• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

As we celebrate Independence Day, let us feel the essence of Freedom which our forefathers had fought for in a protracted armed struggle a century or so ago, when a few brave men and women had organized resistance against colonial rule, firmly believing that the people united can never be defeated.

Nothing could be sweeter in the history of a nation than unfettering the people from external forces who would dare impose their will as masters subjugating their peons, stripping a nation of its dignity, making a mockery of the people’s ability to govern themselves and craft their own destiny.

No way could such subjugation continue.  Such arrogance of having colonial masters dominating a people violated the very essence of man (or woman) for which God created him/her to be as one endowed with intelligence and free-will.  It would only be a matter of time when such cruel societal order would be dismantled by freedom loving people.

It is indeed great to be unfettered from the tentacles of direct oppression to savor the freedom of choosing our leaders, freedom of expression, of seeking redress to grievances, freedom of assembly, of privacy, of mobility and what have you.

However, there are conditions which are also limiting, if not depriving,  a nation of its liberty.  Poverty, for example, doesn’t only strip a person of his humanity; it imprisons him to a life of hunger and ignorance.  As former US Secretary of State Henry Kissenger would aptly put it, “you deprive one of his right to food and you control his mind.”  We may not be concerned so much with our freedom OF; it is our freedom FROM that we are struggling for during these most challenging times.

To liberate the people from the vicious cycle of poverty, from hunger, from ignorance, is now the urgent call of the times so as to win back the very essence of the blessings of independence.  For indeed, a nation-state may be independent in form but not in substance as it may be under the overwhelming influence of another, in more ways than one, as to make it in effect, not absolutely independent.

A century or so ago, Dr. Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, among others, became heroes because they dared to respond to the urgent call of the times by inspiring the people to hit the very core of the problem – colonialism.  These nationalistic men had organized the people to wage resistance, trusting in the inherent capability of the people to craft their own destiny.

Today, all sectors of society are up in arms against the common enemy which is abject poverty, gross inequity and social injustices.  They follow the same formula adopted by our heroes, which is, to harness the people’s collective potentials and power to have control over their lives and over the resources which are fast slipping through their fingers.

Not only do they give high adherence to time-honored and universally-accepted principles; most importantly, they practice them.  These set of principles is anchored on democratizing wealth and power which go by the name of cooperativism. By law, cooperatives loom as instrument of social justice, social equity and people-centered development.

Be it in the arena of agrarian reform, food security, ecological integrity, job generation and global competitiveness, these cooperatives are now serving notice to one and all that they will not allow anymore poverty to deprive them of their right to live a dignified life, free from hunger, from ignorance.

Through their cooperatives, people are brought into the mainstream of development processes, to participate in the God-given right of decision making and in effected, put power where it rightfully belongs, that is, with the people.

The cooperatives which are increasingly becoming a formidable development force to fight hunger and poverty can aptly be called the new breed of freedom fighters, the new heroes of the contemporary times. By harnessing the collective power of the people, they have drawn the poor and the oppressed into the mainstream of development processes.

The cooperatives are the great equalizer to democratize wealth and power in a highly skewed societal order. In a country so rich in ecological resources – the richest on earth per unit area and the Philippine Archipelago being the “center of the center of marine life on earth,” no way should poverty be allowed.  But who controls, who profits, who decides? Only a few oligarchs as concluded by a Study.

Today, liberation day has come as the 18,000 cooperatives with some 11 million members advancing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – i.e., stop poverty, stop hunger, stop social injustices, stop gross inequities, protect the environment, promote the health of the people, etc.  Indeed, they have become transformative for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace for genuine FREEDOM!