How to Make the Earth Dog Your Best Friend

In her 13th Annual Feng Shui Convention to help prepare for the Year of the Earth Dog, international feng shui master Marites Allen shared a very interesting peculiarity about the 2018 Flying Star Chart. For those who are new to the practice of feng shui, the Flying Stars School is a popular discipline that charts the locations of the lucky and unlucky energies or cosmic elements. These energies change directions every year, month, day, and even every hour. The chart is used to determine which sectors of houses, offices, and other structures should be enhanced for good fortune, and which ones should be cured or corrected to counter the negative energies.

Annual Feng Shui Chart 2018-01Ms. Allen said that in 2018, the numbers in the chart follow a unique alignment. The top numbers when added from left to right: 8 + 4 + 6= 18; when reduced to a single digit, 1 + 8 = 9.  The middle numbers 7, 9, and 2 add up to 18; again, reduced to a single digit = 9. The bottom numbers 3, 5, and 1 when added produce 9. The same thing happens when the numbers are added from top to bottom and even diagonally.

So what is so special about the number 9? In feng shui, 9 represents the Prosperity Star. In Chinese, the pronunciation of this number has the same meaning as longevity and eternity. It is the number associated with the Emperor of China, whose robes are always embellished with nine dragons. The resulting 9-configuration of the annual Flying Star chart is something that only happens once in nine years and can be interpreted as something that brings positive indications.

Ms. Allen shares specific suggestions on how to maximize the positive luck potential of the auspicious energies and protect us from the effects of the afflicted stars in her 2018 horoscope books, almanac, and planner available at all Frigga Charmed Life shops and National Bookstores. These must-have references are also available online at and and

Alternatively, here are nine general suggestions to get things right and attract good fortune in the Year of the Earth Dog.

1. Know your correct Chinese zodiac sign.

Especially for those born in January or February, it is important that you get this detail right. For example, someone born on 22 January 1993 is a Monkey; while someone born a day later on 23 January 1993 takes the Rooster sign. The Chinese zodiac follows the lunar calendar, not the Gregorian or Western calendar. The first day of the lunar calendar starts somewhere between January 20th and February 20th. Visit, choose your year of birth on top of the page, and click “Shop your Sign” to know your zodiac sign.

2. Get a copy of your personal birth chart.

So you know your animal sign. The next thing you’ll probably do is read up on the forecasts for that zodiac sign from books and the Internet. But did you know that your personal birth chart—because it requires very specific details like year, month, date, down to the hour of your birth—can reveal much more precise indications about your life prospects? Your birth chart will reveal valuable information that will help you understand why things happen the way they do in your life, your significant time periods, what colors and accessories will be lucky for you, and how you can harmonize the different feng shui elements to see improvements in your life, among others. Your feng shui consultant should be able to help you get your personal destiny chart.


3. Understand the Annual Four Pillars Chart.

If you have your personal destiny chart, you can compare it with the Destiny Chart or Four Pillars Chart of the year. You will then see if the elements of the year are in your favor or not. It will now be easier for you to determine which types of feng shui interventions you need to achieve a harmonious environment by boosting the good energies and ‘curing’ the troublesome ones.

paht chee chart v2-01

4. Mind the lucky and unlucky sectors of your home or office.

Every year, nine Flying Stars representing good and bad energies fly into different sectors of your home and office. For 2018, the auspicious energies are located in the Southeast (Wealth Star 8), South (Romance and Travel Star 4), Southwest (Windfall Star 6), Center (Multiplying Star 9), and Northwest (Victory Star 1).

The afflicted energies have flown to the East (Robbery/Violence Star 7), West (Illness Star 2), Northeast (Argument Star 3), and the North (Misfortune Star 5). Ms. Allen stresses that it is just as important to suppress the malevolent energies with suggested feng shui cures as it is to boost the positive ones with charms and enhancers. For suggestions, please call 0920 9509390.

5. Know your zodiac allies and friends.

During a year when luck prospects are not very favorable to a specific birth sign, seeking the support of luckier zodiac allies and friends could offer some help. It may entail displaying or wearing their symbol or representation, which is equal to “borrowing” good luck from them during tough times. By virtue of their friendly affiliations with the Dog, those born in the years of the Rabbit, Tiger, and Horse can look forward to positive energies in 2018. Dragon, which is the conflict animal of the Dog, may face some rough times ahead.

Click here  or watch the video to know more about your astrological allies.


6. Plan your activities around your lucky days and hours.

Is this possible at all? Feng shui says it is, definitely!  Choosing an auspicious wedding date, for example, takes tedious computations, but Ms. Allen has made it easier by putting together those lucky and unlucky days to schedule important activities in her 2018 Almanac and Feng Shui Planner. Add them to your must-have feng shui references each year to help you choose proper dates for starting businesses, travels, medical procedures, haircuts, etc.

daily schedule


7. Know your lucky directions.

Each one of us has lucky and unlucky directions. These directions indicate the quality of energy that is most beneficial for us. We can use this information in many ways, including determining our head facing direction when we sleep, or which direction to face during important meetings or negotiations. Check out your 2018 Feng Shui Almanac to know your auspicious directions.

