by Nel Benjamin Magdaleno, Cesar Ilao III, and Gwyneth Andrae Jacob
Themed “Maunlad na Mamamayan, Matatag na Pamayanan, sa Kooperatiba Makakamtan!” the Municipal Government of Los Baños, in partnership with the Municipal Cooperative Development Council (MCDC), held its first Cooperatives Festival on August 16-18, 2017. The three-day event was held at the activity area of Los Baños Municipal Building, and was attended by various cooperatives from Region 4A (CALABARZON).
The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) defines a cooperative as an independent business enterprise formed by voluntary members to achieve social, economic, and cultural needs of its members and the community through its products. A 2013 data from CDA recorded that 157,784. Filipinos all over the country are members of cooperatives, and the number is growing. Cooperatives provide employment and marketing skills to its members, and economic boost to communities.
Seminars and trainings were the focus of the first two days of the cooperative festival. These aimed to encourage cooperatives to continue and expand their activities, and invite non-members to join cooperatives. The organizers of the event featured speakers from MCDC to discuss various topics and issues related to cooperatives, specifically on how to participate in and establish one.
During the third day, cooperatives from CALABARZON showcased their own products in the Municipal Hall as the as part of the exhibit. These products included ginger teas, woven bags, and organic feeds. Buyers from around the area flocked the stalls as they bought their favored products while being oriented on how it was made.
According to cooperative festival organizer Ligaya Tan, the event was held to raise the awareness on cooperatives and its roles in the society. Mayor Caesar Perez said that holding the Festival will enable cooperatives to sustain their finances, independent from the monthly contribution given to them by the local government.
Larry Javier, a member of Kalakal Cavinti Souvenir Shop, said that the Festival served as an opportunity to promote their products to interested buyers. Mayor Caesar Perez of Los Baños said that the cooperative festival is a trial that part of the the preparations for a similar yet larger event expected to be held in December.