Its east meets west in La Union as we visit two places of worship from two different faiths. It’s not surprising to see the confluence of culture here as the Filipinos are known to be capable of dual faiths. Say for example, some Chinese homes have both the images of Buddha and Christ side by side. While not near each other we look at to sacred images representing each faith in the Taoist, Macho Temple (or Ma Cho Temple).
Aside from being the largest, modern Taoist Temple outside of China, the Ma Cho Temple shares a connection with the catholic Our Lady of Caysasay in Taal Town. Ma Cho is a Chinese deity born in 960 AD in the village of Meizhou at the Fu Jian province. Known to be gifted with healing powers and able to predict the weather and sea conditions even days ahead, locals named her as “Goddess of the Sea”. She died at the young age of 27 but the local sailors and fishermen believe they are being watched over and protected by Ma Cho.
Ma Cho’s 8-inch wooden image is housed inside the Macho Temple. Devotees believe that the image if Ma Cho and Our Lady of Caysasay is one and the same (the wooden image of Our Lady of Caysasay was also found by a fisherman in a fishing village in Taal). Every September 21-26, devotees would gather for an annual pilgrimage with the image to the Basilica of Saint Martin in Taal, Batangas and would travel back to San Fernando for a feast of its return.
The majestic Macho Temple was built on a large 1 hectare land 70 feet above sea level, overlooking the sea on September 11, 1975. I was amused looking at the 18 Chinese Saints in different poses by the wall of the entry way leading to the large courtyard with nice fish ponds. I went up the two story temple and the caretaker inside bid me to come in. When I looked up I was amazed by the intricate details carved on the spider-type dome. The caretaker even opened the lights for me to take a picture of this rare type of dome not even found in Taipei.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.