The Grey Chronicles


Is Feng Shui to Blame?



Early this year, GSPI closed its main door of its Administration Building [circled in red], or Admin 2 to most of us, to all, instead it applied the powers of Feng Shui to relocate the main entrance to the east side door. Accordingly, the downfall of NSC was caused by the main entrance door almost facing the south side. The new entrance is now on the East side, facing the Tominobo River.

I had been a fascinated reader of geomancy and feng shui, ever since I work as a company guard in a five-star hotel in Manila owned by a Chinese.

Evelyn Lip (1979) wrote:

Geomancy is defined as the art of divining the future for good or ill fortune, from the figure suggested by dots or lines placed at random on the earth’s surface.”

In Lip’s book the Foreword written by Professor E.J. Seow, state: “From feng (wind) to shui (water) one discerns the gaseous elements of the environment . . . —all within the ambit of normal social architectural practice.”

Interestingly, the book continues:

“Contrary to belief surrounding the northeast, the south is reputed to be of good orientation. There is an old saying in Chinese: chao nan er chen wang, if one is orientated toward the south, one would be king.”

During Nippon Steel consultants’ visit to NSC to assess its maintenance technology, I accompanied a consultant during a short walk from Admin 2 to the mill floor:

Pointing at the book I was carrying then, the Consultant said, “I noticed your interest in feng shui? I’m also a part-time geomancer, as my father and his father were.”
Me: “This book said that feng shui originated from China a few thousand years ago, spread to Japan and was adopted and used for orientation of the imperial palaces. Any suggestions for NSC?”
Consultant: “Maybe you could suggest to the building and ground maintenance guys to remove all those drooping Indian trees that lined up the road facing the mills. Those trees bring back luck.”
Me: “Ok, I’ll relay that information to them!”
Consultant: “Also, noticed that although there were three fountain pots in the western side of the main door, unfortunately water is not flowing.”

Admin2 Facade

Admin2 Facade

I only had the opportunity to suggest the cutting of these Indian trees [which my Indian friends corrected later that these are called evergreens!] during NSC’s Liquidation, but the head of the Building and Grounds Maintenance, thought that it might need a DENR permit to do so! Huh?!? Is landscaping part of DENR’s realm? Thus, the evergreen Indian trees are still alive at present. I found out rather late in my succeeding research on feng shui that drooping leaves in the facade of a main building, meant bad luck! A flowing fountain, signified a stream, thus controlled the shui. Unfortunately, these fountain pots were removed when GSPI took over NSC, it installed sort of a flower garden instead.

Admin 1 Facade

Admin 1 Facade

When most NSC management offices were still housed in Admin 1, in this sense the chief house of NSC, it garnered all the sweet fruits for its labors. Lip explained that “a building on high ground all around . . . the occupants will enjoy health and high respectable positions in society.” Is it by pure coincidence that NSC then belonged to the top ten companies in Asia until 1994, and earned a series of awards and accolades for good management practices. Similarly, Admin 2 is surrounded by roads all around it, and Lip state that “large sums of money have to be spent to combat malevolent forces and evil influences.”

Locations of Administration Buildings, NSC

Locations of Administration Buildings, NSC

It is quite interesting, although somewhat debatable, that NSC’s troubles began when management transferred from Admin 1 at the Hilltop to Admin 2 in 1990 (NSC News, February 1992). Maybe a coincidence or not, but beginning that year everything else went to a tailspin for NSC. In 1991, the Integrated Steel Mill project was adopted for implementation, but never took off from drawing plans. In 1995-96, an unsuccessful privatization changed hands from Wing Tiek to Hottick, to disastrous results. By 1999, NSC closed and laid off about 1,800 employees changing not only Iligan City’s but the Philippines’ economy.

The move from the south-facing main entrance to the east side, seemed to increase the chance for failure. Many visitors, suppliers and customers find it odd to go through a side entrance, instead of the welcoming main entrance, near the gate and across the national highway. One visitor remarked: “It feels like a clandestine movie, going by a side door to meet the powers-that-be!“ The east side is often associated by the Chinese Rabbit, may be that is why GSPI is going in leaps and bounds?

So, is playing feng shui geomancer to blame?

Lao Tze the philosopher had suggested, “the reality of a building does not consist in four walls and a roof, but in the space enclosed.”

Chance, coincidence or luck? No matter what it’s called, what is a Chinese pseudo-science doing in an Indian-managed corporation, anyway?


Lip, Evelyn (2000). Chinese Geomancy; A Layman’s Guide to Feng Shui. Singapore: Time Books, 1979. 124pp back to text

Santos, Bayani, Jr. [ed.] (1992). 18th Anniversary Supplement: Milestones. NSC News, Year XVII, No. 2. Makati: National Steel Corporation, 29 February 1992. pp. 46-47. back to text


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