Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cabeza De Barangay | Last Part





because some stories deserve an ending.






We never ventured out of the driveway since moving here over a decade ago. The complexities of "driveway politics" kept us grounded within the confines of our apartment. When my dad was still alive, his aggressive posturing kept homeowner relationships in-check. The owner of the first house never dared to encroach into the driveway.

But we knew what was happening outside the compound. An amphetamine market was thriving, akyat-bahays leaped from one house to another, the barangay hall literally served as the second house of the captain, the neighborhood was in disarray. Even the baranagay patrol car was left at the mercy of the elements. I vividly recall seeing wet clothes left to dry inside the vehicle.

These abuses were too glaring not to be noticed. But opposition was too broken to make a unified stand against the leadership.  Think of the past presidency as our neighborhood.  When barangay elections was held three years ago, several small hood groups fielded a candidate to run against the incumbent.

We were not yet acquainted with local politics, but we knew the Kapitana had won. Not even her face was known to us, but it doesn't matter. As long as the barangay patrol car is working, the hood is in good hands.

The sweeping changes happened overnight. Gates were erected in some passageways to limit the access to the barangay at night.  The open portion was heavily guarded by kagawads. This resulted in a drop of robbery incidents at night. Loudspeakers were also installed in strategic corners of the neighborhood. I sometimes walk by these streets hearing announcements mostly benefiting the squatters living in the neighborhood.

I do not know what happens behind the scenes, but such garnishments was enough for people to believe that something is working. It was when the barangay tied-up with my mom's university for social projects that we finally became involved.



In politics, allegiances shift all the time.

The people who used to profess loyalty switch sides depending on one's interests. It is human nature, me thinks, and it breaks not a few industrial-strength bonds. Three years have passed and the Kapitana had lost quite a lot of men. Perhaps it is in her style of leadership. Maybe she doesn't subscribe to patronage politics. We still don't know much about the things happening beyond the driveway, but when she personally asked for our support, we realized that our interests side with those of the Kapitana.

Despite not getting sleep, I went to the precint to cast my vote when the polls opened that morning. Some candidates and their families were lining down the street to send their well-wishes to the voters.

"Huwag niyo po akong kakalimutan," one aspiring councilor said.

"Tanggal ka sa balota ko, kung sino ka man," I said to myself.

Even a distant uncle who lives in the neighborhood gave me his flier.

"Boto mo lahat ito, pero ito tanggalin mo." He crossed out the name of the Barangay Captain.

"Ito ang ilagay mo." He wrote down the barangay captain of another party. Permanent interests indeed.

The day went by unnoticed. I slept. I accompanied my mom to another polling station. I went to the gym with my future baabaa and then returned home to learn the fates of the aspiring leaders.

"Eleven votes lang ang lamang!" One of our neighbors said.

"Yung iba kasi, no-read no-write, nilagay yung pangalan sa pagka-konsehal kesa sa pagka-kapitan kaya natalo."

Congratulations were in order and my mom was among the choruses who sent their good-tidings to the re-elected Kapitana. Several weeks later, I saw her alone, and having a meeting with my mother. They were at the sala discussing future tie-ups between my mom's university and the barangay.

Between official correspondence, the Kapitana shared what really took place during the elections.  Betrayals and shifting loyalties almost tore the party she lead: A councilor peddled his name to two parties, an entire neighborhood dropped their representative who belong to her party to support someone from another street. 

What won her another term was her decision not to leave anyone behind.

"Alam mo ba, yung mga tiga-creek ang talagang nag-solid sa akin," These were the squatters who benefited from her programs. To think that she belongs to the middle class, the bulk of her constituents, her feat was remarkable.



Life went on after elections. A month after votes were cast, rifts began to mend. Mareng Holly resumes managing her sari-sari store. Mareng Ditas meanwhile has returned to church service. As far as I know, their relationship with the flamboyant Barangay Chairman is at all time high.

At the home front, a free medical mission took place a few weeks ago. Heard it was a success. When I passed by the last remaining ungated street last night, I noticed that construction work has once again resumed.

The barangay will be fully enclosed and protected from outsiders before the year ends.




4 comments:

claudiopoi said...

wow, it's amazing how the barangay elections can be the perfect microcosm of society-at-large.

the personalities and the scope of influence may change, but the political interplay of forces and dominion are ever constant.

that's why i love political science. and that's why because i love it so much, i spent 9 years learning it. :D

Mu[g]en said...

Claudiopoi:

In sociology, they say the family is the reflection of the society. The power struggles, the hierarchy, the interrelationships between members speaks a lot. Same with the barangay, the family plays a huge part in maintaining the balance of power.

At talagang nag-enjoy ka nga sa course mo. What took us 4 years to complete, you finished in almost a decade. Hahahaha!

claudiopoi said...

ai teka, peyups ka din ba?

haha :)) in the fair, four years naman akong nagwork sa 9-year time period na yan, kaya tachnically, 5 years lang ako sa kolehiyo. haha.

teka nga, UP ka din? favorite ko si caoili dati. haha :p

Mu[g]en said...

ClaudioPoi:

Nope, UsTe ako saka Journ natapos ko. Though PeYups ako ngayon. Hehehe, sa pagsusulat pa rin ang inaaral ko. Hehehe.