On the satisfaction survey of barangay services

happy with barangay services

Whoa! If this is the case, national and local media are from outer space. And all the talk about corruption, poverty, hunger, conflicts, political dynasties, disaster risk reduction, citizenship, low ratings concerning water and sanitation, ease of doing business, competitiveness, regional development, transparency, etc. are nonsense. And we’re all Alices seriously considering the blather of Mr. Mad Hatter.

But these things do not happen in outer space. These are happening, first, on the ground, in the barangays (villages) where people are and going about their lives.


The survey result is suggestive of the state of awareness of those surveyed. How?

Every business man or woman knows this by heart: that a luxury product, say, Vuitton, won’t sell in a location where people living there or nearby are earning not more than USD2 daily. Unless the LV store is intended as a museum with free passage, yes it could happen. Similarly, in a barangay where residents have always thrown their waste into the creeks, merely shrug their shoulders when the Barangay Local Government Unit does not do its job, and live day in and out year in and out on convictions like “bahala sila” or “wala akong pakialam, basta ako —“, everything or anything is good and satisfactory. Because that’s the way they’re wired, the way it is, has always been, and as far as their horizon allows them to see, always will be. They wouldn’t demand for more because they don’t know ‘more’ or what is ‘more’. To them, this is the world they know.

In my previous work, my employer organizes and sponsors out of town trainings for village (barangay) residents (not necessarily barangay officials). Some of these trainings were in hotels and resorts in the big cities – Cebu, Tagaytay, and of course Metro Manila. A few were abroad. Returning to their villages, these folks – farmers, fishers, homemakers, young people and yes barangay officials who’ve never stepped out of their towns – wear down their families, relatives, and neighbors with stories of what they refer to as “luxurious” living. Their amusement and joy burst out of them like grand fireworks. Think The Gods Must Be Crazy. They’re like “sirang plaka” about these particular episodes in their lives. Listening to them talk about these, you can either laugh or weep. Or both.

To many of us, elevators, escalators, generators or 24/7 electricity supply, hot showers, air-conditioning, hair dryers, five-inch hard mattresses, clean linens, toilets (proper and clean), 24/7 water supply, 24/7 coffee and tea service, polite behavior, are behavior we live by and ordinary everyday things and experiences.

After many years, colleagues and I went back to some of these areas to do post-intervention or impact studies. And people identified that it is the knowledge and learning they’ve gained about themselves, others, and the world through training and development and exposure to worlds outside their own that have and continue to stay with them (even after our organization left their areas) and which were used and led to significant changes in their lives. They now are more, know more, and are demanding more, from themselves, their families, communities, and others. (What I mean by ‘more’ here is, what it should be, not some snobbish desires of service, goods, and treatment.) Ironically, because they’re demanding more, they’re now seen as having inflated heads from people who did not know more. (Funny world, but yes, the circle of life.)

Maslow is right. All the time. One cannot be an adult with matured tastes, coming out of the womb. One must first have well-grown and developed teeth and digestive system before one is able to know, corn, and chew a cow.

Within the research community, ethical behavior is the norm. And an important ethical question that researchers especially those dealing with human participants must ask is, what do I want to contribute toward out of the research? what is the intention in conducting the research?

This survey has somehow left me hanging, like it’s telling something and then not. What were the key questions of the study? In what service areas does it pertain to? Where was the study conducted? Urban? Rural? Mixed? What is the profile of the 376 sampled? (incidentally, I’m confounded that 376 is the sample used for a national survey, given there are 42,027 barangays in the country. Researchers out there will protest! I’m doing surveys and 500 for a mega city is either a typo error or gross ineptitude. Unless. The 376 are from the posh villages.)

Researchers are responsible for the information and knowledge we impart out there. Plus, if you ask me, local government services, an intricate and complicated subject in itself, cannot be bounded and understood by ‘I’m not satisfied’ to ‘I’m satisfied’ ratings alone. Please. The subject is not up for popularity contest.


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