The Story of Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative in shaping the big picture of change
Larissa Tausa, a community education teacher 14 years ago, remembers it well.
Three years before she formally joined this “coop” from the sleepy town of Pinamungajan, Larissa is well acquainted with Lamac. For them, this small barangay organization is a sign of hope, perseverance and growth.
“We have heard so many things from this organization,” she tells me in an informal dialogue. “One thing that struck me to join is how it had improved the lives of its members,” Larissa adds.
Fast forward, Larissa is currently one of the strong testament of Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative’s (LMPC) growth and success. It had not only changed Larissa’s perspective in the value of saving and social work, it had also personally helped her become one of the most trusted managers of the organization. Larissa currently heads the a team of socially-oriented individuals, serving the LMPC membership in Cebu City.
Eva Tanudra, now 23, use to recall how LMPC planned projects to motivated her family to save.
“When I was a teenager member, we are encouraged to save, join events and gatherings – to show off, and take part in any community activity. Every event you join, you get incentives,” Eva discloses. It becomes natural to youth members of the organization to be actively involved in any community-related activities.
“When we save, we get insured,” she further adds. “In times of financial constraints, the family can always approach LMPC for emergency loans at very low interest rates,” Lisa further ads.
Just by merely saving few pesos, her family was able to loan an amount to purchase a farm land her family has tilled for many years. Eva’s family now proudly owns a half-hectare of agricultural land in Pinamungajan.
Larissa and Eva are just some of the individuals who’s lives have been changed forever by LMPC.
LMPC’s beginning and growth resembles the strength of a pure spring from the hilltop rushing down the countryside.
To those who are not familiar, Lamac is a far-flung barangay in Cebu.
The goal of this organization composed of around 70 farmers was simple: start store that can provide the families basic needs. To start the operation, these farmers gave Php 50.00 and raised a total of Php 3,500.00. With the help of the Local Government and Community Development (DLGCD), ”Lamac Samahang Nayon” began in 1973.
The organization, stirred by volunteer leaders, paved way for a more unified community in this small barangay. “Bayanihan” was the coined values which lead them to numerous awards and recognition as an outstanding “Samahang Nayon” in both regional and national competitions awarded by the government.
It was in 1992, with the help of another (NGO of professionals) called Barangay Lamac’s Organization for Management Systems, Inc (BLOMEs), when the organization was finally structured and strengthened as a full-pledged cooperative and renamed as Lamac Multi-Purpose cooperative (LMPC). Staff with well-trained and dedicated leaders, the coop reaped awards after awards. Money prizes strengthening the organization’s coffers and finally making it into the list of outstanding organizations and cooperatives in the Philippines.
LMPC’s growth is phenomenal.
Searching the worldwide web, one would appreciate the geographical location of Lamac, Pinamungahan. It is a far-flung barangay 14 kilometers from the town proper. Pinamungahan is also 42 kilometers from Cebu City.
A manual titled “How to form a Cooperative” published by the Cooperative Development Authority in 2000 describes LMPC’s beginning:
Lamac is a poor village in Pinamungajan, Cebu. In the past, this barangay had no roads, electricity, transportation and water system. The people living here were very poor.
Also, in the same document the success of LMPC is compressed into these few lines:
Through unity, faith and hard work, the members of this cooperative were able to make their lives better and contribute to their community’s progress. Today, the cooperative has its own office, bakery, pharmacy, and rice and corn mill. It was awarded as one of the three most outstanding cooperatives by the Land Bank of the Philippines in 1995.
Checking the portfolio, LMPC started with barely 70 farmer members and Php 3,500.00 (USD 70.00) capital build up (CBU). Now this same organization that started from a far flung barangay in 1973, now has 18 branches in the Visayas with more than 51,000 members, 570.6 Million assets and employing more than 200 individuals.
In its list of assets in Lamac, LMPC owns two-story building/office, bakery, pharmacy, rice, corn mill, water refilling station, a grocery store and the now famous Hidden Valley Resort.
Its newest building built in 2007 is a three-storey building that stands proud in the tired-looking street of Ibarra in Cebu City. The Cebu City branch has an office, a social hall, a roof-top area, a dormitory of 40-beds and a 10-unit internet cafe.
The Land Banck of the Philippines award in 1995 is only one of around 35 regional and national awards the organization has reaped in its 38 years of history.
In 2000, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc (RAFI) awarded to LMPC the Most Outstanding Institution in its first RAFI Triennial Awards. RAFI Triennial Awards recognizes individuals and institutions in Visayas and Mindanao that go the extra mile in bringing about change and in enhancing the quality of life of various groups and communities.
THE COMMON COOP PROBLEMS
In a comprehensive research done by Professor Jorge V Sibal, consolidating more than 80 previous researches which assessed the growth and development of coops including the studies done by Emmanuel Velasco, the Cooperative Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (CFPI), and Leandro Rola (1989), the following are identified as the common problems of the cooperative movement:
- lack of education and training
- lack of capital
- inadequate volume of business
- lack of loyal membership support
- vested interest and graft and corruption among coop leaders
- weak leadership and mismanagement
- lack of government support
As a result, Professor Sibals report further declares that “only 23,836 or 30 percent of the 78,611 registered coops in 2009 are reporting/operating.”
While most cooperatives suffer these problems, LMPC is improving the images of the coop by the way it had been governed and managed.
LMPC SUCCESS FACTORS
While problems plague the remaining 70% of the coops in the Philippines, LMPC continues to inspire other cooperatives by acting as a “big brother”.
