The GSAC Mini Museum

The GSAC Mini Museum

Unveiling and blessing
October 29, 2023

GSAC held its Unveiling ceremony and Blessing of the newly created Mini Museum last October 29, 2023.

The museum is one of our way of looking back at the track of our milestone of success and reminiscing the timeless contributions of our members from the original founders up to the present coop member-owners.

GSAC Mini Museum is open for donations of antiques or memorabilia that are significant to your GSAC journey. If you have any collections from 1964 – 2000, feel free to message us.

GSAC Castilla Branch Grand Opening: Expanding Horizons in Sorsogon

GSAC Castilla Branch Grand Opening:
Expanding Horizons in Sorsogon

Maharlika Highway, Brgy. Cumadcad, Castilla, Sorsogon.

GSAC Castilla Branch Grand Opening: Expanding Horizons in Sorsogon

We are thrilled to announce the momentous occasion of GSAC officially opening its 16th branch in Castilla, Sorsogon. The ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing on the  opening day were met with an atmosphere of enthusiasm and anticipation. Members of the Board of Directors, along with dedicated employees, and member owners gathered to commemorate this landmark event in GSAC’s journey. This significant milestone represents not only growth but also the continued commitment of GSAC to empower communities and individuals alike in their pursuit of financial stability and adventure.

Members of GSAC, both old and new, played an integral role in making this day truly special. Their unwavering support and loyalty have been the driving force behind GSAC’s success, and it is with immense gratitude that we welcome them to our newly opened branch. It is their trust in our vision that motivates us to continuously innovate and expand, ensuring that every member’s journey with GSAC is rewarding and fulfilling.

As we step into this new chapter, we carry with us the core values that have defined GSAC since its establishment: trust and a relentless passion to help our members achieve their financial goals. At GSAC, we are not merely inaugurating new buildings; we are building bridges of opportunity for the people and communities. Our range of financial products and services is designed to cater to a diverse audience, from young professionals starting their careers to seasoned investors planning for a secure future.

We must also acknowledge the relentless efforts of our dedicated employees and Board of Directors. Their hard work, passion, and tireless commitment to delivering excellence are the backbone of GSAC’s operations. With a team that values integrity and puts the members’ needs first, we are confident that GSAC Castilla Branch will thrive as a hub of financial progress and community engagement.

To our valued members, both longstanding and new, we express our heartfelt gratitude for being an integral part of GSAC’s story. Together, let us embrace this new chapter with optimism and ambition, creating a brighter, more prosperous future for Sorsogon and its communities.

Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative – Keeper of your Trust.

Visit us at Maharlika Highway, Brgy. Cumadcad, Castilla, Sorsogon.

Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative Program on Women

Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative Program on Women​

Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative (GSAC) in partnership with Alfredo Yuchengco (AY) Foundation and Sorsogon Medical Mission Group Hospital & Health Services Cooperative (SMMGHHS or SorDoc) launched a program for Women with Gynecological Disorder.

The objective of this program is to help indigent women who are suffering from gynecological disorders to be treated. GSAC, AY Foundation and SMMGHHS held a meeting headed by Chairman Rene B. Hermo from GSAC, Dr. Larry Garrido from SMMGHHS and Mr. Leonilo Quinte, AY representative, to address and reach out to those women in need of treatment.

Applicants to the program were from Bulan, Bulusan, Gubat, Irosin, Matnog, and Sorsogon City. The total applicants who have undergone medical screening is 76, and out of 76, only 29 had undergone gynecological operation.

This program has been successful with the help of everyone. It is really more blessed to give than to receive. Reaching out to those vulnerable sectors gave us a lesson for a lifetime. 

“A heartfelt gratefulness can never be compared to material things.”

Naga San Fernando Transport Cooperative ties up with GSAC​

Naga San Fernando Transport Cooperative Ties up with GSAC​

Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative (GSAC) and Naga San Fernando Transport Cooperative (NSFTC) signed a Memorandum of Agreement, February 10, 2021. Signatories were GSAC Chairman Rene B. Hermo and NSFTC Chairman Inocasio C. Noora.

GSAC welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the continuous development of our transportation system in line with providing commuters with more efficient, safe and comfortable modes of transport.

The Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) goes beyond the mission of modernizing—it is a comprehensive reform system that will entirely change the public land transportation industry. And this is being made possible through GSAC collaboration with Easyway Transport Service and Multipurpose Cooperative  which is based  at 6-A San Roque St. Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City in Metro Manila and Gubat Transport Cooperative (GTC) based here in our own town of Gubat. Gubat was the first in the province in the entire Bicol Region to use the country’s modernized jeepneys with Euro 4 engines.

