Monday, May 6, 2019

Amelia Bautista: The Beacon of Bagnos


 
AMELIA Bautista of Bagnos Multi-Purpose Cooperative receives the national awards of Bagnos from Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Vic M. Ines. The cooperative was awarded as 2018 Most Progressive Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization and Highest Grade in IT-Enabled Maturity Assessment. (Rommel R. Aquino photo)


In 2000, the Bagnos Multipurpose Cooperative in Barangay Binacag, Banna, Ilocos Norte was in shambles.

Of its remaining 39 members, only 12 were active. The capital for its consumer store, its sole business then, was down to a few thousand pesos.

Nobody had the time to initiate a move to resuscitate it. The men were too busy working in the fields, while the women confined themselves with their household chores.

Ironically, this cooperative called “bagnos”, an Iluko term for “guiding light”, was left without a direction, a lost cause.

But this situation changed when a woman decided to stand up—a decision that turned the cooperative’s measly PHP4,457 into a staggering PHP28,750,643.

Amelia Bautista, fondly called “Amie”, took the rein of Bagnos in 2000. Her first move as a manager was the conduct of an intense membership campaign.

Not sparing even just a single house, Amie talked to every family in Binacag, explaining to them the benefits of “cooperativism”.

Years before she joined Bagnos, Amie was an area manager an insurance company. She used the persuasion skills she learned from the said insurance company to convince people to become members of Bagnos.

The persistence of Amie paid off. After a few weeks, more than a hundred individuals, most of them women, signed in as new members of Bagnos.

The increase in membership renewed the cooperative’s spirit. It also gave more income to their consumer store—the lifeblood of Bagnos then.

Not resting on their initial success, Amie pushed for the expansion of the cooperative’s enterprise. For this, she sought the help of different government agencies for financial and technical assistance.

Being a beneficiary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) herself, Amie was aware of the programs of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Thus, she asked the provincial office of DAR in Ilocos Norte to help Bagnos in its pursuit to create more income generating services.

DAR Ilocos Norte did not fail Bagnos. It provided trainings, workshops, capital assistance and equipment to start up new businesses. It closely monitored and mentored the officers of the cooperative until they could independently manage their enterprises.

The efforts of DAR Ilocos Norte helped Bagnos establish more cooperative services which include the following: bigger consumer store, palay trading, agri-inputs trading, rice coffee production, credit and savings services, goat raising, hog raising, butchering cum meat processing and farm equipment rental.

As of December 2018, from an initial capital of just more than PHP4,000, their asset ballooned to almost PHP29 Million. And from a mere 12 active members, Bagnos now has 954 members, almost 70% of them are women.

Due to its massive success, Bagnos has received numerous recognitions. Among its most recent awards are the following: 1st Place, National Level, 2017 IT Enabled Maturity Assessment from DAR; 2018 Most Outstanding Cooperative Award from the Cooperative Development Authority; 2018 Outstanding Local Product Award from the Department of Tourism; and Most Progressive Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization-National Level (Luzon Island) from DAR.

From an almost obscure cooperative, Bagnos has turned into a model organization in the north. Because of this, Amie is often invited to speak in various forum of women and farmers’ groups.

In her speaking engagements, she always points out the importance of conducting regular meetings, maintaining good negotiation practices with customers, close supervision of cooperative projects, regular monitoring and feedback giving, fair treatment of members and continuous education.

Amie admits that serving the cooperative is not without pain. But she is not a stranger to challenges. In fact, she took care of their family and sent her siblings to school when their parents passed away—she never got married because of this commitment.

Amie believes that good is not extinguished even when its original light is lost. There is only a need for someone to take courage to rise as a new beacon—a guide for a new direction.

Like in the case of Bagnos. It was poor and dying in 2000. But with the steadfast guidance of a woman, it is now one of the few multi-millionaire cooperatives in Ilocos Norte.
***

BARD NOTES: Happy bard-reading to Badoc ABC President Virgilio Calajate, Ilocos Norte Provincial Treasurer Josephine P. Calajate, INEC President Enrico Ruiz, INEC Director Joseph Vergel P. Calajate, Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Vic M. Ines, DAR Chief Administrative Officer Rudy Acacio, Ms. Genedine Domingo Jambaro and PNB Pasuquin Branch Manager Metty V. Guerrero.

Greetings also to the employees of JVC Consortium, AMA Laoag, Ilocos Norte Regional School of Fisheries, Laoag City PNP, DAR Ilocos Norte, DepEd Laoag, DepEd Ilocos Norte and PNB Pasuquin.


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