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SAFADECO Goes From Piso-Piso To Silver!

SORSOGON CITY – In 1992, sixteen farmers in Barrio Salvacion came together to form a cooperative.  For starters they began by patiently saving one peso every day to boost the Share Capital of the co-op.

“Our humble beginning has been told many times in different occasions to inspire others. That’s also the reason why we have number one in our logo,” Tita Desquitado, SAFADECO BOD Chairperson said.

Twenty-five years later, eleven of the pioneers have gone to rest.  They did not live long enough to see the transformation of Salvacion Farmers Development Cooperative from the piso-piso enterprise that it was into the successful cooperative that it is today.

But their legacy remains, as the foundation values of thrift and savings remains in the culture of the organization.

The leaders today remember the words of Mother Teresa, an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

How did SAFADECO grow thru the years?

While development usually moves from the urban areas to the rural areas, SAFADECO’s case is different.  
First, they ventured in Copra Trading and established a Consumer Store in the Barrio.  The store later became a satellite office.  
SAFADECO came under the MiCoop at Agrarian Reform Areas (ARAs) Program in 2012, a partnership of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).”

The main office transferred to the city proper of Sorsogon also in 2012, when they opened the Credit and Savings Services and extended the cooperative’s coverage to the whole city of Sorsogon, and adjoining municipalities: Castilla and Casiguran.

Reaching Out

In 2015, SAFADECO’s operation became province-wide which prompted them to open the second satellite in the municipality of Irosin for the convenience of the members residing in the southernmost part of the province.

Reaching out to the countryside, they opened their third satellite office at the heart of Castilla to accommodate the members coming from the municipalities of Pilar, and Castilla.

Then, they opened their fourth satellite office in the commercial center of Bulan, Sorsogon which has recruited many members.
“I am so thankful that SAFADECO has now a satellite office here in Bulan. Before, I had to go to Irosin to make transactions. By making their office accessible, it’s not only the money for transportation that I can save now but also my time and energy,” said Rhodea Gidoc, SAFADECO member in Bulan said.

The same convenience was felt by Emerlita Maraña. According to her, since the opening of SAFADECO office in Castilla, she has found it easy to bring friends to the cooperative.

The opening of SAFADECO satellite offices had also eased collection. Also, the satellite offices have generated jobs for qualified locals.

A Model Farmers’ Coop

In 2016, Gerwyn D. Pura, NATCCO’s Area Manager assigned to SAFADECO saw the performance of the cooperative and said that they have already the capacity to acquire a piece of land and office building.

NATCCO Network provded a long-term real estate loan for land acquisition and building construction.

“Although this is still a loan which the cooperative has to pay every month; at least the paying period will be only ten years. After that, the lot and the building will be SAFADECO’s. Renting may be cheaper but the structure will never be owned by them,” Pura said.

This year (2017), the members, officers, and employees of SAFADECO enjoy the comfort of their very own two-storey building which was constructed on a 520 square meter lot on Reyes St. in Sorsogon City.

“The structure is designed for a three-story building. The ground floor is for the credit and savings office, the second floor is for the administrative offices, and the third floor which will be constructed later, will be the function hall for special occasions like our general assembly,” Jessica Samantha Dob-Acleta, General Manager said.

During the inauguration of SAFADECO’s new office building, Atty. Ma. Lourdes P. Pacao, Regional Director II, CDA Naga City was impressed upon witnessing the occasion. According to her, the partnership of DAR, NATCCO, and CDA is truly a very effective vehicle in providing support services to cooperatives.

“This is not just a building. This is their haven which was once a simple dream of the Salvacion farmers for their community. Cooperatives have helped many families, that’s why no to tax repeal,” Atty. Pacao said.

“SAFADECO is one of the top three out of fifty Micoop nationwide under the NATCCO. It is a model across the country!” Sylvia  Paraguya, Chief Executive Officer of NATCCO, said.

Leonito M. Gaveria, Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II in Sorsogon was very pleased of the SAFADECO’s achievement:

“SAFADECO is the only ARBO in the Philippines that was able to provide itself with an office building, funded by their own sweat. I am so proud of your performance,” he said.

When they created their logo, they did not forget to place there the figure of the number one (1) because it stands for the piso (one peso) which symbolizes their humble beginning. But today, that figure stands for being number one among the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’ Organizations especially in Sorsogon Province.

Certainly, little things like piso should not be taken for granted because in time, little things can become big!

By Alura Jaso

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