Just want to share with you the most applauded speech I ever had delivered in my life during the Oath Taking of the Board of Directors and other officers of MASS-SPECC Cooperative Development Center held in the afternoon of July 12, 2014 at the Malberry Suites, Cagayan de Oro City:
My friends and colleagues, it is always a pleasure to be with you. But, today it is not only a pleasure, it is also an honor. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve you as Chairman for this year and am mindful of the importance of the office in particular and of this largest federation of cooperatives in Mindanao in general.
Although my timing could be better, perhaps, because this will be my last year of my last term as member of the Board, hence, the drive to have a legacy during my incumbency, it could not be better in terms of the path on which my predecessor as Chairman have guided us. Brod Gadwin Handumon, thank you very much. The metaphor of “standing on the shoulder of giants” espoused by Bernard of Chartres and popularized by Isaac Newton is the most fitting tribute on your leadership. Candidly, I would surely see more and farther than you did as my predecessor, not because I have a keener vision or greater height, but because I am lifted up and borne aloft on your gigantic stature as one of the greatest pillars of the cooperative movement Mindanao has ever produced.
Within a period of ten months starting this July until April, 2015, your Chairman intends to support the continuance of the MASS-SPECC milestones as reported by our previous Chair. More importantly, we shall ensure that a smooth and balanced relationship between the Board and Management would be maintained. To achieve it, there should be clear understanding of, and respect for each other”s role and functions to avoid any transgression or encroachment in each other’s area of authority.
My friends, we are now in the midst of “interesting times” as we, both in the primary and in the federation level, are engaged in an ongoing struggle to carve a niche on the role of cooperatives in poverty alleviation.
With the independence attained after 450 years of colonial subjugation, the Filipinos reasonably expected to finally enjoy prosperity as they would now be in full control of their natural and human resources, and be free to make their own policies. But it was not to be.
While our neighbors, like China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Brunei and South Korea prospered after gaining independence- crossing the threshold of the economically advanced societies of Europe and the Americas- we have stayed out in the cold, still holding the proverbial begging bowl for aid and instruction.
We are told that we have failed economically because of corruption- an argument so romanticized with the PDAF, and later on the DAP, and other scams. But other countries have the same problem. China, a former semi-colony, has not gotten rid of corruption, which daily hits the headlines, but this did not stop that nation, once the world’s beggar, to become the world’s second biggest economy.
During the Spanish regime, Filipinos were told that they were poor because they were lazy. But Dr. Jose P. Rizal, in his essay “The Indolence of the Filipinos,” debunked such notion because in the pre-Spanish colonial times, Filipinos enjoyed flourishing trade, industry and agriculture.
So, it is neither corruption nor indolence that makes the Filipinos today laggard in economic development in Asia. But, my dear cooperators, what then?
Stanley Karnow, an American journalist and historian, wrote in his 1989 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “In Our Image, America’s Empire in the Philippines,” that: “Despite its modern trappings…the Philippines was still a feudal society dominated by an oligarchy of rich dynasties, which had evolved from one of the world’s longest continuous spans of Western colonial rule.” Karnow added that the United States had perpetuated the power of the Filipino upper class.”
And so today, despite the growth of the Philippine economy by 7.2 % in 2013, prosperity is hardly felt by the ordinary Filipinos as only the ones belonging to the rich dynasties are laughing at the bank. So, what shall we do to remedy the situation?
In the early part of the 19th century, Karl Marx had called to eliminate the oligarchs as monsters of capitalism through a bloody revolution, after which, a higher form of society, which he called “communism,” shall prevail.
But, Dr. William King from England, espousing the ideas of Robert Owen, also said that: “The key to economic prosperity is to store up enough capital to get control over our own labor, and then, possessing both labor and capital, we will be able to do without the capitalist altogether.” In effect, he saw capitalism as about to give way to a higher stage of “Co-operation.”
Truly, the co-operative economy is very much vibrant in so many countries in the world but sadly, it is not in the Philippines for the main reason that their cooperative system is integrated/consolidated but ours is atomized. While the oligarchs here in our country are working as one, we are individually operating on our own. The best way therefore to achieve inclusive growth in the Philippines is to compete squarely with the oligarchs through a system of consolidated “co-operation.”
Wherefore, as your Chairman, I call upon my fellow Board of Directors that, in order to spark cooperative consolidation in the Philippines, within the remaining ten (10) months of this term, let us perform our sworn duty to implement the decision of our “boss,” the affiliates of MASS-SPECC, last May 3, 2014 General Assembly at Davao City “TO PROCEED WITH CONSOLIDATION WITH NATCCO AND TO ENGAGE IN FUNCTIONAL COLLABORATION WITH NATCCO FROM 2014-2015 ONLY.”
Truly, this goal is not easy but it is extremely essential. And so, I call upon my fellow officers, the management and all cooperators for us to work towards this direction as we owe it not only to ourselves but to the future generation of co-operators in Mindanao and the entire Philippines.
But fellow Mindanao co-operators, please be assured that in the process of consolidation with NATCCO, we as your representatives, shall strive hard to achieve a consolidation model that would fit with our “federalist” ideals and aspirations; a consolidation model that would entice other cooperative federations outside of MASS-SPECC and NATCCO to join; a consolidation model that I and the Chief Executive Officer had already agreed in principle during a one-on-one meeting that we have had a few days after my election to the Board Chairmanship.
Friends, it is an honor to be your colleague and your Chairman. For my fellow members of the Board, thank you for this opportunity. And, to all the cooperators gathered in this hall, my deepest appreciation for your attention.