Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Speech during the 1st Philippine Cooperative TEAM Shop in General Santos City

I was invited to deliver the Keynote Addtess during the 1st Philippine Cooperative TEAM Shop in General Santos City.

The conference had the theme "T.E.A.M. -Together, Everyone Achieves More" and I was requested to deliver a message on "My Vision for the Cooperative Movement in the Philippines in Response to Global Challenges".

Below is the speech I delivered:

I am deeply honored to be the speaker during this conference of cooperatives, the first of its kind in the country. The First Philippine Cooperative-TEAM Shop is a noteworthy endeavor that is a step towards the right direction in the development of cooperatives in the Philippines.

Perhaps it is appropriate that at the outset, I extend my congratulations to the National Cooperative Development Council, the Government of Gen. Santos City, the City Cooperative Development Council, the Regional Cooperative Development Councils in Regions XI and XII and last but certainly not the least, the Cooperative Development Authority. Truly, this initiative is proof of your proactive stance in advancing Philippine cooperativism.

TEAM…T. E. A. M. The acronym stands for the conference’s theme, “Together, Everyone Achieves More”.

The theme is a reiteration of the real spirit of cooperativism, where the combined strength of its members serves as the driving force behind the success of a cooperative. Ideally, the input of the individual combined with those of others results in the higher output of the cooperative as a whole.

It should not take a genius to realize that cooperation and combination leads to increased productivity as well as equitable sharing of benefits. It is a principle that is older than any political ideology prevailing now. From pre-historic times up to the modern era, the idea of joining forces, forging alliances and pooling resources has always been known to Man.

One would think that with the wisdom that goes with that principle, people would always give premium to banding together in unity. But what do we see in our country now? The Philippines is so divided, and the division criss-crosses between political ideologies, religious denomination, social strata, ethnic origin, even school affiliation.

The country’s division has contributed to our slow progress, and our country is often said to be taking two steps back for every step forward.

But cooperatives offer a glimmer of hope. Above the clutter and noise of national division, cooperatives offer a chance for the people to tap into the best qualities of the Filipino and achieve economic gain and stability.

Cooperatives have a universally accepted set of principles:

  1. Open and Voluntary Membership- where the lines of division is overcome with an open membership based on self-determination
  2. Democratic Control – where leadership is determined by collective decision
  3. Member Economic Participation – where every member has an equitable share in the capital and profit.
  4. Autonomy and Independence – where the direction of the coop is determined by the members free from external influence
  5. Education, Training and Information – where members learn from the organization and information is made available to everyone
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives – where the cooperative moves in cooperation not only among its members but also among other cooperatives
  7. Concern for the Community – where cooperatives consider the sustainable development of the community and environment they move around in.

These principles give me a hope that in the backdrop of the chaos in national politics, cooperatives will more than make up for the flaws in present day society. It makes me confident that in the face of the global challenges the Philippines’ faces, cooperatives will be the catalyst of change that will usher in prosperity for our countrymen.

What is my vision for cooperatives in these trying times?

1. Cooperatives will be the preferred economic activity by the masses.

A majority of our people, the masses, are considered economically challenged. Many lack the educational attainment that would land them a well paid job, and almost all do not have the resources to become entrepreneurs by themselves.

While these dire circumstances may make a bright future seem unreachable, cooperatives provide people the opportunity to engage in productive economic activity without the demands of a venture by themselves.

2. The diversity of cooperative activities will lead to complementation, not competition.

There are various types of cooperatives with various kinds of activities. But there are times when similarities occur, and sometimes, those similarities lead to competition so intense that the cooperatives cancel each other out and both end up losing.

But there is a way to take advantage of diversity. If cooperatives concentrate on core activities and make themselves distinct from others, the concept of specialization will enable cooperatives to co-exist and prosper.

This is where your concept of One Coop Type – One Project comes in. The concept will make cooperatives avoid destructive competition and allow market niches to flourish. The specialization will also lead to excellence in the outputs of coops, since the concentration produces mastery of activity.

3. The cooperatives will be able to expand its business borders from the domestic market to the global market.

The mastery of a particular activity will enable cooperatives to turn out quality products or services and be more competitive. If coops are able to attain world class standards in their outputs and sustain that ability, they can penetrate markets in other countries as well as gain the confidence of the domestic market.

4. The cooperative movement will become so successful that not only will the movement be the preferred activity of Filipinos, but the movement will become the model to be emulated by other countries.

It is not unrealistic to dream that there will come a time that the Philippine cooperative movement will become the model for other countries. We are already on the road towards achieving the level of cooperative excellence and success, and as long as we are consistent in our efforts to improve cooperativism, it will not be long until the world will recognize our leadership in the cooperative movement.

These are but some of the aspirations we have for the Philippine cooperative movement. I do believe that these are realistic and attainable. But once again, we have to go back to the issue of unity and cooperation.

The question is : Is the cooperative movement ready to take on the challenge?

I believe it is. Proof is this conference that you have held for the first time. It is my desire that this conference will start the ball rolling towards the vision that we have for the cooperative movement.

But being ready to take on the challenge is only the beginning. The next step should be the adoption of a shared vision, plot a course of action, diligent implementation of the plan and an honest to goodness evaluation of what has been achieved.

As you go back to your respective areas after this conference, take along with you the lessons you have learned, the insights you have heard and the linkages you have made. These shall be valuable in your efforts to make your cooperatives successful.

And as I end this message, I leave you with this quotation which I think is relevant to our theme today:

"If you want to be incrementally better:Be Competititve. If you want to be exponentially better: Be Cooperative."

May you all have a blessed day ahead!

Thank you very much!

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