The PWD Antipolo Consumers Cooperative (PWD Coop) was established on July 17, 2010 and was registered with Cooperative Development Authority, on November 7, 2014. PWD Coop is chaired by Eljoy E. Lagan, a holder of Licensed Massage Therapist Certificate given by the Department of Health. It is composed of persons with disabilities and their families, majority of which are trained masseurs and masseuses. They decided to put up a Massage Center in the Gazebo at Sumulong Park, upon obtaining permission from the City Government of Antipolo, through Mayor Casimiro A. Ynares III M.D. The group of four (4) trained massage therapists, started their small enterprise, using monoblack chairs for client’s use and invited passers-by to avail of their massage services.
Six years after PWD Coop started its business, it received a grant from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under the agency’s “Kabuhayan Enhancement Project for Persons with Disability”, in the form of equipment and materials needed to improve the services provided by the therapists to their clients. When the cooperative’s fund from the massage services has become substantial, PWD Coop decided to open another Massage Center at the New Antipolo Public Market (NAPM) in Sumulong Highway to cater to clients and market goers, passing by in the area; with three masseurs and masseuses manning the Center.
A year after, another Center was opened at the City Mall of Antipolo (CMA) in Cogeo Brgy. Dela Paz to service clients residing in Lower Antipolo or passing through the place; prompting the PWD Coop to purchase additional three (3) Grasshopper Massage Chairs and the assignment of three therapists to service the clients. And on October of this year, the cooperative opened its fourth Massage Center at Maylor’s Plaza Bldg in F.Manalo St. Brgy. San Roque; while the Gazebo Massage Center found its new home, early this year, on the second floor of the building at the corner of Lopez Jaena St. and Carigma St., Brgy. San Jose.
PWD Coop has plans to open up more Massage Centers in several commercial centers not only in Antipolo City but also in the thirteen (13) municipalities in the Province of Rizal. At the moment, it continues to scout for possible locations in adjacent towns and have started a Massage Therapy Training Program for other PWDs, their families, friends and advocates interested in joining the enterprise.
What started as a small endeavor to earn a decent living for themselves and their families, without resulting to begging for alms or waiting for handouts and government assistance, the members of PWD Antipolo Consumers Cooperative have shown and have proven, that given a chance, support and encouragement, supported by capacitation and enabling environment; they can be productive citizens and a contributor to the government and the society.
The onslaught of Covid-19, crippled the business of PWD Coop. Due to mandated lockdowns, all Massage Centers were closed and no money entered its coffers, greatly affecting the economic condition of the members and their families. Assistance came from NGOs, a large cooperative, concerned clients and the LGU through the City Cooperative and Livelihood Office helped the members get by. And these aids somehow helped ease the burdens of the cooperative members.
When PWD Coop received permission to resume the operation of its Massage Centers, the officers and staff exerted every effort to regain their lost clientele and boost the income of the enterprise. Training and recruitment of new therapists, upgrading their massage skills and techniques, enhancing the facilities of the massage centers and advertising the improved services being offered were undertaken. Seeking financial assistance to finance all these projects became a challenge to the officers of PWD Coop.
The condition of PWD Coop in the aftermath of the pandemic is not unknown to the Cooperative Development Authority, due to the former’s difficulty in fulfilling the cooperative’ annual compliance. With the help of the Provincial CDA officers, PWD Coop became a beneficiary of a Financial Assistance granted by CDA to those affected by calamities and specifically, the pandemic. Added to this blessing, the cooperative became the Small Koop Kapatid and was linked to Big Koop Kapatid, the Morong Retailers and Community Multipurpose Cooperative (MORECO), under the KOOP KAPATID PROGRAM of CDA. MORECO donated a brand new Three Wheel Cab to PWD Coop to assist in transporting the latter’s therapists in providing home service massage to their clients. Aside from that, the tricycle can be another source of income for PWD Coop when used as a public utility vehicle. Another, Big Koop Kapatid, the Ayala Multipurpose Cooperative, sponsored the ongoing renovation of the CMA PWD Massage Center, to improve its facilities and enhance the services to the Center’s clients.
The Koop Kapatid Program of the Cooperative Development Authority is very beneficial to small cooperatives with specific needs. It also emphasizes and brings out the essence of the Principle of Cooperation Among Cooperatives, which can be simply expressed, that “by working together through local, national, regional and international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies, and deal more effectively with social and community needs over and above their members.”