• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

PAFCPIC which stands for the Philippine Army Finance Center Producers Cooperative has concretely manifested the truism that a society will be judged not on its monetary growth, fame or power but on how it has served the least of its brethren.

For the past four years, thousands of families of the Indigenous Peoples who have been ousted from their ancestral domain in Barangay Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon have been living beside the highway seeking refuge in shattered tents. Their children’s legs have to be tied up while sleeping as some have already been hit by passing cars upon waking up when they cross the highway without the parents’ knowledge. They are just eating “kamote” once a day or more often, eating nothing at all, having lost their farms and their livelihood. Their children are just drinking from a nearby river where they take a bath, the reason why all the children are either malnourished or sickly.

It was so shocking to know no one did care for them, no help, no food, no love, no concern, no iota of assistance. Well, am not surprised! Indeed, in a world that is so enamored in the profit motive that has already captured the mind of all governments, all institutions, all universities and even of religious groups, serving the least of our brethren seems to be not within their parameters of engagement.

But amidst the darkness of so much trivialities and externalities, suddenly a bright light loomed recently providing love, concern, assistance and care. That light is the PAFCPIC, headed by an amazing Chairman, BGen Francisco M. Paredes and assisted by no less than an equally passionate cooperative leader, Ms. Maria Teresa  “Teng” Garnace, the Vice President for Membership, Education and Community Services. PAFCPIC’s outpourings of assistance came recently as a team of Cagayan de Oro’s Satellite Office led by no less than the Office Manager, Ms. Louise Donna S. Dela Peña, assisted Ms. Jeanne Rose T. Bete, Loan Specialist and Ms. Camille C. Longara, Membership and Marketing Assistant, distributed to the thousands of hungry families the following:  food packs that include rice, milk, canned goods, noodles, plus medicine and solar powered streetlights.

It was so amazing to see thousands of Indigenous People including the joyful children gathered around receiving the much needed assistance on Dec. 22, 2020 along the highway in Quezon, Bukidnon. There could be no greater joy and love there is than to see children jumping joyfully and the spiritual radiance shining from the innermost being. Thank you so much PAFCPIC! I am not surprised why the cooperative has scaled the heights of progress since it was organized in 1981 by Col Rodolfo S. Cantor (Ret) with P7,500 as initial capital from 15 cooperators. Today, PAFCPIC has an asset of Php28.4 billion serving some one hundred fifty-six thousand eight hundred seven members.

But such outpourings of assistance are just a “tip of the iceberg.”  Service to the poor and the vulnerable is the cooperative’s true essence. To quote Gen. Paredes who is also an amazing lawyer, “PAFCPIC’s profound awareness of its responsibility to community development paved the way for programs such as Scholarship Program in 1997, the cooperative’s assistance in 2004 (initially called the Saklay Fund Program), the Job Fair in 2015, and the Community Development Program in 2016. The services and programs PAFCPIC offers are a testament to the cooperative’s thrust for good governance, service, excellence and social responsibility. It has, time and again, remained true to its commitment of providing its members, their families and communities with quality and innovative financial and integrated service – the kind of service that members have come expect from PAFCPIC.”

Our firm salute to PAFCPIC as the “war” that we are waging does not use bombs, bullets or guns anymore but cooperativism to uproot the root  causes of conflict which are hunger, poverty, inequities and social injustices.

In my 6-month stint in Mindanao, touching base with the cooperatives of the Indigenous Peoples, I discovered that there is an on-going non-stop illegal land grabbing of the IPs’ ancestral domain in Mindanao and massive violations of human rights.   When the IP leaders would fight to countervail against such increasing greed in connivance with powers-that-be (particularly the LGUs), more than 80 IPs courageous leaders have been murdered in the last five years. Those murdered are now at rest with MAGBABAYA.  But how about those whose Ancestral Domain, like the more than 1,000 hectares that has been land-grabbed by the rich and powerful in connivance with an agency of government in Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon?  The thousands of IP families are now hungry, living in so much poverty beside the highway.  Yes, no one is above the law! All must bow down to the majesty of the law because we follow the rule of law and not of men.  That is not true in Butong, Quezon! Together, let us correct a social wrong! That is what cooperativism is all about!