The month of July reminds us of many events locally and internationally. The International Day of Cooperatives celebrated worldwide last July 6, 2019. As cooperatives gain recognition for their contributions to sustainable business enterprises that generate employment, provide affordable socio-economic services, promote unity and cooperation in building resilient communities.
Previously, the 4th of July was considered Philippine Independence Day before it was moved to every 12th of June of each year.
Thirty-two years ago marked the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region under President Corazon Aquino. Upon its creation, the Provinces of Abra, Kalinga-Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Baguio City formed the new region. Its birth as a newly formed region opened opportunities for local residents in terms of employment, business opportunities and socio-economic development.
And who would forget July 16, 1990 when the City of Baguio and Province of Benguet experienced the wrath of an earthquake that caused destruction of properties, injuries and loss of human lives. I was a witness to the difficulties of CAR residents especially in Benguet. Business activities were disrupted and roads were closed that required air lifting of relief goods to different municipalities. Shortages of vegetable products prompted airlifting of some commodities like lettuce to Manila as market supply was affected by the disaster. Volunteerism worked as we had to perform monitoring of damages in various barangays and had to hike mountains, valleys and hills. Braving dangerous paths we reached out interior areas and delivered some goods that partly eased the food requirements of some residents. Rehabilitation followed and some projects like roads, irrigation, potable water system, foot bridges and other infrastructure projects were implemented in different areas.
On a personal note, July was the time of interviews and assumption to work with my previous two employers. It reminds me the time when heavy rains and strong winds affected every community in CAR including cooperatives.
As we approach the last week of July, let us look back and learn from the challenges that helped shape the present communities we dwell. Cooperatives during those days especially consumers helped provide the basic needs of the members. It might have been limited as only available stocks were stored in the cooperative premises but to some extent partly relieved the basic requirements of the members and community.
In case similar event happens, how prepared are we in the Cordilleras in handling the effects of disaster? Earthquake is just one hazard, how about power outages, floods, fires, theft and epidemics? Are our cooperatives and communities prepared to cope up with these hazards when they become disasters? This is the reason why we encourage cooperatives to prepare their own Business Continuity Plan. The need to restore business operations within a given period of time allow cooperatives to serve their members given the disruptions attributed to disasters. Having a plan serves as a blue print for cooperatives to counter the effects of any eventuality.
The month of July reminds us to be prepared anytime and anywhere. Many people might have prepared and stored resources for the future. But the greatest question is how prepared are we spiritually? Let us reflect and answer the questions individually. Happy birthday to all July born individuals!