General Manager Elena Limocon, disclaimed however in an interview, that organizations are created equal. Each one is unique and has its own set of best practices to implement. To Ms. Limocon, as experience dictates, these factors contribute to LMPC’s continued success, which they openly share to others:
1. UNDERSTANDING AND ALIGNMENT TO THE VISION AND MISSION. Ms. Limocon emphasized the value of understanding the organizations mission annd vision. “It is with this [vision and mission] that the management, membership and leadership should align.”
Full Disclosure Columnist Fidel O. Abalos made this comment in August 24, 2009 issue of THE FREEMAN :
“All these achievements anchored on LMPC’s more pronounced vision and mission as well as its core values which goes by the acronym, LOVE, for Loyalty, Oneness, Valor and Empathy.”
2. LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE
In 2006, Landbank acting President and CEO Gilda Pico commended LMPC and its General Manager during the 8th National Co-op Leaders’ Summit:
“…Ms. Elena Limocon, general manager of the Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative, located in central Cebu province. Elena is the typical shy “probinsyana,’ who is very simple in words and deeds. But despite being unassuming, this Community Health graduate, has steered LMPC to becoming the lifeblood of the town of Pinamungajan.
Her business acumen, which she cultivated on the job along with her openness to new learnings are considered by many as among Elena’s positive traits that sustained the co-op”s success. The co-op’s credit, savings, and entrepreneurial services have stimulated economic activities in Lamac and in the process opened up more livelihood opportunities for the people. Through LMPC, the locals now have a chance to lead better and more comfortable lives equipped with access roads, public infrastructures and basis services. The co-op now even owns a mountain-side resort the first ever in Lamac.”
3. SOUND AND EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT. Management provides structure and system for the organization to follow. It is proper management that everyone that works for the organization receive its due compensation.
Ms. Limocon tells, “During the first 18 years of the organizations existence everyone that worked for the organization works for free. As the organization grew and earn, we see that importance of proper compensation to our directors and employees working in behalf of LMPC in the communities we serve. Now, salary is paid to employees and dividend is given to our members.”
4. TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT. Policy formulation should be in place to avoid nepotism and favoritism, according to Ms. Limocon. “Transparency builds trust between members and management.” For the past years, it is a tradition of Lamac to present the financial statement and operation status every year. At an annual general assembly, plans are also shared to its members. “We can even show them our books anytime they want to see it,” Ms. Limocon attests.
5. DYNAMIC, ACTIVE AND EMPOWERED MEMBERSHIP. “Our membership fuels our existence,” says Ms. Limocon. She further ads, memberships knowledge about the coop and its operations is critical in ensuring membership participation in initiated activities.
“For us one-day orientation is a must,” she adds.
Its membership strength can be attributed to the coops well-organized and planned incentive program in acknowledging members. Becoming an LMPC member will not only provide a member an avenue to save and earn as much as 8% interest. Each member with savings more than Php 100.00 and in good standing can loan amounts according to the lenght of their membership and the amount deposited in the cooperative. Aside from this, each member can have as much as Php 120.000.00 worth of murtuary benefits.
Empowered membership is always providing an answer to the question “Kumusta na Sila?” (How are they.)
“Everytime we ask them, we see more areas we can possibly address. The more concerned the management is in addressing the memberships needs, the more proactive these members are in participating, ” the GM adds.
It reminds me of John Maxwell’s line: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
6. ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT. Gen. George Patton once said: “Success is how you bounce after you hit bottom”. So did LMPC. It had gone through financial and leadership unstability. From its former structure and entity as Lamac Samahang Nayon, the organizations “opportunity seeking” mode led the transformation of the organization into a full-pledged cooperative and renamed it as Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative under the Management of Barangay Lamac Organization on Management Effectiveness System Inc. (BLOMES Inc.) — an organization of concerned professionals.
It is in its better half that the coop leaders and members were empowered to become opportunity spotters. When the organization saw the need of new roads, the organization lobbied for support from the local government unit. To assist its farmers, a rise and corn mill was built. To house thousands of Filipinos in Lakbay Aral and for internal cooperative events of LMPC, Hidden Valley Resort was built. These are just some of many testimonials to the coops spirit.
“We don’t see problems. We always see opportunity,” Ms. Limocon humbly tells.
Looking back, all Larissa can do is smile with pride on how far the cooperative she joined years ago had grown. While serving as branch head of the LMPC office in Cebu City, she never fails to explore areas where LMPC can help its immediate community.
Eva, on her own, also admits that even though she is still in college, she is determined to serve the cooperative and her community, to also help others as LMPC has helped them.
“Change is inevitable, yet the best way to predict it is to create it”, says Peter Drucker .
Taking the lead from LMPC, empowered people, empowers community. Empowered communities can empower other communities, by example. No wonder, LMPC branches is currently available in 18 key towns and cities in the Visayas. It’s influence and impact is like fresh spring water from the mountains rushing down the countryside and cities, quenching the Filipino’s thirst for progress.
This is an official entry to the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Triennial Awards Blogging Contest.
- Sibal, Jorge. The Philippine Cooperative Movement: Problems and Prospects (1986 – present)
- Pico, Gilda E. “Establishing the Brand for Philippine Cooperatives thru Quality Leadership”
- https://www.landbank.com/msgarchdetails.asp?id=50. December 15, 2011.date accessed
- How to form a Cooperative <http://eskwelanaga.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/how-to-form-a-cooperative.pdf>
- Fajardo, F.R. and F. P. Abella. Cooperatives. 4th ed. Manila. Rex Bookstore, Inc., 1999.
- Cooperative Development Authority. 2000. December 12, 2011, date accessed.
- Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative Website <http://www.lamacmpc.org> 2011. December 12, 2011. date accessed.
- LMPC 2010 19th General Assembly Magazine.