There are times when the heart and mind go on a standstill — when something so beautiful or something tragic happens.
What happened to me was a fusion of both. It was something so beautiful that when it ended, it made for a Shakespeare tragedy. I felt lost for days, weeks and months, even.
In a society that believes in old wives' tales, the elders would have advised me to offer a blood sacrifice to the deities — to butcher a chicken, for example, to wash away bad luck; to burn some sage or to light a candle in one's favorite church.
But a former colleague advised me to go to this place along Ongpin St. in Binondo, and out of curiosity or perhaps because I was stuck in despair, I obliged. A visit to that place, he said, would help me get rid of the negative energy, start all over again, and would help me let some positivity flow into my life.
I was skeptical but I thought, what more could I lose? That day in 2016, I snaked my way through the bustle and chaos of Binondo to this little red shop: New Victory Trading.
It was a wedding and a feng shui shop filled with so many items for good energy and prosperity — wulou, charms, dragon amulets, trinkets, Chinese coins, red lanterns and what-have-you. It was crowded with patrons, believers, young and old, men and women, Chinese or not.
I met Denise Chua, one of the owners, and Laurence Yap, the feng shui master, who gave me some tips on how to navigate my year.
In Chinese, "feng" and "shui" mean “wind” and “water," respectively. Feng shui, the flow of chi or energy, is thus an age-old philosophy derived from the ancient world that is centered on human life being connected and flowing with the environment around it.
It is a practice of arranging the pieces in living spaces in order to create balance with the natural world, to establish harmony between an individual and their environment.
For Denise, feng shui is living in harmony with the universe. It's the way we arrange the elements according to their functions and use, which will be beneficial to our purpose.
"Feng shui is like taking vitamins and supplements. We have to work on our own first to have a healthy lifestyle and it just complements what we’ve worked hard for. It cannot stand alone if we the users don’t strive and work hard for our goal. As our feng shui master said, our good fortune is 1/3 man-made, 1/3 God-destined, and 1/3 feng shui-made," she said.
On that day many years ago, I left the shop filled with hope, vigor and positive energy and every year since then, I would always return to the shop before or during Chinese New Year. I would talk to Denise and Laurence and share with them how my year went. They would then offer me tips on what I might encounter for the new year.
This whole practice is basic – cleaning your spaces, your body, your soul, and your mind. It may give me luck, but more importantly, it keeps me sane and helps me thrive in this mad, and at times, chaotic world.
The readings are sourced by Chua and her sisters from feng shui books, from their feng shui master Laurence Yap, who imparts his knowledge to them and mentors as well some of the shop's feng shui clients, and finally from their intuition as a Filipino-Chinese family.
For this year, here are some of their tips for all the animal signs:
The Boar is the secret friend of the Tiger but you will clash with the Tai Sui this year. Thus, it urged those born under this animal sign to carry the Tai Sui amulet and the Tai Sui plaque, which must be displayed in the North East.
There are celestial starts for the Dog but there are also afflictions that need remedy. It is thus important to carry the Life Force and Spirit Essence amulets.
Luck and good fortune await those born under the Rooster sign, thanks to the Big Auspicious Stars.
Bad news for those born under the Monkey sign. Their feng shui reading says: The Monkey is in direct conflict with the Tai Sui, which makes it important to carry the Tai Sui amulet and plaque.
Readings see an illness star for those born under the Sheep sign. Thus, they may suffer weak health due to this illness star #2. There are, however, items that may remedy the situation.
It's a lucky year for the Hose with the multiplier star #9 but there is also a Yin House Star which brings negative luck.
The Snake clashes with the Tai Sui, making it important to keep the Tai Sui amulet at all times.
People born under the animal sign dragon are generally considered lucky, year in and year out. For this year, the Dragon enjoys strong relationship luck as well as Big and Small Auspicious from the 24 Mountains.
Heavenly blessings await those born under the Rabbit sign. But they must control their emotions as the Quarrelsome star #3 may visit during the year.
The Tiger has the support of the Tai Sui this year but at the same time, the year also brings challenges. There are amulets that can remedy this
There are two lucky stars that will guide the Ox this year but it will also face weak Life Force and Spirit Essence
The Rat has some competitive luck coming its way this year but it will also face some obstacles from the 24 Mountains. There's also the possibility of ill health but worry not as there are some amulets that can remedy the situation.
Denise shared with me the beginnings of their shop, which has been around even before the second World War.
"My paternal grandparents together with her sons started New Victory in 1938 at a humble store in Binondo. My grandmother Tan Pek Hun started the store as an oriental novelty shop specializing in Chinese engagement and wedding items, porcelain, fabrics and oriental trinkets.
Apart from being an oriental shop, my grandmother, who was a well-educated entrepreneur, knew in-depth Chinese so the concept of feng shui came in handy for her.
She read the feng shui calendar and had the knowledge of choosing auspicious dates for couples getting engaged and married hence, many sought her services. The shop became one of the go-to oriental and wedding shops for the Filipino-Chinese community," she shared.
Years later, Denise and her sisters took over the shop. They had a personal experience of using a particular feng shui charm that their feng shui master friend Laurence recommended and it really helped cure the bad sectors.
Because of this, they started to offer feng shui products to their customers. And true to their purpose, the charms they recommended have helped provide some luck to their patrons.
"Of course, this is coupled with grit, determination and hard work from the users as well as faith in God," she said.
Today, the place has become a go-to shop for their growing number of customers seeking feng shui guidance and items. Their products are mainly from trusted suppliers in the Philippines, China, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Since that day I visited the shop back in 2016, I keep coming back. More than the guidance, I've learned to keep things in constant harmony. It is really what feng shui teaches you.
I've learned to constantly find my center, keep my life balanced, and stay away from negativity and let the good energy flow.
This whole practice is basic —cleaning your spaces, your body, your soul, and your mind. It may give me luck but more importantly, it keeps me sane and it helps me thrive in this mad and at times, chaotic world.
New Victory Trading is located at 754 Ongpin St., Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Manila.