Shionel Blas Gesite is a chemical engineer from Samar Island, Philippines. He is now living in Manila. A lay member of the denomination's General Board, he attends Central Church of the Nazarene on the Metro Manila District. He and his wife, Rosine Gonzales, have three young sons: Jan Jared, Reuben, and Jazer.
What do you do for a living?
I am a chemical engineer (consultant) and small business owner operating restaurants and coffee shops.
What types of restaurants?
Chinese, a leading Philippine fast food brand, and coffee shops (Mocha Blends).
One of the Mocha Blends branches was set up in an area where a Nazarene pastor asked us to create a shop to help with a church plant.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I play the accordion (a gift from the late missionary John Pattee).
What's the best part about living in the Philippines?
The hospitality of people, even though we are regionalized among 7,100 islands.
What's your favorite food?
I still love the local fare - chicken and pork adobo (a stew).
At Mocha Blends, what's your favorite beverage?
'Long Black,' which is the equivalent internationally of Café Americano - espresso with a little water. Just the perfect balance.
Where were you educated?
In Manila, I had a scholarship at De La Salle University to study engineering. It was the greatest gift that I received from the Lord - a full scholarship.
What's your dream destination?
The Caribbean - anywhere there. And Africa, especially Swaziland where my aunt and uncle, Bien and Mary Nacionales, served as Nazarene missionaries.
Who are your heroes?
1. My mother, Adelaida. She prayed diligently to bring us out of poverty and that her children would be educated. Her dedication and perseverance helped all 10 of us children access education.
2. My aunt and uncle, Bien and Mary. They were doing well with their medical practices in the Philippines. My mother sent me to stay with them so that I could be educated. They felt called to medical missions. Mary had been a Nazarene Bible school student, which is where she felt God's call to missions. They served 17 years as medical missionaries in Manzini, Swaziland, at the Nazarene hospital and nursing school. Now back in the Philippines, they have planted three churches.
3. Former Nazarene missionary Denny Owens.
What's your greatest fear?
That my family will be taken away from me. I really love my family, especially my three boys.
How are you involved in your local church?
I teach Sunday School for adult professionals and on several occasions our church has been without a pastor so I take pulpit responsibilities at times. Currently, I preach twice a month.
How are you involved in your district church?
I have been on the district advisory board for more than 10 years, and am currently planting a church in an area of the Metro Manila District, targeting professionals.
My wife and I are involved in district Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International as the couples ministries coordinators. At the Luzon Nazarene Bible College (now Philippine Nazarene College), I serve on the board of directors.
What do you do to relax?
I play golf, love to cook, and read. I especially enjoy books from Nazarene Publishing House (until my wife grabs them).
What's your life motto?
Keep things simple.
What's your dream for your children?
That they would learn the ropes of life - how to survive the challenges of this ever-changing world environment. It's not even education, but the ability to adapt with Christ at the center of their lives.
If Nazarenes could visit you in Manila, what's the one special thing you would want them to take away from the experience?
Normally, I take my friends to tourist spots in Manila, such as Luneta, the old city, and of course, take a break to visit my church on Sunday.
Are you into tech gadgets?
My daily partner is my laptop, which is my office. Since I am a consultant, most of my time involves me being mobile. A cell phone is a curse in the Philippines - well, that's what I say - but I have three!
Do you eat at your own restaurants?
Yes, but seldom. That's business!
What's the best part about sharing life with Rosine?
She is my prayer support and after 13 years of marriage, we are still best friends.
Where did you meet?
In church, where we became close friends.
What activities do you enjoy doing with your sons?
Walking in parks (being outdoors) and eating.
What is your favorite music?
I really love our hymns but also enjoy classical music. My nickname is 'The Walking Hymnal.' I have memorized many hymns (all stanzas).
Do you have any regrets?
Not really. When I was graduating from high school, missionary Denny Owens grabbed my shoulder and said that I should study at the Bible school. I explained that I had a scholarship to the university (De La Salle) and then he said they could offer me a scholarship to the Bible school.
What I feared was that my career might prevent me from being involved in church, especially when I passed on Denny Owens' offer for a Bible college scholarship in order to accept the university scholarship.
What does it mean to you to serve the Asia-Pacific Region on the General Board?
I look at it as a bigger scope in my role as a layperson. I have been involved in Nazarene higher education with the International Board of Education for the past 10 years, so this is a continuation of that. The General Board is a higher venue where I can advocate for Nazarene schools on my region, but also for Nazarene higher education globally, especially in the areas of administration and finance.
Holiness Today, March/April 2011