A Cebu city tour wouldn’t be complete without visiting Cebu Taoist Temple. Built in 1972, the temple is located in upscale Beverly Hills subdivision, Lahug District. It’s an hour away from the main city.
I was very enthralled about visiting this Taoist Temple; in fact, I think I may have been the only one in our group. It was my first time to inside a temple, and even though I was born a Catholic, I recognize that Eastern teachings also provide wisdom to everybody. (When I met Hali, I told him I’m a Christian-Buddhist; it’s a gross simplification but it does give the idea.)
Cebu Taoist Temple is not as majestic as the temples found in China and other Southeast Asian countries, but it remains a sight to behold. It’s quiet and solemn, and as a visitor I felt it would be embarrassing to be loud in such a place.
You can just do a short stop in this tourist attraction for photo-ops or you can engage in the temple’s offered activities.
How to get here
From Cebu City, ride a jeepney bound to Lahug along Osmeña Boulevard. The driver will drop you off in JY Square Mall. From there, you can hail a habal-habal to take you to the gate of the subdivision. Walk the rest of the way for 10-15 minutes.
Schedules and visitation
There is no entrance fee to the temple. It is open from 8AM to 5PM for both worshipers and non-worshipers alike.
MG, one of our travel buddies in Cebu, told us that, on her first visit, those wearing shorts were not allowed to go inside. However, this policy was not observed during our visit. Still, to be on the safe side, it’s best to wear a more appropriate clothing.
What to do in Cebu Taoist Temple
Ask for guidance using wooden blocks
This is actually the main reason I wanted to visit this place. (I believe there is also a temple in Binondo, Manila, that offers the same activity, though I haven’t been there yet.)
Using a pair of wooden blocks, shaped like seeds, you can ask questions to God about anything. First, you have to wash your hands, go inside the temple and light a joss stick, kneel and drop the blocks asking if God is ready to answer your questions. If the answer is No, then you have to come back another day. If the answer is Yes, then you can proceed to asking questions. The possible answers are Yes, No and Maybe and these depend on the position of the blocks after dropping them on the floor (flat or upside down or both).
Yes: One wooden block is flat, the other is half-round
No: Both are half-round
Maybe: Both are flat
Don’t worry if you can’t remember these steps now, the guard will show you the signage with the instructions for asking questions inside the temple.
A friend of mine who recently went here mainly asked questions about her current relationship. Like I said, you can ask anything here. I asked more in-depth questions because it’s not often that you get the opportunity to have guidance, such as Am I doing the right thing xxx or Should I consider this xxx, and a few questions pertaining to the future, Will I be able to xxx.
After asking questions, it’s time for expressing gratitude and asking blessings for your life.
I was satisfied with my experience. Hali, meanwhile, got No for an answer a couple of times; I prodded him a bit and inferred that his questions are ambiguous. I think it’s important to be as specific as possible. A girl on our group said she felt like she merely fooled herself when she did this activity and likened it to street fortune telling. (Incidentally, I also go to fortune tellers a few times a year and read tarot cards myself, so…) I suppose this is only for people who believe in asking higher guidance through such methods.
During Wednesdays and Sundays, devotees can walk up the 99 steps (some say it’s 81 steps, I did not have the leg strength to count) in the temple, light joss sticks and have their fortunes read by the monks.
Drop a coin in the wishing well
There’s a wishing well on the right side of the temple. There are vases inside the well, though I’m not sure if you’re supposed to shoot the coin(s) inside or just throw it in the well. I hope it isn’t the first because it took me three tries to get a coin inside.
I asked a question, Will I be able to xxx, inside the temple and had gotten a No, so I dropped a coin here to wish, I wish I would be able to xxx. :p
Admire the temple’s dramatic structure and view
Even non-worshipers and non-spiritual people will appreciate the ornate structure of Cebu Taoist temple, with its dragon statues and pagoda roofs, and the carefully maintained flowers and plants around.
Unfortunately, there are areas where picture taking is not allowed as respect to the sanctity of the temple. These include the interiors of the temples and the statue of gods inside.
The Taoist Temple is also 300 meters above sea level, so when you climb at the top you’ll be rewarded with a relaxing overlooking view of the city below.
Have you been to a Taoist Temple before? Have you tried fortune telling?
P.S. This post is part of our 5-day Cebu-Siargao trip. See other places we’ve been to in this trip: