Stop It Now! – or the strength of the barangay

The word is derived from balangay, the name for the sailboats that originally brought settlers of Malay stock to the Philippines from Borneo, each boat carrying  a large family group, and the  datu  being the leader. As we know, it is the smallest local government in our country, the grassroots of our political organization, codified under the  Local Government Code 1991.

Throughout the country there exist about 42,000 barangays. Bulan alone is  composed of 63 barangays. Now what’s the importance of this little statistical data? Well, very big! Following our bottom-up approach in  realizing socio-political change in the Philippines (see The New Filipino ), the barangay is our point of departure in bringing about a realistic qualitative change in our politics, particulary Bulan politics. We always seem to ignore the fact that a barangay is a government unit in our country, in our town. It is the oldest political unit, it’s the base that supports and makes possible the municipal government. This is the key to change for each one has an easy access to it, to the punong barangay (barangay captain ) and to the seven barangay Kagawad (barangay councils) in comparison to the Municipal Government whose mayor  probably cannot be reached any time. But your barangay captain is accessible almost all the time, in fact, he may be your neighbor. A friendly gestalt who is willing to listen to your concerns as you walk with him by the fields or as you sweep your backyard in the afternoons. You cannot get this kind of intimacy with your mayor for one thing maybe he or she cannot walk around without a handful of bodyguards.

The barangay captain is a man next-door. We must forget for awhile the municipal mayor and concentrate on giving importance to the barangay officers, be ready to offer your help to them anytime. Give recognition to their work , give them your suggestions to the problems of the barangay. You may not realize it but in this setting it is almost direct democracy in action. Think of the small barrio meetings being held from time to time where people can voice out their opinions to matters that concern them and sometimes arriving at a speedy agreement or solution. The barangay should be strengthened nowadays  in Bulan if the people want a solid anchor to a government that  represents and serves them. If the barangays are united for the good of all, then you have a town that is strong and proud and is able to direct its course.You know, all these problems of corruption and abuses take place only when the government is not rooted in  people’s heart and soul and when the people are “broken-hearted” among themselves.

  Eleanor Roosevelt rightly remarked “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” or as we used to say “It takes two to tango”. When you dance to a music you don’t like, this means you cannot say no. People of Bulan suffer then because they just dance along with the music which is not their music. How about if you would  gather your strength and say “Stop it, I want my music now!”? 

This is the moment we are all waiting for when all the barangays would come together and would say “Stop it now!“. This would herald a new chapter in Bulan’s history and usher the birth of a new Bulan that shines. Ideally, politicians should start from this grassroots level before they should become councillors or chief executive. But this is a process that requires more time for the people to fully understand and integrate in their political thinking and put into practice. For we have seen that a person that is just placed to the top by virtue of wealth and connections is not the solution to the problems of Bulan but rather an additional burden to the town. The hero should come from below, not from above, from Bulan and not from somewhere else.

We should not forget that it was the vision of the the prime author of this Local Government Code 1991-Senator Pimentel -to establish strong self-reliant barangays all over the country. According to him,the barangay officials are the front-liners of the Philippine Government, with the punong barangay as the “face” of the  Philippine Government as far as his constituents are concerned, and that the barangay is the key to national development. Behind this is his concept of decentralization of power  with the final aim of establishing a federal form of government for the Philippines. I also think that Federation holds the key to the progress of the whole nation for it activates self-reliance  and diminishes dependency to the national government which since ages operates on the system of political patronage which in turn hinders fair and equal distribution of national wealth and fosters corruption. 

At this point it is also of crucial importance to maintain the Kabataang Barangay for therein is the seed of  future local  government that is firmly rooted in the traditions of Bulan. Leaders who identify totally with the people think and act for the people and share respect and common visions with one another. There is trust, and trust is a vehicle for progress. In my case for example, I trust that our Justice Department is in good hands for the  incumbent Municipal judge also started with the Kabataang Barangay. The youth begins to perceive and appreciate their own town the moment they involve themselves in the Kabataang Barangay. Here they learn the rudiments of political interaction and begin developing their visions for their town. The survival of culture resides in the visions of the youth. It is of utmost importance then that we  have to motivate the Kabataan– the  Youth- from all corners of Bulan to participate in political process in order to put an end to the political passivity that lingers in Bulan and hinders progress. The German Literature Nobel laureate Heinrich Böll commented that the wealth of the society can be seen in the contents of their trash cans. I may remark also that the strength of the community is seen in the contents of the heads of the people, the grassroots, i.e., on how opinionated the people are. Go and ask anyone in  the market of what they think  about their mayor or about Bulan as a whole.  The strength of their arguments reflect the strength of Bulan.

