Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Peace Through Cooperativism
While the on-going military offensives against insurgency in Mindanao has been capturing the headlines now-a-days, unknown to many is another kind of “war” that is intensively raging that is proving to be the only road to peace because it is the ultimate offensive that uproots the causes of conflicts. That “war” has many moves but carries only one name, “COOPERATIVISM.”
Aptly described as the best “recruiter” of terrorists, poverty breeds violence, thus, it must be stopped. And the best way of containing poverty is to make the people productive by developing fully their potentials and enhancing their skills through education. Such was the spirit that drove former rebels headed by Mr. Diolito Sonido to lay down their arms in then war-torn Zamboanga to dedicate their lives to liberate the poor from the clutches of ignorance and poverty through cooperative education.
During the onset of the 21st century, they established the Western Mindanao Cooperative College in Zamboanga City with only 49 students to begin with enrolled in technical courses. After six years of sheer hard work and with single-minded adherence to cooperative quality education, the college has now more than two thousand enrollees in both professional and technical fields of education. The Cooperative College has served its mission very well in providing quality education to thousands of poor but deserving students and whose graduates are now front-lining the cause of uplifting the plight of the marginalized sectors in combating poverty in the war-torn region of Mindanao.
While cooperative education has found its mark to make life better for the poor but struggling people, the quest for peace is pursued in more ways than one as violence comes in many forms. As violence is not only perpetuated by human beings against their kindred but also by humankind against mother nature, the Earth is now in pain as manifested by Climate Change, bringing horrible ecological disasters, famine, sickness and consigning the earth into the precipice of extinction. Violence against nature is seen in the non-stop depletion and exploitation of our resource base, i.e., toppling down our dipterocarp forest, polluting our rivers and bays, desecrating the once fertile lands with toxic chemicals, etc. In effect, we have sacrificed nature to Satanic altar of greed and the whims and capriciousness of the mundane in utter disregard to the mundane, amidst morale collapse and religious apathy.
Thus, the quest for peace also includes that of nurturing nature. That is what the Doalnara Restoration Society Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Aposakahoy, Claveria, Misamis Oriental lives for. Away from the klieg lights, Doalnara is trail-blazing a way of life that is both awesome and humbling. It is awesome as it is in tune with the Infinite, charged with high spirituality as they work together, trusting in the innate processes of nature to produce yet enhancing the soil’s fertility. Humbling because it promotes what really matters, debunking the technology of violence by pursuing values and practices founded on love, peace and harmony with nature.
The Doalnara Restoration Society Multi-Purpose Cooperative is serving notice to one and all, that if man has to be saved from doom, development must be in harmony with nature and not at its own expense. The Society shows the real essence of cooperativism in terms of harnessing the people’s collective potential to pursue an alternative path with nurturing spirit.
In Lantud. Talakag, Bukidnon, the IGPANADAYUG TA ABAGA SA BAYUG COOPERATIVE (Protect Mindamora Falls Cooperative), headed by Sultan Abdul Amoran, half-Higaonon, half-Maranao, the Kumander of the MILF Special Force, North-Eastern Mindanao Front with some 1,500 combatants armed with Ak-47, have ceased-fire, organized themselves into Cooperative in 2021 during my stint as CDA Chairman. There could have been a war when a foreign Water Energy Corporation in connivance with some LGUs with men in uniform tried to cut trees to convert the Mindamora Falls into Hydro-Power Plant to make money. But the Cooperative wrote then President Rodrigo Duterte not to allow the conversion of the Falls into Hydro Power Plant as the beautiful Water-Falls, is oozing with so much beauty of nature with flying eagles above against the radiating trees and flowers with Tarsiers jumping from one branch to another as if dancing to the music of the Falls. KAMI PO AY HANDANG MAGPAKAMATAY PARA HUWAG MASIRA ANG GANDA NG KALIKASAN NA NAGLALARAWAN NG AMING PAGKAKAISA KAY MAGBABAYA, that was what the Cooperative’s message-appeal to His Excellency who responded positively. So, no exchange of bullets happened through the strong passionate environmental advocacy of the Cooperative that has gone a long way in protecting Mother Earth and in liberating the Higaonons and Maranaos in Lantud from hunger and poverty through cooperativism.
These narratives on how the cooperatives are advancing peace in Mindanao are just a tip of the iceberg. All told, it is so amazing to know hundreds if not thousands of cooperatives nation-wide silently exemplifying how to be TRANSFORMATIVE FOR PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY AND PEACE – All for God’s greater glory. MABUHAY ANG KOOPERATIBA SA KANILANG PAG-DIRIWANG NG BUWAN NG KOOPERATIBA NGAYONG BUWAN NG OKTUBRE.