Antonio Cecilio ” Fr. Anton” Tuason Pascual
A Cooperative Leader in the Philippines
30 years of humanitarian, servant leadership, and stewardship excellence in the fields of social development and cooperative social enterprise is how best to summarize his accomplishments. Rev. Fr. Antonio Cecilio Tuason Pascual more popularly known as Fr. Anton was ordained in 1987 in the Archdiocese of Manila. His first pastoral assignment was at the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish, Lower Bicutan, in Taguig City where most of the members of the community were impoverished and unemployed. This motivated him to develop programs for the poor while performing his duties as a parish priest.
Fr. Anton organized the Simbayanan ni Maria Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SMMPC) to provide social programs and activities for economic empowerment for the urban poor families and fisher folks of Taguig City. After 25 years of leadership, SMMPC became the biggest in terms of assets, revenues and equity among community based cooperatives and one of the top 100 cooperatives in the country according to the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA). There are 26,000 registered cooperatives operating in the Philippines to date.
From 1991 to 2015, SMMPC’s assets grew from barely Php50,000.00 with 33 founding members to Php659M with 30, 000 members. At present SMMPC has 40,000 members and almost 900 million pesos in total assets. After 25 years of fruitful community existence, it has integrated its credit services with entrepreneurial spirit and financial intelligence. Fr. Anton also designed the Simbayanan ni Maria Enterprise Center (SMEC) which aims to develop, mentor and encourage social entrepreneurship among the members. They have 5,000 members in the roster of micro and small enterprises. The cooperative provides ladderized training, coaching, publications, on ground events and multimedia promotion to support members in their business development, marketing and expansion.
The SMEC program was able to synergize with government agencies, universities, businesses, and NGOs. Fr. Anton also established the Simbayanan ni Maria Foundation as a partner of the cooperative to develop the youth for future leadership in the cooperative and the community. The 4 year scholarship, youth servant leadership and education program (YSLEP), aims to develop academic excellence, moral integrity and social responsibility interfaced with leadership engagement and volunteerism among the poor but deserving youths. The youth’s scholar also manage the Simbayanan children and youth laboratory cooperative with 15,000 active members below 18 yrs. of age. It’s one the biggest “coop labs” in the country to date focusing on savings mobilization and coop education among centennials.
In 1994, while serving as chaplain of Greenbelt Chapel in Makati City, Fr. Anton became part of the Task Force Cooperative Bank formed by the Makati NGO Network (MNN). In 1996, the Task Force Cooperative Bank became Metro South Cooperative Bank (MSCB) where Fr. Anton was a founding director. As of December 2015, the total assets of MSCB has grown to Php 3 billion total assets. It now has 900 member-cooperatives nationwide and two million individual cooperative members. It’s the biggest cooperative bank in the Philippines in terms of capitalization, membership and network. Fr. Anton is the present Chairman of the Board of MSCB. He is envisioning to consolidate all cooperative banks in the Philippines under MSCB by 2020 into One Cooperative Bank (OCB).
Concurrently, he is the Chairman of the Solidaritas Credit Cooperative(SCC) among priests and bishops. It is an associational cooperative with 600 members nationwide. SCC provides services to priests both for personal and pastoral objectives. The SCC provides much needed funds for “hard projects” such as school and church construction and maintenance, multi-purpose pastoral centers, as well as “soft projects” like catechetical funds, scholarship for the poor, seminary formation, disaster relief and rehabilitation of affected communities nationwide. The cooperative has two billion pesos total assets as of 2017.
As a Catholic priest, he is the Executive Director of Caritas Manila, the lead social services and development ministry of the church that engages in scholarship, community well-being and disaster management, restorative justice and social enterprise development nationwide. To support the poor families under the pastoral care of the church, Fr Anton together with a handful of priests and bishops started the Caritas Labora workers cooperative and the Caritas SALVE microfinance cooperative. These complimenting cooperatives provide wage employment and self-employment strategies of the livelihood program of the church. After 10 years, these two coops support more than 15,000 families.
Fr Anton is also proactively engaged in establishing secondary union of cooperatives to train and coach coop leaders and managers on the practice of good governance, effective managerial skills, deepening coop ideology and principles while fostering a network of coop leaders and managers in the National Capital Region. He organized the Union of Metro Manila Cooperatives (UMMC), the Cooperative Union of Taguig and Pateros (COUNTPA) and the Union of Church-based Cooperatives (UCC). One highlight of his cooperative union leadership is the highly successful National Cooperative Summit in Manila in 1998 attended by more than 5,000 cooperative leaders from all over the country. In 2014, the Cooperative Development Authority recognized Fr Anton as the most outstanding cooperative leader in Metro Manila. And in 2015, he was awarded the Gawad Parangal for the most outstanding cooperative leader (National Category) during the Centennial celebration of the cooperative movement in the Philippines (1915-2015).
Fr. Anton seats also as a member of the Board of Trustees in several major non-government organizations and foundations in the country like the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC), Association of Foundations (AF), Alfonso Yuchengco (AY) Foundation, One Meralco Foundation and Bayan Academy Foundation.
In 2010, Fr. Anton was the recipient of the Order of the Golden Heart from the President of the Philippines for distinguished services for the amelioration and improvement of the moral, social and economic conditions of the Filipino masses. In 2014 the Asian Institute of Management and the Federation of AIM Alumni conferred the Triple A Award to Fr. Anton, the highest recognition given by AIM to its outstanding alumni.
In 2016, Fr Anton was chosen as of one the three (3) Outstanding Filipino Awardees (TOFIL) for his outstanding contribution in Humanitarian service, Community, NGO and Cooperatives. The award was presented by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself in Malacañang.
“Fr. Anton blends pastoral concern for the poor with attention to high management standards. The poor are better served and affirmed as human agents of personal and social development.”
† Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, DD, Archbishop of Manila
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