A. Barangays

A. Barangays.

One must first disabuse one’s present-day mindset about the barangay.  The barangay we have today, even its name, is a Marcos creation, amending as he did the previous name barrio. But the original barangay, which the Spanish colonizers had adapted, was a group of persons formed for the purpose of tax/tribute collection.  This barangay was not defined by territorial limits, and so a single cabeza de barangay may have jurisdiction over individuals who resided in different places. Likewise, one place may have many cabezas over its residents and, obviously, could be said to have as many barangays therein.  Again, the old barangay was not a single place but a group of persons.

An example to illustrate this point would be the question: “Kang kinsa kang barangay?” (To whose barangay do you belong?). Not “taga-diin kang barangay?” (In what barangay do you live?).

Anyway, many of our present-day barangays started only as a locality or a settlement of a group of people—the term village is often used. Again, they were not called barangays then, not even barrios yet. They were just inhabited places or settlements (lugar de Bolinauan, lugar de Sangat, lugar de Cogon, etc.) in the town. But later on, probably in the 1840s, or a little earlier, some “lugar” also came to be referred to as barrios (barrio de Bacsiji, de Daanglungsod, etc.). But even then, it seemed these  barrios still had no administrative functions, and it was still the cabezas de barangay who held the authority, but not one cabeza, one barrio (see first paragraph).

And then, around the 1870s church records showed that barangays were now numbered. Maybe the numbering was already some sort of geographical subdivision also, and thus the cabeza would not have to go from one end of Carcar to the other to fulfill his duties and his “area” was now just a neighborhood. There were 60-plus barangays of that period that grew to more than a hundred (maybe 200) barangays by 1880s, and that meant that the barangay then was much smaller in area than the 15 we have at present, and thus they would have been easier to administer, not only in area but more so in accessibility for the cabezas.

I have seen records of other parishes in Cebu and they too had numbered barangays, maybe around the same period, too.

And also some time after that, probably late in the Spanish era and towards the American, the Barrio was established by incorporating a contiguous group of these barangays into one (consequently also, the composite places came to be called sitios).  This barrio now, as an administrative subdivision, had a territorial character and its headman, the teniente del barrio, was leader over the entire territory. Very much what we have today.

But to the names. Sometimes, the new barrio took the name of the biggest of the places (which also became its center, although that became very much a function of community politics) but sometimes, too, as we shall see, an entirely new name was given to this new territory, this new barrio.



  1. Very nice info.

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