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Cebu Taoist Temple, Cebu City Overview

Located in the Beverly Hills suburbs of Cebu City, Cebu Taoist Temple is a Chinese temple that is situated at an elevation of 110 m above sea level, and boasts of gorgeous panorama of the city skyline and blue waters. Built in 1972, the multi- tiered and multi coloured temple is decorated with dragon sculptures, and is also a popular attraction in the Philippines that can be reached through three different routes.

The temple is a shrine of Taoism and the followers are those who worship and believe in the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Zi. It boasts of a peculiar entrance that has been designed to replicate the Great Wall of China. In addition to that, the complex is also home to a chapel, a library, a souvenir shop and a wishing well. There are balconies all along from where you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the Cebu town below. Unlike the other temple in the vicinity - Phu Sian, both worshippers and non- worshippers can visit here.

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Rituals at Cebu Taoist Temple

There is a certain decorum and a set of rituals are followed in the temple. Aside from the basic concept of devotees praying to the gods to grant their wishes, the followed are expected to wash their hands before going inside, take off their slippers or shoes and walk barefoot and lastly drop two blocks of wood after making a wish. It is believed that if the two blocks are facing upwards on falling down, the devotees can make a wish and it will be granted. If in case, the blocks are facing downwards, that implies that it’s not yet time for the person’s wish to come true. So then, he/ she would need to visit another time to make a wish. 

Another ritual is where the devotees have to walk up 81 stairs which are a representation of the 81 chapter and teachings of Taoism scriptures. Once you are at the top, you are expected to light joss sticks and have your fortune read by the monks. This ritual is only performed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Architecture of Cebu Taoist Temple

Cebu Taoist Temple follows a gaudy modern Chinese religious architectural style. There are three separate entrances to the temple, out of which the most picturesque one is the path leading through the replica of the Great Wall of China. It leads to a gazebo like structure which further moves on to a winding staircase to the main facade. The multi coloured temple is adorned with sculptures and paintings of green headed and red tongued dragons, which is one of the main highlights of the temple complex. 

There are also paintings of suns, vines, thorns, animals, and frets, which present a complete stunning spectacle in contrast to the blue skies. You will also find several dainty lanterns hanging from the roofs and ceilings and a massive bell at one corner. The prayer room with an octagonal roof leads on to another prayer room which is slightly bigger and better, that is, there is one temple on top of the other. Aside from gorgeous views of the islands of Mactan and Bohol, the complex is surrounded by pretty gardens and vibrant flower beds and sparkling fountains where you can relax and soak in the serenity.

Main Features of Cebu Taoist Temple

  1. Main Temple

    The Main Temple is the central prayer room at the ground floor. This section houses all the statues of all the saints and symbols of the Taoist culture. Unlike the church setting, this prayer room doesn’t have chairs or any form of floor seating. However, there are several shaped cushions to support the kneeling/ sitting down.
  2. The Second Temple

    Just above the central temple section on the ground floor, there is another temple on the first floor which is slightly smaller than the other one. This one also has scriptures and teachings of the Taoist religion. The pillars, walls and columns have intricate writing with Chinese characters that describe the place. Apart from that, it has colourful paintings and religious pictures.
  3. The Fishing Chinaman

    On the left side of the main two tiered temple, there is a small pond with a small fountain, some fish and a stone Chinese- looking fisherman seated on a rock. This is more like an open aquarium which is inhabited by Koi fish of different colours. The Fishing Chinaman is also the highlight of the temple.
  4. Wishing Jars Section

    There is another section to the right of the temple which also has several scriptures and several metal jars with water where you can throw coins and make a wish. Here you can also take pictures, unlike the rest of the temple.
  5. Green Dragons

    The green dragons with yellow lining and bright red tongues are a prominent part of the design of the Cebu Taoist Temple. These dragons signify success, achievements, and prosperity. There are also dragon paintings, carvings and other symbols of these green dragons here. It is implied that these dragons carved here are symbolic of them safeguarding the temple. The most prominent and the largest of all is the one at the entrance which seems like it is moving towards the central hall. This is also the best spot to take pictures.
    Green Dragons
    Source

Things to Do at Cebu Taoist Temple

  1. Sightseeing - The temple is known as a popular spot of tourism. As the temple welcomes both worshippers and non- worshippers, the tourists throng here in large numbers to marvel at the architecture and vibrant hues of the Cebu Taoist Temple. Besides, the region also boasts of gorgeous views of the Cebu township below from all of its balconies.
  2. Meditation - Most people who come here to visit the Cebu Taoist Temple, other than the devotees also, indulge in meditation and soul searching exercises. Other than all the religious rituals and worshipping, the ambiance of the temple complex and also of the surroundings is such that you can sit and reflect, meditate and unwind.
  3. Photography - You might come across a lot of photography enthusiasts who come here to capture the beauty of the place. You can also carry a camera yourself and practice your photography skills. 
  4. Turtle - Watching - This is another one of the interesting activities to do near the temple complex. The area is a good breeding ground for exotic and unique turtles some of which are hundreds of years old, that can be spotted in corners and nooks, and even open grassy areas.

Facilities at Cebu Taoist Temple

  1. Seating Area

    There is a small seating area near the temple with chairs, tables and umbrellas. Here you can sit and relax. And if you bring some food along, you can also sit here to have a small picnic amidst stunning surroundings. 
  2. Souvenir Shop

    There is also a small shop selling trinkets, souvenirs and small symbols and scriptures related to the Taoist culture. You can pick up some to take home with you.
  3. Restrooms

    The premises also have the facility of washrooms and restrooms located on the back side of the central temple.
  4. Hall

    There is also a spacious hall in the premises of the temple which is mostly used on religious and cultural events and festivals. It is tastefully done in lanterns and candles and remains especially crowded on the annual fest day which falls on the 21st of October every year.

Rules to be Followed in Cebu Taoist Temple

  1. Any form of photography or videography is not allowed inside the main temple and prayer rooms. 
  2. Observe silence and do not be too loud if you absolutely have to make a statement or say anything aloud.
  3. You can only stay inside the temple for 30 to 60 minutes.

How to Reach

The Cebu Taoist Temple is located in a posh area called Beverly Hills in Lahug, Cebu City and can most easily be reached by private transport like cars or private taxis. However, if you want to commute in public transport, you can go for ‘habal habal’ which is the name for the motorcycle for hire in Cebu City. But these rented motorcycles can only drop you off till the gate of the temple after which you will need to walk upstairs which takes 15- 20 minutes. A jeepney can also drop you till Sudlon but from here, the temple is a long walk and will take more than 30 minutes just to reach the gate.

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