De La Salle Lipa (DLSL) has taken the lead in organizing the Hanunuo Mangyan Livelihood & Consumers Cooperative (HAMALICON Coop) for indigenous Mangyans at Barangay Benli, Bulacao town in Oriental Mindoro.
The cooperative aims to help improve the lives of all members through consistent livelihood opportunities, enhance their knowledge through continuous training and education, assist in restoring spoiled forests and mountains and environmental conservation, take care of the health of families through clean communities, and increase the earnings of the Hanunuo so they can have a decent livelihood and meet their basic necessities. HAMALICON was registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), MIMAROPA region in Calapan City last February 17, 2020.
Empowering Hanunuo Farmers
DLSL envisions the HAMALICON Coop to address the problems of Mangyan farmers which could lead to their empowerment. Some of these pressing concerns include low prices of farm produce as opportunistic businessmen take advantage of their lack of knowledge and capabilities in farming, pests and crop disease, and inadequate know-how in irrigation techniques and modern equipment.
A functional cooperative gives more direction and strength to Mangyan farmers. HAMALICON is a consumer cooperative that serves as a market for collective crop-buying, storage, and distribution of crops and essential commodities that members and the community need. It acts as an integrator, distributor, and collector of produce from the member. It, then, brings the crops to consumers through coordination and marketing channels.
Social Status and Livelihood
The initiative is meant to boost the livelihood and social conditions of some 2,312 individuals belonging to 584 families from seven sitios. Their primary means of income consist of planting fruit trees such as mango, coconut, avocado, cashew, jackfruit, cacao, sugar palm, lemon, lime, pepper, papaya, bananas, and many more. Like Kaingin, farming is a major source of income for these Mangyans. Therefore, they have options instead of simply relying on the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P’s) and relief goods.
Partnership for Growth and Development
Ultimately, the bottom line is to put up cooperative stores in each sitio to properly serve the members. As the major project proponent, DLSL looks forward to teaching the Mangyans correct farming methods and bring their products to urban centers. HAMALICON Coop members and their families will be the primary beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, members are expected to sell goods at the cooperative stores, pack products, sell their goods, and take part in transporting the items. All of them must strictly follow rules and regulations. All concerns will be managed by the HAMALICON Coop management staff and Lupon ng Patnugutan.
So far, intervention programs like seminar-workshops for cooperative officers were put on hold in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, an online quarterly meeting was held last September 5, 2020, to apprise officers regarding the coop’s financial status and new store project.
The first quarterly online meeting was held last January 23 as an update on the transfer of cooperative funds worth PHP33,000 from Rural Bank of Pola to Land Bank Roxas since it is a requirement for cooperatives to deposit their finances in government banks. Last month, the requirements of the local government unit and CDA to include the Mayor’s Permit and Accreditation were initially processed. The Board of Directors met last February 6, 2021, and conducted a strategic planning workshop on February 20.