MANILA, Philippines -- Up to 90 percent of real estate industry players and Filipino property buyers consult the ancient energy-channeling practice of feng shui.
This was recently estimated by a property player and a feng shui expert.
?I believe (it is practiced) by more than 80 percent. Most of our members are developers and sellers who know very well that their buyers would like to have a ?lucky home,?? said Alejandro S. Mañalac, president of the National Real Estate Association.
?Thus, being in a market-driven industry, they have no choice but to make sure that their projects conform to the guidelines of feng shui. In fact, a lot of buyers and property owners put charms and amulets without fully understanding why they are doing it. Somehow, they want to be ?in,?? he added.
Feng shui expert Aldric Dalumpines said, ?In my educated estimate, the prevalence of feng shui among Filipino property consumers here and abroad is 88.8 percent.? And in true feng shui fashion, he added, ?That?s a lucky figure.?
Dalumpines revealed to Inquirer Property that his clients ranged ?from a squatters? area sari-sari store owner to the conglomerates here and abroad.? His website punsoy.com enumerates the breadth of this expert?s reach: property buyers from show business, commercial establishments, doctors, and even nurses based abroad who own investments in London, New York, California, and New Jersey.
Feng shui is being taken seriously by Philippine property players, according to Mañalac, who has been with the real estate industry for 20 years specializing in high-end sales and marketing.
It?s no laughing matter ?especially for those in the high-end market, whom we all know is predominantly Chinese. You will also notice that even western architects consult feng shui masters if they are doing projects here, in Hong Kong or China,? Mañalac said.
He added that ?most, if not all, high-end developers hire the services of not just any feng shui master but those with big names and ?marketable? ones. You will even find their names and faces in the (property) brochures endorsing the projects.?
Popular after ?97 crisis
Dalumpines explained that property players started taking feng shui seriously after the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
?In 1998, the No. 1 aficionado of feng shui was the resident of Malacañang -- Erap Estrada -- with his infamous quote: ?I believe in feng shui, just do not ask me how to spell it!?? Dalumpines said.
In a more serious tone, however, Dalumpines cautioned that feng shui is also plagued by its own set of hypes and myths. He cited as an example the location of Southeast Asian nations in relation to how it would handle the latest global financial downturn.
Southeast Asia will be less hit by the global recession not because it is in the southeast, but because it has learned to put in place policies since 1997 to secure their economies from future crises.
Dalumpines said the Philippine real estate sector would not be hit by financial woes this year because the country has traditionally followed a 12-year boom-bust cycle.
?From the end of World War II, the savings and investment patterns of the top 3 percent of the movers and shakers of the property market have been noted to have a savings pattern of at least a decade to a dozen years before they develop new projects whereby supply creates its own demand,? Dalumpines said.
?This is also market demand driven as Filipinos take almost 12 years to fully save enough to invest in a new home or property. The bust cycle is ushered in by irregularities in the economic environment like the Thai financial bubble bursting in 1997 and the recent US ?megaburst.? However, Filipinos have learned to save after the 1997 crisis, enough to tide them over today,? Dalumpines said.
Mañalac sees nothing wrong with feng shui or its practice.
?It is not a superstition, cult, or religion. In fact, its principles are practical and only aim to enhance the flow of energy. You will also find most of its principles based on common sense.?
He cited as an example a door that, according to feng shui, should open inward. ?In China, where it snows in some parts, just imagine if there is a snow buildup on your front door, how can you open it if you have to push it outward? Now, feng shui adapts that by saying that opening a door inward welcomes good luck.?
Improving the ?imperfect?
Mañalac sees nothing wrong with feng shui or its practice.
?There are no perfect properties in absorbing the positive ?chi.? It is in this aspect that feng shui masters play an important role. They can recommend remedies to improve the flow of positive energy in a particular space either by simply rearranging the orientation of the different components of the house, or moving the pieces of furniture or by placing charms and ornaments believed to attract good fortune.?
Mañalac said, however, that recently, feng shui has become overly commercialized and ?generalized? with often conflicting interpretations.
He pointed to the morning sun as an example. The morning sun has traditionally been the preferred orientation as it is believed a household is lucky if the rising sun faces its front door.
?This would mean the afternoon sun is considered unlucky. However, if you buy a property on Roxas Boulevard, the units facing the sunset pick up the highest price. The reality is that each individual has a different feng shui based on the date and time of their birth and consulting with authentic masters would be an ideal guide. But at the end of the day, it is your belief that matters,? Mañalac said.
Real ones have no office
Dalumpines observed that the demand for feng shui has grown exponentially, but that there are only eight authentic feng shui experts in the country, with some who have just died recently, reducing their number further.
Asked how to separate a fake from a genuine feng shui expert, Dalumpines replied: ?A real expert has no office. He is hands-on in the field and just mobile telecommuting.?
?Feng shui is an ocular science. It cannot be a tabletop survey like how a fortune teller or tarot card reader does. Beware of frivolous costumes and pretensions, rich-looking props like secondhand limousines, and shows you a store of multilevel marketing lucky charms to dispose of at your expense.?
He also warned people to be wary of so-called ?experts? asking for exorbitant prices in exchange for their services.
?I have seen top executives lose P800,000 after an ?expert? claiming to be a popular TV host?s feng shui consultant charge her that much.?
Dalumpines offers this advice: Get a copy of the reference book ?The Unknown Story of Feng Shui.? The book, he claims, would provide the ins and outs of feng shui philosophy and applications. It is available at Popular Bookstore on Morato Street, Quezon City, and at 8 Treasures at the Shang Mall.