Unexpected pagbabago in Balibago
Let’s talk about Balibago, the village that never sleeps. It’s the heart of the entertainment district of Angeles City where people come to get some delicious food, some good laughs with family and friends, or to just simply have a great time. I also grew up from this barangay, and yes… I also have a multi-coloured neighbourhood. Many leaders have fought to get a seat to govern this huge barrio – the Pabalans, Flores, Bonifacios, and the current chief, Rodelio Mamac.
This strategic location has been called Balibago which was named after a tree that was abundant in the area during the Spanish era. One of the first settlers of this village was Captain Aniceto Gueco and his family. When other folks got enticed by the potential of this 160-hectare flat land, other pioneer families started to reside in the said barrio. Families of De Guzman, Pa b a l a n , Enriquez, and Datu were among the first families to live in this village which was later declared as a barangay during the time of Captain Pacito Pabalan in 1972.
When the Americans built the Clark Air Base, they placed its main entrance in Balibago where the “Salakot” landmark was originally erected as the main gateway to the foreign military base. With this development, barangay Balibago began to grow dramatically. It invited people to invest and reside in this area as many subdivisions developed, among which are Sta. Maria, Mt. View, Diamond and Manuela Compound.
It has been a notion from the locals here that managing Balibago is like governing a municipality, citing the huge revenue and population. This is why many Angeleños say: “manyaman maging kapitan keng Balibago.” But is there truth to this saying? It might be for some… especially to those who has no plan to exercise his or her executive role if given the mandate. But for me, a barangay captain is a pain in the spot where the sun doesn’t shine. I mean, it’s like being a mayor of a small community. He or she has to deal with the business sector, the traffic sector, the environmental sector, the students, the youth, the seniors, the LGBT, the women, the peace and order situation, the noisy mufflers, the videoke-addict neighbors, the husbands and the wives, among others.
Do you know that feeling of opening up a sari-sari store where you also sell ice for one peso, and while having your much needed siesta in the afternoon, some kid will knock on your store to buy just only one ice? For me, that is how I see the daily life of a village chief – there is no rest.
At the second half of the year, two interesting news circled around the city concerning Balibago. First was about the senior politician Tarzan Lazatin, the former congressman and mayor, who showed interest in running as captain of Balibago in the next barangay election.
But not long after, Councilor Edu Pamintuan, the son of City Mayor Ed Pamintuan, registered in Balibago at the local COMELEC office after the mayor delivered his State Of The City Address for 2016. The young Pamintuan has legit roots in Balibago. His mother, Herminia “Miniang” Pamintuan is an original De Guzman of the said barangay. Edu has received a lot of love from his kabalens in the past as he got elected three times as city councilor since 2010. If the two politicians will pursue to run head-to-head for Balibago in the next poll, this will definitely become one of the most interesting matchup in barangay election history in Angeles City.
I HAVE this nagging and irritating feeling that our progressive neighbors in Asia, not to mention of course the already rich countries of Europe and North America, are feeling sorry for us and treat us with condescension. That’s because we lack self-respect in that we are constantly begging for aid from them.
Locally our mendicant culture (that’s what it is, right?) works this way. Instead of providing structures for an equitable distribution of the benefits of the country’s resources, our politicians prefer to appease the excluded poor with dole outs.
In foreign relations, politicians seek foreign aid to replace the money they steal from the government and which they use to buy re-election plus a comfortable life for their families. But with all of that foreign aid why are we not self-reliant yet?