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

3 thoughts on “Stop It Now! – or the strength of the barangay

  1. Mr. Jun A:
    It’s good that we have this (bulan observer) blog in bulan like that of the sorsogonnews of kabatas!!!

    Just an observation, in your column “Stop it Now! – or the Strenght of the Barangay”, your discussions of facts about the importance of the barangay government are very educational vis a vis the importance of, and existence of the SK in the barangay level and I quote “…. it is also of crucial importance to maintain the Kabataang Barangay for therein is the seed of future local government that is firmly rooted in the traditions of Bulan.” xxxx.

    Anyhow, would you believe that the primary author of the 1991 Local Government Code no less than Senator Nene Pimentel is now moving for the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan or SK?

    I would recall that right after the last synchronized Barangay and SK Elections of October 29, 2007, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said and I quote “He is in favor of abolishing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) because of the general observation that it is no longer serving its purpose as a training ground for youth leaders and a means of getting the youth involved in community development.”

    He cited persistent reports that officials of SK in various barangays have neglected their duties although they continue to receive remuneration. In several cases, the SK chairmen and other officials are oftentimes not around in their respective towns because they are studying in colleges and universities in Metro Manila and elsewhere. But the worst cases are the SK leaders who commit corrupt practices, unable to resist the temptation to which they are exposed in handling public funds that are entrusted to them.

    Pimentel said and I quote “he is disturbed over reports that SK officials are tempted to take advantage of their positions for monetary gain due to the absence of serious efforts to prevent fund irregularities”. (..this was posted in the internet)

    As a lehitimong tagaBulan, I absolutely agree with the observations of Senator Pimentel to abolish the SK based on reasons cited above….. As a matter of fact, there were some SK Chairmen, if not most, in the past prior to October 29, 2007 elections, who were formally charged of the crime of malversation of public funds and property, violation of RA 3109 (graft and corruption) and among other crime or crimes committed by SK Chairmen by reason of said office….


  2. To attybenji,

    As a reply to your interesting comment, I have written a piece called The Future of Bulan.
    Thank you once again for your efforts in helping put our Bulan forward.Keep on spreading the good news about our town!

    jun asuncion

  3. By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

    SORSOGON CITY ( – The day of the hearts was not too good for the lady executive of Bulan town here when the joint committee of rules, privileges and amendments and the committee on public works, highways and infrastructure of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon treated the core issues of Executive Order No. 1, Series of 2012 issued by the Mayor Helen de Castro which was based on Article III, section 32 of the Local Government Code of 1991 which speaks of general supervision.

    The executive order requires and enjoins all public infrastructure and other projects within the direct supervision of the local chief executive . . . especially those implemented in the barangays before acceptance should be inspected and evaluated first by the municipal government.

    It also created a project monitoring team tasked to recommend for the final acceptance of the project. The committees at the onset set the tone of clarification, distancing themselves from the perilous issues of politics and instead tasked the DILG Provincial Director, Dr. Ruben Baldeo, to explain the limitations of an executive in executing administrative laws.

    His explanation, doused cold water to the politically couched executive order.

    DILG Baldeo’s observations said, that “supervising officials merely see to it that the rules are followed, but by themselves do not lay down the rules, nor they have the discretion to modify or replace them”.further stating that “if the rules are not observed, they may order the work done or redone, but only to conform to such rules”, in effect interpreting for Mayor de Castro the intentions and applications of Article III, Section 32, which the town executive interpreted to suit a political need.

    Her executive order further laid down rules and regulations that limit the performance of the function of concerned barangay, in effect exercising control over the punong barangay which will limit the authority of the punong barangay.

    Baldeo’s likewise zeroed in the creation of the executive order of a project monitoring team which he opined runs counter with the DILG MC 2004-78, subject of which is the organization/reactivation of project monitoring teams in the local government units, for it does not conform with the mandatory membership as provided for in the circular.

    The circular has a mandatory membership for a project monitoring team that includes the DILG official assigned in the locality, two NGO or PO’s representative and four members to be appointed by the local chief executive from among five nominees of the local development council.

    De Castro’s monitoring team came from the municipal engineering office.

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