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By Larry T. Lopez

Benguet (PIA)– Coffee lovers say a cup of coffee in the morning makes your day.

But coffee drinkers would claim, it’s up to your coffee!

Well, coffee experts say the best Arabica coffee in the Philippines is grown in the highlands, particularly in the province of Benguet.

Produced in the upland farms of Atok, Itogon, La Trinidad, Tuba, Kibungan, and Tublay in Benguet, this variety of coffee blends well with the upland climate to produce the country’s top-coffee blend. Because of distinct taste and quality, Benguet Arabica Coffee is now a leading coffee brand in the market.

During the 3rd Philippine Coffee Conference held in Baguio City in March last year, Benguet-grown Arabica coffee emerged as the champion for the best Arabica coffee in the country, besting entries from other regions. Judges, international and local coffee experts, unanimously voted for the Arabica coffee entry of Oliver Oliem of Caliking, Atok, that blends the characteristics of apricot, lemongrass, pomelo, oolong Tea and the aroma of a rose, as the best.

Other Benguet coffee entries that won in the 2018 Philippine Coffee Quality Competition were those of Restie Labi Tacio of Atok, and Belen Macanes of Sagpat, Kibungan in third and fifth places, respectively.

What brings the distinctive taste of Benguet Arabica coffee?

Oliver Oliem, chair of the Cordillera Regional Coffee Council, elaborated how the distinct and great taste of their produce had pushed the coffee industry to be now the province’s booming industry.

Oliem explained the entire system in production tells it all.

Grown from seedlings of their own nurseries, farmers grow their coffee plants through pure organic farming without using pesticides or any chemical input. He shared that Benguet farmers practice multi-cropping in their coffee lands by planting other crops in between coffee trees like anthurium, strawberries and vegetables to add more income.

During harvest, usually in the months of November to March, farmers do not strip-off the coffee beans. They pick only the ripened ones one by one, leaving the unripe beans. This assures that the beans come from selected pick.

In drying, farmers adapt elevated-drying system where de-hulled coffee beans are spread on drying beds, instead of just putting them on the ground. This way, the beans are kept away from soil microbes making it arsenic-free adding a factor to its distinct taste, Oliem said.

Shirley Palao-ay, President of the Tuba Benguet Coffee Growers Association, Inc. (TUBENGCOGA), informed that among Benguet coffee farmers, the production of ‘honey-blend’ Arabica coffee is gaining headway.

Processors do not wash hulled beans before drying to retain the natural sugar in their coffee-produce. Even without sweetening, this brewed coffee comes naturally sweet, she said.

Dry coffee beans sell from P300/kg-P350/kg among traders, which sometimes even go higher.

Oliem noted the price is dictated based on the coffee grade given by trained cup Q-graders, who classify the quality of the coffee.

Growing industry
With the fast-growing market of the Benguet Arabica Coffee caused by increasing demand in the market, the 300 coffee farmers of Benguet grew to be more than a thousand in five years.

The coffee industry is becoming a lucrative source of income among farmers in the province. This translates to more families being able to send their children to college, more families having better homes and more families assured of brighter future.

Oliem acknowledged the coffee industry of Benguet has not reached this far without interventions from government agencies like the Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Training Institute, Benguet State University, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agrarian Reform and PhilMech thru their support-programs on certified seedling production, organic farming, improved post-harvest facilities and marketing promotion. (JDP/LL-PIA CAR)

Business National News

PCSO gets ISO 9001:2015 certification

PCSO gets ISO 9001:2015 certification

MANDALUYONG CITY, Philippines–Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan on Monday said that the agency has been awarded with the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System certification that is focused on leadership, risk-based thinking, and context of the organization.

“ISO 9001 is the title of an ISO standard that outlines the requirements an organization must maintain in its quality system. ISO 9001:2015 is the current version of the standard. It helps agencies or companies meet their customers’ requirements for our products/services while fulfilling regulatory requirements,” said Balutan.

The PCSO was certified under the ISO 9001-2008 Quality Management System Certification by third-party auditor TUV Rheinland Philippines in December 2016 for the conduct and management of the online lottery draws and processing of prize claims amounting to P5,000 and above and support processes. For the past three years, PCSO has maintained its certification.

