[as published in the November/December 2010 issue of Feng Shui World magazine]
Marites Allen creates a contemporary Oriental-themed home that seamlessly combines comfort. Eleganceand prosperity enhancement principles in her dream house in fashionable Eastmanila in the Philippines.
At first glance the house is a typical well-appointed spacein the gated, upscale subdivision east of Manila - home to former President Joseph Estrada, past and present senatorsand other movers and shakers of the country. To the trained eye, however, thesprawling property has a certain character that says a lot about itsresidents. Inside and out, it is fengshui-compliant up to the tiniest detail, which should not come as a surprise.It is, after all, the house of noted Filipina feng shui expert and WOFS PhilippinesPresident/CEO, Marites Allen.
The elegantly furnished residence now bears no shadow of theold structure Marites first saw when she and husband Nicholas went househunting sometime in 2000. "Itwas run down and dilapidated. It wasn't pretty at all and my husband didn't even want to enter the place," laughs Marites. She, on the other hand, saw great potential in the 8,000 sq. ft. property. She envisioned it providing a room for each of the Allen children andc omfortable work areas for herself and Nicholas. The open space at the reararea was perfect for the small garden and the swimming pool.
HICCUPS AROSE INDICATING AFFLICTIONS
Whilemajor renovations had to wait for a more auspicious time, the Allens moved inafter a quick cosmetic repaint job. Just when she thought everything was fine,little glitches in her life started to manifest themselves. The children wouldget sick and restful sleep was hard to come. Worse, whatever money came in flowed out just as quickly. This despitebusiness being good, and Nicholas, a business executive with a U.S. consultingfirm having a lot of projects. Marites thought she corrected the annual affliction in the living room, but the real problem lay elsewhere. It turned out to be the kitchen location, and especially the large kitchen stove, which was directly beneath the conjugal bedroom. Thishad the effect of burning away the money and resources of the family. Unfortunately, the misfortune caused to the Patriarch's luck was affecting the rest of the family. The stove and the entire kitchen hadto be moved to another location, to the West where it could do less harm. Itdidn't take long for improvements to materialise. "Within two years after the renovation, Iopened several WOFS boutiques and I'm proud to say that for many years, none ofour kids have been so sick that we had to take them to the hospital," Maritesshares. She says their dream house islargely the result of putting together the architectural concepts efficientlyimplemented by their friends Architect Ka Kuen Chua, and interior designer ArchitectCalet Rapsing, both alumni from the Lillian Too Institute of Feng Shui inMalaysia. The Allen children, Maritesexplains, played the more important role in giving shape to the family abode-theywere the inspiration behind it all.
NOT MINIMALIST, MOREA FEELING OF ABUNDANCE
If you had to choose one word to describe the overall styleof the Allen residence, minimalist would not be among the choices. Purposefulor Abundant is more like it. There are many decorative images and otherinteresting details everywhere, but to someone who appreciates the benefits ofharmonious placements, it is easy to see that Marites has meticulously coveredall bases. It is warm and welcoming, andthe oriental theme seamlessly combines comfort, elegance, and prosperityenhancement principles. The facing direction of the house is NE 2/3, Period8. The water star 8 occupies the busiestpart of the house -- the lanai area by theswimming pool with a 3-tier water fountain.
There are two main entrances to the house. A primary doorfaces Southeast, while a secondary door faces Northeast. The house is alignedsuch that it can be accessed from other compass directions also to takeadvantage of the positive energy that results from the movement of the annualflying stars. Both doors are decorated with the mystic knot symbol and flankedby two ornamental mandarin plants laden with fruits. The Northeast entranceopens to an anteroom which is kept as quiet as possible for this year becausethis sector is inauspicious for the health of the residents.
A Buddha reclines on top of a wooden cabinet to create andambience of calm. At one end of the room is the SW wall, where a beautifullyframed picture of the Allen couple and their children, Shannen, Kirck, Nikki hangs. Says Marites, "Ever since we renovated the house, we have many parties".
The SE door leads to the living room where feng shuiartfully complements the interior decor. Finely crafted cane furniture andfresh flowers activate the Wood element in Marites' birth chart. An arowanafigurine, a popular symbol of abundance, sits on top of the centre table. It iskept company by three-legged toads with coins and other small lucky animalsymbols. In the centre of the livingroom hangs one of the two chandeliers in the house. The other one is in theanteroom. The stunning accent pieces were especially designed using 168Swarovski crystal balls arranged in a circular form. Those jewels glittering from the ceiling create superior yang energy indeed.
Before your eyes leave the ceiling you won't miss thedetails on the cornices used throughout that section of the house. They areembossed with the mystic knot to enhance harmony and prosperity. The master'sbedroom door is embossed with the double happiness symbol and the second floorbedroom doors have the longevity symbol.
A round table is the dominant accent for luck in the diningarea. Close by is the fame corner of the family matriarch. Among the objectsdisplayed here is an enhancer that incorporates the symbols of the phoenix,horse, and birds. Wonder no more why Marites is considered the poster lady forfeng shui in the Philippines.
The kitchen is perhaps the only area where the use ofenhancers is played down. Marites made sure, however, that the seatingarrangement used for the island counter which also serves as an informal diningarea, is such that the four Allen children are facing their best directions andthe seats for Mum and Dad are directly opposite them. What better way forfamily members to bond while enjoying good food. About the only enhancer foundin the kitchen is a set of Fuk Luk Sau deities placed beside a pair of cheffigurines, which provides an interesting contrast.
JUST A BIT KIASU
Marites admits to being overly cautious when it comes tomanaging her career and running the household. This is quite evident in how sheputs things together in her home and even in her fashion style. She has apersonal boutique of sorts in her vanity room with most of the Lillian Too andHouse of Too jewelleries and accessories purportedly for her to test theirefficacy first before she sells them to clients. The turnaround in both herpersonal life and career is her best argument that feng shui works.
A flourishing business, a jet-setting lifestyle, recognitionfrom friends and clients all come within her many years of feng shui practice-along, long way from her backstory of being born to humble circumstances andsurviving an unsuccessful first marriage. Still, she does not allow fame andfortune to deviate her focus from what really matters. "I have no attachment towhatever material things I have. Then and now, my priority remains my family".
MEETING THE DALAILAMA
A recent trip to Dharamsala, India to attend the teachingsof His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave Marites a rare opportunity to reflect onher life's purpose. After one week she realized that his teachings are not sodifferent from her Catholic Ten Commandments. "Life is so beautiful, and we are the ones who make it complicated," shesays. Her Catholic upbringing and her lifework with feng shui put Marites inthe best possible place. "Feng Shui has changed my life. Being part of the WOFS family is such awonderful experience. We are so blessed to be given the power to help people improve their lives. I thank Lillian for educating the world on the wonderfulthings about feng shui. The feng shuiindustry owes Lillian a lot for single-handedly popularizing the art throughher books, talks and World of Feng Shui boutiques. She has been a great mentorfor me and continues to be an incredible inspiration".