The Long Hua Temple or the Lon Wa Buddhist Temple is a must-visit place when you’re in the city of Davao. It is a worthwhile experience if you were always interested and curious about the teachings of this ancient religion or if you want to simply marvel at the temple’s interiors and architecture.
It has been known that Filipino societies have already been practicing Buddhism as proven by the claim of archaeologists back in the 7th Century. Buddhism in the Philippines is mainly Vajrayana in character and has gained its own foothold in the country. But with the Spanish colonization, the practice of other religions was overshadowed by the widespread practice of the Catholic faith. The number of people practicing Buddhism nowadays only accounts for three percent of the population. However, Buddhism has had significant influences in other major regions in the country, including some of the regions of Davao.
One of the significant figures of Buddhism in Davao City is the Long Hua Temple, which looks similar to most temples in dominantly Buddhist countries. The moment you enter the grounds of the temple, you are immediately greeted with a smiling Buddha in concrete calmly waiting as he invites visitors to enter. There are lion statues near the stairs to guard the temple from evil spirits. The temple’s exteriors are designed simply, with its white and gray walls topped by a green roof that maintains its alluring and peaceful aura for those who visit it. Imagine candles lit up and lined on the wall of the temple: decorations are spare with bamboo trees surrounding the place. The temple is simple and serene, a meditation in its own right.
The temple walls are surrounded by Italian marble slabs that pose a great contrast to the otherwise simple décor. Walking toward the end of a long hall with high ceilings and well-polished floors, a huge and magnificent Buddha replica can be seen at the end. A thousand-armed Kuan Yin, which is a gold statue, is one of the most prominent displays in the temple. The life of Buddha can also be seen intricately carved in wood surrounded by lily ponds filed with carp. Monks and nuns live in the Long Hua Temple grounds and can be seen roaming around. Don’t be frightened when you see one. Simply greet them with a bowing gesture as they will greet you as well. You may also catch Chinese students in their monk suits practicing prayer and songs for the Buddha.
The temple can easily be reached by taking a cab to Cabaguio Avenue, which is an extension of Leon Garcia Street. You can also ride a jeepney that is headed towards “Sasa” or “Cabaguio”. Ask the driver to drop you off the temple. Locals often regard the temple as the Philippine Acadamy of Sakya, a Buddhist religion movement instead of the Temple of Long Hua. Unlike other temples, visitors can take pictures inside the temple and admission is free. Donations are much appreciated, though.
It is a fascinating yet strange fact that such a large Buddhist temple like Long Hua Temple exists in Davao, despite the predominant Muslim community. Nevertheless, this only proves how diverse and modern the city of Davao has become.