GSAC aims to widen the coverage and reach more clients to serve them not only within Bicol Region but also in Manila.

Agri Department Staff Attends Online Intensive Beekeeping Training

Agri Department Staff Attends Online Intensive Beekeeping Training

Rebecca E. Espenida
Dennis L. Codon

Online Intensive Beekeeping Training GSAC has been vigorous in looking for numerous services to offer to our farmer-members. Thru these services we can help our farmer-members in our mission to contribute to the sustainable development of the community and the environment. One of these services is Beekeep­ing. We started to engage in the production of Stingless Bees (kiwot) last year and is continu­ously looking for ways to improve our own practices through research and trainings.

Several staff from the Agri Depart­ment attended the Online Inten­sive Beekeeping Training conducted by the UPLB BEE PRO­GRAM last Jan. 25-28, 2021. It was also participated by interested individuals from Cavite, Pasig City Baguio City, Quezon Province and Zambales.

Topics discussed in the 4-day training were:

    • Importance of Bees and Beekeeping
    • Bee Biology and Behavior
    • Bee Pests and Diseases
    • Bee Pasture and Pollination
    • Bee Genetics
    • Principles of Queen Rearing
    • Apitherapy
    • Seasonal Management
    • Economics of Beekeeping
    • Determination of Honey

Authenticity Principles of Bee Product Processing speakers were from the National Center of Excellence for Bee Research and Development of UPLB. It was spearheaded by Dr. Cleofas R. Cervancia, Professor Emeritus of UPLB and President of Apimondia Regional Commission for Asia.

Majority of the Participants were interested in Beekeeping business or want to engage in beekeeping because of the income that they will get from honey, bee colonies, other by-products and tourism. But throughout the course of the train-Mg, we learned that beekeeping has a big role in our environment because of Pollination. Plants/trees in areas where there are bees are far more productive than those without bees roaming around the area.

The topics discussed were very important to us. We learned a lot in the proper care and management of bees. It also helps us in the proper timing of splitting our colonies and collection of honey as the main product of bees. Through this train­ing, we learned to massage our expenses and minimize losses. Also discussed in the training is the Apitherapy where the importance of Propolis as medicine to the wound and other diseases were discussed. Apitherapy is a type of alternative therapy that uses prod­ucts that come directly from honey­bees. it is used to great illnesses and their symptoms as well as pain from acute and chronic injuries.

Part of the training is the hands-on/practicum which was supposed to be held at the Project Bee Inspired Farm, Sirang Lupa, Calamba City, Laguna. Activities in the practicum includes Beekeeping Etiquette, Seasonal Management, Honey Analysis, and Product Processing. But due to the pandemic we were not able to attend the said practicum. Hopefully we can attend in their next schedule.

As a whole, Online Intensive Beekeeping training is very mean­ingful and useful to us. We learned a lot from the knowledgeable speak­ers, and now we can adopt those !earnings we received from them.

GSAC 57th General Assembly Goes Virtual

GSAC 57th General Assembly Goes Virtual​

Mixed feelings will surely be felt by most of GSAC Member/Owners on its upcoming 57th Annual General Assembly Meeting on March 28, 2021.The significant annual event will be virtually attended by members in good standing. Historically, this is the first time ever that the coop will hold the GA in a different platform scale among its members. This will set a very momentous episode in the existence of GSAC. Since COVID-19 is still uncertain to fade away this year. virtual meeting is the main option by the Board of Directors & Top Management to exercise the CDA mandatory assembly meeting for cooperatives.

Election Committee composed of Mr. Emerson Eresmas (Committee Chairman), Ms. Leny Codon (Committee Vice-Chair) & Mr. Ramon Esparas (Committee Secretary) in collaboration with I.T. Department & Office of the Secretariat, spearheaded the crafting & formulation of the electronic procedures for ONLINE registration.

On the other hand, for those members in the far-flung barangays with poor or no Internet signals and do not have available communication gadget, the Elecom provided for a Physical registration. Both on-line and physical registrations had been clustered by surname with corresponding designated dates of registration. Virtual GA meeting procedures, notices and announcements are posted in conspicuous places at GSAC Home Office and Branches where it is accessible to members to read.

Membership & Marketing Departments, through its Social Media Specialist, posted the same advisories at GSAC’s Facebook page account (Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative — GSAC) and boosted post to reach more members active in social media platform. Members of Gubat Main and nearby municipalities can witness the virtual GA meeting on their household TV Screen via Halum Cable TV.

