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A barangay (Filipino: baranggay, ), also known by its former Spanish adopted name, the barrio, is the smallest administrative division in the Philippinesmarker and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward. Barangays are further subdivided into smaller areas called Puroks (English: Zone). A sitio is a territorial enclave inside a barangay, especially in rural areas. Municipalities and cities are composed of barangays. In place names barangay is sometimes abbreviated as "Brgy." or "Bgy.". As of December 31, 2006 there are a total of 41,995 barangays throughout the Philippines.


When the first Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, they found the Filipinos having a civilization of their own and living in well-organized independent villages called barangays. The name barangay originated from balangay, a Malay word meaning "sailboat".ISBN 9716420714, ISBN 9789716420715, citing

^ ISBN 9715503470, ISBN 9789715503471.

The term barangay was adopted and barangay structure defined in the modern context during the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, replacing the old barrios and municipal councils. The barangays were eventually codified under the 1991 Local Government Code.

Historically, a barangay is a relatively small community of around 50 to 100 families. Most villages have only thirty to one hundred houses and the population varies from one hundred to five hundred persons. According to Legazpi, he found communities with twenty to thirty people only. Many coastal villages in the Visayanmarker region consisted of no more than eight to ten houses. The word itself is derived from an ancient Malayo-Polynesian boat called a balangay. It is commonly believed that in pre-colonial Philippines, each original coastal “barangay” formed as a result of settlers arriving by boat from other places in Southeast Asia.

Most were coastal or riverine in nature. This is because the principal sources of protein come from the seas and rivers, most of the people relying more on fishing for supply of food. Also, people travelled mostly by water. The movement of the population was up and down rivers and along the coasts, trails always followed river systems. Rivers were also a major source of water for bathing, washing, and drinking. Moreover, the coastal villages were more accessible to early traders where economic activity developed. Business with traders meant contact with other cultures and civilizations such as the Chinese, Indian, and Arabian. Thus, the coastal communities of Manilamarker, Iloilomarker and Panaymarker, Cebumarker, Jolomarker, and Butuanmarker developed more cosmopolitan cultures.

Upon the arrival of the Spanish, several ancient barangays were combined to form towns. Every barangay within a town was headed by the cabeza de barangay (barangay chief), who formed part of the elite ruling class of the municipalities of the Spanish Philippines. The post was at first inherited from the first datus who became cabezas de barangay, but then was made into an elected post after the Spanish regime. The primary job of the cabeza de barangay was to collect taxes (called tribute) from the residents.

When the American arrived, the term barrio went into prominence, as the barangays were called by that name. The term was kept for much of the twentieth century until President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the renaming of barrios back to barangays. The name has stuck ever since, though some people still use the old term. The Municipal Council was abolished upon transfer of powers to the barangay system.Marcos used to call the barangay part of Philippine participatory democracy. Most of his writings involving the New Society which he envisioned, praised the role of baranganic democracy in nation-building.

After the EDSA Revolution and the drafting of the 1987 Constitution, the Municipal Council was restored, making the barangay the smallest unit of government in Philippine politics.

The modern barangay is headed by an elected official, the Punong Barangay (barangay chief/captain), who is aided by sangguniang barangay members (barangay 'kagawads' or counselors), also elected. Barangay elections are typically hotly contested.

The barangay is governed from the barangay hall. A barangay tanod (watchman) forms policing functions within the barangay. The number of barangay tanods differ from one barangay to another; they help maintain law and order in the neighborhoods throughout the Philippines. Elections for the post of Punong Barangay and barangay kagawads are usually held every three years, unless suspended or postponed by Congress.

Political Structure

A barangay is led and governed by its barangay officials. The "barangay officials" is considered as a Local Government Unit (LGU) same as the Provincial and the Municipal Government. It is composed of a Punong Barangay, seven (7) Barangay Counselors or Barangay Kagawad, and a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairman which is considered as a member of the Council. Thus, there are eight (8) members of the Legislative Council in a barangay. Each member has its own respective committee where they are Chairmen of those committees. The Committees are the following: (1) Peace and Order Committee, (2) Appropriations, Finance and Ways and Means Committee, (3) Education Committee, (4) Health Committee, (5) Agriculture Committee, (6) Tourism Committee, (7) Infrastructure Committee, and (8) Youth and Sports Committee. There are three (3) appointed members of each committee. The Barangay Justice System is composed of members commonly known as "Lupon Tagapamayapa" which function to conciliate and mediate disputes at the Barangay level so as to avoid legal action and relieve the courts of docket congestion.

Other Uses

  • There exists a union of barangays in the Philippines: the Liga ng mga Barangay (English: League of Barangays), more commonly referred to by its previous name, Association of Barangay Captains (ABC). Representing all 41,995 barangays, it is the largest grassroots organization in the Philippines. Its current president is Rico Judge "RJ" Echiverri, son of current Caloocan Citymarker Mayor Enrico Echiverri.

  • The term "barangay" may also refer to a very large number or group of people. An example is the name given to the supporters of the Ginebra San Miguel basketball team, Barangay Ginebra. In 1999, the team was renamed Barangay Ginebra Kings in homage to its fans.

See also


  • Constantino, Renato. (1975) The Philippines: A Past Revisited (volume 1). ISBN 971-8958-00-2
  • Mamuel Merino, O.S.A., ed., Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas (1565-1615), Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1975.


  1. Philippine Standard Geographic Code Summary. Accessed on March 22, 2007.
  2. During the early part of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines the Spanish Augustinian Friar, Gaspar de San Agustín, O.S.A., describes Iloilo and Panay as one of the most populated islands in the archipelago and the most fertile of all the islands of the Philippines. He also talks about Iloilo, particularly the ancient settlement of Halaur, as site of a progressive trading post and a court of illustrious nobilities. The friar says: Es la isla de Panay muy parecida a la de Sicilia, así por su forma triangular come por su fertilidad y abundancia de bastimentos... Es la isla más poblada, después de Manila y Mindanao, y una de las mayores, por bojear más de cien leguas. En fertilidad y abundancia es en todas la primera... El otro corre al oeste con el nombre de Alaguer [Halaur], desembocando en el mar a dos leguas de distancia de Dumangas...Es el pueblo muy hermoso, ameno y muy lleno de palmares de cocos. Antiguamente era el emporio y corte de la más lucida nobleza de toda aquella isla...Mamuel Merino, O.S.A., ed., Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas (1565-1615), Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1975, pp. 374-376.
  3. See Principalía
  4. Presidential Decree No. 1508, 11 June, 1978, ChanRobles Law library.

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