Panagbenga Flower Festival
Other Links:

Coop formed by low–schooled mothers is now a multi–million asset
by Jane Cadalig

The Mothers and Family Multipurpose Cooperative, whose foundation is traced to 10 lactating moms, continue to prove its relevance in improving the living conditions of its clients through the spirit of 'coperativism.' -- Ofelia Empian

Thirty-two years ago, a group of mothers organized themselves and looked for a program that would help them alleviate the living conditions of their families.

These mothers were beneficiaries of a program implemented by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an international humanitarian agency that extends assistance to impoverished and disadvantaged people. The mothers were receiving cornmeal, bulgur, milk, and used clothing donated by the United States to the Philippines. It was through the CRS’ distribution of commodities to indigent families from the suburbs of Baguio that the idea of organizing the beneficiaries to pursue a more relevant undertaking was hatched.

At the time, the group of mothers – lactating mothers – was not merely receiving the commodities distributed by the CRS. The mothers were also provided with nutrition education where they were made aware of the importance of proper nutrition, being the family managers that they were.

The commodity donation and nutrition program went on until people behind the CRS realized that the mothers cannot be left depending on dole-outs forever.

“We saw the need to come up with a program that will emphasize to the mothers the importance of self-reliance. We wanted to help them further,” said Elizabeth Mamanglo, a former CRS worker.

That was the time the mothers were encouraged to organize themselves and formed an association that primarily aimed to link them to institutions that could lend them capital, since they were looking for other means to help alleviate their families’ living conditions. The initiative was then a savings and loan association.

Mamanglo said the objective was to help the members take turns in availing themselves of seed capital that they could use in their respective buy and sell livelihood or similar undertaking to alleviate their families’ living conditions.

“We helped link the mothers to the Saint Louis University Extension Institute for Small-Scale Industries, but only to a certain point because SLU started selecting the sectors to be benefitted and because the needs of the mothers were also growing. That was the time we thought of starting our own cooperative,” she said.

With her background on cooperatives, courtesy of the seminars she had attended, Mamanglo said they started briefing the mothers on the principles of a cooperative. They also invited other resource persons who were knowledgeable about the operations of a cooperative. During those years, the Bureau of Agriculture was the lead government agency that handled seminars on how to organize and establish cooperatives because of the farmer groups that needed to be organized.

Multipurpose cooperative

Since the common need of the mothers during those times was to have an institution from where they could borrow money at a minimal interest rate, a credit and savings cooperative was established.

Like every coop, the main goal of the mother’s group was to help improve each member’s quality of life.

“We started with 11 mothers. Then they became 15, until the number kept growing. Other mothers joined when they learned about the benefits that the pioneer members were enjoying, such as the patronage refunds and dividends,” Mamanglo said.

All of this was in 1985.

Four years later, the “all-mother” cooperative started opening its doors and accepted family members of the mothers that pioneered the institution.

That was the birth of the Mothers and Family Multipurpose Cooperative (Mofamco).

“The coop was no longer exclusive for mothers. Their spouse, kids, and even their siblings started to join so we named the coop Mothers and Family,” said Mamanglo, who is now general manager of Mofamco.

When the Cooperative Development Authority was created in 1990, Mofamco registered with the agency as a multipurpose cooperative – promoting savings and providing lending services to its members.

The CDA since then became the lead government agency that regulates the operations of cooperatives.Among other functions, it is in charge of developing and conducting management and training programs that will provide members with entrepreneurial capabilities, managerial expertise, and technical skills required for the efficient operation of their cooperatives.

Product of volunteerism and benevolent individuals

Mofamco is a product of the spirit of volunteerism and the generosity of the people behind the CRS.

The challenges brought about by the scarcity of resources needed in running the coop was addressed by the strong support system that surrounded its operations.

Since Mofamco was established in 1985 andwhen it was still an all-mother institution, the staff members who were running its operations provided purely volunteer services. The priests behind the CRS lent to the cooperative a space at the Sangkabalayan Building at the Baguio Cathedral, to serve as its office.

“The late Fr. John Pardou, who was the parish priest of the then Baguio Cathedral, allowed us to use the Sangkabalayan Building as our office, for free. He and the other priests were really generous,” Mamanglo said.