“ISO certification gives confidence to our public that they have equal chances of winning and that we have strict implementation when it comes to our draw procedures. It also gives us the chance to be at par with other gaming counterparts all over the world,” Balutan added.

Aimee C. De Viterbo, officer-in-charge on Gaming Technology Department of PCSO, explained that the ISO mandates every organization to transition from the 2008 to the 2015 version of the standard to make its processes relevant and compliant with the requirements of the new version of the standard.

In order for the PCSO to be compliant with the new thrust of the standard, PCSO included the Process of the Medical Services Department (MSD) – Out Patient Medical Services as part of its core processes.

“As we endeavor to comply with the requirements of the standard, we had to improve our core and support processes. It is the requirement of the standard that each organization certified under the QMS to continuously improve,” said De Viterbo.

Business National News


DOST-TAPI Director Edgar I. Garcia expects more collaboration with other councils and agencies

by: Maricon R. Avila

IN AN effort to improve and boost technology assessment, the Technology Application and Promotion Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-TAPI) in partnership with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) conducted the “First Technology Assessment and Intellectual Property (IP) Rights Protection Forum for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources (AANR) Technologies,” on 25 January 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City.

The forum aims to foster and strengthen the current trends in generation and commercialization as well as IP Protection of AANR technologies in the country.

“This event successfully brought together some of the leading experts in science, technology, and innovation (STI) as well as in technology transfer,” said Mr. Caezar Angelito E. Arceo, Supervising Science Research Specialist and lead organizer of the forum.

“We are honored to stimulate discussions and initially assess research prioritization along AANR areas,” Arceo added.

Also present in the forum were representatives from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), the lead agency in IP registration and IPR conflict resolution in the Philippines.

“Let’s work together in synergizing and synchronizing our efforts to push for an innovation system in support to the country’s economic growth,” said Atty. Mary Grace Cruz-Yap, Director for Documentation, Information and Technology Transfer Bureau of IPOPHL.

Mr. Noel Catibog of DOST-PCAARRD, Atty. Editha Hechanova of the Association of PAQE Professionals, Dr. Linus Plym Forshell of Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV), Atty. Mary Grace Cruz-Yap of IPOPHL, Atty. Bayani Loste of Fortun Narvasa Salazar Law Offices, and DOST-TAPI’s in-house patent agents, Mr. Arceo, Mr. Roberto Verzosa, and Ms. Anna Liza Saet discussed the current trends in the generation and commercialization of AANR technologies in the country.

DOST-TAPI and DOST-PCAARD’s partnership
DOST-PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora hoped that with all the efforts and partnerships in place, the protection and management of IP assets in the Philippines will continue to have an upward trend in the coming years.

“For the past two years, our collaboration with DOST-TAPI has achieved great results including eight technology transfer projects worth 53.4 million pesos,” said Ebora.

“These initiatives fell within the following major areas in technology assessment, prior art search, IP protection, freedom to operate review, technology valuation, business plan, and fairness opinion review,” added Ebora.

Signified by DOST-TAPI and DOST-PCAARRD’s partnership, the inauguration Freedom to Operate (FTO) Unit of DOST-TAPI in 2017 was supported and funded by DOST-PCAARRD.

The FTO determines the practicality of a generated technology to be freely commercialized in the country and avoid the risk of infringing IPR of technologies already present in the local market.

Meanwhile, DOST-TAPI Director Edgar I. Garcia expressed his optimism in finding more partnerships and vibrant collaborations with DOST-PCAARRD, IPOPHL and other partner institutions on scientific explorations in IPR.

“I am expecting that there will be new project or programs that you will forge with DOST-TAPI including other councils to work with us,” said Garcia in his closing remarks.