There will be no election for Board of Directors for this year since the new set of BODs who were elected last year will now assume and convene to perform their duties and responsibilities. It will be recalled that due to the on-set of the pandemic, first quarter last year, CDA issued a memorandum circular no. 2020-03 inconsonance with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) which indefinitely postponed the conduct of GA of all types and categories of registered cooperatives. This hindered the completion of GSAC clustered face-to-face GA. The term of elected officers ending in CY 2020 was extended. They shall serve on a hold-over capacity until the conduct of the next regular assembly meeting.

TRIAS & GSAC Forging Partnership

TRIAS & GSAC Forging Partnership​

TRIAS in partnership with Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative (GSAC), which began on April 4, 2018 is marking its third year and going strong.

The past several months have been a challenge for TRIAS. The various programs that were planned were all put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the situation, however, the staff of TRIAS together with Ms. Raffi Domingo, TRIAS Organizational Development Officer here in Sorso­gon, have been in constant coordi­nation and collaboration.

With the termination of the part­nerships with three People’s Orga­nizations (POs), GSAC has now found itself at the forefront in the implementation of the projects previously under the care of the three POs. These are boat projects located in Otavi and Zone 7, both in Bulan and one in Rizal, Sorsogon City.

The Boat Project aims to strength­en the capacity of fisherfolk organi­zations to implement profitable and sustainable social enterprises. Under the project, three b,ancas were financed by TRIAS rand its co-founder We EFFECT O’Sweden which will serve as Models of sustainable social enterprise. The income from the project will be deposited in GSAC Branches which will then be used to purchase another boat for the group.

It is through this scheme that TRIAS and GSAC envision that many fisherfolk can be given an equal chance to grow their own enterprise.

The organized fisherfolk take care of the boat while the GSAC-TRIAS staff monitors its operation. The success of the enterprise depends largely on the fisherfolk groups. More so, the success of the enter­prise also depends on the constant monitoring and collaboration with TRIAS-GSAC. With this project in place, TRIAS-GSAC hope to do their small share in uplifting the lives of the fisherfolk under their care.

Charting New Beginnings Beyond Doubts​

Charting New Beginnings Beyond Doubts​

Often times, we have doubts when we are introduced to new practices. But these new practices, though they are challenges, will open new avenues and opportunities for us. Bangate in Barcelona, Sorsogon is a remote coastal barangay facing the Pacific Ocean. The main source of livelihood is fishing and farming. The women are engaged in handi­craft. It was in this setting that a Village Savings and Loan Associa­tion (VSLA) training was conducted among the Bangate Fisherfolk Association last December 23, 2019 by TRIAS/WE EFFECT Fifty (50) people were invited to attend the said training but only thirty six (36) were present and twenty six (26) of them became members of VSLA.

These 26 members started with less than Two Thousand Pesos (Php 2,000) and every Saturday they meet and give their share. After fifty (50) weeks, the Bangate VSLA collected a total amount of Two Hundred Fifty Eight Thousand Three Hundred Twelve Pesos (Php 258,312. It was a big achievement for the members of the group. Never in their entire life were they able to raise such an amount of money. With a 21% interest assured on their share, everyone was happy and thankful to VSLA. According to Manuel Gabitan: “The advantage of being a member of VSLA is that you do not need a collateral nor a co-maker to be able to avail of loans as a member. Walang kuskos balungos basta In Good Faith (IGF) ka, papautangin ka. The group is transparent in dealing with their members such that there is always trust. In just three hours, we already know the financial status of our group. The financial statement is very clear to us. We are grateful to TRIAS/WE EFFECT for teaching us to be financially independent so we do not have to rely on lending institutions. It is our wish that in the near future, the members of VSLA do not need to look for lending agencies/corporations/groups that will charge exorbitant interest rates just because they need money.”

Doubts were raised during the first year of operation. But with the system in place and the earnest guidance of the officers, more people are now willing to join VSLA. From the twenty six (26) members during the first cycle, they are now 92. • Indeed, with such good results, people will be attracted to join the VSLA. According to the group, little by little they have begun to see change in themselves when it comes to their attitude about savings and loans. They now see the advantage and beauty of VSLA—what it only needs are more disciplined and committed members.

In Focus: On Partnerships Based on Mutual Trust

In Focus: On Partnerships Based on Mutual Trust​

[ Note: BALANGIBOG is proud to share here with an article from UCPB 2019 Annual Report where our very own CEO, Nonito Collingwood is a featured client. With permission from UCPB]

“We have been banking with UCPB for around 20 years,” states Nonito “Nonie” Collingwood, CEO of Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative (GSAC) of Gubat, Sorsogon. “Through the years, we have come to think of UCPB as GSAC’s financial partner for yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is a relationship founded on mutual trust and shared objectives.” GSAC began as an agricultural credit union in 1964 with 30 members and a starting capital of just P222. It is now a multi-purpose cooperative offering credit, savings, agricultural, hostel and diagnostic services with around 44,000 members.

