Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Real Joe

Mark is an American national who happens to be married to Merejen, a local girl from Barangay St. Christine just 9 kilometers north of Lianga. For regular readers of this blog, he is a familiar name because of the well-written, thought provoking and often impassioned comments he has managed to append to many of its published posts.

In the 15 or so years I have lived in Lianga, I have had the opportunity to meet more than a few foreigners who have made the choice to live in, or at least visit for an extended period, this rather remote and secluded part of the world. Some of them have become friends and acquaintances over the years.

But few of them are of Mark's breed and share his outlook lin life. Most foreigners with Filipino wives have been content to settle in the Lianga area for the simple reason that it makes sound economic sense to live in a part of the world where a depressed local economy can enable a foreign visitor or retiree living on a pension of dollars or euros to live a life of comfort and moderate luxury in what amounts to a tropical paradise. Exactly the kind of life they probably could not afford or even dream of back home.

But Mark, and a few others like him, have made it a point or even a fetish, if you will, of making positive changes in the communities they have become a part of by undertaking programs and projects (often at their own expense) designed to uplift the living conditions and economic welfare of local residents. It is this desire and unselfish commitment to help the local people help themselves that distinguishes these special Joes from the rest who often belong to the scum and flotsam of foreign cultures and who have managed to our great misfortune, make their way to these shores.

I wish Mark and those like him who have become so much a valued part of our local community the best of luck in their endeavors here. I wish there are many more like him who continue to remain working for a better future for Lianga inspite of the onerous task of having had to overcome and surmount local prejudices and cultural differences by doing so.

For those interested on what this guy is up to nowadays, you can visit his blog at Or you can ask the people in Barangay St. Christine and Diatagon. They should know better.

1 comment:

  1. Benjie,
    Thank You So Much for your kind words, I take them as encouragement in our attempts to make things better here in our wonderful community. We have so many hopes and wishes for this little corner of the world. We see so much potential here that has gone untapped for many years. The people here are good people, who have gone so long struggling to eak out a living amid troubling situations, conflict, and lack of government concern. I follow your blog with interest and have noted that you too are a very caring person who wishes only the best for his community, and I know of many others, many of whom you have mentioned at one time or another. If there is one thing that we could wish for is that those who care the most for our community, is that they come together, work together for the improvement that is so needed here.
    To be honest Benjie, I'm a very modest man, I have asked those we help not to thank us, or tell others that we did whatever it was that helped, because the feelings that I have are in my heart, not in my mind. I want to help, I don't want to advertise, and I don't want people to feel indebted to me or our family. Sometimes it's so hard to achieve anonymity in the things we do, and I do hope that people don't feel that we are trying to do these things to gain recognition. Recognition is the farthest thing from our minds. We wish only that Lianga and its Barangay's achieve that which will allow for a better way of life for its residents. We are stronger together than as individuals and as long as we continue to pursue a path of development for our community I see success in all our futures.
    Mark and Merejen