Sinco Multi-Purpose Cooperative

The indigenous Igorots who have established their carving shops on Asin Road on the outskirts of Baguio are famous for their skill as wood carvers. The Sinco Multi-Purpose Cooperative has been working since 1993 to assist its members in the production and marketing of their crafts, as well as giving skills training and capital assistance to its members.

  • Location: Tuba, Benquet
  • Organized: 1993
  • Type of organization: Cooperative
  • Products: carvings, basket and cloth weavings
  • Number of workers:150
  • Male/Female: 50%/50%

The Cooperative was conceived in 1993 when concerned residents led by a high school teacher convinced prospective members to hold an orientation seminar with a specialist from the local Cooperative Development Authority-Benguet Provincial Office. Although 40 people attended that meeting, most took a wait and see attitude toward the cooperative. It was not until 1995 that the cooperative had a paid membership of 15 people and could be registered and recognized as a duly accredited cooperative.

Carlito Pi-ig was appointed manager and he remains the force behind the cooperative. Today, the cooperative has over 150 members who live in the area between Kilometer 8 and 4 on the Asin Road. The cooperative offers a variety of educational and financial assistance programs to its members; among them are a credit savings program, capital asset loans to woodcarvers, and seminars in environmental awareness, as well as leadership and values.

With the general decline in the handicraft market, the cooperative is beginning to struggle financially as people are no longer able to pay back their financial loans. The highly competitive tourist trade in mass produced souvenirs has taken a huge toll on both the quality of crafts produced in the mountain provinces and, in turn, the amount paid by wholesalers for the crafts. A Fair Trade outlet for quality traditional crafts, as wells as contemporary spin-offs, would assist this livelihood project in its struggle to both preserve a cultural tradition and increase the household income.