When the first Spaniards arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century, they found well-organized independent villages called barangays. The name barangay originated from balangay, a Malay word meaning "sailboat".
The first barangays started as relatively small communities of around 50 to 100 families. By the time of contact with Spaniards, many barangays have developed into large communities. The encomienda of 1604 shows that many affluent and powerful coastal barangays in Sulu, Butuan, Panay, Leyte and Cebu, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Pasig, Laguna, and Cagayan River were flourishing trading centers. Some of these barangays had large populations. In Panay, some barangays had 20,000 inhabitants; in Leyte (Baybay), 15,000 inhabitants; in Cebu, 3,500 residents; in Vitis (Pampanga), 7,000 inhabitants; Pangasinan, 4,000 residents. There were smaller barangays with less number of people. But these were generally inland communities; or if they were coastal, they were not located in areas which were good for business pursuits. These smaller barangays had around thirty to one hundred houses only, and the population varies from one hundred to five hundred persons. According to Legazpi, he found communities with twenty to thirty people only.
Traditionally, the original “barangays” were coastal settlements of the migration of these Malayo-Polynesian people (who came to the archipelago) from other places in Southeast Asia (see chiefdom). Most of the ancient barangays were coastal or riverine in nature. This is because most of the people were relying on fishing for supply of protein and for their livelihood. They also travelled mostly by water up and down rivers, and along the coasts. Trails always followed river systems, which were also a major source of water for bathing, washing, and drinking.
The coastal barangays were more accessible to trade with foreigners. These were ideal places for economic activity to develop. Business with traders from other Countries also meant contact with other cultures and civilizations, such as those of Japan, Han Chinese, Indian people, and Arab people. These coastal communities acquired more cosmopolitan cultures, with developed social structures (sovereign principalities), ruled by established royalties and nobilities.
During the Spanish rule, smaller barangays were combined to form towns. Each barangay was headed by the cabeza de barangay (barangay chief), who formed part of the Principalía - the elite ruling class of the municipalities of the Spanish Philippines. This position was inherited from the first datus, and came to be known as such during the Spanish regime. The Spanish Monarch ruled each barangay through the Cabeza, who also collected taxes (called tribute) from the residents for the Spanish Crown.
When the Americans arrived, "slight changes in the structure of local government was effected". Latter, Rural Councils with four councillors were created to assist now renamed Barrio Lieutenant; it was later renamed Barrio Council, and then Barangay Council.
The Spanish term barrio (abbv. "Bo.") was used for much of the 20th century until President Ferdinand Marcos ordered their renaming to barangays in the 1970s. The name survived the 1986 EDSA Revolution, though older people would still use the term barrio. The Municipal Council was abolished upon transfer of powers to the barangay system. Marcos used to call the barangay part of Philippine participatory democracy, and most of his writings involving the New Society praised the role of baranganic democracy in nation-building.
After the 1986 EDSA Revolution and the drafting of the 1987 Constitution, the Municipal Council was restored, making the barangay the smallest unit of Philippine government.
The modern barangay is headed by elected officials, the topmost being the Punong Barangay (addressed as Kapitan; also known as the Barangay Captain). The Kapitan is aided by the Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council) whose members, called Barangay Kagawad ("Councilors"), are also elected.
The council is considered to be a Local Government Unit (LGU), similar to the Provincial and the Municipal Government. The officials that make up the council are the Punong Barangay, seven Barangay Councilors, and the chairman of Youth Council or Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). Thus, there are eight (8) members of the Legislative Council in a barangay.
Barangay elections are non-partisan and are typically hotly contested. Barangay Captain are elected by first-past-the-post plurality (no runoff voting). Councilors are elected by plurality-at-large voting with the entire barangay as a single at-large district. Each voter can vote up to seven candidates for councilor, with the winners being the seven candidates with the most number of votes. Typically, a ticket usually consists of one candidate for Barangay Captain and seven candidates for the Councilors. Elections for the post of Punong Barangay and barangay kagawads are usually held every three years starting from 2007.
A tanod, or barangay police officer, is an unarmed watchman who fulfills 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.
Funding for the barangay comes from their share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) with a portion of the allotment set aside for the Sangguniang Kabataan. The exact amount of money is determined by a formula combining the barangay's population and land area.
Here is table showing the number of provinces, municipalities, cities, and barangays in Philippines.
Local government hierarchy. The dashed lines emanating from the president means that the President only exercises general supervision on local government.
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, the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC). Representing all 41,995 barangays, it is the largest grassroots organization in the Philippines.
The term "barangay" may also colloquially refer to a large group of people. An example is Barangay Ginebra, the name of supporters of the Ginebra San Miguel basketball team. In 1999, the team was renamed Barangay Ginebra Kings in homage to its fans.
Mamuel Merino, O.S.A., ed., Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas (1565–1615), Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1975.
^ Zaide, Sonia M. (1999), The Philippines: A Unique Nation, All-Nations Publishing, pp. 62, 420, ISBN 971-642-071-4, citing Plasencia, Fray Juan de (1589), Customs of the Tagalogs, Nagcarlan, Laguna
^ Junker, Laura Lee (2000), Raiding, Trading, and Feasting: The Political Economy of Philippine Chiefdoms, Ateneo de Manila University Press, pp. 74, 130, ISBN 978-971-550-347-1 ISBN 971-550-347-0, ISBN 978-971-550-347-1.
"Philippine Standard Geographic Codes". National Statistics Coordination Board. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
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.
Cf. F. Landa Jocano, Filipino Prehistory: Rediscovering Precolonial Heritage (1998), pp. 157-158, 164
Hisona, Harold (2010-07-14). "The Cultural Influences of India, China, Arabia, and Japan". Philippinealmanac.com. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
^ Zamora, Mario D. (1966). "Political Change and Tradition: The Case of Village Asia". In Karigoudar Ishwaran (Editor). International Studies in Sociology and Social Anthropology: Politics and Social Change. Leiden, the Netherlands: E.J. Brill. pp. 247–253. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
"The Barangay". Local Government Code of the Philippines. Chan Robles Law Library.
"Barangay Justice System (BJS), Philippines". ACCESS Facility. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)