Temple of Leah

The famous landmark in India, Taj Mahal was built by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal in 1632. ( Wikipedia ) In the same way, The Ruins in Bacolod was built by the sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson in memory of his beautiful Portuguese wife, Maria Braga in 1911. (theruins.com.ph) What’s the common denominator? Both architectural structures were built in the name of love! And just last 2012, another manifestation of love was built in Cebu by business tycoon Teodorico S. Adarna as a symbol of his undying love to his beauty queen wife, Leah Villa Albino-Adarna.

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The Temple of Leah as it is called is located in the highlands of Busay, Cebu City. In getting there through public transportation, starting off at JY Square in a cab would cost you P600 for 1-4 pax though the meter would only read P150 -P200. Vice versa, it would be a very pricey taxi ride for P1,200! However, there are also cheaper yet uncomfy and risky  habal-habal  motorcycle rides that would take you for P150 for 1-2 pax and to further calculate, P300 for the roundtrip. And since we were 5 persons during our trip last month, we just had the latter for a total of P900! What a very excessive price for transportation alone though we saved P300 but as soon as we got to the temple, we realized that it was all worth the pesos!

In contrary to the transpo cost, entrance fee to the temple is free for senior citizens and children of 10 years and below. But for us middle-aged, it’s only P50 that will not definitely hurt the pocket. Since papa and mama are already seniors, we only paid P150. By the way, if you wish to have your prenup or debut pictorials, fee is P2,500 for the maintenance cost of the place.

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Though Temple of Leah is still work in progress, it is already grandiose in its rawness state. Ancient Greece, classical Rome, and romantic France are fused into one ostentatious site that awakened the curiosity of passers-by who took effort in climbing up the hill just to have a peep. The owner saw the keenness of such passers-by so he just allowed them to enter and marvel in the place for free. That’s according to one of our habal-habal drivers. Eventually, through word of mouth and social media, Cebuanos flock to the area for picture-taking. And since we want checking-in and instagramming the latest and hottest locations nowadays, the temple instantly became a tourist attraction that explains the charges as mentioned above.

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As you enter the intricately-designed arc of the gate, you will not be impressed by the uphill walk but once you get to the platform, you’ll be greeted by a vast space. It’s a very wide veranda with a Roman fountain at the center. It looks like the Trevi Fountain of Rome with its four horses and three maidens but it’s rather smaller. (As if I’ve seen the actual Trevi Fountain. Haha!) It’s made of white marble which reminds me of the elegantly-carved masterpieces I’ve seen in Hai Duong Province, Vietnam last summer.

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There are also love seats around the balcony. The owner must be very generous in welcoming guests who are anticipatingly “lovers” by providing them a very romantic venue for their date. Lovers can swear their endless love to each other over the top of the city. With that, it must be love on top which is closer to the moon and the stars come nighttime. Now, that’s even more romantic! <3

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Aside from the love seats, maiden statues of lamp posts are everywhere too. They are like guardians to the lovers so one will not break his / her promise to the other. Hehe ….

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Then the grand temple welcomes you with a wide flight of steps and two giant lions by the sides. The experience was just exhilarating that I could imagine walking into Greece’s Parthenon with its gigantic columns and elaborate flooring.

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At the middle of the great hall, another flight of stairs takes you to the bronze statue of Leah. It has a colored glass mosaic backdrop of angels with musical instruments. But what’s odd in the area are the big Chinese porcelain vases that in my opinion, sabotaged the European get-up and ambiance of the place.

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However, the luxurious Victorian stairwells by both sides of the statue lead to the rooftop which houses the glass pyramid that depicts the one in Louvre Museum, Paris. It’s smaller of course but serves its purpose ‘coz just like in the Da Vinci’s code, under the Louvre Pyramid is the holy grail.

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And that’s the essence of the Temple of Leah – to serve as a reminder of  Leah  Villa Albino-Adarna, grandmother of the Star Magic artist, Ellen Adarna. To house the memories of her, various collections she procured in her lifetime are in the chambers of the temple. But as I’ve said, the temple is still work in progress so I just took photos from the windows of such royal chambers ‘coz it is still restricted.

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With the flamboyance of the temple, Teodorico Adarna indeed executes his great love to his wife.  Though the temple does not serve as the final resting place of Leah as the Taj Mahal and also does not serve as a way of coping up Teodorico’s loss as The Ruins, it is in itself LOVE.  A love undying and devotion ceaseless.  Now that truly testifies “’till death do us part” which is already a forgotten vow by some in our changing world today!

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Moreover, it’s not only the Adarna family who come into the place to reunite and bond  but also other “commoner” families like us. The temple made us experience Europe which is a really big deal for us ‘coz going to Europe is still impossible for us (as for the moment). It would spell a million pesos to work for my entire lifetime! Haha ….. So, thanks to the Adarna family for being so generous in sharing their treasures to the general public.

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I’m looking forward for the  Temple of Leah to be done. If it’s already breathtaking when it’s not yet finished, how much more if it already has its final touches. If you plan to visit the temple, it’s best to do it by late afternoon so you can enjoy the gentle breeze of highland Cebu. Just be careful in your every step and for falling debris ‘coz again, the site is still under construction.  But I do not say that it’s not safe to go there. There are restricted areas and once labeled “restricted”, do not enter.  Just follow rules and refrain from standing on top of anything and doing vandalism.  Let’s show respect to the temple and to the owner.  Go in packs or have solo your lovey dovey. Surely, you can feel the magic and love of this another enchanting manifestation of love!  More of #tosomtravels next time! 🙂

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If you want to rekindle your fire for life again, then Sinulog is the best place to be. Hop into How to Set Your Heart on Fire for Life Again in Cebu for inspiration.

2024 Update!

It is now easier to climb up to Temple of Leah. You may book either of the following tours through Expedia:

Photo Grabbed from Expedia

Cebu Uphill Tour
Insider Tip:
Vegetarian option is available, please advise at time of booking if required.

Photo Grabbed from Expedia

Food, Historical and Mountain Tour in Cebu City
Insider Tip: Wheelchair accessible

Photo Grabbed from Expedia

Cebu Private Twin City Tour
Insider Tip:
Vegetarian option is available, please advise at time of booking if required

For more sights to see and activities to do in Cebu, visit The Ultimate Guide to Top 7 Things to Do in Cebu.

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Cebu Mountain Tour

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