Changing The Lives Of Its People For A Better Future

“Malipayon!” (cheerful), exclaimed by one Co-op Ville resident when asked how they are doing. Unless you are purposely not looking, you couldn’t miss the Co-op Ville people’s carefree, friendly vibe that complements the fresh mountain air of Barangay Mambuaya.

Change Is Good

Co-op Ville has come a long way since its groundbreaking in 2012. What began as a mere concept of what a sustainable cooperative housing project, is now a sustainable community with about 130 families of varying ages from as young as a year old up to 80 years old. They are co-op members who were survivors of typhoon Sendong (Washi) all of whom lost their houses in the aftermath, and worse for most of them, their loved ones. While a new house can never compensate for the pain and loss they have experienced, it has provided them with a new sense of security and safety.

Utilizing 2.5 hectares of the 5-hectare land owned by FPSDC, Co-op Ville now has a concrete road from the highway leading to its main entrance. For amenities, a functioning Learning Center is being used as both day-care center for toddlers and activity center for the youth where they hold various activities such as values formation and other recreational activities. There is also a Health Center where therapeutic massage is being offered to elevate stress. The center also acts as one source of livelihood for the massage therapists. For trainings and entertainment, there is a Multi-Purpose Hall and the Covered Court. Recently, a structure intended for a Bed and Breakfast facility has been completed and will begin its operation sometime in the near future.

Photos of New Buildings

After a time of mourning, the people of Co-op Ville motivated themselves to rise with a renewed spirit. Gone are the lines of worry that marred the faces of the adults and are now replaced by happy smiles brought by the knowledge that the good Lord has spared them and life goes on with a promise of bright future.

To establish camaraderie and entertain themselves, the residents together with their community leaders regularly come-up with recreational activities. They are active in sports like basketball and volleyball and their competitiveness are shown through friendly banters which are not uncommon during games.

““Kung naay sayaw, sayaw gyud na. Kung nay kanta, mukanta dyud na. Tanan apilan!” (If there’s dancing, we’ll dance. If there’s singing, we’ll sing. We’ll stop at nothing!), shouted one resident to the laughter of everyone. Ate Evelyn, a resident of 2 years, proudly stated that her daughter was crowned Miss Mambuaya in 2015 representing Co-op Ville. As the women firmly declare, “Beauty and brains, dili malupigan ang Coopville” (Beauty and Brains, Co-op Ville is beyond comparison).

Initiative To Make A Living

It is understandable that having a rooftop on top of one’s head is not enough – a steady source of income is necessary to support a family.

“Gusto nako suportahan akong pamilya kay lisud na magsalig sa uban” (I want to support my family financially because it’s hard to depend on someone else). Like Emma, a mother of 2 children who depends on her husband’s meager income for their everyday needs, most women of Co-op Ville share the same sentiment. Driven by a common purpose, the women of the community banded together in starting a livelihood activity that can help them earn an income.

What started as a “Friday chika session”, became a weekly learning session in the Health Center led by Fe Jaquilman, Vice Chairperson of Co-op Ville and a trained therapist. She eagerly shares her knowledge on traditional Health Care to the community. “Ga-enjoy man pud mi kay uban-uban man pud mi magtuon” (We’re enjoying a lot especially because we’re learning together), said Fe. She also knows how to produce herbal oil and ointments, which she also demonstrates to them.

For quite some time now, the Co-op Ville officers have been planning to form a Consumers Cooperative within the community. This aspiration is about to be attained as their capital build-up is ready, and they’re just waiting for the approval of their registration. Chairperson Cora Catalan’s feelings towards this project is pure excitement, “Excited dyud kaayo mi ani na project kay para dili na mi magsigeg baba sa Cagayan para mamalit. At least kung naa nay tindahan diri, mas less gastos na pud sa pamiliti, plus ang oras namo di mahurot sa biyahe!” (We’re really excited about this project. We don’t need to go to Cagayan and buy our supplies anymore. At least when there’s a store here, we don’t have to spend on fares going to the city, plus the time we can save!).

The Youth, The Future

Even the youth has their fair share of livelihood programs. College student Phoebe, and high school students Michelle and Heart recently started making bracelets from homegrown beads. They still need more training in coming up with creative designs, but with their enthusiastic and positive attitude, they will definitely get there. These three girls are also among the youth leaders in the younger community, giving assistance to the active youth every Sunday during the Youth Values Formation held at the Co-op Ville Learning Center.

The children of Co-op Ville are smart and hard working. Elton, whose family has been living in the community for 3 years, graduated college last year at the Cagayan de Oro College (COC) with a Bachelor degree in Education. He immediately found work to help sustain his family. He still goes home to his family every day after work. Another graduate is Mae Dajuya, who finished Information Technology at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines. Lastly, there’s Joy Madeloso, a graduate of Liceo de Cagayan with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education majoring in Math.

Dream Do Come True

For these young graduates, this is a dream come true. With everything that happened to his family, he never imagined he would be able to continue his studies, all the more so finish it. And having been able to find a job immediately after college, Elton considers this an added blessing as this enables him to finally give back to Co-op Ville. Their story is truly an inspiration to the young ones who are still in their elementary, high school, and college days. And they are hoping that they too will be given the same opportunity as the one their “kuya” and “ate” had.

Truly, Co-op Ville has come a long way, not just in physical developments in the community, but also in inspiring the people to do more for a better future.