As a long-time member, one cannot help but proudly extol the sacred virtues and sterling accomplishments of this open-type credit cooperative that was started quite inauspiciously by a Jesuit priest way back in 1954 as one way out for its cash-strapped employees and faculty. But as gleaned from a cursory interview with a couple of its motivated officers, it ended the last year with out of the roof figures in total membership (now totaling 108,000), total loans granted, and even in assets registering over 2 billion pesos as of last reckoning.
I am speaking of the First Community Cooperative based here in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Philippines, which first saw light inside the campus of the then fledging Ateneo de Cagayan. Pioneered by the late Fr. William Masterson,SJ, who earlier had been the primary architect in purchasing the Loyola Heights campus and bringing the prestigious Ateneo de Manila within its huge but then distant and rural environs. Fr. Masterson also blessed Cagayan de Oro with his forward-looking establishment of the Ateneo de Cagayan College of Agriculture, in the predominantly agricultural island of Mindanao, long envisioned and projected as the land of promise. The Manresa area in Lumbia which has now been partially converted into premier subdivisions, school site, and commercial center anchored by SM, was to be the fertile ground on which to plant to seeds of agricultural development. He also gave us global Searsolin.
As gleaned from the cover of its latest general assembly report, we get a pretty good idea of the reach and penetration of this now gigantic agent of empowerment and economic change in the otherwise blighted areas of Mindanao. From the bustling urbanized center that Cagayan de Oro is now, to the fabled farmlands of General Santos. To the rarely visited but quite always in the news communities in Ipil, in Zamboanga. To the even less known San Francisco area, tucked in close to the shores of the Pacific in wind-tossed Surigao.
Here’s a quote from Chairman Proculo T. Sarmen:
Cooperatives have proven to be highly effective in improving the quality of life of people all over the world. FICCO is an outstanding example.
FICCO has never been an overnight sensation. Neither was it built nor created by just one individual. It is a collective accumulation of cycles of transition, discovery, hard work and more importantly, collective effort. Great leaders, committed volunteers, diligent staff and supportive members comprise the FICCO Team in striving to reach out and attain its vision and mission.
The journey to success is long and arduous. But the forerunners of this cooperative kept their minds toward achieving the dream of SERVICE, EMPOWERMENT, and UPLIFTMENT.
No truer words spoken.