8.  Wear auspicious clothes and accessories.

Feng shui uses shapes, colors, symbols, and elements to seek harmony and balance in life, so it lends itself naturally to fashion. Wearing feng shui-inspired clothing is the most personal and intimate way of attracting good fortune, projecting our aspirations, and hoping for their fulfillment. This is the basic tenet behind Frigga Charmed Life, a fashion brand started by Ms. Allen in 2012. Visit to learn more about lucky fashion.

must haves


9. Lastly, use feng shui with the purest of intentions.

Feng shui  practice is more than just wearing charms or placing cures and enhancers where they may best attract good energies or deflect bad ones. Foremost, it is about setting your goals with the objective of seeking improvements not just in your life but in others as well. Having said this, believe in your heart that feng shui works and could make a difference in your life. But always remember the saying: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”



Three enchanting islands, one fine day

Sometime in November last year, we took a trip to Busuanga, one of the roughly 1,780 islands that make up the archipelagic province of Palawan. It was meant to give us a taste of paradise in what is known as the “Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines.”

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Coron Westown Resort. Our mid-range accommodation for this tour.

From the Busuanga airport, we took a 45-minute ride to Coron, a municipality and fishing village that serves as the jump-off point to various other surrounding island destinations. It is not to be mistaken with Coron Island, the third-largest island in the province where tourists go to dive and view Japanese ship wrecks.

Confused already? You might find some helpful clarifications on this page.

I will not even try to describe the lovely islands we visited. Unfortunately, not even the photos we took could do justice to some of the most beautiful places on this side of the world. The feeling of being in, and living, those blissful moments was simply beyond words.

First stop: Bulog Dos.

Bulog means bald head, which is what the island looks like from a distance. Why Bulog Dos? Because there is Bulog Uno 🙂 . Which was not part of our island-hopping tour.

bulog dos.jpg


The sandbar seen from the viewing deck

Next: Banana Island

Nope, no bananas here. But why the name? The island is shaped like a banana fruit from afar. I stand corrected: we had bananas brought in to complete the bountiful lunch served by the tour operator.





Last stop: Malcapuya Island

The tour guide shared that Malcapuya is of Hispanic origin and roughly means ‘a beautiful woman with bad attitude.’

A woman or an island blessed with such beauty could, perhaps, be forgiven for having a ‘bad’ attitude. Malcapuya has often been reviewed as a smaller, but even better version of Boracay because of its cleaner beaches.


But maybe not for very long. The property is now owned by the same developer of Boracay Regency Hotel and changes may be seen within the next five years.

Three grades of Malcapuya sand: (1) Fine…


(2) Finer…


(3) Finest.


Please click here for more photos.

The Philippines now has 7,641 islands to explore, with roughly 1,780 located in Palawan alone. So many attractions. So little time.




A new ‘project’ on the Taft block


cover photo

It opened barely a week ago but it’s already threatening to steal some business from foreign brands Starbucks and Seattle’s Best, at least in the millennials area of Vito Cruz/Taft Avenue.

The Coffee Project is the latest business meant to complement the other ventures of All Value Holdings Corp. owned by Senator Manny Villar. Earlier Coffee Project shops opened only last year in different parts of Metro Manila and in the Villar-owned Vista Malls in Sta. Rosa, Antipolo, Pampanga, and Bataan. With capitalization of PhP240 million, it hopes to complete at least 20 projects by end of 2017.

Check out why The Coffee Project is billed the most Instagrammable café in the metropolis.

when all else fails

start your day

no one gets hurt

your monday be short


There’s a nook to suit your every mood.

hello taft

bike corner

hello taft 1

way up

More to see on the upper level but they will have to wait till my next visit.

ceiling art

Enjoy your coffee with this  ceiling  art above your head.


And ‘hugot’ lines aplenty.

love is all you need

hello goodbye

trash can

your ex

View more photos here.




Bangon Marawi Store, DTI Makati

tarpaulinThe Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has recently launched the Bangon Marawi Store at the Ground Floor of the DTI Building along Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City.

This initiative is the Department’s way of contributing to the recovery and reconstruction of Marawi City following the damage to infrastructure and private properties due to clashes in the area.

The Bangon Marawi Store features Maranao products such as brassware, wooden furniture, wearables,  woven products, jewelry, fashion accessories, and native delicacies.

Maranao entrepreneurs are among the internally displaced people (IDPs) in Marawi and this initiative is one way of helping these traders showcase their products and culture.

Some of the products on sale at the store:

marawi shirts

bangon mugsshawlbrassware1brasswarejewelry3

fruit of the loom




Palapa is a condiment made of caramelized scallions, ginger, chilis, and toasted coconut. Real hot by itself, but great with bagoong!



