I was thinking what would be the best model village/barangay in the country to live in, and although I have limited experience of actually living in nice places, I narrowed my choices down to Bonifacio Global City or Salcedo Village.
BGC is a popular choice because it is a newer and supposedly master-planned area, where a lot of effort was poured into making it more liveable than most Philippine communities. Due to the way it is being marketed, it is the place most Filipinos think about when they imagine living in a modern and well-planned community, although the cost of living is quite high due to the lack of cheaper options and public transport.
The other contender is Makati’s Salcedo Village, which is older than BCG, so the community seems to be less planned, which isn’t actually a bad thing as its development feels more organic. Like BGC, it also has a nice mix of residential, office and commercial spaces, and the barangay seems to be a particularly well run and also feels safe. I’m not being particular fair in this comparison, as I have stayed in Salcedo Village more times, while on vacation with family, compared to BGC, but I like staying in the former better as because it feels more homey and is a little bit less pretentious.
Both of these barangays/communities are close to the gold standard in the country, so they are expected to be much better than where I live in Silay City, or any Bacolod barangay for that matter. But, as I pondered which among them would be the better choice to live in, if I had a choice, it dawned on me that these places were better than most other barangays not because of their location or sheer luck, but ultimately because of the way they were run.
So instead of wondering why I should choose between BGC and Salcedo Village, I started to wonder why they could do it and other barangays in the Philippines cannot. Is it because they are “richer” due to their status as giant business centers? Or do they just have better quality barangay officials? Is there any way my current barangay in Silay City can be as progressive as theirs?
Because if I come to think of it, most of the things I like about Salcedo Village or BGC can be emulated and scaled down by Silay or Bacolod barangays if our local officials really wanted to, giving us a comparative quality of living, instead of being forever doomed in mediocrity.
One thing I admire about those 2 villages, which should be easily copied and implemented by any barangay in the country, is how they regulate on street parking. People there know that they simply cannot park anywhere they damn please because the local officials have been consistently laying down the law for years.
Another thing I get jealous of are their nice parks and public spaces. We simply don’t have any of that because our local officials probably don’t think it is important. I’m not looking for a fancy children’s playground or manicured gardens, but any substantially green, safe and clean public space would be a nice thing to have in our barangays.
The general feeling of being safe, along with consistently good lighting at night time is also a low hanging fruit that should be pickable for most barangays of this country. Why is it we can’t seem to have something as simple as that? What is so difficult about running a barangay that makes the gap between the best ones and the average ones so wide?
Communities that are admirably run are certainly doing more than just the basics to get their villages to that high level, and then sustain that degree of excellence. I don’t know who should be held responsible, the leaders that are in charge, or the voters that put them there. That is something we should figure out soon because if it turns out we can have barangays run like Salcedo Village or BGC, without having to change anything on the national level, which is infinitely more difficult to turn around, then there might be hope for our own barangays, which is something we can certainly affect if we put enough effort into it.
Those of us who live in the basic barangay where seeing the basic services being delivered consistently is already an achievement, we can either dream of living in a community where the leaders and public servants are actually making things better instead of just being happy with nothing bad happening, or we can find ways to make it happen. Perhaps those of us who are already in a position of influence in our communities should start leaning on our barangay officials a bit more, because, as the above-mentioned villages have demonstrated, there are areas in this country that can be more liveable if the right leaders and residents are willing to do the work.*