The forum is one of the many initiatives of the Institute which promotes and intensifies the partnership among actors in the STI ecosystem. (DOST-TAPI S&T Media Service)

Benguet Business Cordillera Features Regional News


Officers of the Topdac Laboratory Cooperative have potential of becoming future leaders , said Cooperative Development Authority Cordillera Regional Director Franco Bawang Jr. The budding leaders take pride in engaging into the lab coop sharing their personal experiences which changed their outlook in life. (SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet)

By Susan C. Aro

ATOK, Benguet (PIA) – – Being part of the laboratory cooperative (lab coop) is more than just learning the habit of saving at young age but also shaping up values and skills and becoming future leaders.

Cooperative Development Authority- Cordillera Regional (CDA-CAR) Director Franco Bawang Jr said establishing a lab coop is not only about financial gains but it instils values and molds members, young as they are, to become leaders who will eventually take over the mother coop when they become adults.

The lab coops are lodged with their guardian or mother coop. And in the Cordillera region, the Topdac Multipurpose Cooperative (MPC) in Atok, Benguet is just one three coops that established its lab coop.

Big things start from small things
For the Topdac lab coop, Topdac MPC Manager Edina Picpican shared its humble beginnings into what it is now. It started in April 2016 with barely 48 youth members in the area who were taught by their parents to save. To equip the youth with financial literacy, the coop tapped its business partners from an insurance company. The youth were taught to understand how money is made, spent, and saved and the skills and ability to use the money they have.

They were taught how to plan and target the amount they have to save for a month spared from their allowances with the same counterpart amount from their parents collected monthly to deposit.

‘Alkansya’ or coin banks pooled from donations of kind-hearted people were awarded after the training to each of the participants, Picpican recounted. Each contained P100.00 together with a passbook as start-up amount. Collectively, they had a total of P7,300 deposits.

Within a year, the number of depositors and members rose to 132 with total deposit of P321,000.00.

On July 20, 2017, the Topdac lab coop was formally established. Since then, membership fee and share capital were collected, apart from savings deposit.

To date, with the surge of depositors and members to 456, the lab coop has a total savings deposit of P3.214 million. For the long term account, they have a total of P463,820.00 deposit which they can withdraw when in college.

They plan to continue their advocacy to other schools and areas to motivate others to join.

Apart from the CDA’s leadership trainings, the mother coop also initiated skills trainings in coordination with the respective schools of the members which they can apply in school and for their personal enhancement such as computer literacy and playing of musical instruments.

Sharing experiences, learnings
The members have stories to tell– how they were motivated, how they were molded, how their perspectives changed, and how they share their learnings and skills to others.
Jayver Picpican, a Grade 12 Senior high school student of Camp 30 National High School and the chairperson of the lab coop, said his experiences as a leader all started when he joined the lab coop. It expanded not only within the confines of the classroom but the community as well. All these he attributed to the CDA’s leadership trainings, as well as basic coop course, and values formation.

Georgia Bay-osan, the treasurer, said she developed her self-confidence through trainings and exposure to different types of people.

The most unforgettable experiences are the leadership trainings, which helped improve his ability to socialize with others, said Clifton Alsaen as he shared he would do anything to help others.

Joining the coop is advantageous because in times of need for school, I have something to get from, coop member Flora Mae Ogies said. It is also a challenge on how to balance school and lab coop activities, she said her self-confidence has improved and she can now lead group works. As the eldest in the family, she also prods her siblings to save and leave something for tomorrow.

Another coop member, Angelica Marcelino, admitted the financial literacy training helped her a lot to become thrifty like setting aside from her allowance and travelling expenses. Instead of taking a ride, she would walk in order to save. The five or ten-peso savings a day if accumulated would mean a lot, she added.

The lab coop members are one in saying that parents and classmates were their motivation in joining the group. Because they want to have a bright future, they learn how to be thrifty and save for their studies and they want to be of help to their family as well.

These youth have truly rippling effect even if they are barely more than a year in existence as lab coop, said the Topdac MPC manager.

