Being a Chinoy in the Philippines, I often get asked about my business principles or beliefs. People want to know whether I have any superstitions—say, if I kill a chicken before I build a house or throw coins in the foundation of the building. And now, I have just been asked by our editor if I believe in the Ghost Month.
To be honest, I would almost always have to pause and think about how to say it without offending people, because the practice is so foreign to me and my family. We were brought up to not believe in superstition or feng shui. From my grandfather to my dad, there was never a time in my younger days when they cautioned against building a structure or spending money during a certain period of the year—or which direction the door should face or how many steps our stairs should have. Instead, they taught me to think rationally with common sense and to pray to the Almighty God for guidance and providence.
I remember asking my business partners, out of respect, if they minded inaugurating our store on a day when society was generally wary of some unlucky month
We started our business in September 2002. I remember asking my partners, out of respect, if they minded inaugurating our store on a day when society was generally wary of some unlucky month. None of them cared—they didn’t believe in such a thing. So we threw a big party and invited our business friends and the motoring media that day, and the rest is history. All I can say is that our business has never had a bad year since then.
My close friend and fellow businessman Atoy Llave (owner of Atoy Customs) used to believe in the Ghost Month and in feng shui. He would always count the steps, the posts, the windows and the doors, and check with “experts” regarding the fortune of dates, colors and numbers. He always needed things to align with the number 8 (because 8 in Chinese sounds like “luck”), and he always avoided the number 4 (because 4 sounds like “dead” in the Fukien dialect). But once he learned from our Bible study group that, ultimately, all real blessings and protection come from the one true God, he was convinced that he should follow only one truth and not so many baseless myths. He started testing the waters by deliberately renovating his office during the Ghost Month and undoing all the superstitious practices of the past. To cut the long story short, he is now a Christian running a business that is amazingly bigger than what it used to be when he was still using feng shui to plot his affairs.
The only “ghost” everyone ought to revere is the Holy Spirit. So yes, I believe it’s perfectly okay to buy a new car right now. If it’s God’s will, that is.
NOTE: Many Chinese and non-Chinese individuals believe in the so-called Ghost Month, which is the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is believed by many that during this time, souls from hell are allowed to roam the earth, which may bring ‘bad luck’ to the living. For this reason, many entrepreneurs avoid doing business throughout the stretch, thinking that whatever they do is likely to be unsuccessful. In the local automotive industry, car companies will tell you that August is traditionally a slow-selling month, as many customers put off purchasing a brand-new vehicle for fear of the Ghost Month’s curse.