MAKE A DIFFERENCE…… A SUCCESS STORY of Padre Mariano Gomez Elementary School Teacher’s Multi-Purpose Development Cooperative
There are different types of cooperatives and they are easier to manage as long as the cooperators would religiously follow the cooperatives’ laws and their implementing guidelines. In terms of management, one type of cooperative with great challenges is the teachers’ cooperative – a school-based and closed type cooperative that is owned by teachers and operated inside the school premises.
Aside from the fact that they have to follow the laws and regulations mandated by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), they also have to follow DepED Orders and seek Memorandum of Agreement and Authority to manage and operate the school canteen from the Department of Education thru the school administrator.
The bulk requirements that they need to comply with is a great burden to teachers. The capitalization of installing separate water and electric meters, repairs, maintenance, furnishing and improving the canteen building shall be shouldered by the teachers’ cooperative. In addition, good human relations with the school administrator must be well established. Otherwise, smooth sailing business operation inside the school campus will not be achieved. A major concern is the status of the principal who comes and goes after two or three years. With every change of administration, the coop needs to adopt and make adjustments on the new rules, new policies and new behavior.
With these challenges, some teachers’ cooperatives had resolved in returning the canteen management to the principal and had preferred to becoming just mere suppliers instead. There were also situations that the principal took over the canteen operations due to proven violations and grounds for termination of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Sad to note that many times, misunderstandings between the officers and principals occurred.
But thankfully, there are also teachers’ cooperatives with success stories. In the City of Manila, DECS Order No. 55, S. 1996, otherwise known as the Guidelines for the Turnover of the School Canteen to the Teachers’ Cooperative, was implemented in Padre Mariano Gomez Elementary School Teachers Multi-Purpose Development Cooperative (PMGESTMPDC) since October 1, 1997. They were given an Authority to manage and operate the school canteen and had seek a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Education from 1997 to 2021. Said MOA is renewable every three (3) years.
The secret of their successful operation is simple. Transparency, honesty, loyalty to the school and good relationship with the school administrator. With these values, they created peace and unity that lead to progress and prosperity. Mutual trust between the coop and the school management was developed. The coop officers were inspired to uphold their mission and vision and shared innovative ideas and trends in business to provide maximum services and economic benefits not only to their members but also to the school, pupils and the community.
When PMGESTMPDC was recognized as Best School-Based Cooperative in the year 2002, Secretary Rafael L. Cascuelluela, Presidential Adviser on Cooperatives from the Office of the President commented that “not all teachers’ cooperatives are successful, but since you got it, you can be one of the most dynamic and liberating vehicle for the promotion of teachers’ welfare”. Through the years, his inspiring words were proven right. Way back in 1997, their sales in the canteen was only Php118,306.00 for the whole year, but in 2018 it reached to Php5,591,141.00. Likewise, sales from the cafeteria for teachers and meals to pupils rose from Php176,254.00 to Php4,955,824.00 given the same period. The cooperative was able to support the School Feeding Program in the amount of Seven Hundred Thousand Pesos (PhP 700,000.00) last year.
They made a difference…they believed further that the life and blood of the cooperative is positive change. The coop leaders invested for education and trainings so that teachers will learn more about cooperatives. Also, they have attended seminars to improve good governance and best practices in all aspects. Few to mention were Records Management, Credit Management, Risk Management, Stock Management, Canteen and Consumers’ management as well as Financial Management. As a result, on October 25, 2005, PMGESTMPDC garnered the Highest Rating Outstanding Multi-Purpose-Institutional Type (Small Category) during the Regional Search for Outstanding Primary Cooperatives.
When PMGESTMPDC was registered with the Cooperative Development Authority on February 26, 1997, with the help of their former CDS, Ms. Lowella Astronomia, they had a humble beginning of 128 teacher-members, with a paid-up capital of Php184,000.00 or an average of Php1,437.50 per member. They glimpsed their first Million paid-up share capital after four (4) years of operation. In 2018, the cooperative is already managing Fifty-Two Million Two Hundred Fifty-Nine Thousand Nine Hundred Pesos (Php 52,259,900.00) total assets and planned to amend its capitalization to One Hundred Million Pesos.
Usually, financial institutions including SSS, GSIS, Pag-ibig and insurance policies will mature after twenty (20) years of consistent contributions. Likewise, after twenty (20) years of successful operation and consistent monthly savings, some teachers became millionaires. It was advantageous that the associate members of the cooperative are spouses, children and relatives of the regular members, so the whole family got financial freedom. NO ONE WAS LEFT BEHIND. Members in Good Standing started harvesting the fruits of their investments on capital share and savings.
They were honored to be given the unique opportunity to change the lives of Gomezian family. Despite of heavy school loads in mentoring Filipino youths, they were able to extend their genuine love with compassion, and they knew in their hearts that sooner or later their goal of improving the quality of life of all Filipino teachers will be realized. On March 9, 2008 their Board of Directors were the first to be awarded Certificate of Professional and Competent Board of Directors nationwide by the Philippine Federation of Teachers and Employees Cooperative. In the same year, PMGESTMPDC was accredited by the Local Government Unit (LGU) initiated by City Councilor Ma. Cristina Isip.
These great qualities of this successful cooperative paved the way for it to be the host of an International Cooperative, The Kenya Teacher’s Cooperative, last October 12, 2008. They shared to them that savings at a younger age would save them from crises in old age.
The Board of Directors, spearheaded by the Chairperson, the late Crestita P. Verzo, passed a resolution no. 28 and 29 regarding Savings Mobilization and Continuous Capital Build-Up. Her legacy to adopt the African policy of savings was realized and is no longer a dream. The cooperative is now handling a savings deposit of Php18,774,355.35. They made a difference since they believed from the experts.
Despite their successes, great challenges also confronted this cooperative. But instead of being discouraged, the coop tried to find ways to overcome the obstacles that they faced. Because of this, they continued to grow and prosper despite the recession. They beat the odds and continued soaring high. The cooperative believed they can be an instrument in the promotion of social justice and in the eradication of mass poverty.
Noteworthy also to make mention is that this cooperative has been a consistent awardee of CDA throughout the years. During the 4th Metropolitan Manila Search for Outstanding Primary Cooperative, PMGESTMPDC was awarded Second Runner-Up as Most Outstanding Primary Cooperative on December 23, 2009 – NCR level. Then came the 5th NCR Search for Most Outstanding Primary Cooperative, wherein PMGESTMPDC was awarded First Runner-Up for Most Outstanding Primary Cooperative -–Regional Level on December 21, 2011. On October 25, 2018, PMGESTMPDC was again awarded as Most Outstanding Company-Based Cooperative (Medium Category) during the culminating activity of the Coop Month Celebration facilitated by the Manila Cooperative Development Council (MCDC). Last year, they joined the 2019 CDA Gawad Parangal Search for Most Outstanding Cooperative – Medium Category and luckily qualified up to the National Level.
Among the greatest lessons they have learned is that the achievement of success and the great future of the cooperative lies not in the hands of a few, but in the hands of all the members, officers and management and staff. The success of the cooperative, undoubtedly, is the result of joint efforts, hard work, resourcefulness and dedication of all cooperators, all CDA specialists and administrators.