According to Bawang, the lab coop is one of the perfect ways to teach the young on how they do something about their lives, their community, the country. Its is a way of preventing the youth from being in conflict with the law.
“Probably the coops have to reach out to the young before the gangs and criminals will embrace them” as they are taught values, to be obedient and law abiding citizens, he added.(JDP/SCA-PIA CAR, Benguet)

Abra Business Cordillera Features National News Regional News


With an entrance fee of Php 20.00 only, the Amsterdam-like Tulip Garden of Bucay, Abra gets more than 300 visitors from the entire Luzon daily. (CAGT PIA-CAR,Abra)

By Christian Allister G. Tubadeza
BUCAY, Abra(PIA) — The Layugan Garden in the town of Bucay is the newest attraction in the province averaging about 300 tourists a day.

With its 10,000 artificial tulips in vibrant colors, it is attractive in the day and especially at night when lighted.

Tulip LED flowers in different colors- red, yellow, pink, white and blue – are beautifully arranged in an elevated land.

Owned and managed by Mr. Jun Baroña, the Layugan Garden is located in barangay Layugan; about 10 minutes drive from the poblacion. It opened just last January 14 and instantly became a tourist destination.

In an interview with Bucay Tourism Officer Roger Bernal, he said the tulip garden is one of the steps of the local government in nurturing the tourism industry of the municipality.

The establishment of the Layugan Garden was inspired by the visit of Bucay Mayor Bernadette Baroña to the Sirao Garden in Cebu.

Bernal said that as more people come to see the garden, the local government unit beefs up the maintenance of peace and security especially this month of February.

“The management allowed souvenir and food stands in the vicinity of the garden for the general convenience of our visitors and to carry out business opportunities as well for the people of Barangay Layugan,” he said.

The garden regularly opens at 9:00AM with an entrance fee of Php 20.00 only and Php 30.00 in the evening. It would not close as long as there are still visitors at night, Bernal said.
To get there, tourists may ride the buses going to Bangued, then take the jeepneys going to Bucay which is less than an hour trip.

Those with private cars going to Bangued, turn right just after the Sinalang Bridge for about 20-25 minutes drive to Bucay town proper, then about 10 minutes drive to the Layugan Garden.

Aside from the Layugan Garden, visitors may also visit other tourists attractions in the municipality such as the Banglolao viewdeck, Pakiling Cave of Roces, Bucay Casa Real and the Borikibok Spring resort. (JDP/ MTBB/CAGT – PIA CAR, Abra)

Business Central Luzon Culture and Arts National News Regional News


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Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. lauds the annual Ibong Dayo Festival for promoting different bird species migrating at the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park. Mar Jay S. Delas Alas/PIA 3)

By Mar Jay S. Delas Alas
BALANGA CITY — Ibong Dayo Festival in Balanga City could be an international event in the near future.

In his message during the ninth edition of the festival, Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. praised the role of the city government as well as residents in protecting the wetland and promoting its migratory birds.

“There is a concerted effort among all of us not only the local government, not only the national government, but the community is really part of taking care and protecting our wetlands,” Boncato said.

He expressed support and interest in advancing the festival by adding an international flavor to attract more tourists.

“We also shared with the good Mayor that maybe next year, we gear up and makes this festival known to many more markets,” the Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation Coordination and Resource Generation said.

“We can invite foreign scientists and bird enthusiasts to come and celebrate with us so our Ibong Dayo will not be only for us Filipinos but also for all who appreciate sustainable tourism,” he furthered.

In a recent bird census conducted by Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, about 9,544 birds were seen in the city.

“The arrival of the migratory birds continues in the city varying in terms of numbers for various reasons but the message here is that for as long as we see them here in Balanga, everything is doing well,” Boncato stressed.

Ibong Dayo Festival is an annual event recognizing the different bird species migrating at the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park in barangay Tortugas.

It is a Hall of Famer in Best Festival-City category of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines. (CLJD/MJSD-PIA 3)[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]

Business Regional News


by : Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY — The country’s electric cooperatives came out last Feb. 14 in protest over a recent recommendation  of Energy Secretay Alfonso Cusi to revoke the franchises of 17 ailing coops “without undergoing due process”.

Here, the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco), one of the most successful energy distributors in the country, staged motorcades in the simultaneous “Valentine’s Day Protest” over what they perceive as a move towards eventually allowing private capitalists to gobble up viable cooperatives.

