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Interview with the Pasay City Cooperative Office, Philippines

The Pasay City Cooperative Office promotes the creation and strengthening of cooperatives (housing problems and identification of economic projects for the populations of the shantytowns). Organization, coordination and networking of 10 people’s organizations in 10 villages.Importance of wisdom and spirituality.

Benjamin R. Quiñones, Jr., février 2004

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

The purpose of interventions of my organization is the relocation of slum dwellers from squatter areas to designated resettlement areas. I identify existing organizations of slum dwellers and help them design and implement their own capital accumulation program which would allow households to purchase housing units in the resettlement areas on

monthly installment basis. As more savings are generated by the people’s organizations, I also help them identify business projects where they can invest their money.

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

The dominant economy does not provide a way out for slum dwellers to purchase their own housing units. In our Bayanihan program, people who have accumulated more than enough savings to cover their monthly installments have invested in income generating projects, thus enabling them to earn extra income. The dominant economy does not also have mechanisms to empower those who have less, both economically and politically. In our Bayanihan program, the accumulation and pooling of people’s savings have given people hope, a voice, and the opportunity to exploit their own productive capacities. The weekly meeting which members of the village association regularly attend provides an effective

means for inculcation of positive values and enables them to make decisions for their own economic activities.

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’?

Wealth is empowerment of the people, resulting into enhanced skills and wisdom. Wealth is a means for restoring an individual’s spiritual life. Our goal is empowerment of the people. Financial and physical wealth is just a by-product of this process.

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 that we inculcate to empower the people is the restoration of relationship with God. God has a purpose for the life of each individual. He wants to bless people, but the people must acquire skills and wisdom to be able to be good stewards of whatever resources God has allowed them to have. Yes, these values can become predominant in our society. What we need to do is to organize people into Bayanihan groups and educate them to restore their relationship with God.

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

I have introduced two innovations. One is livelihood training. This has enabled the people participating in our Bayanihan program to invest in business projects and earn money which they use to pay for their monthly installment for their housing unit in resettlement areas.

Another innovation is the social activities I deliberately organize exchange visits to promote bonding among members of the same organization in a village, and also among members of different organizations from different villages.

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?

  • Spiritual maturity and preparedness

    Knowing the ‘tibok’ (pulse) of the people, their situation and needs

    Positive values based on Biblical principles

    Approachability of the leader

    Workable technology

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

People in communities where I work have become more aware of the importance of savings as a means for empowerment. Those who have invested their money and generated earnings share their experience with their neighbors. It is through the weekly meetings that the Bayanihan program impacts the lives of individuals because this is where we conduct the training and motivation sessions.

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

Work is dedication and love expressed through the application of one’s efforts, skills, talents, and labor power. You must have a healthy body and be physically fit to fully apply yourself to your work.

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

Women are change agents. They are very effective catalysts in a program such as Bayanihan that seeks to empower the people.

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

The government should provide legal/ regulatory support to the Bayanihan program so that people will have confidence and trust in it. Government can also provide financial support to the livelihood training.

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

Yes, empowerment of the people is a global concern and we can unite with organizations from other countries who share our vision. I believe the village associations we have established can compete in a globalized world.

Sources :

Vision workshop of the WSSE

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