• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

Deep known spiritual leaders have said that life and death are not enemies but are entwined aspects of one’s life. Such was beautifully expressed by the great Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore when he wrote, “The night kissed the fading day with a whisper, “I am death your mother, from me you will get new birth.”

We all have to go but we do not know when. A dear colleague in the cooperative movement, Ms. Josefina Hizon Lapitan fondly called as “Tita Jo” by close friends, has leaped to the Great Beyond on August 17, 2020 due to colon cancer.  A cooperative champion on Coop Tourism, her presence was always inspiring as fresh wind and rains to a desert.

As described by no less than CDA’s Deputy Executive Director, Giovanni Platero,  “Tita Jo  was a staunch advocate of cooperative movement having spent her career in the University of the Philippines at Los Baños Laguna as Researcher and Lecturer on coops at Agricultural Credit and Cooperatives Institute. The forerunner of the now Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-Enterprise Development (ICOPED). She used radio as medium of her advocacy by serving as anchor of DZLB and other local radio stations in Laguna promoting cooperatives and herbal medicine. As seasoned broadcast journalist in Los Baños, she was given opportunity to anchor a cooperative program in DZMM. As graduate of Development Communication, she never wavered in selling the idea of cooperatives as answer to our socio-economic woes even after her retirement from the University. At the time of her death, she is tirelessly lobbying for the inclusion of Coop Tourism as additional type of cooperatives. She was instrumental in the passage of Laguna Sangguniang Resolution supporting the Cooperative Project.”

Even during this period of pandemic. we didn’t stop communicating and she even attended the first Virtual E-Koop Forum on June 3, 2020 and was texting me not to touch my face while giving my message to avoid COVID-19 contamination.

She had been advocating to include “Coop Tourism” as another type of cooperative.  It was so amazing for a cooperative leader to elevate cooperativism as the “liberating force” to countervail against poverty, gross social inequities, social injustices, climate change and violent extremism.  Coop Tourism will be the enlightening gateway to serve notice to one and all the essence of cooperativiism, not limited to just viewing but knowing the social, economic and ecological realities.

Indeed, in a world so enamored in externalities and trivialities that is giving so much adherence to the profit motive and so much denigration of spirituality, cooperativism is the paradigm that  will bring about social transformation. No less than the United Nations’ 17  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put that in clear categorical term when the 17 SDGs have carried the Theme, “Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace.” Cooperative Tourism has elevated the concept of Tourism to a very high level that our beloved Tita Jo had conceptualized and deeply advocated for.

Indeed, Ms. Jo’s heart had been filled with that “celestial fire” of love and her life in the cooperative movement had given credence to Khalil Gibran’s poetic lines, to quote, “when you work you are a flute thru whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. And what it is to work with love? It is to  weave a cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.”

As Tita Jo’s remains will soon be buried, what comes to my mind is the 12th stanza of the 17th century poem called,  “An Elegy Written in a County Churchyard,”  to quote, “Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid, some heart once pregnant with celestial fire, Hands that the rod of empire might have sway’d, or walked to ecstasy the living lyre.”

To our dearly beloved colleague, brave advocate and coop champion, you had lived with us with that “celestial fire” to make life better for the Filipino People. Wherever you are, now with us, then with the stars and in the loving embrace of the Unseen Being Almighty God, you must now walk to ecstasy the living lyre, all for God’s greater glory! With our firm salute and warm embrace, we the eleven million kindred in the Cooperative Movement are now shouting, “WE LOVE YOU TITA JO!”