NATCCO Kidnote Speaker

April 27, 2018 (Friday)


Mikael Jon Ivanovich “Mikoy” B. Balag is the Kidnote Speaker during the opening of NATCCO’s 16th Coop Leaders’ Congress and 41st NATCCO General Assembly on April 27, 2018 at Limketkai Luxe Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City.

Mikoy is an Aflatoun member of MSU-IIT National Multi-Purpose Cooperative. He is a 10 years old boy from Iligan City and an incoming grade 5 student of MSU-IIT National Coop Academy. Moreover, he is the eldest son of Mr. Rogato D. Balag, Jr. and Ms. Alethea Barbra B. Balag.


(photo credits: Jing Rivera)

Mikoy’s full speech during the event:

“To our distinguished guests, leaders, staff, and partners of NATCCO, Visitors and friends, good afternoon.  I am privileged to be speaking before you today as “Aflatoun kiddie speaker” on this NATCCO Leaders’ Congress and General Assembly.  I am beaming with joy and pride to be speaking before this distinguished audience. I thank NATCCO for giving voices to young people like me, for we believe that the children and youth are the face and brand of the co-op’s future. If I have not been invited to speak today, I will probably be playing with my cousins, watching movies, playing with my little brother Mihr, or just hanging around with my Tatay and Nanay.  Just plain “teambahay.”  But I will not trade this experience for anything else because I believe this is one of the highlights of my young life.

I learned about Aflatoun in school; a foreign-sounding name that I have not heard before, yet, I believe there is something very important about the program that would help me and my fellow classmates to prepare for our future. From the lessons of my teachers, I appreciated and understood the importance of the program.  Aflatoun teaches us to be empowered children; young citizens who are confident, compassionate, resourceful, and happy.  Furthermore, it introduces us to the fun ways to save and spend.  I did not understand the value of money until I was in grade 3, I guess. I thought it was just a piece of paper. And yes it is a piece of paper that is powerful both in a good and a bad way.  Aflatoun teaches us to use money in a good way; to be thrifty and thoughtful in my spending.  But money used in a bad way can bring problems like having so many loans.  I believe adult people like you can very well relate to this. 

My parents, especially my mom, have been very supportive to me and guide me in my goals, because my dad is an Overseas Filipino Worker, working very hard for our family. He sacrifices his comfort being away from us just to ensure that we can have a delicious and healthy food on our table, while he, on the other hand, eating only a piece of egg and bread, just to save more. My mom helped me become an Aflatoun member all through these years as a pupil of MSU-IIT COOP Academy.  When I became aware of the value of money, at first, I was so excited to spend to feed my cravings like candies, chocolates and especially toys. And then my mom slowly helped me understand by explaining to me that money does not grow on trees.  Whatever I splurge is from the sweat and tears of my father working overseas.  Hard earned money must also be spent prudently. In so doing, it needs a little discipline, delaying gratification, and sacrifice to limit my wants and focus more on my needs. Although, I still cannot fully grasp the concepts of wants and needs, I truly understand that because my father is working hard to earn the money, I should also be considerate and careful in spending it.  Also, we are not sure what the future holds, so it is important to save more while we can. My dad also stressed this lesson to me.  My teachers and my parents emphasized that financial knowledge and skills should be acquired by children while they are still young so that they will carry the values with them when they grow up.     

My teachers also played an important role in making me understand more about Aflatoun by reinforcing some activities related to financial education and encourage us to save often. I have been awarded as one of the consistent Aflatoun Top Depositors since I was in Grade 1.  Before, I did not understand the value of that award but slowly, I finally understood and appreciated it as Aflatoun is being consistently taught and discussed in our subject, Cooperativism. Now, I understand why more than 300,000 children in the Philippines and more than 10 million children are drawn to the friendly fireball in the neighborhood.

With that idea and understanding, I try to give a little twist on my attitude towards money, particularly increasing my savings as much as I can, by dropping a certain amount I can save for the day, to my improvised piggy bank.  Furthermore, our resources are finite like water, electricity, food, the environment, and this earth.  Savings should not only be limited to money but to all forms of resources.  I am convinced that by practicing this kind of attitude towards resources which starts from a little step of sacrifice and discipline, would become an initiation and building blocks to form my financial foundation in the future.  I am inspired and motivated to give back my gratitude to my parents who consistently teach and mold me and my brother, Mihr, to achieve our dreams and live a successful and happy life.

The learnings, values and good practices that I have learned from my parents, teachers, as well as the influence of my classmates when it comes to saving, spending, budgeting, planning, and enterprise, will always be my teaching principle that would remind and inspire me to continue what I have started.

I also thank MSU-IIT NMPC for the opportunity.  Thank you for investing in young people.  We are young but we are powerful, for we are your future members.  As of today, more than 60% of the world’s population are young people.  If you train and expose us to cooperatives and Aflatoun, your future is already covered.  We are just here, ready to be trained and involved.  Engage us, and you will know the difference. 

Before I leave this stage, allow me to sing this line from the Aflatoun Song which struck me the most “Separate fiction from fact, explore, think, investigate and act. Make a change around the world, it’s our choice as Aflatoun boy and girl. I’m aware of what my rights are and how this can bring me so far. But I know my duties will do. I’m an empowered child!”

Daghang salamat at maayong hapon kaninyong tanan!"