VIOLENT extremism has gone to the horrible scenario where for the first time in history, a Filipino suicide bomber was in the limelight recently as this is the first of its kind in the Philippine history. Is this how grim the scenario has become, where one is willing to give up his life? For what cause? We all pray that this will not happen again and that this kind of violent extremism is a phenomenon that should not become ordinary. The only way that this can be done is when another “war” must be launched by the cooperatives, that unknown to many, is now raging.
That “war” has many moves but carries only one name, “cooperativism”. Why is this so?
Aptly described as the best “recruiter” of terrorists, poverty breeds violence, thus, it must be stopped. And the best way of containing poverty is to make people productive by developing fully their potentials and enhancing their skills through capacity-building and education.
Such was the spirit that drove the former rebels headed by Mr. Diolito Sonido to lay down their arms in then war-torn Zamboanga to dedicate their lives to liberate the poor from the clutches of ignorance and poverty through cooperative education.
In 2001, they established the Western Mindanao Cooperative College in Zamboanga City with only 49 students to begin with enrolled in technical courses. After 6 years of sheer hard work and with single-minded adherence to cooperative quality education, the college has now more than a thousand enrollees in both professional and technical fields of education.
The Cooperative College has served its mission very well in providing quality education to thousands of poor but deserving students and whose graduates are now front-lining the cause of uplifting the plight of the marginalized sectors in combating poverty in the war-torn region of Mindanao.
While cooperative education has found its mark to make life better for our poor but struggling people, the quest for peace is pursued in more ways than one as violence comes in many forms.
As violence is not only perpetuated by human beings against their kindred but also humankind against mother nature, the Earth is now in pain as manifested by ecological disasters including global warming brought about by climate change. Violence against nature is seen in the depletion of our resource base-toppling our forest, polluting our rivers and bays, desecrating the once fertile lands with toxic chemicals, etc. Of the 25 major rivers in the Philippines, 15 are already biologically dead; of the 13 major bays, 10 are already biologically dead, to the detriment of our fishing communities who are now the poorest of the poor. In effect, we have sacrificed nature and the people to the altar of greed and profit.
Thus, the quest for peace also includes that of nurturing nature. This is what Doalnara Restoration Society Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Aposkahoy, Claveria, Misamis Oriental lives for.
Away from the klieg lights looms the cooperative that is trail-blazing a way of life that is both awesome and humbling. It is awesome as it is in tune with the Infinite, charged with high spirituality as they work together, trusting in the innate capacity of nature to produce, yet enhancing the soil’s fertility. Humbling because it promotes what really matters, debunking the technology of violence by pursuing values and practices founded on love, peace and harmony with nature.
The Doalnara Restoration Society Multi-Purpose Cooperative is serving notice to one and all that if man has to be saved from doom, development must be in harmony with nature and not at its expense. The society shows the real essence of cooperativism in terms of harnessing the people’s collective potential to pursue an alternative path with nurturing spirit.
As exemplified by our cooperatives, the quest for peace cannot be done through bullets and bombs, it is only through human and ecological development that genuine peace can be truly achieved.
Let notice be served to one and all that the more than 18,000 cooperatives in the Philippines with some 10.4 million members have become transformative for PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY AND PEACE, all for the greater glory of GOD!