PIA-Region I’s OIC-Deputy Regional Director Freddie Lazaro said, “This forum is part of the series of activities organized by the PIA and the NCCA since last year to generate awareness and appreciation of the different culture and tradition, arts, and heritage peculiar to Northern Luzon.”
Lazaro also gave a brief discussion about the country’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year and what PIA, as the government’s communications arm, has been doing to communicate how Filipinos can benefit from being an ASEAN citizen.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.