The Oro Integrated Cooperative (OIC) in the midst of pandemic
Somehow, the Covid-19 pandemic – monstrous as it is – gives us the opportunity to showcase our commitment to our reason as human beings.
Since the community quarantine began, Oro Integrated Cooperative (OIC) has been focusing on crafting its business continuity measures to minimize our economic loss. Despite that, we make sure that we are able to help the most affected sector survive this crisis, especially our loyal members who have patronized OIC through the years.
As a way of giving back, the cooperative provided Php300.00 each worth of rice subsidy to its 67,749 Members in Good Standing (MIGS) across 18 branches. This was deposited in the member’s ATM or Savings Account on May 4, 2020. A total of Php20.3 Million was distributed by OIC to all its active members who are equally affected by the pandemic.
On March 25, 2020, OIC extended its initial support to the fight against the spread of Covid-19 by providing knapsack sprayers to 35 barangays in Cagayan de Oro City. Each spray tank can fill up to 16 liters of cleaning solution which can be used to disinfect possibly contaminated areas. This was facilitated by CEO Hilot himself.
Our hearts also go out to our front-liners who tirelessly and fearlessly dedicate their lives to taking care of those inflicted by the virus. OIC wanted to show support and appreciation of their noble services by giving 400 packed meals to the medical front-liners of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) on April 1, 2020.
We knew we still could do more and reach out further. On April 17, 2020, the Board, upon recommendation of the Crisis Management Team, approved and allocated Php2.5 Million for rice distribution in all areas where OIC operates. Due to our branches’ proximity to some municipalities like Opol in Misamis Oriental and Sumilao in Bukidnon, our donations reached the people there even if we do not have a branch in those towns.
We adopted a philosophy of simplicity and cooperation, and acted with certainty and minimum risk exposure in the conduct of aid distribution. First, we coursed the rice donations through our LGUs. Second, we asked “Who among the sectors has the least chance of eating 3 meals in a day during the community quarantine?” Third, we also considered the plight of our front-liners and decided to focus our donations to those in inter-agency check points.
Balancing health safety measures and our zeal to donate rice to people with disabilities (PWDs) in Cagayan de Oro City posted the biggest challenge so far. Aside from their existing condition, all 25 member-organizations of the PWD federation were geographically dispersed in the city. The distribution of donations by bulk (where the recipient organization repacks and distributes to its members) took a toll on both their federation leader and the distribution in-charge.
We spent more than a week securing the “Food Pass” from the Department of Agriculture Regional Office. We had to forego the procurement protocol of OIC due to the community quarantine limitations.
Giving donations by bulk has its pros and cons. Aside from the practicality and safety it afforded us, donating by bulk accelerates our distribution process given the volume of goods involved. However, we were not too certain, generally speaking, that all goods indeed reached the hands of all intended recipients. In fact, when we spot checked through phone calls, there were few who claimed that they did not receive anything. Hence, we needed to verify the allegations. First-hand feedback to OIC as a donor was also very limited.
But gratitude is always delightful! During the preparation for our first tranche, two truckloads of rice were delivered to our Carmen property along Vamenta Boulevard. We hired laborers to unload the sacks of rice. When the laborers were about to leave after receiving their dues, we gave them a share of the rice donations. They were very elated! Their group leader borrowed a phone, called up the rice distribution officer-in-charge, and expressed their thanks and affirmation for the volume and quality of rice they received.
But giving relief goods is always easier said than done – that is a valuable lesson to us. It is complex no matter how simplified we want it to be. There is urgency to do it, yet it entails thorough planning and coordination. In fact, the Filipino maxim Aanhin pa ang damo kapag patay na ang kabayo (What use does the grass have when the horse is already dead) is relevant in relief good operations. The entire operation also demands utmost honesty and dedication of leaders of the recipient organizations and full cooperation of their members.
Our cooperative adheres to the principle, “Concern for the Community,” which we embody in our mission to help improve the quality of life of our members and the communities.
Until now, we still don’t know when this pandemic will end. Covid-19 continues to spread and challenge our sanity, healthcare system, and economy. That is why helping each other genuinely is vital at this point in time. Through all this, OIC will continue to extend help and support in every way it can as it is our lifelong mission to help improve the quality of life of its members and the communities – the members whom we are most grateful to because they are the reason why OIC is here and standing strong today.
Most, if not all, of us feel anxious and uncertain during this trying time. But despite those feelings, our kind human hearts still have that genuine desire to help others – be it family, friends, the community, or the whole country. This pandemic may have brought alarming illnesses and deaths around the globe; but looking at the brighter side, it has also made us closer – to ourselves, to God, to our loved ones, to our community and to the rest of the world.
OIC is one of the top 10 cooperatives among 25,000 registered cooperatives in the Philippines and considered a “billionaire cooperative” given its asset size. It has 18 branches located in Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan, Bukidnon, Bohol, and Misamis Oriental. It now has 177,000 members (as of Dec 2019).