“While said recommendation was withdrawn by Secretary Cusi days after its submission, electric cooperatives were once again placed under public scrutiny and caused damage to the movement’s public image,” noted general manager Janeene Depay Colingan of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca).

Philreca claimed Cusi’s endorsement letter to the House of Representatives and the DOE statement were meant “to manipulate the mindset of the public for them to think that the electric cooperatives are not performing well. And with this comes the justification for the entry of private, for-profit and zero-experience corporations”.

Members of the Multi-Sectoral Electrification Advisory Council, together with the BENECO employees and officers, gather at the BENECO headquarters to show their full support to PHILRECA. (Beneco Photo)

he “Black Valentine Protest” was anchored on “magnifying the protest of the electric cooperatives over the discriminatory treatment of the DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi towards the electric cooperatives by proposing the cancellation/revocation of the franchise of the 17 electric cooperatives that will eventually lead to a precedence of revocation of other electric coops and be evaded by the private businessmen.”

Wearing black, electric coop employees heightened the dismay of member-consumer-owners against DOE Secretary Alfonso Gaba Cusi who is expected to supposedly to be the father and defender of the electric cooperatives and electrification program but turned out to be the opposite.”

The protest action was also meant to heighten the dismay of member-consumer-owners against Cusi for giving more favor and courtesy to the private businessmen who are interested over the operation of the electric cooperatives.

The threat of big, private corporations to buy out electric cooperatives has also prompted the Beneco towards registering with the Cooperatives Development Authority as a true cooperative, thereby shielding it from being bought by private and profit-oriented companies.

Through the efforts of its general manager Gerardo Verzosa, its board led by Rocky Aliping and employees, Beneco turned out to be one of the most viable electric cooperatives in the country today.


Business Features


Dr. Ross Dizon Vasquez, lead researcher on pukpuklo, talks about the study during the symposium on The Values of Philippine Flora and Fauna. (Photos from Val Zabala, DOST-NRCP)

By Geraldine B. Ducusin, DOST-STII

Researchers from the University of Santo Tomas found that polysaccharides extracted from Codium species, locally known as “pukpuklo” (a seasonally-available seaweed), are effective against cancer cells and destructive enzymes associated with cancer metastasis.

The researchers, headed by Dr. Ross Dizon Vasquez, evaluated the inhibitory potential of the polysaccharides fractions isolated from Codium species. They found that the seaweed fights destructive enzymes that aid metastasis or spread of cancer to different parts of the body.

Polysaccharides are carbohydrates such as starch, cellulose, or glycogen whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. This kind of carbohydrates are used by the body in storing energy, sending cellular messages, or for providing support to cells and tissues.

Aside from its potential anticancer benefits, pukpuklo has also been evaluated for its effect on the skin. Dr. Vasquez said that it induced healthy skin growth and promoted faster healing of rat’s skin that was exposed to UVB radiations.

Their next target of study is possible cosmeceutical application or formulation of anti-aging compound from pukpuklo. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products with bioactive ingredients purported to have medical benefits.

The Codium species were collected in Ilocos Norte, Aklan, Iloilo, and Cagayan province. Pukpuklo, a favorite Ilokano dish, is known as a good source of dietary fiber, amino acids, and minerals. However, little is known about its medicinal value and further studies have yet to be conducted to explore its use in the field of medicine.

Studying the Philippines’ flora and fauna
The Codium research was among the six completed projects that were presented at the symposium on “The Values of Philippine Flora and Fauna”, organized by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP).

Dr. Irene V. Fariñas of the Department of Health (DOH), who was among the panel of reactors in the symposium, said that the DOH welcomes this potential drug discovery. This basic research on Codium as potential inhibitor of tumor growth, could possibly lead to the development of low cost alternative to commercial drugs for the treatment of cancer.

At the event’s opening ceremony, DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara mentioned that the third wave of research is setting in. The first was when research was mostly confined to teaching research, relegated to the centers of excellence. The second was when research was peer-centric, when getting published from standard publications was the “in” thing. The third wave is now, when research is measured by its relevance to society.

