Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.
It's an understatement that feng shui changed Marites Allen's life. The self-made, Cebu-born feng shui master and "Queen of Philippine Feng Shui" is no stranger to struggle, growing up as the 10th out of 14 children. In her early adult years, she went through two major life events at the same time: as she was going through the painful process of getting an annulment, she lost her mother in a tragic accident — the ship her mother was in caught fire and she became one of the casualties.
While reeling from these traumatic events, she was introduced to feng shui articles published by an Australian magazine called New Idea. She started following some principles and soon after, she was offered a job as business centre manager at the Pacific Star Building, one of the most prestigious office buildings in Manila, the Philippine capital. Seeing this as an opportunity for a fresh start, she took a chance, boarded a ship with her three kids in tow, and re-wrote her fate.
Marites Allen, the Queen of Philippine Feng Shui
Today, Marites Allen is a household name who has given advice to Philippine presidents, and counts as clients the country's most powerful tycoons. She appears often on television, and does talks in countries like Tokyo, the U.S., U.K., France, Turkey, Norway, Belgium and Sweden. She broke new ground in retail with FRIGGA, a fashion brand rooted in prosperity designed by a renowned London fashion team, which ships to 16 countries. She also recently launched an app called Marites Allen Almanac available on Android, which offers everyday guides for planning travels, businesses and other activities.
To get to all this, it took a turning point to lead Marites Allen into a more prosperous path. "I always say this: there are three kinds of luck," she tells Clozette in an exclusive interview. "First is Heaven's Luck, this is what's given to you; simply put, some people are just born into a better circumstance than others. Second, is what you call Mankind's Luck. This is what you get from the actions and decisions you make. And finally, there's Earth Luck. This is what feng shui is all about." In this interview, Marites Allen talks about harnessing her luck to create the life that she now leads.
Fill in the blank: I’m an entrepreneur, a feng shui master and ____________.
A jetsetter. I have the so-called travelling horse star. At this stage in my life, I prefer to visit places where I can learn more about the history and explore various cultures. One of my favourite destinations is Italy — there are so many beautiful sights to see in this country.
Speaking of travelling, how was life like when you arrived from Cebu to Manila?
Life in Manila, at first, was overwhelming but thankfully I was able to navigate it. The company I was working for sponsored my education so I was able to get my MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree from the Ateneo de Manila University. When my career and finances became stable, I felt like it was time to find love once again. For this, I harnessed feng shui also. I began to put things like Mandarin Ducks to attract romance. It didn't take long before I met my husband now. We were in love and planned to get married. But before that, I consulted a feng shui master in Makati who told me that the relationship is doomed and we'll eventually get separated. I was devastated when I heard this, but I told myself, "I will prove the stars wrong. I will study whatever it is you're studying and I will be better than you." It was at that moment that my passion for feng shui went full swing.
Malaysian feng shui practitioner Lillian Too also had some influence in your career. What drew you to her in the first place?
It was on one of those trips to England. I was walking in Covent Garden and I spotted a Chinese store. I stumbled upon a book and the first page that I opened was a chapter dedicated to the Philippines. It talked about how President Ramos authorized the cutting of two trees in Malacañang Palace because it was disrupting the flow of energy and how the 500-peso bill was inauspicious to the country. That book was called The Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui by Lillian Too. It felt like a sign! From then on, I began to closely follow her works and advice.
Fast forward to a vacation that I took in Hawaii, I was finally able to meet Lillian Too. She invited me to come to Malaysia and the rest was history. In 2004, I opened World of Feng Shui Philippines (WOFS).
What were the major challenges that you faced in introducing feng shui in a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines?
Feng shui was very new to the country at that time, so it garnered a lot of interest, but there were also some challenges. Some told me that it wouldn't be welcomed in the Philippines. During the week I launched WOFS, a blockbuster horror movie titled Feng Shui also premiered (In the film, the lead character played by Kris Aquino receives a cursed Bagua mirror that kills those who stare at it. —Ed). The public had this notion that the movie was an accurate depiction of what feng shui is. It was an opportunity for me to educate people that it's actually more than that. It's not a superstition, it's not magic — it's science.
Let’s talk about auspicious fashion. What are your basic philosophies when dressing up for good luck?
Pieces from FRIGGA Charmed Life by Marites Allen
My take on that is that if you’re dressing anyway, why not dress in something that will enhance your luck? Dressing well just makes everything better. If you feel good about what you're wearing, you start the day on the right note and in a good mood. All signs can benefit from dressing up in auspicious pieces. But it can also depend on your luck for a particular month. If your sign needs a boost in a particular sector, say career, then some pieces may be better suited for you, so you can enhance your fortune. FRIGGA actually incorporates symbology which has meanings and can protect you from inauspicious elements.
Apart from Frigga, you also ventured in a feng shui-based salon. Is beauty also a segment that feng shui can play a role in? Is there, for example, an auspicious way of applying makeup?
For the hair styles, basically it's about the colours and the cut. It depends on your birth date and sign. All of us have an intelligence style and an attractive style. For me, I was born in 1968, so my Kua number is one. My long wavy hair is my intelligence style, blue is my intelligence colour. For red, it’s for my fame and popularity. Once you know your lucky colours, you can also incorporate these in your eyeshadow and lipstick. For those born under the water element, you can go for black, blue and grey. For fire signs, red, pink, purple are great. For wood signs, look for greens and browns. For earth signs, choose creams and beige. And for metal signs, white, gold, silver are best.
Do you have any special personal rituals for auspicious living?
Every year, I give up a vice. Right now, I'm a pescatarian. I was able to give up beef, pork, chicken, soft drinks and sugary treats. Personally, this practice makes me feel good because I have lessened my participation in the killing of living creatures for food. As for daily rituals, I always meditate in the morning to declutter my thoughts then I face the sun to awaken my system. Afterwards, I write my affirmations or what I'm thankful for. It’s hard to be negative when you’re so grateful about what you have.
What is the most important lesson that you have learned throughout your decades of practice?
In the end, it still boils down to this basic advice: never ever give up. If I had I given up and listened to other people saying I won't be able to become what I am today, then none of these blessings would have happened. So you just have to keep moving forward, pursue your goal. Everything is tough anyway and if you’re not gonna do it and go after your dream, somebody else will.
This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.