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Pre-Colonial Barangay Bias

It is seldom discussed in Philippine history that in pre-colonial times, a barangay or allegiance to a datu is not necessarily geographical. The contemporary Filipino would often think that the barangays in the 16th century and before that were pretty much the same as the ones that we have now and the colonial barrios; that the villages are the same, and the only difference would be the datus were in place of the punong barangays or the chairmen or the capitans or the cabezas. Early accounts tell that the citizens’ relationship to a datu is more of partisan affiliation and not of geographical residence. A barangay member becomes so because of his adherence to a particular datu, not because he lives in Barangay Haring (for example). One becomes a part of a particular barangay because of his loyalty to a particular datu. So imagine, people of the same barangay don’t necessarily have to be residential neighbors. Pre-Hispanic intrusion inhabitants of what we now refer to as the Philippines, could have their domiciles adjacent to each other; but submit to different datus. Baltog could be under Datu Migs; while his neighbor, Handiong could belong to Datu Nonoy’s barangay. Bantong could yield to Datu Nelson, while just a stone’s throw away, Dinahong could be rooting for Datu Tato. Okay, I take it back, maybe it’s not so different from the present day “barangay” after all.

So, I guess in this setup, it would make sense if the albularyo of Barangay Baras would not offer his services to sick baby of parents from Barangay Dinaga. I guess, their barangay has their own healer. I guess, that’s just fair, isn’t it? I suppose, if a barangay associate has some difficulty, it would be just reasonable for him to run to his datu. After all, that’s his datu and that’s his barangay. It would be quite unfair, not to mention, ridiculous for petitioners to expect welfare from the datu of the barangay across the river, whom he did not support in the recent tribal war. I suppose, although members of different barangays would be spread across the land, they should be huddling each other for mutual assistance. Why should a villager of Barangay Pangpang be defended by a warrior of Barangay Talidtid? That would be simply unethical. People of different barangays shouldn’t mix; well, unless their datus enter into some coalition or confederation. But without that, they would be different barangays, and an ailing baby could not expect any help from the other barangay.

I remember this particular event when a certain local government agency would distribute free foodstuffs to school children. For a kid, that would be quite a treat – standing in line and waiting for some delicious treat.

The OIc deemed it right to dispense the food packs exclusively to residents of a certain town, and skip the children who are not residents of the place the agency represents. Okay, imagine this. I’m a youngster in this orderly formation of peers. Some of my classmates get some bread and juice. I see some who don’t get any. The kid next to me gets his share. It’s my turn; but instead the distribution skips and goes to the kid behind me. (Whisky Tango Foxtrot!) Yeah, sure; it’s not life threatening; but sometimes, adults are oblivious to long lasting psychological effects. The agency head confidently explained it off that the other government units have funds for their constituents/voters. (If you’re from another barangay, go to your datu.) So, the headmaster and tutors of this group of children decide not to acquire of this aid altogether; to avoid any such acumen. I suppose that hospital was following the same barangay logic. So what do we do? Build walls like what Trump wants?

I’m trying to understand the predicament of these government agency officials. Maybe they’re just acting on orders brought down by their superiors. In turn, I’ll extend the understanding to the superiors who want to make sure that voters get their due benefits; and these doles don’t faal on the hands of people who did not support in instituting the present office. For the sake of argument, let’s take that as something acceptable. So, why don’t all the datus in this side of the island consolidate their booty so that their albularyos don’t have to make distinction among who votes for whom. Oh, I forgot, that could not be. The datus war against each other. So, these are all tricklings down from conflict in the confederation of barangay bureaucrats. So, why don’t we break down those walls? But I guess, some things don’t change.

“I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.””

Ecclesiastes 3:17

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