The other temple-A A +A
By Betsy Gazo
Saturday, June 23, 2012
CURIOUSER, curiouser, as Alice in Wonderland would mutter over something she was perplexed or intrigued about. Curiouser, too, was I over that “other” Chinese temple I would see when I pass by Tangub.
I am a frequent visitor at the Fa Tzang Temple in Shopping, the Fo Guang Shan Yuan Tong along Burgos Street, and the Sian Tian where their cafeteria sells vegetarian fare, yet, I have never set foot on the temple in the southern part of Bacolod.
Because it is rather off the commercial route of the city, it took me some time to decide to really visit. Curiousity may kill the cat but it sure helped me beat my writing deadline.
Voila! The Bun Su Chosi Temple at Gardenville Subdivision. Founded by three Filipino-Chinese gentlemen Messrs. Lim, Que, and Tan in the 1970’s, it has the architectural details and style of buildings of that era such as color combinations in bright multi-hues and floors in pebble wash.
The Bun Su Chosi is named after Cho Si Kong, a Chinese god with an ebony face. The two curving steps flanking the main entrance on the second floor face the East to greet the rising sun. The main hall has tall walls set with glass windows that almost reach the ceiling making the room bright and airy, as my guide, temple caretaker Juan Estares, explained. Unless events are held there, the windows are left close. “It could get too windy at times,” he said, “windy enough to topple down figures of the gods on the altar.”
There was a pleasantly delicate floral scent in the air when I approached the altar. That was from the jasmine tea poured into small cups and offered to Chosi Kong and the other gods. Juan prepares the tea every morning and offers the brew to the gods at around six in the morning. First things first! In the afternoon, he gathers the cups and discards the tea and washes the cups for next day’s use.
Aside from tea, Juan makes sure to keep the candles lighted. These are actually big oil-filled bowls with wicks floating in the center. There are four such candles in this temple – one for each altar. If the temple garden has flowers, Juan picks some, places them in a bowl and sets the bowl on the altar, too.
On the first and fifteenth day of the month, members flock to the Bun Su Chosi to offer fruits to Chosi Kong. There must be many offerings, for the hall is crowded with chest-high wooden tables for these fruits.
At the opposite end of Bun Su Chosi’s altar, by the main door, is an altar for Ti kong or Tian Gong in Mandarin who Juan likens to the Christian’s God the Father. At Bun Su Chosi, this god is not represented by an image but by an upright plaque with Chinese characters. His feast day is an important day to Hokkien Taoists.
Having served for over 30 years at the temple, Juan said that the temple used to have many members but the old ones have passed away while the youngsters usually come during the 1st and 15th of the month for their offerings, or for special temple events. Visitors are welcome to take a look and students have come over during field trips.
Our relationship with China has gone a long way. Way before the Spaniards came, in fact. Many Filipinos are of Chinese descent and have called the Philippines home for many centuries. Our country has welcomed refugees from China who fled their country in order to start anew on our shores.
It is so sad now that undeniable tension is felt because of territorial claims on Philippine property. Maybe our Buddhist countrymen can call on their gods of peace to put a stop to this friction and help bring back better diplomatic ties between the two Asian neighbors.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 23, 2012.