The cooperative also got the support of the late Bishop Sebastian Dalis; a former seminarian named Simon Tomas; and Rev. Victor Munar, now the general manager of the Catholic-run local radio station DzWT-DzWR.

“Aside from allowing the free use of the Sangkabalayan office, they lent us other office devices like their typewriters and served us our resource speakers and shared us their entrepreneurial skills,” Mamanglo said.

“We started with almost nothing. Even the receipts that we issued our clients were sourced out from the unused receipts of the Bishop’s House.”

The staff members continued to provide volunteer services for three years as Mofamco’s membership grew and until the coop’s financial operations were already established enough to provide regular salaries to the employees.

On to stability

Years of volunteerism and wise use of resources helped cement Mofamco’s way to financial stability and its ability to provide the benefits that its members deserve.

The coop proved this when, after 14 years, it was asked to vacate the Sangkabalayan office. It was left with no recourse but to look for a new home.

“When the CRS closed, we no longer got the support we used to receive, especially when Fr. Pardou went back to Belgium, Bishop Dalis died, and Fr. Munar was transferred.That was the time we bought a building at the city public market,” Mamanglo said.

The coop held office at the Hangar Section at the city market for another 13 years before it again bought a lot and built its own building – a bigger and more spacious home – at T. Alonzo St.

The frugality of Mofamco’s staff members and board of directors and the spirit of cooperativism embodied by the members were among the secrets of the continued financial stability of the cooperative.

Not selective of membership

Membership to the cooperative is not measured by one’s wealth or educational attainment. If it has to be emphasized, the people who pioneered the institution in 1985 were low-schooled mothers.

Mamanglo said that only four of the founding members were college graduates and the rest were either high school or elementary dropouts. She said despite such limitations, the group was determined to contribute what they can in the interest of the cooperative.

Except for the four years that it was an all-mother coop, Mofamco has been open to anybody who is interested in joining organizations of people sharing common interests.

The members, now numbering to around 6,500 are a mixture of laborers, the self-employed, farmers, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Students and children are also accepted, as a way of teaching them to save money early on.

As in any organization though, those interested to be part of the coop must first attend a seminar to be oriented on the requirements they need to comply, the benefits they will derive as members, and their obligations to the cooperative as well as to their fellow members.

What does one get from joining a cooperative?

The International Cooperative Alliance defines cooperative as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

These people make equitable contributions to meet the capital required by their undertaking.They patronize their products and services, and accept their fair share of the risks and benefits as a result of their endeavor.

Cooperatives, regardless of their type, aim to help improve the quality of life of the members.

This is why it is important that one must first understand and be willing to contribute to the pool of resources before joining a cooperative. One becomes a member upon agreeing to abide by the policies of a cooperative and upon payment of the required share capital, the amount of which varies on the coop.

By joining a cooperative, members agree to fulfill their obligations for the survival of the organization in the same manner that they equally share from the income of the coop.

“One of the basic advantages of joining a cooperative is that every member is part of the business. Therefore, they all share from whatever the income the coop generates,” Mofamco Assistant General Manager Patricia Laguyo said.

“Also, in a coop, the requirements for a member to avail of a loan are not so tedious compared with other lending institutions,” she said.

Mamanglo said cooperatives also promote communitarian spirit and members are assured of transparency at all times.

“More than that, it is where democracy is best practiced. The major decisions come from the general assembly,” she said.


Like other cooperatives, Mofamco has its share of challenges, such as the inability of some members to pay their loan amortizations for some reasons. The delinquency in payments has an adverse impact on the coop’s financial operations.

But more than the problems with their members, cooperatives all over the country have been faced by challenges brought about by some measures coming from the government. Among those that confronted cooperatives is the Comprehensive Tax Reform Package that intends, among other things, to lift the tax exemptions on cooperatives. Coops have been enjoying valued-added tax exemptions, courtesy of the Cooperative Code of the Philippines, which provides that “cooperatives transacting business with both members and non-members shall not be subjected to tax on their transactions with members. In relation to this, the transactions of members with the cooperative shall not be subject to any taxes and fees, including but not limited to final taxes on members’ deposits and documentary tax.”

