Ma-Cho Temple

    Much ado about this Temple in La Union as it is where the Miraculous Goddess Ma-Cho is enshrined and where the first and reputedly the only Spider inspired dome in the country is found.

    Perched atop a hill overlooking the vast China Sea with a panoramic view of the harbor of San Fernando, the Temple is a vast complex of stone carvings of Taoist disciples and lions, arches, water fountain, towers and pagoda, garden, dormitory and many parking lots. Inside this Temple, you will find the awe-inspiring spider-type dome, camphor-wood-carvings of deities and may traditional Taoist interior decors.

     A magnificently architected edifice adorned with Chines motif of lions and dragon, deities and decorative materials carved from massive stones and etched from camphor woods are imported from Taiwan and China. Perched atop a hill overlooking the panoramic China Sea, is the first Taoist temple in the country with the original spider-type dome made from interlinking wood carvings of saints piling up one after the other for a total of 11 tiers.

  The dome is rarity in design and construction. Designed, fabricated, installed, and supervised by Taiwanese Architect Shu Ing Tung.

     The moving spirit behind the Temple’s construction was the late Minster of Tourism, Mr. Jose Aspiras and the late Mr Dy Keh Hio and ably supported by very enthusiastic group of Taoist devotees in La Union. Cornerstone was laid on September 11, 1975 and Inauguration was held on December 8, 1978. Today, it stands as majestic landmark along sea coast of San Fernando towering over seven stories in height with an elevation of more than 70 feet above sea level.

    Taoist temple is a place for worship and for offerings. It is the belief of devotees that those who enter a Taoist temple can communicate with the Gods. Through session called “buyong” in the Ma-Cho temple, devotees try to “communicate” with the gods and ask questions ranging from “will I become rich?” to “will my cancer get cured?”

    There are no special days set aside for one to enter a Taoist temple. Taoism does not have baptismal rites to formally count one as a member of the sect. For those who believe in the temple, Taoism states that anybody, irrespective of nationality, is welcome to pray, to meditate and to offer at the temple.

     All are welcome. In fact, a catholic priest said a mass when the Virgin of Caysasay (from Taal, Batangas) arrived here for a visit. Many devotees, both Taoist and Catholic believe that Ma-Cho and our Lady of Caysasay are one and the same: a unique relationship that is found only in the Philippines. Our Lady of Caysasay, enshrined in the Shrine of our Lady of Caysasay in Labac, Taal, Batangas is known as Ma-Cho in Taoism. The belief is that Ma-Cho is a Goddess of the Sea and has special affection for seafarers and for people residing by the sea. Both shared close affinity to “water”. The image in the Ma-Cho temple was a gift of Taiwanese fishermen to San Fernando folk in 1972, in appreciation of the hospitality extended them when their boat was driven off course and seeked shelter by the shores of San Fernando Bay during a powerful typhoon. The image of Our Lady of Caysasay was retrieved from the Pansipit River in Old Taal by one Juan Maningkad in 1603 and has since mainifested miracles after miracles to the people of Taal and her devotees.

    Every year, during the 5th day of the 8th month of lunar calendar, the image of Ma-Cho in San Fernando, La Union goes to Taal, Batangas for a pilgrimage and a special mass is said in the Shrine of our Lady of Caysasay in Labac, Taal, Batangas. The image of Ma-Cho returns the following day to San Fernando, La Union to start the 5 days festivities.

   Taoism is a Chinese religion that began in 100 B.C. It was influenced by Chinese folk religion wherein their Gods are human beings who displayed miraculous and exceptional powers during their lives. Taoism is the Chinese version of Buddism.