The barangay was the Filipino's earliest form of government. It was an independent settlement consisting of thirty to one hundred families usually situated along a river bank or at the mouth of a river spilling out to the sea. The term barangay was derived from the Malay word barangay or balangay, which means sailboat. The barangays were used to transport the early Filipinos and their cargoes to the various sections of the Philippine archipelago. Each barangay was ruled by a datu or village chief who was also known as raha or rajah who had wide powers for exercised all the functions of the government – he has the executive, the legislator, and the judge. It was the prime duty of the chief to administer his subjects and to promote their welfare and interests. The subjects served their chief during wars and voyages and helped him in the tilling and sowing of the land and in the construction of his house. They gave tributes to their chieftain called buwis, usually in the form of crops. In matters of succession in the vent of the datu's death, the first son usually succeeded him. If the first son died without leaving an heir, the second son succeeded as datu. In the absence of any male heir, the eldest daughter could become a chieftain. This clearly indicates that women's rights and abilities were recognized during pre-Spanish times. If a datu died without any heir, the people of the barangay choose a man to become the new chieftain on the basis of his wisdom, wealth and physical strength.
Barangay Elections in the Philippines can be traced to the American Colonialization during the 1990s. During the Spanish Colonialization in the Philippines from 1521 to 1898, each barangay were led and governed by a Cabeza de Barangay. However, the office of the Cabeza de Barangay was not elected but hereditary. When the Americans took over the Philippines, they changed the form of government from monarchy to democracy. In this government structure, anyone can be...
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