Have you ever asked why the name of the temple is Ma-Cho since there are no macho dancers? LOL! So for us to understand how this temple has become a house of two religions, let's go back to the history and let's build a connection to the Roman Catholic Faith, are you ready?
The name Ma-Cho Temple is named after Ma-Cho. If you think this person is a good-looking masculine muscle-filled matinee hunk, you are very wrong because Ma-Cho is a female. In fact she is called as the Queen of the Heavens, Dragon Girl, and the goddess of the Sea so she never became a macho hunk. She's a Queen!
Because she was the baby version of the fairy tale "The Princess who Could not Cry (LOL!)," she was first named Mo (not related to Mo Twister who had his baby aborted allegedly) which means "keeping silent." It is ironical how Mo Twister became so talkative about his allegedly aborted baby while this Ma Cho who was first named Mo was a baby who did not cry and just silent, thanks to the parents she wasn't aborted.
I hope her parents did not attempt to slice thousands of onions before the baby Mo to make her fall her tears.
Ma Cho died at the age of 27 and even though she is now dead, Chinese sailors and fishermen believe that her spirit dressed in red, (yes the spirit has a red dress according to legend), continues to save lives for those who are in the high seas who are in distress.
As of now, devotees of Ma Cho, including the Roman Catholic men, visit this Taoist temple to find luck from Ma Cho because of the belief that her 8-inch wooden image brings luck. And now the connection is starting to make a connection, hehe.
Ok, the connection starts from the "Virgin of Caysasay" enshrined in Taal, Batangas at the St. Martin Basilica. People of Roman Catholic faith believe that Ma Cho of this Taoist Temple and the Virgin of Caysasay housed in St Martin Basilica of Taal, Batangas, are one!
Yes, they are one person. It is just so happened that the Taoist brothers call her Ma Cho and the Roman Catholic people call her "Virgin of Caysasay."
So from these facts, Ma Cho is the same as the Virgin of Caysasay, so Ma Cho is also a virgin and died virgin at 27 years old!
There is actually a ritual between Ma Cho and the Virgin of Caysasay every September 21-26. Devotees of the Lady Virgin Ma Cho and the Virgin of Caysasay gather for an annual celebration of the image's enshrinement for a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Martin of Taal, Batangas.
From that Basilica, the devotees, together with the image of Ma Cho will travel back in the city of San Fernando, La Union to be immediately followed by a procession to the city's business district. With a Chinese (Taoist) feel, there is a dragon dance, that was really a fusion! From the Catholic procession to the Chinese dragon dance, two faiths never collide, they fused together harmoniously!
They face the courtyard of the temple which is made up of bricks in circular design. At the middle of the courtyard is a pond with water lilies and gold fish.
Going inside the meditation room, you will be able to notice the grand staircase that really give every visitor a warm welcome!
When I was here, the temple was under reconstruction and I thought it is prohibited to roam around. But a Chinese-looking man waved after me telling me to go inside.
He was just hospitable that he even opened up the lights for me to appreciate the things inside the temple. He told me "just go around."
Inside, I was mesmerized by the intricate dome of the temple and I can feel the Chinese ambiance inside. Yeeee!
It is really good and a nice find that this temple has a twist. According to some reliable web sources, this temple also has similar version in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore where there are Chinese communities.
How to go to Ma-Cho Temple?
1. If you are already within the center of San Fernando, La Union, just take a trike and tell the driver to drop you to Ma-Cho Temple. It is very accessible and the entrance gate is just located along the national highway (Quezon Avenue) in Brgy II.
2. Trike fare is 10 pesos per head.
Note: Before getting a trike, ask first any resident there if the temple is just walkable from the point you are currently situated to minimize expenses. Why not walk if it is just near, right? It doesn't kill to ask someone for an information.
Important things to know in going to Ma-Cho temple.
1. There is no entrance fee.
2. Open on weekdays, to be safe, visit within 9am to 5pm.
3. There is a parking space inside for your car. For tourist bus, you may park inside the temple premises but just a note, the road going there is one lane only and it curves as it ascends to the top of the hill. You might ask your driver if he can take that.