Monday, October 25, 2010

Cabeza De Barangay | First Part

Even in the old days, the Cabeza de Barangay was already the chief of the smallest political unit of the land. The office was inherited from the first datus who ruled the islands long before the Spanish came.  His Majesty, King Felipe II decreed that the native nobility should retain the honors and privileges they enjoyed before their lands became the crown's subjects.  It was a bold move to swiftly colonize the country and to ensure the allegiance of the tribal leaders; to keep them from turning against their new masters.

The Cabeza de Barangay was a hereditary position. When the office of a cabeza fell vacant because of resignation, or lack of an heir, a new appointee was chosen.   The Gobernadorcillo and the other cabezas choose among their bloodline a new representative.   Sometimes, they gobble up the the land ruled by a fallen cabeza to expand their own realm.

The patronage politics ebbed and flowed for eons until the arrival of the Americans.  The barangay became known as the barrio and the cabeza lost its power and prestige when the post became an elective position.

Finally, anyone could be a village leader.

Her victory became less and less assured as the days went by. The Barangay Elections was just around the corner and support for her leadership waned as entire households switched allegiance. Blame the talebearers for much of the gossip and character assassination, but when one of the kagawads challenged her position, the exercise in suffrage became interesting in this part of Sampaloc.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the district, a family friend announced her intention to run for office. Joining her slate is another family friend who, in the long years of active presence in the community, merely stayed in the curb. The death of the incumbent leader triggered a power vacuum. Without a captain who would support the goals of the old homeowners' association, the family friend was told to challenge the kagawad chosen to take the cudgels of leadership from the fallen champion.

These were the two faces of the Barangay Elections witnessed and followed by the household today. In her desire to make things right, my mother's ex-favorite civic activity was to summon a meeting discussing the affairs of the compound.  Dubbed as "driveway politics," by pundits and scholars alike, the issue centers around the complex and intricate concept known in legalese terms as "right of way" of the driveway.

The matriarch always complained about the neighbor two doors away of putting things at the driveway entrance.  This blocks our passage, as well as the passage of other tenants. The issue almost sparked a family feud involving authorities and hired goons.  The Barangay stepped in to mediate the issue. To appease my mother, the Kapitana involved her in civic activities.  Her responsibilities now include the entire community.  Distracted, an uneasy peace has settled in our compound. With the death of the other household's matriarch, (Mrs. T, Fullmetal Dreams) and the spiral of the challenger family into a sort of civil war, we would go unchallenged for the next two years.

However, my mom's close association with the Kapitana has drawn us into the trouble ridden world of Barangay life. Gone are the petty issues of driveway politics. You can say that the mudra wielded a little influence in the neighborhood. And when the time for solicitations came, the kapitana  personally sought our commitment to vote for her in the coming elections.

Pronouncements of allegiance was easy to say. But in truth, my mom is registered in our other address where the family friends and her closest confidants have decided to cast their lot in the Barangay elections.



red the mod said...

Then, it was cultural assimilation. Now, its welcoming the fold. Then, it was the cusp of cooperation, now its the proof of loyalty. Then it was engaging obedience, now its pacifying the troubled.

There is strength in the proletariat, not because of our numbers, but because of our willingness to take action.

claudiopoi said...

Politics is always complicated. And even when we like to think that it is there to guarantee order and a certain semblance of peace, realpolitik shows us that the ideal is often thwarted by the baseness of man's innate savagery, selfishness, and his propensity for abuse of power.

Magulo talaga ang pulitika, pero kelangang may idealismo pa din, kasi pag nawala yun, anu nalang ang matitira sa atin diba?

Kaepalan ko lang :)

Louie said...

This reminds me of a "ninong" who served as a barangay captain for two terms in our town in Bulacan. He scared the hell out of the barangay by threats of killing their entire families, vote buying, voters disenfranchisement and even ambushing his political rivals for the sake of getting a political position. He was known as a madman in town often featured in national news for killing this and that just to satisfy his trip. Since dad is a kumpare and I am an "inaanak", we pledged to vote for him but never voted in reality.

His weak state cost him a third term and died after a year of losing the elections. Guess, people got tired of all his antics and crimes. May he rest in peace...

Mac Callister said...

hope peaceful ang barangay elections sa inyo,napanood ko kanina sa tv,grabe ang gulo sa karamihang lugar!

Ms. Chuniverse said...

Unfortunately, hindi ako bumoto this Baranggay election.

We have 2 candidates lang kasi eh.

Isang incumbent na uber stupid. pramis. sobra.

at isang former bgy. captain na uber corrupt.

kaya i am preparing myself.

3 years from now, ako na ang cabeza de branggay.


P I L Y O said...

papa joms next barangay election, maglaban kang Cabeza, ako bahala sa campaign paraphernalias.