GSAC marks its 57th year with a virtual general assembly
By Henry S. Totanes
GUBAT St. Anthony Cooperative (GSAC) one of the oldest cooperatives in the Bicol region and one of the largest in terms of assets will mark its 57th year with a virtual General Assembly on Sunday, March 28, 2021. Because of the prevailing pandemic, GSAC is exploring this new modality since in March of last year, it had to cancel some of its assemblies because of the lockdown.
GSAC was founded in 1964 by a group of citizens in Gubat, Sorsogon led by its parish priest at that time, Msgr. Magencio Rey. These “founders” for whom the fourth floor of the Main Building in Gubat has been dedicated to were led by Atty. Oscar Peralta as President. With an initial group of twenty-seven (27) members, they began with a shared capital of two hundred twenty-two pesos (Php222.00) and nursed the young cooperative into a productive entity offering its loaning privileges to its members, almost all of whom were residents of Gubat. It was then known as the Gubat St. Anthony Cooperative and Credit Union, Inc. (GSACCUI).
For the next 57 years, GSAC’s leadership passed on from one generation of Gubatnons to another until the cooperative expanded to offer its services, not only to Gubatnons, but also to their fellow Sorsoganons, then to Albayanons and now, to residents of Camarines Sur and Northern Samar. Today, as of the end of 2019, GSAC has a membership of 43,284—20,145 of whom are regular members and 23,139 are associate members.
The main branch is still in Gubat, Sorsogon, along Luna street and a new building and hotel has just been completed. The GSAC Cooperative Mart, Pharmacy and Diagnostic Center are all on the ground floor, offering these various services to its members. Branches have been established in Sorsogon City, Bulan, Irosin and Donsol and satellite offices are functioning in Bulusan, Magallanes and Pilar all in Sorsogon province. In Albay, there are branches in the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco and Ligao. In Camarines Sur, there are branches in the cities of Naga and Iriga; a new branch has also been opened in Catarman, Northern Samar.
In the pipeline are branches to be opened in Masbate, Daet and Goa in Camarines Sur. But these plans have been put on hold because of the pandemic. Thus, with its eleven (11) branches and three (3) satellite offices, GSAC has become one of the largest cooperatives serving its membership in the entire Bicol region.
Under the effective leadership of a Board of Directors led by its Chair, Engr. Rene B. Hermo and newly designated Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Nonito “Nonie” Collingwood, the management team has steered GSAC to a direction of profitability, sustainability and availability of funds for its members. GSAC also benefitted from the leadership of its previous CEO, Ms. Leonisa “Leony” Ferreras, who retired from GSAC after rendering more than four decades of committed and dedicated service.
In its 2019 Annual Report that would have been presented in the cancelled General Assembly in March 2020, GSAC reported assets worth 2.154billion pesos, making it the only “billionaire cooperative” in the Bicol region. Loan releases amounted to 2.294billion and a net surplus of 101million was earned. These figures will be updated and audited for calendar year 2020 in time for the March 28 virtual general assembly.
A portion of GSAC’s revenues are channeled to its foundation arm, the SAFEST of Communities, Inc., under the leadership of its President and long-time Director, Msgr. Melchor E. Esperida. SAFEST administers and conducts scholarship programs, medical missions, tree planting and activities for senior citizens, among others. Founded in 2009, SAFEST allows the cooperative to engage in social action and responsibility programs even as it safeguards the profitability of its business and loaning programs.
With this impressive record, GSAC invites the residents of the Bicol region to apply for membership. An initial savings deposit of 4,000pesos will be required for a candidate for regular membership. A much lesser amount will be required for those applying for associate membership. Both members and non-members are also invited to place time deposits with GSAC because the interest rates offered are much higher than that of commercial banks.
For those 43,284 members of GSAC, please mark the date—Sunday, March 28, 2021—GSAC’s virtual General Assembly will take place.
Come be a part of GSAC, for truly “GSAC is the Keeper of your Trust!”