A human person is the totality of a number of aspects or dimensions: spiritual, social, economic, cultural and political. Each aspect is not to be taken as an autonomous part of one’s personhood. All aspects or dimensions are interconnected. In this light, a holistic approach to facilitating total self-empowerment based on human dignity is realized. On total self-empowerment is anchored total human development. Moreover, total human development tends to spread out to bigger circles of human relationships and institutions like in barangays, the national community and the international communities because the claim to dignity is inherent in every human being.
However, leadership from a total human development perspective has been elusive at the macro level since the levers of power have predominantly been controlled by the affluent few. Furthermore, with the advent of elitist globalization and monetized economies, consumerism and materialism have become the way of life, thus, reducing a person into an object, a cog in the great machinery of churning products and services that are all translatable to cash. Furthermore, this leads to a mechanical and materialistic world-view fragmenting the body-mind-spirit unity in the person, family, community and society.
The study attempted to use an urban poor barangay as a microcosm of the low end section of an old city that is Manila; and for that matter, an old city in the Philippines in contrast to the planned barangays in middle-class subdivisions of a typical suburban community. Barangay 598, Zone 59, Sta. Mesa, Manila, despite being categorized as a poor community shows itself as alive, hopeful and vibrant through leadership conducive to the self-empowerment of people as they are facilitated to respond practically to all dimensions of their daily human problems and challenges.
Leadership, therefore, played a crucial role in this situation since the people as a community would not have improved in many a sense without the qualities gleaned from the styles of leadership reflected from shared life stories.
Using the phenomenological approach as a methodology, the themes have been identified. Reflecting on the interconnectedness of the themes served to draw out the eidetic insight — a vision of an ortho-praxis of leadership expressed in postulates for people’s development drawn by the researcher and inter-subjectively validated by the co-researchers through focus group discussion (FGD) with the community leaders, her co-researchers. The eidetic insight served as the basis for further validation in other barangays in the process of community building that might be the foundation for macro level leadership.