• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

It has been said that “a strong army can conquer a kingdom but that the strongest army in the world cannot stop an idea whose time has come!” That idea, that Philsophy, is cooperativism.  Why? Such truism will be well understood if seen if this context.

In a world so enamored in self-promotion, surface appearances and busy with trivialities and where there is so much veneration to the profit motive that has already captured the mindset of all governments, all institutions, all universities and even of religious groups and where there is so much denigration of spirituality, the countervailing force against so much materialism and consumerism is a philosophy called cooperativism. Indeed, the cooperatives may not have the financial power nor influential people but their biggest asset lies in the treasure of their basic thought to effect social transformation.

This is the truism why the framers of the 1987 Constitution categorically provided for an amazing provision as stated in Art. 12, Sec. 15 that states, “to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of social justice, equity and economic development.” Well, it was then the time of people power and the constitutional framers wanted to institutionalized people power by harnessing the collective power of the people through cooperativism.  It was then the time of cronyism where only 50 families were in control of the economy.  It was then their conclusion that harnessing people should not only be against the dictatorial rule but to transform a highly skewed societal order controlled by a few elites and oligarchs in a country that is oozing with ecological wealth but where many were living then in so much poverty.  It was only by collectively harnessing people power where power is put where it rightfully belongs: to the Filipino people in consonance with the Constitutional provision that “sovereignty lies with the people and all powers emanate from them.” It is only through people power that social wrongs can be rectified especially in the existence of so-called electric cooperatives which are only cooperatives in name as decided by a 2003 Supreme Court landmark decision.  Where is social justice in the life of the so-called electric cooperatives where the 13 million members are called MCOs (member-consumer-owners) because they already contributed more than one trillion pesos in the last 50 years in paying two items in their monthly billings, i.e., amortization of loans and reinvestment yet such until now have never been recognized.  Hoy, gumising na kayo!

Look at our country, an agriculture  country yet we cannot even produce for our basic staples like rice and milk while the Philippines is the one supplying agricultural high value products to satisfy the consumerist lifestyle of the obese people in advanced countries. That is a great paradox in a country where 85% of the children fall under the category of being malnourished based on the data of the Food & Nutrition Institute.

It is in this context that three questions should now be asked: WHO CONTROLS? WHO PROFITS? WHO BENEFITS? That is “res ipsa loquitor,” (the thing speaks for itself).  Where is now the 17 million hectares of the Philippines’ dipterocarp forest? Gone to powerful loggers everyone because one shipment of logs would earn a logger then 400 million pesos.  They were oozing with so much rakings that they would run as powerful politicians and would win by buying votes, Where are now the tremendous minerals, i.e.,  gold, silver, copper, etc.? Gone to miners everyone.  Many were then foreign corporations in cohorts with power-that-be.  I have evidence on that allegation. Indeed, we already have lost our ecological security.  Of the 25 major rivers in the country, 15 have already dried-up or polluted.  Of the 13 major bays, 10 are already biologically dead to the detriment of our coastal communities who are now the poorest of the poor.

Based on these realities, the only countervailing force  against poverty, social injustice, gross inequities, climate change and violent extremism is cooperativism by harnessing the collective power of the people.  This is well enshrined in the United Nations’17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): to stop poverty, stop social inequities and injustices, protect the environment., promote health and peace, etc. It is so amazing that the 17 SDGs carry the theme: TRANSFORMATIVE COOPERATIVES FOR PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY AND PEACE based on the DNA of cooperativism which is members-owned (no one shall be left behind); value-based and philosophy driven (love, service, compassion); and sustainability.  At this time of planetary emergency due to climate change, sustainability is now the call of the times to stop the earth’s doomsday to its 6th extinction.

That Philosophy of cooperativism is the key to allow the divine purpose of the university to unfold!  That’s how important cooperatives are!