A Shining Example
Local government leaders all over the country could learn a thing or two from Bel-Air, the country’s richest barangay
BY JOHN LEE CANDELARIA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICKY LADIA
The barangay is the country’s smallest, most basic administrative unit, and its leadership, although the most direct to its constituents, gathers little political clout. Those with political ambitions would rather start somewhere higher, if they desire to be more popular and influential in the future.
It is therefore quite interesting why and how barangay leaders stay, and last. For Barangay Captain
Constancia “Nene” Q. Lichauco, the answer is simple: “I like what I’m doing, and I cannot see myself doing
It must be daunting to lead a barangay situated deep in the heart of the country’s central business district (CBD), with two of the country’s most exclusive subdivisions, Bel-Air and Salcedo Villages. But it comes with a great advantage, too, because Barangay Bel-Air is known to be the richest barangay in the country. “The bigger challenge is to innovate programs where we could spend the money. I have been asking everyone for programs they want to implement, money is not a problem,” says Lichauco. Barangay Bel-Air’s income could rival the income of many cities and municipalities in the country.
Lichauco has led the barangay since 1989, and even before, since she was initially the president of Bel-Air Village homeowners’ association.
There’s a story why it’s called Bel-Air. Back in 1956, pilots of the Philippine Airlines requested a subdivision from the Ayala Corporation, and desired to include the word “air” to the name. Bel-Air was born in 1957, which was built in four phases, Bel-Air I to IV. Now, the barangay includes Ayala North, Buendia Avenue Extension, the Ayala Triangle, and Salcedo Village. Shaped like a tobacco pipe, the barangay’s land use is predominantly residential and commercial.
Bel-Air’s location is something that other barangays would envy. It is in the heart of the CBD, so access is easy for residents to visit major shopping districts like Greenbelt, Rockwell, or food and entertainment hubs like Salcedo, Poblacion, and Jupiter Street. It is easy to be where you need to be, and quite an advantage for those wanting to look for recreational options at walking distances.