• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

Carrying the theme, “Cooperatives Amidst the Pandemic: Stand for Resiliency, Strive for Sustainability,” the 18,4381 active cooperatives nation-wide with some 11,600,000 members are joining hands, serving notice to one and all that they have awakened and through their collective efforts, they will win back the future for their children!

October is their month and will therefore carry-out activities to put cooperativism in the public imagination and consciousness, anchored on the truism that cooperativism is the only democratic process now that can liberate the people from the pangs of hunger and poverty.

October is the month of the poor and the hungry as it reels-off punctuated with important celebrations that put to the fore issues of poverty and hunger and what are being done to resolve these pressing issues by mobilizing their collective potentials, energies and experiences. Amidst the pandemic, the cooperatives are indeed rising for resiliency and standing for sustainability.

October 16 is World Food Day by virtue of a United Nation’s Resolution while October 17 is the Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty.  October is also the month of the Indigenous Peoples. By virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 493, October has been declared as Cooperative Month. This was reinforced by a recent law declaring October as the National Cooperative Month Celebration.  It is a wonderful coincidence that all of the above mentioned celebrations fall together in the same month as these events are inextricably linked and the issues they carry are very much inter-related.

This month is the apt time for all of us to pause and reflect on issues of poverty and hunger not only nationally but also globally.  As embodied in the United Nations’  17 Sustainable Development Goals, all the nations in the world have targeted the eradication of poverty as their number one priority.

This is so because out of the 4.8 billion people in the developing countries, 1.5 billion live on less than $1/day; 2.8 billion on less than $2/day.  Close to 821 million people struggle to meet their basic food need requirements on daily basis.  Each year, 15 million people die of poverty related causes, most are children. As stated by development experts, “despite years, efforts and funds to fight it, abject poverty continues to afflict our country such that it has become second skin to more than a third of our people.” But this time, social change has come under the Present Dispensation. We are now making significant headways in improving our quality of life to debunk poverty by harnessing the collective power of the people through cooperativism.  Poverty is one of the main culprits behind the sad tale that is told too much too often – “the thief to many a child’s dreams.”

We have to reverse the poverty trend which is worse in Mindanao that is suffering high poverty gap ratios than the rest of the country.  In fact, 14 of the poorest provinces in the country are found in Mindanao.  This is a great paradox in an island that has been described as “food basket,” and where 2/3 of total exports are coming from.

The spirit of cooperativism shines through amidst the darkness of poverty and social inequities at the time of the pandemic.  Where people are poor because they are powerless to craft their destiny, where hunger looms because of social injustice as the mode of production and basic utilities are controlled by a few, where people are in dire economic difficulties because of lack of opportunities, skills and capabilities, it is during this time when cooperatives thrive best.

No less than the amazing Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has recognized the significant contribution of the cooperatives in countryside development and nation-building. He said that, “cooperatives are not only empowering their members but their respective communities as well in combatting poverty.”

Indeed, the cooperatives nation-wide are now standing as one development force not only to counter poverty and social inequities but have become transformational to effect the much needed shift in paradigm to be a countervailing force against climate change and violent extremism. Cooperativism is now the empowering path to draw those in the margins into the mainstream of development processes.

As the spirit of compassion and love shines through amidst the darkness of the pandemic, the cooperatives are serving notice to one and all that the genuine call is not just against COVID-19 but against the contemporaneous economic paradigm that has put Mother Earth now is the state of cataclysmic emergency as the earth is now facing its 6th extinction due to climate change. Thus, while we now rise for resiliency, we must stand for sustainability which is the urgent call of the times. MABUHAY ANG KOOPERATIBA!