Thursday, June 18, 2009


Finally our electric is energized at the Sawmill, we can not start the process of hiring employees yet, but now I can inform anyone who follows this blog about the next plans.
We needed the cash flow from this Sawmill to continue with the other projects we have planned. Merejen, John Mark (our business partner), and I have talked extensively about our future plans. The profits coming from the Sawmill will first be used to finish the filling for the gas station. Yes the gas station is still planned and will be the next business at our site.
That 7000 square meters is going to get a lot of use. It is our plan to almost completely fill that site with businesses. I recently received a comment to one of my posts saying that they thought a different business, an ice plant, might be the best thing to have in St. Christine because of the fishing industry that seems to be growing there. I don't know the name of the commenter, but they are very good at reading our minds. An Ice Plant is planned for the site, it is planned to go in the space right behind the Sawmill toward the river. Our plan is to build a delivery system, which will deliver ice directly to the boats. That is the type system I'm the most familiar with from the US. The Ice Plant has been in our plans from the very beginning, but other things were needed first.
The overall design of our plan is to provide fuel at the rivers edge along with ice, and to also provide a place for the boats to offload their catch. Unfortunately I was expecting the Barangay to be well on their way to building a public market for the boats to sell their catch, but as most people can see, there has been no progress on that as yet. Merejen's dad has faced opposition on the planned public market, so the ice plant has remained on hold until the Barangay gets off their ______, you fill in the blank.
We have heard so much gossip about our plans in the Barangay, I find it remarkable that with the economy the way it is, people have so much time on their hands for idle gossip which does nothing but confuse other people. If people want to know what our plans are, all they need to do is ask. We are perfectly willing to let people know what we have in mind, but we are not going to spend a fortune printing documents to let everyone know. If you really want to know, just wait till it happens.
And one last thought, it would be so nice if people would not place rushed expectations on us. With the world economy the way it is, you just can't do things the way you would like. It would be so wonderful if there was unlimited cash available to do our whole plan at once, but that just not the way it is. We have a budget to, and things will happen when our budget permits, not before. Let us have the time we need, and you will see that honesty is so important to me and my family. I will always do what I've said, it just might take longer than I'd like.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Someday Soon!

Many people are asking if we will ever finish the Phoenix Gas Station. The short answer is YES.

It would take a lot out of me to explain all the complex things that have happened over the past few months. But to help quite down the rumors, let me just say paperwork was a much larger hurdle for me to leap than I first thought. Even the land where we will be putting the Gas Station was a problem. That land was in fact owned by a wonderful gentleman of the community, but it was under protest by an official that only had his own bank account in mind, not the good of the community.

The truth about the land was easily discovered by a trip to the Regional Office of the DENR. And for any in this area, you should take that trip yourself if you have any dealings with the official I mentioned.

My wife and I spent many hours talking to the owner, explaining what we would like to see in the community, and what we believed could be done to improve the economic conditions in the area. We have always believed that the community needed jobs for its citizens; a place to work, where a salary could give a family much needed support in very trying times. And much more than this, a business site that the community could feel pride in, a showcase for the area. That is the reason for choosing Phoenix, a mythical bird which near the end of its life - builds itself a nest of myrrh twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. In our mind St. Christine could rise out of the ashes of the Lianga Bay Logging Company and be reborn, to live again and become what my wife’s family loved about their community. Our plans are to have a beautifully landscaped area where people will enjoy stopping by to fill their tanks. With a play yard for children, so on those long rides mom and dad can let the kids take a break from the car and just play a while. A comfortable stop for people to sit down and have a snack, with shaded tables, a friendly place to remember when the trip is over.

The owner out of kindness to us and their community decided on a plan that would GIVE a small portion of the 2.1 Hectares to us for the Gas Station to improve the community under the condition that we agree to hire people from the local community first. Then the Barangay would be given the largest portion, under the agreement that they would build, at some point, a Barangay Public Market on it and that we would help with the financing when that started. The remaining portion would remain with the family. Under the agreement the Barangay would lift the 16 year old protest.

All seemed to be going good until certain people wanted to get their hands involved. It took much longer to get the paperwork complete so we could submit everything to the Phoenix Company for their approval. So we convinced the company to come here without all the paperwork and they were convinced that we had indeed picked the perfect location. Many times since they have called to check on our progress, and have invited us to meetings, parties, and conferences. Phoenix is a community loving company; they give back to the community and go out of their way to fit in, a lot like this American.

Most of the struggles have now ended, and as you can see from the picture; some moves are underway. At times we have had to put the filling on hold while we concentrated our efforts on other projects like the Mini-Sawmill which will be employing 16 residents when it opens. And of course I had a little driving problem in January, but all this is just minor and will in no way stop what we are doing. We believe in our community and we will keep working as hard as we can to achieve our goal of helping our friends.

More to come later, but we hope that this helps some of you understand where we are and where we intend to go. Please keep us in your prayers and give us time to finish what we believe will be something everyone will be proud of in this community.

Mark and Merejen

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Still Kicking

Hi folks,
Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still here and kicking. I know lots of people may have heard about my near demise in an accident on my way to San Francisco. The accident was pretty bad, but I managed to make it through it with only a broken right arm, cracked left shoulder, and some kind of damage to my left hip. I will have to say that the medical staff took very good care of me and pulled me through some very painful moments.
Things are still going on in the businesses even with my temporary absence. The Sawmill is just a couple of weeks from opening, and after that gets going we will be back on the final filling of the gas station area. After the filling work, Phoenix will take over and get all the paperwork completed, and then start the building by installing the tanks, pumps, and rain shelter for the vehicles. Hopefully you will see this start within the next couple of months.
After that there is a new project on the horizon. We have almost decided to put in a Ice Plant near the Sawmill and Gas Station. This will help the Fishermen in our area. Too many times I've seen the fishing boats tied up waiting for a shipment of Ice. This needs to end. Our fishermen are hardworking people and if they find a chance, and the weather is good, they don't need to wait on a shipment of Ice to hold them in port.
Thanks to all that offered up prayers for our family during the time of my recuperation.
Mark and Merejen