by Pepper Marcelo
Marites is a certified feng shui expert and proprietor of "The World Of Feng Shui" boutique in Manila. She explains that feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of manipulating and arranging one's surroundings to attract positive life energy, or chi , so that it flows smoothly, unblocking any obstructions in the body and the environment. Literally meaning "wind and water", its origins date back several thousand years. Feng shui has evolved from the theory that people are affected by their surroundings.
"This energy comes from the wind, the water, anything we bring - you and I have our own energy," Marites explains to Planet Philippines in an interview. "Sometimes people have a rough time or a hard day, and they talk to you and you're bubbly, and suddenly you see them getting affected, because slowly you are sort of transferring this energy to them."
Marites elaborates that feng shui is a science which balances the harmony of yin and yang . "It is an art of living in harmony with your environment. It's not too hot, or too cold, or too noisy, or too quiet. It's day and night. When you go to a house, for example, sometimes it feels claustrophobic, and sometimes you get a nice feeling. It's the balanced energy that surrounds us."
What feng shui is not, Marites says, is a religion. "It is a living skill, a science that has lived for generations. If there was no truth to it, it would have faded away. The study of feng shui is like any other degree, like economics or getting a masters degree."
She has been a practitioner of feng shui for 12 years now, applying it to herself, her business, family and friends. Being a practitioner, she says, comes from being able to perfect one's own feng shui, "because how can you teach and how can you become an expert if you haven't applied it to yourself and confirmed that it has worked for you?"
Marites, 35, readily admits that she had a difficult early life, and credits feng shui with helping her gain special insights into transforming her life for the better.
Born in Masbate province, she came from what she describes as a large, poor family, the tenth of 12 children who all went to Cebu City for their studies. She got married at the age of 22, but the union turned out to be difficult and, despite her attempts, it ended in an annulment. Marites was left with sole custody of their three children.
She found it difficult to be a single mother, especially in a conservative, traditional environment, so she decided to move to Manila to start a new life for herself and her children. She worked for an Australian aid agency, the Manila headquarters of her former employer in Cebu City, while earning her MBA from the Ateneo de Manila Graduate School of Business. Shortly thereafter she was hired to run Executive Power Centre in Makati, overseeing a staff of 60.
Pretty, young and unattached, Marites had her share of admirers. One of them was Nicholas Allen, a British-born consultant doing projects for international aid agencies who leased an office space from the Executive Power Centre. "Many tried to have an affair or relationship with me, but Nicholas was different," she recalls. "When I told him I already have three kids, he said he didn't care if I had none or fifty - he still loved me and the kids! Within two years we were married. That was when I really started to believe in feng shui."
Her first encounter with feng shui came upon a visit to London to meet Nicholas' parents. She came across the book Smart Feng Shui for the Home by Lillian Too, and was thoroughly engrossed in the subject matter. She quickly read another book, Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui , and slowly began to understand why certain decisions she made in life turned out positively while others hadn't, and why her previous marriage failed. She concluded that it was because of bad feng shui.
The author, Lillian Too, is considered one of the world's leading exponents of feng shui. A former banker with an MBA from Harvard Business School, she has written well over 80 books on feng shui, which have been translated into 30 languages and have sold about six million copies all over the world. "This information was limited before to the Chinese community but now it has spread to a big audience, thanks to her," says Marites.
In March, 2004, while on vacation with her husband in Hawaii, Marites met her idol in a "Feng Shui Extravaganza" that was presided over by Too. Marites attended a feng shui lecture and bought as many feng shui items as she could. Upon Too's invitation, Marites attended a Masters Practitioners Course in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, joining 42 other eager students from around the world to expand their knowledge and become certified experts. Too later invited Marites to appear on her Oprah Winfrey-style television program to ask questions and talk about practicing feng shui in the Philippines.
Upon her return, Marites was awarded the Philippine franchise for "The World Of Feng Shui" boutique in October, 2004. Located at The Podium Mall in Mandaluyong City, it is the first one-stop shop for feng shui aficionados in the country.
Marites says that one does not need to be a Chinese to practice feng shui. Filipinos are very adept at feng shui, she says. "We have the inherent ability to survive economically. We have that natural skill to mingle with the rest of the world. We are adored as the best workers, we work hard." She likens Filipinos to her personal favorite emblem, the bamboo. "No matter what happens, in a storm it swings back and forth. The bamboo tree is a very auspicious symbol of good fortune. Filipinos are like that. No matter what happens, we always stand up."
As an expert, she offers personalized readings, on- and off-site consultations, and courses and seminars to those who want to learn more and correctly apply feng shui to their lives. Her clientele includes banks, private companies, government agencies, property developers, even celebrities. And the practice does not only lend itself to improving one's physical environment, but personal matters as well. "Some mothers ask, 'Can you find out if my daughter's boyfriend is fit for her?' We can determine that by providing us with a person's date of birth, time of birth, and other personal details. We can run an analysis on whether one person matches well with another."
There are, however, common misconceptions and misinterpretations of what feng shui is and what it can offer. Marites recalls a woman who came to her shop, asking for advice on how to handle her family who, the visitor said, appeared to speak and pray to ghosts or apparitions. Then there was another woman who was set to migrate abroad, asking what to do with her husband's cremated remains. Some apply feng shui but expect quick, immediate results the next day.
"Those are some of the weird ones we've encountered," she says. "Feng shui is not fortune telling. I cannot tell you that if you buy the sweepstakes you'll win. How would I know? This is science. It is different."
She explains that in order to benefit from feng shui, one needs to propagate good deeds also. "It's about karma. If you have a very good karma, the cycle of giving and receiving, you have to complete the cycle. It is only when you give, can you receive. If you keep getting, and you don't do your godly duties of helping others, why do you think it's going to bless you back? You have to complete the cycle."
Her husband, who first thought she was nuts, is now a firm believer of feng shui. "He quickly changed his tune when business started to pour in," she relates in an article in Feng Shui World magazine. "Initially, it was hard for me to orientate my husband towards feng shui - he being British and thinking feng shui is nothing more than old wives' tales and superstitious nonsense. Then he got more and more contracts and now he always consults me for important business decisions."
Ground Floor, The Podium 18 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila Philippines
Name : Marites C.B Allen
Tel: + 63 2 9147112
Fax:+ 63 2 9106001
The following article is taken from the "PlanetPhilippines.com"