The Silly Brand
I can still vividly remember the introductory story being told by a known Philippine cooperative leader and former Chairperson of San Dionesio Credit Cooperative, a very popular organization both in the local and international fronts, based in Parañaque, Metro Manila, Philippines who was the guest speaker in the Ownership Meeting for Mindanao primary cooperative-affiliates of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO Network) conducted in Davao City. She was relating her observation about the prayer meetings aired on popular television stations, wherein, at the instance of the religious leader, the faithful simultaneously waived their handkerchiefs and hold it back almost at perfect cadence as if dictated by the spell-casting powers of a magic wand. And instantly, she would describe those pious ones in Filipino language as: “may topak sa utak” (having a screw loose in their brains).
Admittedly, it was the same observation that she had also thrown to cooperative leaders before she joined the cooperative movement as she considered those “people helping people” with nothing in mind but the “commitment to total human development that transcends over and above personal interests” as amazingly crazy. In fact, she was wondering what the hell are the underlying reasons why they sacrificed so much for the welfare of others. But, when she was also lured into volunteerism in the cooperative movement, she found the right answer to herself. The inexplicable fulfillment she felt in helping fellow cooperators had made her decide to left her lucrative part-time teaching job to become a loyal member and true-bloodied officer of her cooperative without receiving even a single cent as remuneration. And more importantly, she never paid attention to the pessimists branding her as “may topak sa utak.”
Of course, we in the audience were laughing our hearts out upon hearing the speaker’s tale. Candidly, her lecture on Social Performance Management (SPM) was among the best that I ever heard. But admittedly, the introduction that she delivered had struck my inner chord more than the body of her speech. Yes, the lecture had already long been delivered, and the speaker long been gone, but I was left in one corner of the meeting hall seriously contemplating on what I am doing. For I myself considered cooperativism as “the greatest missionary work I have done, and shall be doing, in my whole life. The more trials blocking the way in my cooperative journey, the stronger I felt that I am closer to God.”
The people who appreciated my efforts in co-organizing my primary cooperative and steering it to greater heights and my contribution to the Philippine, as well as world, cooperative movement being an officer of the regional and national cooperative federations may brand my deeds as iconic. But certainly, the narcissists are having their day feasting on the gossip about the screw loose in my brain.
Am I affected with the negative brand? The answer is a big NO because those pessimists know nothing about what they are saying. And candidly, those derisive and preposterous remarks had served as the fire in my belly to write some more about the cooperative advantage to create awareness among my readers that cooperativism, the socio-economic doctrine to enable communities and groups to share in achieving their common well-being, is a movement worth living for.