Here’s part 2 of my visit to Manila Chinatown. 🙂
Hiding from view is one of the town’s highlights – the Philippine Chinese Buddhist Temple. It is dedicated to General Guan Yu, a Chinese General during the Three Kingdoms period from 220-280 A.D.
It is a bit difficult to find the temple, as narrow streets make most of the Chinatown. Before you leave for the temple, it is also important to take note of the opening hours before your visit. There are a couple of Buddhist temples there but it is better to make sure the one you’re visiting is open.
The temple is located on top of the building, with arrows guiding visitors and devotees. What would one find in the temple?
With traditional Chinese designs, one must prepare to be awed by the beautiful ornaments and interesting things in the temple. General Guan Yu’s sculpture can be found at the altar, with his son, Guan Ping, and his assistant, Zhou Cang, beside him. You might be wondering who this general is.. Well, he is a guardian deity to the Taoist and a Bodhisattva (Enlightened Being) to the Buddhist. That means both Buddhism and Taoism are represented in the temple.
So yes, they actually pray to the General. Devotees also commemorate his birthday and the day he achieved the status of an Enlightened Being.
The temple is embellished with red and gold colors, candles, and big rounded chandeliers. The smell of burning incense fills the huge room. To perform the Buddhist rites, you may take some incense sticks from the counter to burn in each of the three stations. There is also some holy oil. The prayer aids are free, but donations are appreciated.
Here’s an interesting thing: You can also put paper cut-outs on the wall representing some people in your life and wish them good or bad luck for a price!
And there are souvenir items like statues, t-shirts and umbrellas that you can buy on your way out. 😉
I don’t know much about Buddhism, except that the devotees practice meditation a lot, and follows the teachings of Siddharta Gautama or the Buddha. Oh yes, they also formulated the concepts of karma and reincarnation. Actually, most of their teachings make a lot of sense. And only after living the teachings of Buddha can one find or achieve Nirvana or perfect happiness. In the Philippines, Buddhism is practiced by 1-3% of the total population, a tiny percentage compared with the 80% that practice Catholicism. It is one amazing experience to visit a Buddhist temple, and I would love to learn more!
It is amazing how religions and beliefs and philosophies interact and overlap in my home country. Indeed, life is more colorful there. 🙂
*Thanks to this site: Chinatownology for the additional info I used for this entry.