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September 21, 1974, the Barrio was Renamed Back to Barangay through PD No. 557

Presidential Decree No. 557, was signed by President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, on September 21, 1974. P.D. 557 declared Barrios all over the country as Barangays, reviving the name which existed as the basic political unit of our forebears even before the arrival of the Spaniards, until its renaming by the Americans in the 19th century, to the Barrio.

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The name Barangay originated from balangay, a Malay word meaning “sailboat”. It originally meant a group of boats and their passengers that came to the pre-Spanish Philippines. Each boat is loaded with family and friends and their slaves, headed by the “Datu”. Later on Barangay came to mean a village inhabited by these settlers. The first Barangays started as relatively small communities of around 50 to 100 families.

Most of the ancient Barangays were coastal or near river banks. This is because most of the people were relying on fishing for supply of food. They also traveled 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.

In 1582, as part of Spanish colonization, a plan called “reduccion,” from the word reducir, which means “to resettle,” was presented by the Franciscan Fr. Juan de Plasencia to the Synod of Manila. The reduccion moved the native population (Balangays) and important religious and government institutions to a resettlement that centers around an open space called a plaza and within the hearing distance of the church bell (bajo de la campana).

The reduccion system served as civilizing device to easily track the natives’ whereabouts from birth to death. It also facilitated the imposition of tax or tribute. This settlement which was also called poblacion or the barangay in which the church was located, and the distant barangays make up the town or pueblo with the plaza as the center of daily public affairs.

Barrio is a Spanish word meaning neighborhood. In Spain and several Latin American countries, the term is also used officially to denote a division of a municipality. 

The Americans used Barrio during its occupation of the Philippines until this decree by President Marcos in 1974.

Presidential Decree No. 557, s. 1974



WHEREAS, the Barangay was the basic political unit existing in the Philippines before the arrival of the Spaniards;
WHEREAS, it was through the Barangays that our forebears consulted on matters of community interests;

WHEREAS, the revival of the Barangays under Presidential Decree No. 86 has contributed considerably in awakening the interest of our people and broadening their participation in government affairs, the conduct of their officials, and other matters of public interest;

WHEREAS, the term “barrio” is of foreign origin and consequently there have been various representations from the Barangays all over the country to declare all barrios as Barangays:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me vested by the Constitution, do hereby decree and order the following:

Section 1. Any provision of existing laws to the contrary notwithstanding, all existing barrios or barrios that may hereafter be created are hereby declared as Barangays and all references to the barrio in any existing laws shall henceforth be understood as references to the Barangay: Provided, however, That in the case of the City of Manila and other chartered cities where there are no barrios, all existing Barangays therein created under Presidential Decree No. 86, as amended, shall continue as such Barangays.

Section 2. Republic Act No. 3590, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Barrio Charter, is hereby adopted as the Barangay Charter.

Section 3. All powers and rights vested in or exercised by the barrio assembly, barrio council and all barrio officials pursuant to Republic Act No. 3590, and such other powers and rights, appertaining to or conferred upon them by other laws, shall henceforth be exercised by the Barangay Assembly, Barangay Council and Barangay officials, and all duties and responsibilities vested in or conferred upon them by existing laws shall likewise be performed by the Barangay assemblies, Barangay councils, and Barangay officials.

Section 4. The officials of the barrio as constituted pursuant to Republic Act No. 3590 shall now be known as Barangay Captain, Barangay Councilman, Barangay Secretary and Barangay Treasurer.

Section 5. This Decree shall take effect immediately upon approval.
DONE in the City of Manila, this 21st day of September, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-four.

President of the Philippines
By the President:
Acting Executive Secretary

Source: Malacañang Records Office


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