Cebu Taoist Temple: A Walk into Chinese History

The Cebu Taoist Temple is a great place for prayers and photos thanks to its Chinese pagoda design.

Taoism, aka Daoism, believes that there is a strong force that guides us in our lives. Based on the writings of Lao Tzu, this religion follows “Living according to the way” focusing on humility and piety. This driving force guided the Cebuano Chinese community to build the biggest worship center of the religion at the mountainside subdivision of Beverly Hills, Lahug. This sanctuary now stands as the Cebu Taoist Temple, the pagoda shrine that has become one of the island’s biggest tourist attractions.

Standing 360 feet above sea level, this marvel of architecture is designed to be a replica of the Great Wall. Its main temple is open for worshippers and non-worshippers, and they don’t ask for an entrance fee. If you wish for good luck as well as learn the history or heritage of another country, a drive up to this mountainside sanctuary should be in order.

Chinese culture has had its influences on Filipino tradition for centuries. Giving money in Ang Pao envelopes or looking for a bargain are some of the Red Dragon’s influences to the Pearl or the Orient Seas. The Filipino-Chinese community is one of the biggest in the country, especially since they have opened many businesses and tourist attractions, spawning this now iconic temple that is still standing tall today.

The temple has a traditional Chinese design, with green and red accents, and a pagoda style roof. If you look around you will also see a lot of Dragons which have an important place in the teachings of Taoism. Dragons are said to symbolize good fortune and energy and are what integrate one with his or her spiritual life. That is the reason for the many figurines surrounding the area and its main temple.

The Cebu Taoist Temple has dragon statues to symbolize good fortune and energy everywhere you go.

WHAT CAN YOU DO AT THE CEBU TAOIST TEMPLE?

The list of Cebu Taoist Temple activities consists of many Chinese traditions that were practiced by early followers. To enter the main temple at the highest peak, you will have to walk up 81 steps, each representing one of the 81 writings in Taoism scripture. You can also light some joss sticks and have your fortune read by some monks.

You can even come here to make a wish. This is done by dropping two wooden blocks on the ground. They believe that if both blocks are facing up, then your wish will come true, but if one is facing down, then it isn’t your time.

Other than the temple, there is also a library, a souvenir shop, a wishing well, a chapel and a balcony that will give you a great view of the city. For Taoists this is a place of solemnity and worship, while for everyone else, it is a great way to understand the history and importance of the Chinese culture.

There are strict rules with taking photos, and dressing appropriately in the main temple.

There are some things that you have to consider before you enter. You are not allowed to take photos inside the main temple, especially of the images and items. As a sign of respect, wearing short skirts or short pants is prohibited. So if you are planning to go there, make sure to wear something comfortable, but still appropriate. Also since this is a place of worship; you must observe silence at all times, so as not to disturb those who are trying to pray.

You should also consider that there aren’t a lot of public utility jeepneys that pass the area. If you want to commute you will have to get off on the highway and walk up to the subdivision, which can take up to 30 minutes. It may be tiring, but think of it as a good workout.

Luckily, private vehicles and taxis are allowed to get to the top. You can use Waze or Google Maps to get you there, or hail a taxi. Coming from Uptown Cebu City, the fare will cost around 120 – 150. Another option is to ride a 20 motorcycle taxi at the highway near the JY Square.

This sanctuary is one of those Cebu tourist spots that is on every itinerary when you visit the island. It is highly regarded as a place of solemnity, and a place of awe inspiring wanderlust. No matter what age, this is a great place to visit in your spare time.

With endless things to do in Cebu, from swimming with sea creatures and climbing the rocks of waterfalls, to road trips and food trips at the most places to unwind, the Cebu Taoist Temple provides an otherwise meditative experience. It may not give you that adrenaline rush, but it is still a place to look forward to going when visiting the Queen City of the South. Its memorable atmosphere is something you don’t feel in other places. If you are willing to take a short drive up the mountains, then the temple is a perfect stopover.

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