Chinese Buddhist temples of the Philippines (32)

Editors Note: This is the 32nd of a series about the 36 Chinese Buddhist temples of the Philippines. Much of the information is from a thesis of Venerable Chuanmiao (Hsuan Chuang University, 2008), a Buddhist monk affiliated with the Thousand Buddha Temple in Quezon City.

32. Phu Shian Temple (普賢寺 (定慧寺)
25 Beverly Hills, Lahug, Cebu City | Tel. (032) 254-6838

This temple is closely linked with the earlier Dinghui Temple (定慧寺), built on Mango Avenue in 1951 by a group of lay Buddhists, including the family of Chen Nuzhi (陳汝治) of Chu Un Temple (慈恩寺). They invited a certain Miaomen (妙門) to be abbot, and he stayed until 1961.

By 1961, Weici (唯慈) was already in Cebu teaching at the Samantabhadra Institute and residing at a Forest of Laymen (居士林), a Buddhist term for a lay association’s facilities, set up for him by the school.

He had arrived from Taiwan in 1958, along with Zili (自立) of the Manila Samantabhadra Institute and Un Siu Temple (隱秀寺). He was a native of Gaoyou, Jiangsu and was educated at various Buddhist institutes in China and Taiwan, recognizing Yanpei (演培), Cihang (慈航) and Yinshun (印順) as his teachers.

When Miaomen left, he was invited to take charge of the Dinghui Temple. He accepted.

In 1977, the temple was prone to frequent flooding and was inadequate in other ways, so Weici convinced Buddhist community leaders to move it to higher ground. The property in Beverly Hills was purchased and a new temple built. It was inaugurated in 1980, with Yanpei invited from Singapore to preside at the ceremonies.

Delegates from most of the temples in Manila came for the chanting services and lectures that lasted seven days. The new temple took on the same name as the school where Weici had been teaching since 1958.

For a few years starting in 1999, the temple published a monthly magazine. This was one of Weici’s many publishing efforts. His writings have been compiled and published by the temple.

Also in 1999, a foundation, now known as the Dharma Master Wei Chi Foundation (唯慈導師基金會) was established by Weici’s former students to award university scholarships to graduates of Samantabhadra Institute, and to organize cultural and charitable activities.

Main buildings. The temple lies on spacious grounds just before the entrance to the Beverly Hills Subdivision, where a Taoist temple can also be found. The temple has two main buildings and a big garden. The central building houses the worship halls and the side building is the ancestral hall and columbary.

At the central building, the ground floor is dedicated to the Thousand Hands Thousand Eyes Guanyin, and the second floor to the three Buddhas. The dining hall is an annex to the ground floor.

Leadership and primary activities. Weici, 88, is still the abbot, but other monks and nuns have been assisting him for many years. The assistant abbot is Zhengyuan and a relative.

He arrived in 1993 and has been managing temple affairs, especially since Weici has spent long periods of time in solitary retreat. There is a weekly Sunday morning service, and a major service at the start of the lunar new year.

Other feast days are observed with simpler services and private devotions. It is the oldest temple in Cebu, and many Chinese families have ties with it, oftening request the monks to perform funeral services.

On Sunday afternoons, the Dharma Master Wei Chi Foundation’s scholars gather at the temple for Buddhist education classes. — First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 26, no. 3 (July 9-22, 2013): 14-15.