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Figure 1. BABUDEMPCO Main Office located at Bad-ayan, Baculongan Sur, Buguias, BenguetThe Bad-ayan Buguias Development Multi-purpose was established in July 10, 1968 as a Credit Union that transformed into multi-purpose cooperative with various services like lending, savings and time deposits, lodging, and consumers operations. Majority of its members are farmers engaged in the production of assorted vegetables traded in the local market. As an agri-based community cooperative that operates in various municipalities of Benguet, Ifugao, and Mountain Province, its present asset based on the latest interim financial statement is about P 153 million. Recipient of various awards during its 42 years of existence, it is categorized as one of the large cooperatives in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), it ranked No. 5 in Benguet Province, 22nd in the CAR, and 283rd place in the Top 500 cooperatives nationwide based on CDA-Central Office data.

As of July 31, 2014, the cooperative has 4,087 regular and associate members composed mostly of small-scale farmers. The membership excludes 5,947 depositors of the cooperative who have not completed the required minimum share capital. Major commodities raised in the community include potato, cabbage, carrots, Chinese cabbage (wongbok), lettuce, cutflowers, and onion leeks.

In line with the United Nation’s declaration of 2014 as International Year of Family Farming, two of its members were interviewed to get information on how they view the cooperative operations in relation to its support to farmer-members. Below are the results of the interview with Mr. Norberto Calawag and Mr. Calines Pacio:

The Story of Mr. Norberto Calwag Family

iyff babudempco2Mr. Norberto Calwag was born in November 2, 1940 and is married to Rufina Colas who was born in November 2, 1942. They are blessed with 6 children, 2 male and 4 female respectively. He started as a member of the cooperative in February 14, 1974 with a fixed deposit of P 15.00. As of May 14, 2014 his current paid-up share capital is about P 44,800. His wife Rufina started to join in August 14, 2004 with an initial share capital of P 22,000 that increased to P 60,138.00 as of May 9, 2014. Mr. Norberto Calwag finished elementary level while Rufina reached Grade IV.

Mr. Calwag had served as officer of the cooperative in various capacities and had been elected twice as Councilman or Kagawad of Baculongan Sur. With his zeal for better understanding of cooperative operations, he attended various trainings especially during the inception period of the cooperative.

As farmer-members, it was gathered that Mr. and Mrs. Calwag cultivate about 2 hectares of hilly land devoted to the production of potatoes, cabbage carrots and lettuce. Based on interview, average net income per cropping is about P 20,000.00 and may increase or decrease depending on the prices of vegetables. Moreover, they can have 3-4 cropping cycle per year depending on the crop choice and maturity period.

Data obtained from the cooperative showed that Mr. Calwag started as member-user by borrowing P 2,500.00 from the lending operations. The highest loan granted was P 70,000.00 obtained in 2009. Borrowed amounts were used as capital in vegetable production and certain amounts for educational purposes.

Asked on the benefits derived from cooperative membership, the couple expressed gratefulness for becoming members of the cooperative. Mr. Calwag on his part mentioned that the cooperative provided their family with the credit needs for productive and providential purposes. “With the presence of the cooperative, we did not resort to borrowing from private institutions or individuals that charge higher interest rates” he said. Mrs. Rufina Calwag on her part observed that former Manager Bernadette Willie though an elementary graduate had managed the cooperative well. “We observed that because of her willingness to learn, she attended various trainings that enables her to manage the cooperative well” she remarked.     

Inquiry on the educational attainment of their children, the couple shared that through family farming and with resources obtained from the cooperative, their children are successful in their chosen fields. Ellen, the eldest is a Bachelor of Science in Commerce Major in Marketing graduate who currently works with National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) ; Arturo is A BS Commerce graduate, and a Certified Public Accountant presently connected with Saint Louis University ; Andres-Bachelor of Science in Philosopy – who works with the Office of Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan; Manuelo - 2 year Vocational Course who works as a farmer/mechanic; Ireneo and Felissa both finished Bachelor of Science in Education. Felissa currently practices her profession as a Public School Teacher in Buguias and Ireneo is currently the Vice-Mayor of the Municipality of Buguias. Except for Manuelo who studied in La Union, all the siblings studied at Saint Louis University a private school based in Baguio City. Finally, they were happy to share that they had 24 grandchildren who are potential members of the cooperative.

The Experience of Mr. Calines Pacio Family

iyff babudempco3Mr. Calines Pacio was born in March 3, 1940 married to Mesenia Kiduyan who was born in March 4, 1945. They are blessed with 9 children, 6 men and 3 women respectively. He started as a member of the cooperative in June 30, 1968 with a starting fixed deposit of P 5.00. As of May 14, 2014 his current paid-up share capital is about P 159,181. His spouse Mesenia joined the cooperative in July 21, 2004 with an initial share capital of P 804.00 that increased to P 23,883.56 as of April 19, 2014.

In terms of education, Mr. Calines Pacio reached Grade V while his spouse Mesenia finished elementary level. He had served as officer of the cooperative in various capacities and also served as Barangay Captain of Baculongan Sur. Having the enthusiasm to learn, he had attended various trainings from the inception period of the cooperative until present and currently serves as one of the Board of Directors.

As farmer-members, Mr. and Mrs. Pacio cultivate about 3 hectares of rolling to hilly lands usually planted with potatoes, cabbage, carrots and Chinese cabbage. Based on interview, the average net income per cropping is about P 25,000.00 and may increase or decrease that depends on the prices of vegetables. Having abundant supply of water enables the family to plant about 3 to 4 times a year depending on the crops planted.

As to cooperative patronage, it was learned that he started borrowing in 1968 with a P 50.00 loan and gradually increased with the highest borrowing of P200,000.00 obtained in 2012. Such amount was used as capital for crop production.

Queried on his perception and involvement on the cooperative operations, Mr. Calines replied, “It is a great experience to attend trainings in different parts of the country. I am happy with the cooperative services as it is my source of capital and farm inputs. Also, serving my fellow farmers and cooperative members is a source of joy”, he further quipped.

As to family members, Mr. Calines Pacio mentioned that most of his children had finished high school and currently engaged in vegetable production and trading. As a cooperative officer, he enrolled all his children during their childhood under the “Kiddie Savers Program” that resulted to their membership in the cooperative upon reaching majority age. Lastly, he enjoyed sharing his experiences in the cooperative and ended with a great smile that he has 24 grandchildren who will soon become members and continue his legacy in the cooperative.    

General Manager Myrna Igualdo revealed that the two families are among the model cooperative members in terms of performance as borrowers and service users. Living to its vision and mission, BABUDEMPCO shares the world its love for cooperative, family and farming. As of August 31, 2014 information gathered from the cooperative indicated that the total amount of loans granted to members for agricultural purposes reached P 17.1 million while P 1.46 million was for providential purposes. This excludes the transactions of cooperative members in the consumer operations that provide the farm-input needs of it farmer members and the community. (Lotes P. Lab-oyan, CDS II-CAR)