“Researchers, do not be afraid to translate your work into what’s good for the society,” Usec. Guevara addressed the symposium participants.

She added that the Philippine biodiversity is vast and the country’s local species are being studied by foreigners. “We lack researchers who can study our own biodiversity,” she emphasized.

Meanwhile, Dr. Christine C. Hernandez, associate professor at the Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines Diliman, commended the government especially DOST-NRCP for its efforts in championing research and development. She said that the funding support from government agencies like the DOST-NRCP enables them in the academe to support the work of their students. It also enables them to encourage more of their students to work for them and hopefully to inspire them to pursue PhD degrees, she added.

Dr. Vasquez also acknowledged that current funding enabled their two graduate students to complete their graduate thesis at UST.

DOST-NRCP also funded the innovative researches presented in the symposium which are important inputs to policy development, especially in terms of sustaining and protecting the country’s biodiversity. These basic researches on natural resources are vital not only to the local pharmaceutical industry, but for the country’s socioeconomic development, as a whole.

Benguet Business Cordillera Regional News


Bokod Sulphur Springs Multi-Purpose Cooperative members take part during the Adivay Festival in celebration of the founding anniversary of the province of Benguet. (photo courtesy of BSSMPC)


BOKOD, Benguet — Barely four years in existence, a merger of two cooperatives and an association  is speeding up as the fastest growing coop in the province of Benguet.
From  micro scale,  the Bokod Sulphur Spring  Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BSSMPC)  borne thru the  merger of two small coops, the Tikey MPC and  Bokod Agricultural and  Fishery Coop,  and the Barangay Power Association (BAPA),  has   leveled up into a large coop.
The BSSMPC was established in 2014,  but it did not operate   because there was no manager to handle its supervision. It only became operational the next year when Betty Calawa came in as its manager.
The coop started with zero balance or no capital to speak of, but they were ready with the  strategic plan and policy guidelines,  said Calawa. They could not withdraw   the deposited consolidated cash of the merged two coops and association supposed to be the initial capital. Withdrawal was only made possible in 2016.
Calawa recounted that they started operation in 2015   with only three volunteer staff who worked as information technician, loan officer and treasurer. She, as manager, served as the bookkeeper.
They had to go to the people of the community and encourage them to join.  It was really a challenge as there were no coops that prospered in the town of Bokod, Calawa shared.   People   wanted to join established and  stable coop that many would rather   become   members in coops in nearby provinces and municipalities.
To establish one stable coop was the dream of Board of Director Nicolas Wales.
“What we did every day was to take turns in going out in collecting money from members pooled as savings deposit. At the end of the day, we make a cashbook and remit to the Board of Directors,” said Calawa. Until such time for a week, “we were able to collect a total of P300, 000.00,” she added.
Officers and the members of the Board of Directors who were also available were very supportive and took time in helping the volunteers in going around barangays to collect.
Series of PMES were continuously held in the barangays whether there were recruits or none. Two to three seminars were simultaneously held such that in two weeks time, 100 individuals were recruited as members.
In order to generate funds and for the capital share to roll, the coop adopted the micro-financing scheme loaning out money to its members. Loan repayment was done weekly for six months.
In its first month, it generated a total revenue of P23, 000.00. This is added up to the capital which allowed it to roll.
The coop’s deposited consolidated money amounting to P717, 000.00 was finally withdrawn in 2016 and was added up to the rolling capital making its revenue rapidly balloon.
Its assets surged from P22.4 million in 2015 to P214M in 2018 scaling up from a micro to a large coop, said Member Relations Officer Ariel Laguitao who shared the coop’s standing in a recent coop event in La Trinidad.
Membership drastically increased from 1,382 members in 2015 to 6,283 in 2018. Members come not only from Bokod but from the towns of Kabayan and La Trinidad and as far as Bambang in Nueva Vizcaya. They are mostly farmers .
Aside from savings and credit, other services include unified products and services such as remittance from abroad, travel bookings and bills payment, social services such as mortuary and health care assistance, livestock loan and insurance, agri-trading store, meatshop, and store for gadgets. They also have automated teller machine.
With main office at Poblacion, Bokod, the coop expanded. It has three branches located in Central Kabayan, another in Beckel in La Trinidad and in Gambang, Nueva Vizcaya. A satellite office is also established in Ambangeg, Daclan, Bokod. Due to office expansion, staff complement increased with a total of 48 which is one of the coop’s aim which is to provide employment.
Laguitao said one of the factors which kept the coop intact is the cultivation of trust and confidence from among the members.
He also elaborated some of the best practices of the coop such as character-based lending policies in the approval of loans; provision of loan protection insurance to members from 18-70 years old; provision of assistance thru seminars and trainings to various organizations and 4Ps beneficiaries; promotion the value of savings to students through special savings; annual conduct of farmers’ forum to farmer-members; support to environmental concern through partnership with Philgeps on Reforestation Project; compliance to labor law standards; mortuary and healthcare assistance to members; continuous innovation of loan products and various financial services for members; enjoying various free assistance on trainings and seminars of the Department of Agrarian Reform; established strong partnership with other cooperatives; strong involvement to community activities and partnership with local government units and barangay officials; and continuous provision of livelihood programs to farmer-members.
The staff shared that started the operation by laying all the operations to the Almighty coupled with the conduct of regular bible studies.
The BSSMPC has shown that with thrust in God , trust and confidence among members, and hardworking and committed staff and members, there’ no way to go but succeed. — Susan C. Aro


