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Interview of LJOR Fellowship, the Philippines

LJOR Fellowship coordinates 7 popular organizations in 7 villages. Activities include formation of values, community organizing, capital build-up, enterprise development, and spiritual renewal. It works following the principles of the « Bayanihan » economy or solidarity economy in the Philipines.

Benjamin R. Quiñones, Jr., février 2004

1. What is the main goal of your economic activity?

The main goal of our economic activity is to achieve economic self-reliance through the advocacy and practice of “sama-sama” (coming together) and “tulong-tulong” (helping one another).

2. Do you practice AN ALTERNATIVE or ANOTHER economy? If ‘yes’, in what sense does it differ from the dominant.mainstream economy?

The mainstream system relies on rich or foreign people for generating capital and investment. This development strategy may attract big capital from big and foreign investors to local communities, but such kind of capital can not be depended upon to stay. They withdraw their investments and run to other countries when the domestic economy is in bad shape. In contrast, the Bayanihan (Filipino word for ‘solidarity’) economy generates capital from the local people themselves.

Local people will stay and not run away with their money when the economy goes through a downturn. They will strive to find a way out. In this sense, reliance on local capital engenders economic stability.

3. What is ‘WEALTH’, according to your own understanding? Is material wealth the ultimate goal you want to reach or a means for something else? What is that ‘something else’?

I define wealth in terms of wisdom, health, and character. Although ‘Bayanihan’ promotes economic productivity and favors prosperity through financial wealth accumulation, this is not our long-term goal. I believe we are more in the business of building character in individuals.

4. What VALUES do you and your comrades practice in your daily life and work? Is it possible, in your opinion, that these values become predominant for the whole of society? How can they be generalized?

The predominant values we promote in Bayanihan are fourfold: (1) No God, no success; (2) Seek the welfare of the city/community (not merely one’s own individual welfare); (3) In unity there is strength and synergy; and (4) The poor can also save and generate home-grown capital.

Yes, I believe these values can become predominant for the whole of Philippine society because we are predominantly a ‘Christian’ nation in Asia. But even among Muslims and other people of different faith, who also believe in their own god, the other three values are attractive and

generally welcome.

5. What innovations have you developed in the form of organizing property, management and the appropriation of the fruits of labor?

The people we are working with generally have no properties to speak of. You can imagine the excitement in their faces when I tell them that in Bayanihan they can become owners of a mega-mall. I believe enabling people afflicted with low self-esteem and hopelessness to dream and actually strive towards a more equitable society is an important social innovation.

6. Please enumerate the things you would consider as important when you work in a solidarity (cooperative) network or in a production chain guided by solidarity/cooperation?

Building relationships through regular fellowship Respecting the individual’s rights Business projects that attract investments from the local people Inculcation of skills in organizing and leading people

7. Does your activity influence the life of the community? If ‘yes’, how, and in what spheres?

At this stage of the Bayanihan program, its impacts are largely in terms of the ‘intangibles’ such as improving social skills and social interaction, enhancing the spirit of cooperation and reciprocity,and raising the morale of local people. In three of the seven villages I work with, people have

stopped borrowing from informal moneylenders who charge extremely high interest rates on their loans. They have shifted their financial accounts to the Bayanihan program.

8. What is your understanding of “WORK”, based on your experience? What value and meaning does it have in your life?

Work is something that you need to do daily. It is not necessarily doing an activity for which you are paid a compensation. It can be a voluntary work, and this is what I do in Bayanihan program. Whether it is paid or voluntary, work to me is something that gives color and meaning

to my life. It is the thing that motivates me, and spurs my life.

9. What role does WOMAN play in an economic initiative guided by cooperation/solidarity?

Women in Bayanihan play a big role. They know how to prioritize expenditures for basic needs of the household. They personally think about the daily needs of their own families, especially the children. They know what to spend for and how to budget the little money they

earn. They know the value of savings. They worry when there is nothing to spend, that is why they respond enthusiastically to the Bayanihan savings program because it helps them prepare better for any unforeseen financial need in the future..

10. How can public policies and the State contribute to the progress of a people’s economy guided by solidarity/ cooperation (bayanihan)?

The government may enact a decree encouraging them to implement the Bayanihan program. I believe the local tourism development program of the Philippine government will not be needed anymore to attract investors if all villages in the Philippines will implement the Bayanihan program.

11. Do you believe that a globalization of cooperation and solidarity is possible? If ‘yes’, how could this be realized?

Yes, globalization of the Bayanihan approach is possible because the values and principles it espouses are universal. We can realize this by training local people how to design and implement the Bayanihan program.

Sources :

Vision workshop of the WSSE

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