The Ma-Cho is a Taoist temple to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu located in San Fernando, La Union in the Philippines. With an elevation of 70m above sea level, the 7-story temple is a towering 11-tiered, multi-hued attraction on a more than a hectare of lot and accessible by separate routes. The temple’s attractions include the Majestic Five Door Gate, Bamboo Garden, the Liang Thing Pagoda, 2 circular pools or ponds and the golden emblem of a dragon, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. The interiors of Ma-Cho Temple is filled with Chinese ancient decorations or art. Taiwan laborers helped build the building under famous Architect Thomas Diokno. The temple is adorned by Chinese motif of Taipei lions and dragons (camphor woods) and massive stones. Its original spider type dome awes the beholder with the interlinking wood carvings of saints (piling up in a total of 11 tiers). Statues of animals, the famous towering arch, and the meditation room all focus on Mazu’s eyes, which are closed while her hands are clasped together at her chest.
Once you are in La Union, this gorgeous temple is must visit. It is open from 7am to 5pm every day and there is no entrance fee.
Who is Mazu?
Mazu, also known as Matsu, is a popular Taoist and Chinese Buddhist goddess. She is the goddess and patroness of the sea. She is believed to protect fisherman and sailors. Mazu is widely worshiped in southern China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Zhejiang, Fuijian, Guangdong and Hainan. She is popularly known as Empress of Heaven and Holy Mother Empress of Heaven. Her other popular titles are Holy Mother Empress of the Heavens above, Heavenly Imperial Concubine, Lady Mazu, Heavenly Princess consort and Heavenly Holy Mother.
Mazu was born on March 23, 906. According to legend when she did not cry when she was born, so she was thereafter named Lin Moniang which means Silent girl or silent young female. She had a mysterious ability to predict weather and often she warned others to not make journeys to the sea. She became a very good swimmer and would often rescue people from the sea even in the harshest weather. There are at least 2 versions of her death. One legend tells that Mazu went out into the sea during a storm to try to find her lost father. Hours passed but still she could not find her father and later died of exhaustion. Another legend tells that Mazu climbed a mountain alone and flew into the heavens and became a goddess.
After her death, her family and many other families of sailors and fishermen started to pray for her heroic acts to try to save those at sea. Soon her worship spread quickly to other parts of Asia. Starting from Fuijian, worship of Mazu spread to neighboring coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Guandong, and thence to all coastal areas of mainland China. Later, due to Chinese immigrants, the worship of Mazu further spread to Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, Ryuku Islands, and parts of Southeast Asia. Many people soon began to build temples dedicated to Mazu all over the world.