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Cooperatives in the Philippines - How to Join and Invest Your Future in It

The Don Galo Cooperative of Paranaque, Manila, Philippines sponsored a Cooperative Education Outreach Program last October 15, 2011. It's part of the series of basic coop orientation seminar being held this year in order to orient residents of the barangay on how cooperative operates.

I was one of the participants of the said event. I was able to know how cooperative started in Europe during the Industrial Revolution (early 1800s). It became the turning point on how workers were affected by the sudden displacement of labor from rural to city dwellings. Capitalists got richer while the workers were paid poorly.

As the seminar progressed, we were able to know the men behind the idea of cooperativism in England; whereas, Robert Owem and William King were among the twenty eight cotton workers who founded the Rochdale Equitable Pioneer Society.

The Rochdale cooperative concentrated first on selling the right weight or kilos of the prime commodities, such as flour, oatmeal, sugar and butter until they expanded into what they are now.

The values and principles of the cooperative is about honesty and respect. The customer-member owns the cooperative. It's about self-help or mutual help among the members.

Cooperatives spread into Germany, Quebec, USA , Philippines and the rest of the world.

Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the country's national hero started a supply and marketing cooperative in Dapitan , Zamboanga del Norte in 1896. It is where he was exiled during the Spanish regime. He utilized his knowledge and ideas he gathered from his travels in Europe in order to put up the first-ever cooperative in the Philippines.

Photo by Travel Man

Photo by Travel Man

The coop seminar with a makeshift  cloth for the projector.

The coop seminar with a makeshift cloth for the projector.

October is the Cooperative Month this year. The principle of cooperativism spread in Asia, especially in Japan and South Korea in order to combat economic crisis.

In the Philippines, the full implementation of cooperatives started with bayanihan or sakada system. Bayanihan means helping one another in a unified voluntary action. The most vivid action is when a nipa hut is going to be transferred to another location. Sakada is a term of cooperative-type of action during rice harvest, wherein farmers and helpers are going to help the farm owner harvest his rice without payment. In return, he or she will also pay back the same action of his/her neighbors.

In 1960s, parish-based cooperatives sprung. Farmers Marketing Cooperatives also dominated the countryside in order to help farmers sell their harvest at the right price.

Many types of cooperative continue to be established in the archipelago. Cooperatives can be:

Types of Cooperative

  • credit
  • consumers coop
  • producers and marketing coop
  • multi-purpose
  • agrarian reform
  • coop bank
  • healthcare
  • housing coop
  • insurance
  • transport
  • electric coop

There's a common bond of interest when joining a cooperative. It can be the same community, same job or organization.

Values and Spirit of Cooperativism

It includes:

  1. Self-Help
  2. Self-Responsibility
  3. Equity
  4. Democracy
  5. Equality
  6. Honesty
  7. Openness
  8. Caring for Others
  9. Social Responsibility
  10. Solidarity

In cooperative, we are the owners and at the same time, we are the owners.

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Bayanihan in the Philippines (Photo by Cy Rosero)

Bayanihan in the Philippines (Photo by Cy Rosero)

Co-op Principles

Since the dawn of Rochdale Coop in England, the following principles never changed. This set of important values in organizing and running a cooperative is still the basis of establishing a successful organization.

In cooperativism, running a business is for the benefit of every member.

  1. Open & Voluntary Membership - It is non-discriminatory. Everyone can be a member of a cooperative.
  2. Democratic Member Control - Members are co-owners. Each member can only vote once when election of board of directors is conducted. The vote of an absentee will never be counted.
  3. Member Economic Participation - There's a shared capital where a dividend of each member can be returned to them (70 %) once they terminate their membership. There's also a patronage refund each year as the cooperative grows.
  4. Autonomy and Independence - It has its own constitution and by-laws that serves as guide for a good governance.
  5. Education, Training and Information - A successful cooperative should impart additional knowledge to all members by way of summer classes in home businesses and the like.
  6. Cooperation among Coops - There's a saying that: "No man is an island." It also applies to the principles of cooperativism in order to exist successfully.
  7. Concern for Community - Cooperative means the community itself. Its about people helping one another in order to be a successful group or entity.

Mike Hanopol - Sa Bayan Ni Juan c/o SuperTunogPinoy

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Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on September 23, 2013:

@Joyette Fabien: Thanks for picking up this information. I am sure it will open an opportunity to build active cooperatives in your country.

Joyette Helen Fabien from Dominica on September 18, 2013:

Most enlightening. The Government department where I work has responsibility for cooperatives. I will share this information.

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on March 05, 2012:

@Alan Dela Merced: Yes, you can visit Don Galo this year.

In fact, they'll be re-opening the livelihood slot this summer but the only problem is entrepreneurs, like you.

Alan Dela Merced on February 18, 2012:

Maybe we can each other, we share our Livehood business opportunity to you and share it to your Brgy., we have a all purpose disinfectant solution. We can do a hand sanitizer, mouth wash, and more... in short it kills bacteria's.

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on October 28, 2011:

@Romano Arnesto: I hope this article should serve as 'wake-up call' to people in order for them to spearhead this kind of endeavor that can help the whole community.

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on October 28, 2011:

@thesailor. You bet it does. :D People should realize that there's always a hidden goodness when investing in cooperative.

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on October 28, 2011:

@Arian Rey: You're right. People should invest to cooperatives and never worry about losing their capital. Although, there's always precaution when investing your money in the bank or in cooperative. You should choose the lesser 'evil' between the two.

Romano Arnesto from Philippines on October 26, 2011:

It will help people to organize cooperatives in their communities. Thanks for sharing this info.

thesailor from Seven Seas on October 25, 2011:

Bank versus cooperative...I will bet that cooperative will always last. Banks usurp people's deposits while cooperative give back dividends and shares to its member-owners.

Arian Rey from Pearl of the Orient Seas (PHILIPPINES) on October 24, 2011:

Very informative hub. We can overcome bankruptcy if we're going to incorporate the values of cooperatives in our organizations.

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