October is Cooperative Month-A A +A
Thursday, October 3, 2013
“COME gather ‘round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown. And admit that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone, if your time for you is worth savin’. Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’
THIS opening salvo of the song, “The times they are a-changing,” popularized by Bob Dylan in the ‘60s, speaks well of the socio-economic realities besetting Philippine society today, spawned by a highly skewed structural set-up with all the social flaws that go with it.
Glaring is dehumanizing poverty which is the logical consequence of a people that is devoid of power to have access and control over their resources. We have to reckon with a development paradigm that is only successful in consigning so many to live in the slum areas and that is assaulting the environment that sustains life.
The lyrics of the song literally warns us of rising waters that have already devastated limbs, lives and properties in a country that has become vulnerable to massive floods.
For a determined and united people working together to effect social change and to nurture God’s vanishing creation, a glimmer of hope rises in the horizon. Poverty, hunger and ecological disasters have no match against an empowered people who have come together through their cooperatives to launch a collectivist counter culture.
Carrying the theme, “Cooperative Paves the Way for Inclusive Growth” the more than 1,500 cooperatives in the region with more than half a million members are joining hands, serving notice to one and all that they have awakened, and through their collective efforts, they will win back the future for their children!
October is their month and will therefore carry-out activities to put cooperativism in the public imagination and consciousness, anchored on the truism that cooperativism is the only democratic process now that can liberate the people from the pangs of hunger and poverty.
October is the month of the poor and the hungry as it reels-off punctuated with important celebrations that put to the fore issues of poverty and hunger and what are being done to resolve these pressing issues by mobilizing their collective potentials, energies and experiences.
October 16 is World Food Day by virtue of a United Nation’s Resolution while October 17 is the Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty. October is also the month of the Indigenous People.
By virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 493, October has been declared as Cooperative Month.
It is a wonderful coincidence that all of the above mentioned celebrations fall together in the same month as these events are inextricably linked and the issues they carry are very much inter-related.
This month is the apt time for all of us to pause and reflect on issues of poverty and hunger not only nationally but also globally. As embodied in the millennium development goals (MDGs), all the nations in the world have targeted the eradication of poverty as their number one priority.
As stated by development experts, “despite years, efforts and funds to fight it, abject poverty continues to afflict our country such that it has become second skin to more than a third of our people. We have made no significant headways in improving our quality of life. Poverty is one of the main culprits behind the sad tale that is told too much too often – the thief to many a child’s dreams.”
We have to reverse the poverty trend which is worse in Mindanao that is suffering high poverty gap ratios than the rest of the country. In fact, 14 of the poorest provinces in the country are found in Mindanao. This is a great paradox in an island that has been described as “food basket,” and where 2/3 of total exports are coming from.
Time is of the essence. By 2015, “there will be an unprecedented demand for food, water, shelter and jobs for 96.3 million Filipinos,” as indicated in the human development indicators (HDIs).
The celebration will reel-off with parades in the provinces and major cities, opening-up the floodgate of month-long activities that will have as its first salvo a mass celebration a grand parade and an opening program at the Provincial Capitol grounds.
The lined-up activities include, among others, continuing legal forum; recognition of outstanding cooperatives/Gawad Parangal Sa Kooperatiba during the 6th National Tripartite.
In the light of the global climate change, cooperatives have become vigilant and have embodied environmental advocacy in the lineup of activities, such as: rehabilitation of mangroves, reforestation of denuded areas, and upland tree growing and caring. Educational activities have always been in the schedule to continually inspire the youth; and livelihood skills training such as pastries and delicacies making. A grand culmination and recognition Night will cap the month-long activities.
The spirit of cooperativism shines through amidst the darkness of poverty and social inequities. Where people are poor because they are powerless to craft their destiny, where hunger looms because of social injustice as the mode of production and basic utilities are controlled by a few, where people are in dire economic difficulties because of lack of opportunities, skills and capabilities, it is during this time when cooperatives thrive best.
“There is a battle outside and it is raging... It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls…the (flawed societal) order is rapidly fading.For the times they are a-changing” so goes the song. Yes, it is a war against dehumanizing poverty; it is the struggle for food security and ecological integrity; and it is one that is transformational, effecting social change not through the firepower of guns but by the strength of the human spirit through cooperativism. Join us!
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 03, 2013.