PEOPLE who bother to think things out know that contrary to most perceptions, everything starts in the barangay or emanates from it, then ends in it. Every Filipino is born in it or in a hospital in it. He studies in a school in it. He works in some office or plant in it. And he is buried in a cemetery in it when he dies.  

Every official of every level of government comes from a barangay, urban or rural. He also resides in one, holds office in another, or operates out of still another barangay. The Times Street of P-Noy’s residence is in a barangay of Quezon City and his office in Malacañang is in another barangay, in San Miguel, Manila.  

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Urbanites tend to forget this, lumping themselves in some generality without details. Overlooking the centrality of the barangay in the life of every Filipino, they tend to belittle its existence and ignore the small things that are in it. They think in macro or grandiose terms û city, province, region, nation. So the barangay is lost in the shuffle.  

Yet their lives are intimately bound up with the barangay. Everything they do or plan to do isin some barangay or other. Only in a barangay is a building, a church, an event, or an institution physically found. Even an idea or a concept occurs to a person while he is in a barangay. No one can escape the framework of a barangay.    

If one finds himself in a lousy barangay and want something better, they’ll either go to another barangay or build one that is better-planned, better-looking, or better-managed. But it would still be in a barangay, even if it’s a fenced-in or gated part of it. It’s the little things, the little thoughts, the little joys, and the little acts in the barangay that make up the big things in society and the nation.  

Seeking big-time romance or adventure outside a barangay? You’d have to go to the high seas or abroad. Even then, it would still be in a village or district that corresponds to our barangay. And it would be fantastically beautiful, exciting, exotic.  

But back home, they won’t tend to their barangay and make it beautiful or exciting. It would make a difference if they give their barangay more than just a passing glance, just as people abroad tend to their barangay-size villages.  

The villages abroad weren’t always that beautiful or orderly. They planned and built each one so they would be like that. It’s what we need to do about our respective barangays. We should keep this mind now that elections in them are approaching. 

Manny is a former UN executive and director at the development academy of the Philippines. Email: