Fortune and misfortunes: Mang Geno sees the world in people’s palms

As the City of Manila boasts numerous cultural sites, the fortune teller of Ermita is a living icon and carrier of the heritage of Filipino lore.

Maestro Marco Geno Ginintuan’s fortune-telling spot in Ermita sits unassumingly at the side of the road, shaded by a large balete tree.

He has been reading people’s palms in the same spot along Padre Faura Street for almost 31 years, tirelessly interpreting the fates of strangers, loyal patrons, and even politicians and celebrities. He has never been absent nor late for his daily palm-reading services from 5 am to 3 pm, patiently waiting for the next person who wants their fate read.

Fortune teller Mang Geno makes his mark as a living Ermita heritage as he traces what’s destined for his entrants.

Some would ask him to read the future of their careers and businesses, while others wonder about their romantic relationships. No matter what they seek, Mang Geno provides whatever their fate may dictate truthfully and sincerely.

All roads lead here

Before he became the well-recognized fortune-teller of Padre Faura, Mang Geno worked as a superintendent for Magnolia Inc. at their production facility in Cubao. Eventually, when the company struck a venture deal with Nestlé, he decided to take their early retirement program. Since his separation from the company in 1993, Mang Geno kindled and learned more about his fortune-telling skills.

Ever since he was a child, Mang Geno always believed in his potential to be a psychic through his mystic knowledge. But it was years of development and training from whom he calls Sadhghuru—an Indian spiritual leader and teacher of yoga—that brought him to where he is today. Mang Geno articulates that his mystical journey was bound by fate: “Kahit ano’ng gawin ko, dito pa rin [sa pagbabasa ng kapalaran]. Dahil ‘yun talaga ‘yung naka-program sa kapalaran ko.”  For Mang Geno, fate and destiny are the primary drivers of his life, as is the same for everybody.

(Whatever I do, I always end up in palm reading. Because that’s what’s really programmed by my fate.)

What keeps him practicing palm reading is the joy that it brings him. And to him, it isn’t just about reading people’s fortunes; it’s also about fostering a mutual understanding from immersing in the personal and private stories that people share with him. This fills him with happiness, especially when people return to him every day. He observes, “’Yung mga abogado diyan parang araw-araw silang pumupunta kasi mayroong mga bagong transaction na dinadala nila sa akin [para malaman] kung compatible ba sa kanila ‘yun o hindi.”

(Lawyers come here almost every day because they have transactions they bring to check if it is compatible with them or not.)

Having been a palm reader for 30 years, Mang Geno believes he has remained true to his patrons. “Walang daya, walang kalokohan. Kung ano ‘yung nasa palad [mo], ‘yan ‘yung pinapakita [ng kapalaran] mo sa’kin.” The capacity to read one’s fortune has enabled him to reshape the lives of people who are ultimately victims of circumstances. It has inspired him to do more outside of his psychic ability.

(No cheating, no nonsense. Whatever is in your palm, that’s what your fortune tells me.)

Mang Geno uses a portion of his income to provide scholarships to students—all of whom have already graduated. One is a Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate, another is a Mass Communication degree holder, while three are teachers. While he narrates that his scholars want to return their gratitude with financial support, he humbly declined their offer. He is already satisfied with his life. He declares, “Wala akong bisyo, eh. Pagdating ko sa bahay, hihiga lang ako, nag-iisip, nagme-meditate, nagi-inner yoga, naga-astral travel, iyon ang bisyo ko.” Yet this satisfaction with life does not stop him from mitigating the adversity that beset other people’s lives. 

(I have no vices. When I return home, I lounge, I think, I meditate, I do inner yoga, I astral travel; those are my vices.)

Pulling on loose ends

However, as is common with the nature of fortune-telling, there are skeptics of the truth and accuracy of Mang Geno’s methods. “Hindi pa nila nararanasan [na] ‘yung [basa] ay totoo,” Mang Geno remarks. He carefully explains that his readings are “not predictions, but forecasts” of one’s fate based on what has been written into their DNA and astrological birth charts. He imparts in Filipino, “There needs to be a basis…it’s like seeing a storm forming; what you see is already how it is.”

(They haven’t experienced a reading that comes true.)

Mang Geno is no stranger to ill-fated people. During their readings, he always prioritizes honesty about what is seen in a person’s destiny. He recalls a person he read who would pass away by the age of 50, and they understandably became distressed by this. Though all of his patrons voluntarily visit Mang Geno for his readings, he takes care to confirm their consent to knowledge that they might prefer to ignore before disclosing his readings. He stresses, “Sinasabihan ko lang, ‘Pasensya ka na, kailangan lang totoo ‘yung sasabihin ko sa’yo.’”

(But I inform them, ‘Sorry, I need to be truthful about what I am about to say.’)

Although fate has been intrinsically programmed into our existence, it is not impossible to manifest change by surgically modifying one’s palm and uttering dead Latin phrases as mantras, Mang Geno claims. However, he dissuades people from relying on extrinsic methods, or even counting on religious prayers to turn one’s fate around; instead, he encourages people to look inward and learn how to palm-read their own fate.

Fashioned by fate

“I’ve accepted everything that I know will happen [in my life] because I’ve had time to prepare for it. Even for death, I am prepared,” Mang Geno expresses in Filipino. He is no stranger to the curveballs life may throw his way. It may seem obsolete, but he notes that the secret to living a fulfilled life is one thing: acceptance.

That is not to say people don’t have agency over decisions in life—it’s the fact that no matter what a person goes through, they will always arrive where they are meant to be, and where they might find comfort in. “Wala namang naliligaw dito,” he assures. “Kung maligaw man, babalik pa rin sa maayos. Ganun ‘yun…nasa guhit pa rin ‘yun.“

(Nobody gets lost here anyway. If they get lost, they will return to the correct path. That is how it is…it is written in the curves [of their lives].)

Still, Mang Geno continues to offer readings for those seeking guidance on their endeavors, affirmation of their existential insecurities, or mere morbid curiosity. “Masaya ako kapag nakikita ko ‘yung tao na parang may sasabihin siya sa akin kapag dumating siya dito, kahit malayo pa lang siya,” he shares.

(I am happy when I see people who look like they have something to say when they arrive, even when they’re still far away.)

With a smile on his face, Mang Geno sits in anticipation of those he might encounter, knowing it has already been weaved into the thread of time. Whether or not one wholeheartedly believes in Mang Geno’s words, his readings inspire people to reflect deeply on their reality and embolden them to be active decision-makers in their everyday lives. Each reading is woven with the wisdom and insight that we may gather the courage to live without fear of what fate has in store for us.

Clarisse Bernal

By Clarisse Bernal

Julian Rias

By Julian Rias

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