BAGUIO CITY – – The National Broadband Plan(NBP) which aims to provide affordable, fast and secured internet connectivity gains more ground with the Department of Information and Communication Technology(DICT) partnering with electric cooperatives.

DICT signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Transmission Corporation and the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) for the NBP pilot project utilizing BENECO’s Fiber Optics infrastructure in bringing internet connectivity to government offices and facilities in its franchise area.

The MOA signing was held Tuesday (January 8) at the BENECO office here with DICT Undersecretary Denis Villorente and Assistant Secretary Alan Silor; TRANSCO Vice President for Concession and Contract Management Group, lawyer Rowaldo Del Mundo, and BENECO Board President Rocky Aliping and General Manager Gerardo Verzosa as the main signatories.

Also present to witness the MOA signing were National Electrification Authority Deputy Administrator lawyer Rossan Rosero – Lee and Philippine Rural Electric Cooperative Association Inc. officials, lawyers Noel De Leon and Janeen Colingan.

Villorente, in his keynote message, outlined that partnering with electric cooperatives for the NBP is in line with DICT’s mandate to strengthen the capacity of government agencies to use technology in order to deliver better service to the Filipino people.

“Internet is already pervasive in our country. We want to improve so government can deliver better services to the people. This is in order to address the growing public appeal for faster internet connection as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte,” Villorente stressed.

For the NBP Pilot Project, Silor explained that DICT has a tripartite agreement with Transco and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines for DICT to be given the right of use or utilize the fiber backbone of NGCP for telecommunication purposes of government agencies, and that various electric cooperative are being tapped for such purpose.

For the partnership with BENECO, Silor disclosed that there are initially 14 government agencies being provided with internet connectivity. These are the Police Regional Office – Cordillera, Benguet Provincial Capitol, DOST Regional Office, La Trinidad Municipal Hall and Police Office, Benguet General Hospital, Benguet State University, Baguio City Hall, Baguio City Police Station 7, PAGASA – Baguio Agromet and Radar, NGCP La Trinidad Substation, BCDA, and BENECO headquarters.

Del Mundo highlighted the importance of faster and dependable internet connectivity for the development of the country and the Filipino people. TRANSCO, he said, is hoping that with this NBP Pilot Project with BENECO at the forefront, other electric cooperatives will respond to the government’s call for collaboration in bringing internet connectivity in every rural community in the country.

For BENECO’S part, Verzosa expressed gratitude for the partnership and assured that they will play their part in helping the government in reaching to the Filipino masses through the provision of electricity with competitive rate, and now also for the provision of quality, reliable and secured internet connection through the NBP to the electric consumers down to the remote areas in the province of Benguet. (JDP/CCD-PIA CAR)