I didn’t know until this writing that the then President Elpidio Quirino in June 28, 1949 issued Proclamation No. 133, series of 1949, designating every first Saturday of July of each year as the International Co-operative Day in the Philippines. That was a big surprise as far as I am concerned. I mean, there was this declaration long time ago and I just stumbled on it only now.
Unfortunately, in my more than 15 years in the co-op movement, nobody told me about such fact. Unless this proclamation was later revoked or superseded by another proclamation. As far as my search was concerned, there was no further issuance by any succeeding president of any revocation to that effect. I suppose, co-ops were just not given importance in the years after until the proclamation was eventually forgotten.
I just recently chanced on this document when I was going over some significant events in the month of July. If the Co-op sector in the Philippines have been celebrating the so-called International Co-operative Day on a yearly basis since 1949, I have no information on that one.
What I knew was that last July 6, 2019, almost all co-operative stakeholders, the Cooperative Development Authority included, conducted a simultaneous nationwide activity in participation of the International Co-op Day celebration. Co-op advocates were encouraged to mobilize their ranks to stage various undertakings as they seem appropriate in their area. It was also an opportunity to show to the world that the co-op sector is now a force to be reckoned with.
A quick search at Google revealed that 2019 was the 96th International Co-op Day which started in 1923 initiated by the International Cooperative Alliance. The United Nations gave its support on this annual co-operative day only recently or in 1995. This year marks their 25th UN International Co-op Day.
This year’s theme is COOPS 4 DECENT WORK. At least, co-ops contribute to job generation no matter how small. In places where jobs are scarce, there is decent work available in co-operatives. This is what co-op is all about. Co-ops give even the lowly people a chance to make a difference for themselves and be successful in their own right.
I always remind co-op managers and other officers every time there is a gathering, for them to make good on their respective co-ops, make it grow, expand and innovate not only for better benefits but more importantly, for the creation of additional jobs that will benefit their own children, grandchildren and other people in their community. They don’t have to go as far as abroad to look for jobs when co-ops have the capacity to provide one for them. It may not be a high-paying job but at least, there is one available for those who are interested.
Well, I already wrote previously that one co-op in our region, particularly in the province of Abra, employ almost 500 individuals. From humble beginnings, it grew, it expanded to other places, diversified its businesses, it innovated until it became a billionaire co-op. On record, this co-op is the largest co-op in the region in terms of employment.