Lukot lukot or tinagtag is a traditional Maranao snack that looks like toasted pancit, but is actually a form of rice crispies.

In the video, Canadian Kyle Jennermann (aka Kulas) shows how the delicacy is prepared.


At the Bangon Marawi store, it sells for less than PhP100 per pack. Check out the many interesting products on sale. The store runs until December 30.

Go, buy!


Please show some love on Mother’s Day

It pains me to post something like this, and on Mother’s Day yet. But then, what could be a more fitting way to honor one great Filipina mom than to show some love when she needs it most.


Please click here to make a donation.

Here’s full text of her friends’ appeal on the Go Get Funding site:

We are friends of Virgie Sabena, a hardworking and honest 42-year old single mom of 2 children who has been diagnosed with Stage 3-B breast cancer almost 3 years ago. Despite many efforts of funding her own treatment, as well as seeking assistance from the government and private foundations, she is unable to continue into the much needed next round of her treatment. Gigie has even, through her health problems, tries to work to help raise funds for living expenses through housecleaning work and now also working from home for an online business. But she cannot do it all by herself and seeks your kind assistance and support in the form of a donation of any amount to help reach her goal.


In her own words:

I am writing this letter to appeal for your help again regarding my health condition. I am undergoing treatment for breast cancer stage 3-B, a life threatening disease that is causing me so much physical, mental and emotional pain.

My latest medical check-up revealed that I developed further complications which need to be addressed immediately. My oncologist recommended a new round of treatment for brain metastasis.

Being a solo breadwinner with no stable source of income and given the prohibitive cost of this new treatment protocol I must admit that I am very scared. But then I also need to do everything I can to get well and extend my life as I have a family to support and because I believe with God nothing is impossible.

Thus I am compelled to request for financial assistance from persons like you for any amount you can give along with your prayers which will be deeply appreciated.

May God Bless your kindness and generosity.


Virgie “Gigie” Sabena

Note: For complete details and questions you can contact Dr. Jaime Enrique Hilado

Tel No. +632 8320641/ Mobile No. 0917 636 5505 (Philippines)



Getting in shape, shaping lives with LeBran


They had me at “Moon River,” one of my all-time favorite tunes. It was the warm-up music they used for our trial dance session almost three years ago. I remember even singing silently to the tune as I stretched and flexed some muscles that had been rendered inflexible for years. Towards the end when I was humming the part that says “we’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ‘round the bend…” I knew that Carewell, my wellness support group, had made the perfect choice in having LeBran DFS as our dance fitness partners.

Except for one thing. Our coaches do not label themselves as dance instructors or DIs, but “shapers.” Brando Balmedina, LeBran President/Artistic Director, and Val Guico, Business Development Consultant, explained why when they introduced the group to us before we started the trial session.

LeBran aims to fulfill a two-pronged mission: to help its clients keep in shape through dance exercises and at the same time provide sustainable income for young and talented but financially challenged dancers in the Philippines. LeBran supports its teachers or shapers not only through dance skills training, but also through personality development, values formation, financial literacy, and business management. Thus, while dancing to stay in shape, LeBran clients also help ‘shape’ young lives.

In the three years that we’ve struggled to keep up with different beats and dance steps, we’ve had a number of shapers weave in and out of our Wednesday and Saturday sessions at Carewell.

Junior shapers Axl, Jeannie, JunRey, Gerry, Maui, Vince, and senior shapers Belinda, Myrone, and Abby, following company rules, had to pass various LeBran certifications and examinations before they were allowed to teach specific dance routines. Many other shapers are currently in college while some have already earned their college degrees. Without any exception, all of the shapers we’ve met are competent, dedicated, well-mannered, and very professional — clearly shaped out of a special mold. They’re such fun to jive with.

Meet LeBran shapers Abby and Axl.

shaper abby.jpg

Abby with some Carewell members and friends from the AIN Society of Singapore who joined a recent dance fitness session.

shaper axl.jpg

Happily, Abby Tinio, our mainstay shaper, seems pleased with how we’ve managed to pick up pace from the Latin cha cha, bachata, and samba to the trickier routines of Material Girl, She Bangs, and Waka Waka, among others. Many of us in our senior years actually found our groove with the music of VST and Co. and Gary Valenciano.  And although some geriatric hips and knees refuse to cooperate, cooling down to the sensuous tune of Bali Ha’i is a cool idea, nonetheless.

As soon as we get comfortable with a routine, teacher Abby uses a different music—a faster one to suit our heightened energy level! And this, I believe, is the real deal.  At a certain stage, we dance not necessarily to try and whittle down our waist sizes to what they were decades ago, but simply to move to the beat and enjoy the moment.

As we loosen up and try to keep up with the moves, we burn calories; but even more important, we have fun. We release endorphins as we join kindred spirits on the dance floor. Minds and bodies relax as stress melts away. The laughter and camaraderie are simply priceless.

Carewell partnering with LeBran is a win-win situation. Even Albert Einstein agrees.

dance einstein