To quote an Oxfam Study, “In a world so enamored in profit-motive that has already captured the mindset of all governments, all institutions and all universities, competition for wealth, power and fame has become the order of the times as competition for wealth and power is based on the perception that they are meaningless fragments in an alien universe, unconnected to each other.” In cooperativism whose essence is one of members-owned (no one shall be left behind), value-based, philosophy driven and sustainable, such perception does not exist, as the cooperatives firmly believe in the oneness and inter-connectedness of all of God’s creation. Indeed, we are not separate fragments in an alien universe and that inter-connectedness should be passionately shown through compassion, service and love.
Bounded with passion and purpose, that spirit of oneness, service and love is being exemplified by PERA Multipurpose Cooperative (PERA MPC) which was organized in 1998 known then as the Philnabank Employees Resources of Agusan Multipurpose Cooperative. Trail-blazed by 29 determined cooperators who worked at Philippine National Bank, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur with an initial capital of P72,500 PERA MPC has scaled the heights drawing those in the margins into the mainstream of development processes. Showing how the cooperative became the countervailing force against poverty, gross inequity and social injustice, some 15,335 members joined the cooperative in just the last five years and in 2018, became the first billionaire cooperative in Caraga Region.
While it may have amazingly reached the billion-peso mark, but such concretely manifested how the cooperative is successfully making life better to every poor member as the cooperative is members-owned. More amazing is how the cooperative pursues its vision to be the leading cooperative providing services and how it values its community involvement geared towards improving the lives of the people and regaining back the lost ecological integrity in collaboration with government and non-government organizations. One of which is the Adopt an Indigenous People (IP) Family Program in partnership with the Cooperative Development Authority Caraga Regional Office that aims to protect the heritage of the IPs. The location of these recipients is classified as geographically isolated disadvantaged areas at Tumalog, Zillovia Talacogon, Agusan del Sur, PERA MPC adopted seven (7) families. PERA MPC is committed to extend assistance to our IP friends who are willing to organize themselves into a cooperative for them to have a sustainable livelihood and promote their products in a competitive avenue.
PERA MPC also supported the Department of Education thru its Alternative Learning System that enables the adults and out-of-school youths to acquire basic occupation skills, knowledge and information, values and attitudes essential for obtaining initial gainful employment. Aside from its support to the Department of Education, the PERA MPC created Scholarship Program, a continuing program of the cooperative in the formal education (high school). The beneficiaries are the relatives of its members who are persistently patronizing the products and services of PERA MPC. Currently, the coop has sixteen (16) scholars. They were given gadgets such as Tablet, Flash Drive., WIFI modem and monthly load allowance which are of great help in this new normal education set-up.
In August 2018, PERA MPC launched the “KOOP KAPATID PROGRAM” intended for small and micro cooperatives which promotes cooperation and capacitation of cooperatives within its area of operation to enhance and improve their operation thereby increase income and productivity. To help the cooperatives of the IPs, PERA MPC committed to donate P600,000 recently to finance the projects of the IPs’ cooperatives on food security and ecological integrity by countering climate change.
While PERA MPC is now scaling the heights of success not only in the Caraga Region but now operating nationwide under the amazing leadership of the Board of Directors oozing with charisma and management adroitness headed by Chairperson Gil C. Gilot and Mr. Jonathan Bañas, President and CEO, but its accomplishments 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. PERA MPC has concretely shown love and compassion when without hesitation, it provided food and assistance to thousands of hungry IP families who were inside the quagmire of poverty and oppression.
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 PERA MPC. It was so amazing to see a thousand IP families receiving the much needed assistance. There could be no greater joy than to see hungry children jumping joyfully and the spiritual radiance shining from the innermost being out of love.
For being a TRANSFORMATIVE COOPERATIVE FOR PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY AND PEACE, our firm salute to PERA MPC especially to the amazing Board of Directors and Officers: Chair Gil . Gilot, Vice-Chair Ciriaco C. Ariño, Jr., Dir. Rosalinda T. Moreno, Dir. Brian O. diamante, Dir. Philip P. Ahmee and to President and CEO, Jonathan A. Bañas.
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