“Then Bishop of Sorsogon, Most Rev. Arnulfo S. Arcilla, felt that a credit cooperative will help make a difference in the lives of the constituents of all parishes in his diocese,” narrates Nonie. “He sought the help of Bro. Augusto C. Mier, an extension worker from the Knights of Columbus Community Services.

Bro. Mier took on the challenge of Bishop Arcilla and worked with Rev. Fr. Magencio Rey and a group of parishioners from the town of Gubat who shared the same vision of a “sustainable cooperative with members who are socially, spiritually and economically empowered”. Thus GSAC was formed—the first credit union in the province of Sorsogon, on April 8, 1964.

Fr. Rey focused on recruiting more members with the tagline “Entra na sa Kooperatiba. Deposito Mo, Doble Mauutang Mo”. The scheme worked and by the end of 1964, membership grew to 152, capital was raised to P9,476 and a net surplus of P743 was realized.

“Today we have assets amounting to P2.7 billion,” Nonie proudly declares. “Our current membership is around 44,000 and growing. We concentrated in Gubat during the first 25 years and pursued the single-line service of providing credit to prove that we can survive by relying on our own institutional capital. We then turned multi-purpose and extended services to other municipalities to reach more people.” Apart from the main office in Gubat, GSAC has now branches in fourteen (14)towns in BIM Region and one in Samar Province, as well as three satellite offices.

Nonie considers this continuous growth as GSAC’s greatest achievement over the years. “In 2019 we were able to put up a pharmacy in partnership with a cooperative in Mindanao which has the management capability to run it,” says Nonie. “Our growth is also largely due to establishing synergies with other cooperatives. This is the same model we use for our convenience store and potential partnerships with optical shops, health care services and even car dealerships.”

“I joined GSAC as an accounting clerk in the early 80s, alalay of the treasurer,” muses Nonie. “Most of the time, I tagged along when transacting with UCPB. Early on, I realized that GSAC and UCPB share the same mandate of developing and delivering products and services that effectively respond to the needs of our customers.” He fondly notes that no service is too small or too big for UCPB. “The service is consistently excellent, and the Bank gives special services that others don’t. For example, small bills and big withdrawals are unique requirements of a Coop. UCPB always has them ready for us.” The CEO also mentions the close relationship that GSAC has with Sorsogon Branch Manager Rudy de la Cruz. “Rudy is very hardworking. He visits us monthly without fail. More importantly, he listens to us and knows instinctively what to do to help address our needs. And this attitude cascades down to the members of his team. All of them are always friendly and accommodating.” Nonie sees the relationship between GSAC and UCPB getting even stronger because of the cooperative’s expansion plans. “Expansion entails challenges along with opportunities. We are confident that UCPB will remain aligned with GSAC’s objectives so that we can achieve our business and social objectives.”

Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA)

Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA)​

What is the VSLA? The Village and Loan Association (VSLA) is a form of micro-finance managed by small communities, usually 15-30 members that intends to bring down the barriers to the access of loans since it does not require guarantees and joint liability collateral.

This training is conducted by GSAC funded by TRIAS, a Belgian NGO and WE Effect to educate farmers, fisherfolks, women and the youth to gain not only knowledge but derive income from their savings and loans. The VSLA adapts the paluwagan wherein the accumulated savings and profits are shared among members based on the amount saved and from the interest of loans.

Participants should keep in mind that GSAC and TRIAS would just guide them in creating and monitoring the VSLA. Members could draft their own constitution and by-laws. A management committee should be elected to facilitate the project of the association. In addition to this, a training on basic financial management and record-keeping was also conducted because of the increasing number of VSLA members.

As of May 2021, 9 VSLAs are now active in Sorsogon: Culasi Fisherfolks VSLA (CFVSLA) Casay Savings and Loans Association (CASLA), Carriedo Masisipag Savings and Loans Association (CMSLA),Bagacay-Carayat Savings and Loans Association (BCSLA), Bangate VSLA, Otavi VSLA, Bagacay United Farmers and Fisherfolks for Economics Reform (BUFFER Inc. VSLA), Contod Savings and Loans Association(CoSLA),Gimaloto VSLA. The VSLA truly educate the members on the advantage of savings.