This study is focused on the use of feng shui in business establishments located in shophouses within the Chinatown districts of the cities of Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore. These cities are strategic in Island Southeast Asia as centers of migration of Chinese nationals who controlled the regional trade in the region during the colonial period. These migrants came as merchants, resident traders, and/or coolie laborers for the tin mines of the peninsula. Moreover, these cities were entrepots of trade and the centers of the traffic of goods along the route between the China Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. Hence, the colonial powers, specifically the Spanish and the British, carved Chinatowns in Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore from portions of the colonial real estate to sustain this extremely profitable partnership generated in the region by the Chinese merchants, traders, and coolie laborers. Events in China and the battering suffered by the country in the hands of the colonial powers in the 19th century altered the character of the migration process: The existing Chinatowns populated by resident merchant families and their business activities became havens for Chinese intellectuals, scholars, and political exiles. Furthermore, challenges posed by ethnicity issues within the plural and multi-racial societies of Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore further strengthened and entrenched Chinese traditional values and culture within these enclaves. Today, these Chinatowns embody the culture and values of the homeland reflecting the tradition of strong family ties, the humanism of Confucianism, the harmony between man and nature of Taoist philosophy and geomancy, the spirituality of Buddhism, and the importance given to industry and a productivity-oriented work ethic. This study documented and established the dominant use of feng shui, a cultural practice that traces its origins in early Chinese history, among the owners of business establishments located in shophouses within the Chinatowns of Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore. Using descriptive research, the data gathering process started with an ocular survey of selected businesses located in shophouses within the catchment areas of the three Chinatowns to determine whether feng shui was used in these establishments. In the second phase, surveys and interviews were conducted with owners as key informants to determine why feng shui was used in their business establishments. The study documented the fact that like typical business establishments and homes in the homeland, feng shui was used by business establishment owners in the Chinatowns of Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore to bring good health, prosperity, and harmonious family relations.
Châ€™i, Chinese kapitans, Chinatown, Ethnicity, Feng Shui, Geomancy, Multi-racial societies, Plural societies, Shophouses, Taoism, Yin-Yang
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