If you’re an avid fan, you must be looking forward to that familiar climactic event in Greek and Roman mythology—the ultimate battle between good and evil. Before that showdown could take place, however, a far more crucial battle has to be fought, right inside the head of the hero or heroine. The protagonist needs to conquer an inner demon first and foremost before he or she can slay the beast, rescue a loved one or liberate the kingdom.
Like many mythological protagonists, you and I have our own inner demons—those cacophonous voices inside our head that sap our strength and weaken our willpower, overwhelming us with strong feelings and emotions that turn into the Scylla and Charybdis of doubt, disappointment and desperation.
For quite some time now, I’ve been waging some battles with my inner demons, which have gotten more powerful of late. This prompted me to fly to the island province of Cebu one long weekend, not to run away from them but to conquer them head-on in a somewhat different battleground—up there in the highlands of Dalaguete.
Self-doubt has been eating a part of me for many weeks. Some unknown fear was tearing me apart and I felt that a spontaneous adventure in Osmeña Peak would help me crush it. By scaling that peak, I believed I’d be able to win over my inner demons. So scale I did. And I was proven right (For more about my adventure there, click http://scorpio-sojourn.blogspot.com/2018/05/overwhelmed-by-osmena-peak-in-cebu.html).
Following that successful climb, I woke up rather late the next day, tired, torn but triumphant having finally stricken that highland hideaway off my bucket list. For almost an hour, I was restless—curling up the sofa, pacing from one end of the room to the next, watching the gloomy skies outside the window of a hotel somewhere in the vastness of downtown Cebu, uncertain of what to do next.
|A glimpse of Cebu's skyline from my room|
Fearing that I’d lose the momentum I gained after scaling one of the highest points in the island province, I decided to go for another exciting highland adventure—this time to one of Cebu City’s emerging tourist magnets where I had a brief Roman holiday of sorts that seemed to have tempered the emotional tides that had been bashing me for weeks. The place? Temple of Leah.
Growing up reading Greek and Roman mythology (through books courtesy of my aunt who was a literature teacher), I couldn’t help but feel so exhilarated as I wandered around the temple. The moments I spent up there—exploring its inner recesses, taking pictures, admiring the Graeco-Roman symbols around me—have changed me in ways I never imagined.
|A glimpse of Cebu City|
|A glimpse of Busay's hilly terrain|
It was a gloomy Saturday afternoon when I invaded one of Cebu City’s newest tourist spots. After waiting for about five minutes, the cab that Grab sent me pulled over in front of my hotel’s entrance. I felt feverish with excitement as I hopped into the vehicle. En route to the temple, however, I remembered something that my friends who’ve been to Busay before told me.
They cautioned me that finding a Grab taxi up there is no easy feat as the wi-fi signal in that part of Cebu is rather weak. So I asked the driver if he’s willing to wait. Good thing, he was, for a fee, for course (I had to add another Php200 to the metered fare). Well, it was worth it since the cab was at my beck and call. So off we went to the uplands of the city.
Located in the hilly village of Busay, Temple of Leah can be reached in less than an hour by car from downtown Cebu. Along the way, you’ll be treated to a panoramic vista of Busay as your vehicle passes through the 33-km Cebu Transcentral Highway, the city’s version of Baguio’s Kennon Road. Passing through that winding stretch, those wanting to go to the distant towns of the province, say, Balamban, can reach them in about two hours’ time.
Mind you, the serpentine highway that connects the highly urbanized city to the northwestern and western parts of the island treats passersby to a montage of awe-inspiring sceneries—verdant knolls, craggy hills, steep cliffs, quaint villages, fancy mountain restos—that are sometimes hidden from the naked eye by thick fogs during the rainy season!
Engulfed by the beauty of the sceneries, I hardly noticed the time. Before I knew it, we reached the temple roughly forty-minutes later. Pulling over the entrance, the driver told me he’d be parking somewhere while waiting for me. He gave me his number and requested that I text him when I’m done. After paying the entrance fee, I headed for the temple. From what I’ve gathered, it’s about seven stories high, covering a land area of more than 5,000 sq. m.
It was a little past 2 o’ clock in the afternoon so I thought the temple would be desolate. To my chagrin, there were pockets of tourists all over the place! To make matters worse, the building was undergoing some improvements, particularly on its façade, stairs and portico. It was difficult to shoot selfies what with so many photobombers intruding into your backdrop! Still, I managed to get a good number of shots—not the Instagrammable kind though.
At the center of the shrine’s main courtyard made of granite is a Roman-inspired fountain standing in the middle of the square. I wanted to have at least one shot taken there but to my dismay, I didn’t get the chance to do so. Each time I set up my tripod, the spot was immediately occupied by visitors like me who were all jockeying for prime positions to get their perfect shots! So I just walked away and entered the main building.
The main structure is said to house twenty-four chambers that hold all of Leah’s collections, from antiques to Chinese jars to a library of books. The temple’s piece-de-resistance is, of course, the statue of the grand matriarch herself. Roughly nine feet tall, the bronze statue of Leah occupies the most prominent part of the shrine.
At the foot of the statue is a brass inscription signed by Teodorico: “Beloved Wife and Mother: Leah V. Albino-Adarna was chosen Matron Queen of her Alma Mater the University of Southern Philippines. This bronze statue portrays her composure and regal bearing when she was crowned. May the beholder discern her innate beauty, poise and genteelness.”
Like some mythological goddess of healing (Hygiea to the Greeks, Salus to the Romans), Leah seemed to soothe my senses, making me feel light and easy, as if some heavy load I carried were taken off my weary shoulders. At that moment, I felt new reserves of optimism penetrating every part of my body—from my head down to my heels, giving me the strength and will I needed to win my battles against my inner demons.
Gazing at her humongous likeness, I couldn’t help but be spellbound by the kind of love she radiated and showered to all her loved ones, a love so powerful that it drove one man to put up a monumental landmark in her honor. Yikes, could this woman of substance be mighty Aphrodite’s (she’s Venus to the Romans) reincarnation, pray tell?