Temple of Leah in Cebu: Leaving a Legacy in the Queen City of the South

Temple of Leah in Cebu
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Temple of Leah: Leaving a Legacy in Cebu

I was watching CNN the other day and came across a show featuring an explorer named Levison Wood who walked the Nile River from source to delta. He even wrote an international bestselling book about it. In effect, it got crazy media attention all around Europe which actually helped build awareness on the protection of endangered species and understanding among the countries with conflict he visited.

Lush greenery of Busay
Lush greenery of Busay

Walking the Nile covered almost seven thousand kilometres over the course of nine months all the while passing through various borders of eleven countries in Africa. That would mean he walked an average of twenty-five kilometres per day. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

First look at the temple's exterior
First look at the temple’s exterior

If you put that distance into local perspective, that would mean I would walk twenty-three times going back and forth from Maya (northern tip of Cebu) to Bato in Santander (southern tip of Cebu). On another note, has anyone ‘circumnavigated’ the entire Cebu island on foot yet?

Floor detail at Temple of Leah
Floor detail at Temple of Leah

This same concept also remind me of the movie Forrest Gump where Tom Hanks just finally decided to run to nowhere in particular for several months, gathered some followers, became a brand ambassador, then just suddenly decided to stop one day since he simply got tired of running, which also happened to Levison Wood by the way just last January.

Graffiti on the sidewalk
Graffiti on the sidewalk
Interesting looking hut along the way
Interesting looking hut along the way

Way back in college, I also remembered one summer morning that inspired me to walk the entire stretch of fifteen kilometres from home to University of San Carlos Technological Center in Talamban. I started walking at eight in the morning and arrived just an hour before lunch and ordered the Chickenskinsilog at Silogan ni Gian and was utterly surprised to see tan lines around my eyes due to wearing sunshades.

Passed by a flower garden like that of Sirao Flower Farm
Passed by a flower garden like that of Sirao Flower Farm

Why did it do it? Probably just for the sense of accomplishment and maybe for the epic story that came with it so I made sure to get pictures as proof to my friends. I also came to realize that there are certain moments you can only perfectly capture and experience while standing compared with just being inside a moving vehicle. This is probably the best reason I could come up on why I did everything you just read.

Random model showed up perfectly for this shot
Random model showed up perfectly for this shot

And then I heard about this tourist spot called Temple of Leah over at Busay which gave me an idea to do the same thing I did a couple of years ago since the rates for motorcycle and taxi drivers were simply quite ridiculous. So, it looks like we’re walking from JY Square Mall to Temple of Leah. Let’s go.

Temple of Leah in all its unfinished glory
Temple of Leah in all its unfinished glory

Google says it totals to an ascent of seven and a half kilometers, a very valuable piece of information that I should have gathered before attempting the feat. Although there’s bliss in ignorance yet the constant reminder of the question, “Am I there yet?”, plus the growing haggardness of my face and the sweating of my armpits despite applying Rexona becomes quite the challenge for a deskbound non-trekker like me. Though it’s only half of what I have previously done in college, it’s an ascent on an inclined road which is on a whole new level of difficulty.

The neighboring Lantaw Native Restaurant
The neighboring Lantaw Native Restaurant

Wearing only slippers, shorts and a shirt, I looked like someone who’s shopping for used clothes in Colon Street, not really what you’d expect for an appropriate outdoor #OOTD. Thankfully my footwear could handle the rough asphalt road, which in the Philippines is a popular project especially when the barangay elections is just around the corner.

This kid scared the manhood out of me
This kid scared the manhood out of me

Aside from bringing an old camera inside my sling bag, my survival kit included six hundred milliliters of bottled water, a nearly-expired banana cake and some menthol candies.

An orchid gallery
An orchid gallery

Making sure to start the journey with a full stomach, I had a late lunch and started the hike at about two thirty in the afternoon thinking that the sun’s rays would be a bit kinder as the hours passed by. No.

View from Temple of Leah
View from Temple of Leah

As expected, residents along the way couldn’t help but stop and stare, judging whether I was a random dude looking for the nearest vulcanizing shop or a police informant looking for drug personalities and figured they couldn’t care less unless I was some celebrity from ABS-CBN or GMA.

When you see it
When you see it


At the start, my instinct told me to position myself on the left side of the road face to face with the vehicles going downhill just in case Murphy’s Law kicks in and a car suddenly gets out of control and chooses me as its bowling pin. Encountering a few road blocks and repairs, I needed to retreat to the muddy side tracks or pretty sure I’d be sharing the plight of road kill frogs. As the cliff-bearing mountain road shrank and registered to an inclined angle of 45 degrees, I figured it would be safer on the right side of the road since no human has died after being hit by a vehicle climbing slowly at ten kilometres per hour assuming the driver steps on the brakes.

Wondering where that arrow is pointed to
Wondering where that arrow is pointed to

Gaining altitude came the advent of cool upland breeze with a fog across the cityscape, then raindrops started falling prompting me to sing in silence, “Heto ako basang-basa sa ulan, walang masisilungan, walang malalapitan…” until Crate Café came into perspective and answered my dramatic lyrics. That’s when I knew my inner consciousness was a fan of the eighties band, Asin.
Arriving two hours later shelling out fifty pesos as entrance fee after passing through the accessways to Mountain View Resort and Lantaw Restaurant, I finally witnessed the architectural grandeur dedicated as a gesture of love to the grandmother of the sexy actress, Ellen Adarna.

Haggard author at Temple of Leah
Haggard author at Temple of Leah

Strolling around while eating my banana cake lead me to the funny realization that in order for you to be remembered throughout the generations, all you need to do is to simply build a multi-million peso landmark with your name on it and make it a tourist spot. Well, it’s a free country. Who am I to judge?

Crate Coffee at night
Crate Coffee at night

And since I will never have that amount of cash in my bank account, I might as well take inspiration from Levison Wood and try to become the first Cebuano to circumnavigate the island of Cebu on foot, gather up some sponsors, promote sustainable ecotourism and the One Town One Product movement and probably write a book about my experience and hopefully live off its royalties and die a rich man.

Cebu skyline at night
Cebu skyline at night

Do you think this idea of mine is worth doing? How about you? What’s your legacy?

Inside Art Museum in Cebu City photo via Temple of Leah FB Page
Inside Art Museum in Cebu City photo via Temple of Leah FB Page

How To Get There:

From JY Square Mall, you may avail of the habal-habal motorcycle parked in the vicinity and pay about PHP150 per person one way. You can also try some taxi drivers who usually charge PHP1,500 one way. Going back to JY Square Mall, you may avail of the shuttle service at Temple of Leah and pay not more than PHP100 per person. Entrance fee at Temple of Leah is at 50pesos per person. As of this writing, Senior Citizens can enter for free.

Temple of Leah in Cebu
Temple of Leah in Cebu Photo credit: mai.regner via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Temple of Leah
Location: Cebu Transcentral Hwy, Cebu City
Hours: 6AM–11PM
Telephone: 0906 324 5687

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