(Second of Two Parts)

THE cooperative journey that reeled off 57 years ago was a path then least taken as it meant choosing to live a life that would exact no less than the highest standard of commitment and dedication, notwithstanding a great degree of sacrifice not only to himself but to his beloved wife and children as well.

Such being the case, what then prompted Mordino Rodriquez Cua, an idealistic young lawyer then in the 1950's, to embark and trail-blaze a missionary path of service, which was then contrary to the prevailing social norm innate in a capitalistic set-up of individualism and materialism?

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There is a saying that goes, “There is no grandeur sight in the world than of a young man fired with a great purpose, dominated by one unwavering aim. He is bound to win; the world stands to one side and let him pass; it always makes way for the man with a will in him."

Indeed, for Mordino Cua, it was a journey inspired by a vision of making life better for the needy, the oppressed and the downtrodden, as the Philippines then was described as a social volcano ready to erupt.

Such social analysis stemmed from the highly stratified socio-economic structure where the wealth and power were and still are concentrated in a few elite and where feudal rule seemed to be the order of the day.

Fully aware of these socio-economic problems, he had pursued a development line considered as an anti-dote against the cruel onslaught of poverty. For him, it had become imperative for the people to bind themselves together to craft their own destiny by mobilizing their collective energies and potentials and in effect, establish a new societal order that is founded on the time-honored principles social justice, equity, popular participation and sustainable development.

That from out of the darkness of poverty and social inequities, a new societal order can loom through cooperativism as a vehicle of social transformation. In reading his autobiography contained in a two-volume book called, "My Cooperative Journey," he had rewind the "tape of time" for the present generation to see how Cagayan de Oro was during his youth in the 1930's and 1940's.

He had narrated in detail his experiences as a student of then Ateneo de Cagayan as he imbibed not only knowledge but also important values such as truth, justice and the spirit of service aptly captured in the Atenean spirit of being "men and women for others."

For all past and present students of Xavier University, the book is a must reading as it showcased its pioneering history, giving us some interesting insights on great personalities such as Fr. William Masterson, S.J., now considered a legend having founded SEARSOLIN and the first Jesuit-run College of Agriculture throughout the world.

For the 150,000 members of the billionaire First Community Cooperative or FICCO, you may be astonished to know that when the cooperative began some 57 years ago as the Ateneo Cooperative Credit Union (ACCU) with Atty. Cua as its first managing director, it started only with a few hundred of pesos contributed by its 320 members.

More than pioneering credit unions successfully in this part of the country for which he had gained international recognition, he had set in motion an important shift in the cooperative movement where human resource development or investing in people should be the priority.

Such was the raizon d etre of the establishment of the Southern Philippine Education Training Center (SPECC) of which he was the first chairman. Firmly believing that only the people can craft their own destiny to be in the mainstream of development processes, he had frontlined the networking of all primary cooperatives which formed the Mindanao Association of Self-Help Societies (MASS).

Humble as he was, the book does not fully give justice to the achievement of the man, which I considered res ipsa loquitor (his life of service not his words can speak well of himself).

All told, his Cooperative Journey is not just a chronicle of important events; most importantly, it speaks of a journey in life, one that belongs to a higher and more sublime realm.

It was a journey that in itself had created a strong societal force, the silent building of the power of the people long before such term became popular at EDSA.

It was a travel in search of ideas, approaches and strategies to fine-tune and make more relevant in contemporary times Philippine cooperativism to be a powerful tool to change formidable rigid structures of elitism, materialism and oppression in a highly stratified society.

For a great man that he truly was, his cooperative journey was in fact a triumph of the human spirit -- for the greater glory of God. We in the cooperative movement are awed and amazed by one great cooperative personality whose life had been committed to harness the collective power of the people, yet, had exemplified the power of one. That one man could make a difference in awakening and unifying the spirit of the people to advance a collectivist counterculture for social change.

Now that he had leaped to the Great Beyond, we can only look up to the stars and reflect that, “From time to time there appear on the face of the earth, men of rare and consummate excellence who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extraordinary stars of whose origins we are ignorant, and of whose fate, once they have vanished, we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants: they are the whole of their race.”

To him, wherever he is, now with us, then with the stars, our firm salute and warm embrace!