The Province of Apayao hosted this year’s regional celebration of the Co-op Month. It was held last week at Luna, Apayao. Earlier, is was thought that the distance of the place was considered as a hindrance to a lot of people. It came as a surprise when more than 400 delegates from all over the region drove there in their co-op vehicles to join in the celebration and overwhelmingly exceeded previous expectations of the organizers.

From Baguio City, it will be a 12 hour travel if you take public transportation. However, you will reach Luna faster and more convenient via Ilocos Region when you use a private vehicle, that is, if you will not be stopping to enjoy the scenic places such as the Bangui windmills along the way. That was exactly what some co-ops had done. They got to enjoy not only the destination but the journey as well.

And then vans began to accumulate at the municipal grounds at Luna in the morning of October 27, 2015. Some were rented but most of these vehicles were obviously owned by co-ops with their logo painted on the vehicle’s doors. During the motorcade on the second day, these vehicles were an amazing and awesome display of co-op prosperity. It is an indication that co-ops can be progressive so as to afford a million worth vehicle to be used in events such as this.

For 19 years our region has been celebrating the annual Co-op Month since President Ferdinand Marcos issued the Co-op Month Proclamation in 1982. This event is hosted through a round robin of all the provinces including Baguio City in an alphabetical manner. This year, it was Apayao’s turn after Abra last year.

In Apayao, we received a news that a co-op from Abra is a recipient of this year’s Villar SIPAG Awards for Poverty Reduction. ADTEMPCO or the Abra Diocesan Teachers and Employees Multi-Purpose Co-op based in Bangued, Abra was chosen as one of the Most Outstanding Community Enterprises in the Philippines. It was a proud moment for me specially that co-ops in our region are being recognized nationally.

Villar SIPAG supports and recognizes organizations that help our less fortunate countrymen break free from the clutches of poverty. This is a public service program of Senator’s Manuel and Cynthia Villar who have a passionate desire to search for those who have an advocacy in improving the quality of lives of their fellowmen.

One major reason why ADTEMPCO, a 750 million co-op and with more than 18 thousand members was chosen by the said award  giving body is probably because of its micro finance activity among other services, providing sufficient capital for small entrepreneur-members specially those in the barangays. They also supply piglets for their members for them to start a piggery business. As a result, they established a Business Development Center to train their members to be entrepreneurs. They partnered with the DSWD for them to be part of the Pantawid Pamilya Program. They also have a program feeding malnourished children. They have been going around schools teaching kids to save. As of to date, there are 6 thousand kids with a savings account in the co-op

Another awardee is the Tam-an Banaue Multi-Purpose Co-op based in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya but founded originally at Tam-an, Banaue, Ifugao. Both co-ops will be given a 250 thousand cash gift and a trophy on December 11, 2015 at Las Pinas City.