Jun 14, 2024

Members of the first ever Filipino cooperative in British Columbia pose for a souvenir shot during last year's summer picnic.

Now nearing its eighth year anniversary, the One Filipino Cooperative (OneFilCoop), first-ever Filipino cooperative established in British Columbia (B.C.), proudly looks back at its achievements and vows to expand its services to help its members cope with affordability issues.

 OneFilCoop was launched on Oct. 31, 2009, after a series of consultations among the Filipino community organizations in Metro Vancouver, including the Multicultural Helping House Society, Filipino Social Workers Association of B.C., Filipinos in Richmond Society, and Filipino Parent Support Circle, who formed a task force to map out the creation of a Filipino cooperative.

The co-op aims to enhance the lives of its members and draw strength from their numbers, in keeping with the Filipino custom of bayanihan. According to their website, “it (the co-op) is founded on the principles of self-help, responsibility, equality, democratic governance, focus on services to members, equitable distribution of benefits and earnings, and commitment to community growth and development.”

Tony Calderon, president of OneFilCoop, said the organization has grown from 35 members, with a capitalization of a few thousand dollars in 2008, to its present standing of 250 members and a fund of over $300,000.

"Our cooperative has been adopted by other like-minded Canadian-Filipino organizations in B.C. and Saskatchewan," Calderon proudly relates.

OneFilCoop General Manager Jojo Palencia, meanwhile, announced the creation of an offshoot program, One Housing Society, a non-profit association incorporated to help members deal with the housing crisis in B.C.

“We’re glad that this bold idea came to fruition last year. It was in November 2016 when the housing society was incorporated,” Palencia said.

One Housing Society "envisions itself as a pioneering Filipino housing management organization and an effective and efficient owner-operator of affordable housing units in B.C.," according to its website.

Its objectives include providing affordable housing market opportunities for its members and eligible low- income residents, and managing a non-profit housing facility to help deal with B.C.’s worsening housing crisis.

To top this off, Calderon said One Fil Coop offers other services like micro-lending, remittance, Fly-Now-Pay-Later program, Damayang Pinoy (Helping Filipinos), networking, job posting and referral services, and social development.

He stressed that membership in OneFilCoop and One Housing Society is voluntary and open to all Filipinos in Canada.

"We as a community are mostly new to Canada. We help each other seek financial stability and integration into Canadian society."

Another important benefit for members is the fund's surplus profits. " In the past few years, we have been returning dividends to our members," Calderon said.

The cooperative also provides non-monetary benefits to its members like socialization in picnics, parties and excursions; lessons from workshops and lectures; and enhancement of skills.

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