A transformative cooperative

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By Orlan R. Ravanera

Kim's Dream

Friday, July 4, 2014


SAYING that there is a fundamental flaw in the global economic system, His Holiness, Pope Francis, has criticized the present dominant economic paradigm as very exclusive where the combined wealth of a few billionaires on earth is equivalent to the consolidated assets of some 3.5 billion people or half of the world’s population. Economically, that growth-at-all-cost development strategy is not sustainable, more so, ecologically.

That kind of development paradigm which is anchored on neo-liberal capitalism has caused the depletion of our natural resources through massive exploitation, using violent technologies that are causing global warming, the rising of the oceans, the extinction of species, the melting of the iceberg and perhaps, the unimaginable which is becoming imaginable, that is, the collapse of the global ecological system. According to scientists and world-known environmentalists, the tipping point has already been reached and the collapse will happen in less than one hundred years.

Such truism is reflected locally where the nation’s wealth is controlled by only 300 families, a circle of a few elite, devouring the resources and controlling the utilities while the vast majority of the people has to share the shrinking pie. The Philippines is one of the hardest-hit countries by global warming as it has been reeling-off yearly from major ecological disasters.

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There is now a call for paradigm shift where growth will be inclusive and sustainable.

Such ardent call is now responded to by cooperatives whose DNA speaks of inclusive growth because cooperatives are members-owned, value-based and sustainable.

Foremost of these is the Paglaum Multipurpose Cooperative which is based in Plaridel town in Misamis Occidental but operating in the different regions of Mindanao and the Visayas, reaching out to the rural communities. With total assets of some 622 million pesos, Paglaum scales the heights in making life better to the more than 50,000 members by exemplifying its core values of excellence, commitment, honesty and openness.

Formed in 1992, “Paglaum MPC begins with the vision of countless faces of improved lives and a mission of members believing that they can prosper beyond their imagination, offering hope through the provision of quality programs and services, giving empowerment to the community, these are only a few of what we have done through the years and doing,” said the General Manager, Mr. Gadwin Handumon, an innovative, and transformative and an internationally-known cooperative leader who has recently represented the Philippines in the United Nation’s Conference on Financial Inclusiveness.

More than financial however, Paglaum has become a leading edge in social transformation for people, planet, prosperity and peace. It has drawn the marginalized sectors into the mainstream of development processes, empowering the communities especially the Indigenous People, pursuing innovative programs and projects where other entrepreneurs fear to tread. One quality that is highly exemplified by the cooperative is its being an innovative leader.

Five years ago, Paglaum has gone into micro-solar project with the Lumads as it trail-blazed renewable energy. Even for that alone, that move has showcased a sustainable source of energy which is the path of a sustainable future.

What is amazing was when Paglaum became a recipient of the National Food Authority (NFA) project on Farm Level Grains Center in 1998, with a complete package of postharvest facility that includes rice mill, a 10,000 bags warehouse capacity and dryer. With the innovation of making the farmers investors/stakeholders though Initial farmers offering to as low as P10, the rice farmers have highly benefitted in increasing their income from rice production and palay trading.

There are so many interesting stories that can be told on the empowering path being trail-blazed by this multi-awarded cooperative whose accolades have come not only locally but, more so, internationally, for exemplifying to the highest degree the essence of cooperativism during these most challenging times. It has, for example, received the 10 most outstanding community enterprises from the Villar Foundation and for its outstanding performance on social responsibility given by the Asian Confederation of Credit Cooperatives (ACCU). Yes, tens of thousands have become productive entrepreneurs, producing high quality products but most importantly, generating thousands of jobs through the release of more than 500 million pesos in 2013 alone that created micro and small businesses.

The good governance from the Board of Directors headed by the charming and amiable chair, Ms. Luz Moneva, the management adroitness provided by the General Manager, Mr. Gadwin Handumon and the effective and efficient services given by the more than 400 wonderful personnel of Paglaum, these are the formidable combination that catapults Paglaum to where it is now and soaring high to create even more breakthroughs.

Indeed, Paglaum MPC is a beacon of hope amidst the despair caused by social injustice and gross inequities. It is a noontide in our midst whose leadership’s innovations done in solitude will be echoed tomorrow by the multitude of cooperatives as they advance social solidarity economy for a sustainable future.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 04, 2014.

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