Benguet Business Cordillera Features National News Regional News Uncategorized


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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)

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)

Benguet Cordillera Regional News


“CONVERGENCE as defined by many authors is actually coming into one or togetherness for quality practices. With the sharing of our mentors, with all your lessons learned and your reflections, we could say that you have shared your best and you have gained the best from Benguet State University.”

This was according to Alexandra S. Sad-ang addressing the second batch of SEA Teachers accommodated in the University from January 9 to February 1, 2019. Sad-ang is the CTE faculty in charge of this year’s SEA Teachers. The SEA-Teachers project refers to the Pre-Service Teachers Exchange in Southeast Asia by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). The project generally aims to provide opportunity for pre-service student teachers from universities in Southeast Asia to have teaching experiences or practicum in other Southeast Asian countries and gain a broader regional and world view of education.

BSU accommodated nine pre-service interns. The interns from Indonesia are: Khairun Nisa of the University of Lampung; Agnevianty Vida Palupi and Yunika Cahya of the Islamic University of Indonesia; Imam Taufiq and Nadia Ayu Refani Putri of the Universitas Negeri Padang; and Fitri Kurnia Dewi and Siti Aminah of the Universitas Ahmad Dahlan while the interns from Thailand are Intira Seethi and Piyaphon Pinthong of Chiang Rai Ratjaphat University. While these interns are the second batch of SEA Teachers accommodated by BSU, they belong to the 7th Batch deployed by SEAMEO.

For their stay in BSU, the nine pre-service interns taught Physics, Economics, English and Biology. They were mentored by Rachel K. Maguen and Yvonne B. Tabdi of the Elementary Laboratory School and Ariston B. Canayon, Imee C. Cuadra, Agustin R. Nang-is and Cecilia B. Samonte of the Secondary Laboratory School. Selected CTE students were assigned to the interns as “buddies” while Supreme Student Government officers came up with activities that exposed the interns to Filipino culture.

“BSU students really respect us, they know we are still learning (studying) but they treat us like real teachers,” Siti Aminah, one of the interns said in an interview recalling how surprised she was when students would stand up and greet her good morning.

The interns described BSU students as polite, participative, open-minded, kind, friendly and excellent. They shared how the BSU students would try to reach out to them despite their not-so-fluent English. Piyaphon Pinthong shared how students made him learn a few more English words while Intira Seethe found them very helpful like when they assist in setting up the LCD projector.

A send-off program for the interns was held on February 1, 2019 at the Strawberry Hall. During the send-off program, one of their mentors, Imee C. Cuadra lauded the interns’ heart and passion in teaching.

“I was really impressed with your batch for preparing so much. We only gave instructions and what surprised us is you do not even depend on your buddies. Our pupils wanted to come and see you, meaning the attachment is there–they love you already,” she said.

Cecilia Samonte, CTE-SLS mentor praised their efforts to overcome the language barrier with smiles and gestures.

“They observed the class then acquainted and familiarized themselves with the students at once. They maximized the use of powerpoint presentations; they are respectful, humble, generous and patient,” Samonte added.

Aside from keychains and wonderful memories, the interns said that they will bring home the teaching methods that their mentors shared with them such as the volcano activity, presentations and role-playing. They also spoke of sharing bits of Philippine literature to their students back in their countries.

“I hope that you were able to develop your teaching skills and pedagogy and we really hope that your buddies or counterparts also have learned from you as far as teaching skills are concerned,” said CTE Dean Imelda G. Parcasio.//JSTabangcura

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