There is now another billionaire co-op in CAR. And it is located in the place least expected. It is not found in places that are way more developed and progressive such as Baguio City or Benguet, but in Tabuk City, Kalinga. Co-ops in these “wealthier” places caught flat footed. While they were basking in their affluence thinking they reached the pinnacle of success, somebody snuck in quietly and overtook them.

Tabuk Farmer’s Co-operative (TAMPCO) finally accomplished the one thing they have been eagerly anticipating since last year. As of July, 2016, this co-op at last made it to the elite billionaire’s club. The Tabukenos, I’m sure, are beaming with pride, especially the members of this co-op, for this unprecedented feat.

TAMPCO is just the second co-op in the region to become a billionaire in terms of asset after BBCCC of Baguio City did it in 2008. TAMPCO was registered in 1971 and it took them 45 years to do it while it took a little longer for BBCCC with 50 years. Quite interestingly, TAMPCO was bigger than BBCCC around 15 years ago. It could be that BBCCC sailed smoothly while TAMPCO climbed arduously.

Where will the next billionaire co-op come from? ADTEMPCO in Bangued, Abra and BSU MPC at La Trinidad, Benguet are the strong contenders at present barring any unforeseen circumstances. These two are the third and fourth largest co-op respectively behind BBCCC and TAMPCO. Emil Dulnuan, the manager of another large co-op in Tabuk City asked TAMPCO, “kasano ti ikasta nga ag-billionaire, mabalin agpasuro tapno ada pares yo?” (How can one become a billionaire, can you teach us so that there will be another one the same as you?)

The lesson here is it can be done. So, the other large co-ops in the region should watch out. As you take your own sweet time, Emil Dulnuan and his co-op might shift into high gear and speeds to the finish line leaving a thick swirling dust in your face. (Franco Bawang Jr)