Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cebu Taoist Temple 01 - A Little Backgrounder

It's been almost 40 years since Cebu City's Taoist Temple was built (1972). It continues to attract hordes of tourists visiting the city. This would be my second time here. The last was ages ago, on a coaster with few other people - with a driver and a guide. This time, it's DIY. In fact I had reservations visiting it again because of its location. I don't remember how to get there.

I spread my map on my hotel table and found Beverly Hills Subdivision. If I were to rely on the map, I'd get intimidated. It looked remote. But after a few inquiries from street folk, it turned out to be an easy ride. From Osmena Boulevard, I took a jeep heading north (P8), passing through the Provincial Capitol then plying through Gorordo Avenue. The jeepney driver dropped me at the turn of the road that leads to the spiffy village (Beverly Hills, because this playground of the rich rises from a sinuous hill). Though it's a 3 kilometer walk towards the village, the road is winding and uphill and would probably take 30 minutes to an hour depending on one's speed. But there's no need to hike. There are several motorcycles waiting beside the road. They will take you to the village's entrance. They can take you inside but fares have to be negotiated beforehand.

I opted to walk from the guardhouse. It's Canyon Road, straight ahead, then turn left along Woolbright Drive. Since this is an exclusive residential village, you'll probably be walking on your own. Take the sidewalk and enjoy the scenic view. To your left, you see the awesome sprawl of Cebu City, Lapu Lapu City, Mactan Island and the Visayan Sea. But wait until you reach the Taoist Temple for even better views.

The temple rises in several tiers, and with an elevation of 300 meters above sea level, provides wonderful vistas of the cities down below. From here, you could see the neighboring Phu Sian Temple which isn't open to tourists. (See the temple photo in our next post.) This Taoist Temple was built by Cebu's substantial Chinese communities, many of whom are millionaires living in the village. In fact, the mall scion of Gaisano lives nearby the temple.


Prayers to the gods to grant one's wish is among its many rituals. This includes washing of hands, going inside the chapel barefoot and dropping two blocks of wood. If the blocks of wood are both face up then one could make a wish. If not then it is not yet the time for one's wish to be granted and one has to come to the temple some other time.

The temple is the center of worship for Taoism, the religion which follows the teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tze. Another ritual among Taoist devotees, which is done during Wednesdays and Sundays, is the climbing of its 81 steps (representing the 81 chapters of Taoism scriptures) to light joss sticks and have their fortune read by the monks.

Photography is prohibited in front and inside of the prayer halls (I think there are 4 separate halls in the compound). But entrance is free. There are 3 entrances to the temple. The pagoda entrance is the most commonly used entrance. I took the stairs directly in front of the main temple, but it's a steep climb from there; and there are no lifts for the disabled.

If you are taking a taxi from the city, make sure you agree on a return price. I witnessed a taxi driver and his customer arguing in front of the temple. The driver refused to leave unless the passenger pay for a return rate; i.e. double the meter price.

The left side entrance (from the huge red pagoda) leads to a replica of the Great Walls of China. There's a huge dragon that greets you as you make your way inside. From there, you descent into the compound's different prayer halls. As I mentioned before, photography of their saints and in front of the altars is not allowed. I've been told by a guard myself.

There are more spectacular vistas and views in the next post.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Pagoda for the vehicle parking and two of the 81-step entrances.

This is the 3rd entrance, located in front and directly below the main temple/prayer hall.

Main temple. Photography not allowed, and there are guards assigned to enforce this.

No photos? oopsss! LOL

A temple above the main prayer hall.

A huge reminder is posted here. "This is not a wishing well. Please do not throw coins!"

Up next: More photos - and the road to the temple!


Trotter said...

Hi Eye! Sorry for the absence, but there was a small accident around here...

Beautiful temple, wonderful shots...

Blogtrotter Two is spending a day at sea. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

eye in the sky said...

Welcome back, Gil. :) Hope everything's alright back home.

Ramakrishnan said...

Hi, Great pics of temple. Love the birds, fishes & the curious kids. Have a great week end. Best Wishes

eye in the sky said...

Thanks, R. :)