Large coops, such as Mofamco, however, are no longer qualified to benefit from the tax exemption because their assets reach more than P100 million.

Cooperatives are also struggling to comply with the requirement of the Credit Information Corporation (CIC) for coops to comply with the Credit Information System Act. Under the law, coops must submit to the CIC the credit performance of a borrower. This includes, among other things, how timely borrowers pays their amortization and their records of delinquency.

CDA Senior Cooperative Development Specialist Martin Manodon said the CDA has not been sold to requiring coops to comply with the CISA. “Cooperatives are member-owned. They know their members very well so the CDA does not see the need for them to submit those information,” he said.

Mofamco’s contributions and other achievements

Despite the challenges, Mofamco carries on its mission of providing the services and meeting the needs of its members.

More than the dividends and patronage refund benefits that members enjoy, Mamanglo said Mofamco’s greatest contribution so far is its abi-lity to educate its members to save and invest their money wisely.

Because of that, she said a good number of members have grown with the cooperative. A lot were able to send their children to school, from elementary to college. Some improved their houses from huts to concrete structures. Small-scale entrepreneurs were able to expand their businesses. Miners were able to complete the tools they need for their undertaking while public utility vehicle operators acquired additional units and employed helpers. Other members were also able to buy real estate properties.

From a modest institution 32 years ago, Mofamco has slowly, but surely, prospered and became one of the 34 millionaire cooperatives in the Cordillera under the large coop category. It continues to educate members on the importance of saving and investing wisely through the spirit of ‘cooperativism’ or by helping each other improve, either financially or socially.

Manodon said there are 840 coops registered with the agency. Four are classified as billionaire coops.

Manodon said large category coops are those that reached P100M and above in total assets.

Aside from savings and credit, Mofamco is also engaged in providing seminar and training on coops, Christian family life, gender sensitivity, nutrition education and environmental advocacy, mutual aid, cultural enhancement, and outreach projects among other programs.
Other news
:: The Luke Foundation Inc.:
Passion, service, and heroism in social work
:: Green thumbs make Baguio parks bloom
:: Roland Bay–an:
Painting the road less travelled
:: When helping becomes a way of life
:: The tale of a "special;" mom and an anti–cancer advocate
:: Ma’am Lipa: SPED Center’s silent teacher–camp
:: Building a better world for autism through photography
:: Ordinary people with extraordinary deeds
:: Helping hands, healing (he)arts
:: Taking the cudgels:
What we need to do for the Baguio We Want
:: Eduard Folayang:
From a poor boy to global sports icon
:: The doctor’s D.R.E.A.M. of fulfilling other&rsquio; dream

Baguio Country Club
Department of Tourism – CAR
University of Baguio
Venus Parkview Hotel

Congressman Mark O. Go
Department of Health – CAR
Kings College of the Philippines
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
Narda’s Handwoven Arts & Crafts Inc.
Philex Mining Corporation
Pines City Colleges
Province of Benguet
Sangguniang Panlungsod
SM City Baguio
Social Security System

Assumption Medical Diagnostic Center
Baguio Center Mall
Baguio Central University
Baguio Heart and Lung Diagnostic Center Inc.
Baguio Memorial Chapels Incorporated
Baguio Water District
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – CAR
C & Triple A Supermart
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Curamed Pharmacy
Data Center College of the Philippines of Baguio City Inc.
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Department of Trade and Industry – CAR
Department of Transportation – CAR
Easter College Incorporated
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Fast East Pacific Commercial
Filipino–Japanese Friendship Association of Northern Luzon, Inc.
GMS Technology
Immigration Network Services, Inc.
La Funeraria Paz, Inc.
Mayor Romeo K. Salda
MMS Development Training Center Corporation
Mother Earth Deli Basket
National Economic & Development Authority–CAR
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration
Philippine Science High School – CARC
R.A. Gapuz Review Center
Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board – CAR
Solibao – Ganza Restaurant
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority


Home | About Us | Editorial Policy | Contact Us
News | Opinion | Snapshots | Week's Mail | Obituaries
Copyright © 2007. All Rights Reserved.