Metro-Manila Tibetan Buddhist Centers

  1. Manila Kadampa Buddhist Centre – PCCI, 2247 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City.
  2. Tibetan Nyingma Palyul Buddhist Center (1992) 700 Piña Avenue, Sta Mesa, Manila – monks
  3. Nedo Bodhi Karma Kagyu (1995) 540 Mag. J. Abad Santos St. Bacood Sta. Mesa, Manila – follows Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje
  4. Karma Kagyu Buddhist Society 3 Silencio corner Palanza St., Santol, Sta. Mesa – follows Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
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Chinese Buddhist Temples in the Philippines (as of 2011)

Name of temple and address | Location | Foundation year | Administration 

  1. Seng Guan Temple – 1176 Narra Street, Tondo | Manila | 1937 | Monks
  2. Hwa Chong Temple – Tugatug, Northern Hills, Malabon | Manila | 1953 | Monks
  3. Manila Buddha Temple – 1155 G. Masangkay St., Sta. Cruz | Manila | 1951 | Monks
  4. Fa Kong Temple – Sta. Mesa, Manila | Manila | 2010 | Monk
  5. Chong Hoc Temple -57 Williams St., Pasay City | Manila | 1978 | Monks
  6. Thousand Buddha Temple -15 Don Pepe St., Quezon City | Manila | 1980 | Monks and Nuns
  7. Bun Su Temple – 2711 F.B. Harrison St., Pasay City | Manila | 1990 | Monks / lay sister
  8. Ung Siu Temple – 193 J. Teodoro cor. 6th Avenue, Caloocan City | Manila | 1956 | Nuns
  9. Soc Yan Temple – 1404 F. Guerrero St., Tondo | Manila | 1952 | Nuns and lay sisters
  10. Poh Chong Temple – C. Benitez St., Cubao | Manila | 1948 | Nuns and lay sisters
  11. Ocean Sky Chan Monastery – 716 J. Abad Santos St., San Juan City | Manila | 2002 Zhongtaishan Nuns
  12. Mabuhay Temple – 656 P. Ocampo St., Manila | Manila | 1993 | Foguangshan Nuns
  13. Tsi Tiok Lin Vihara – Floor, China Building, Ongpin St. | Manila | 2000 | Nun and lay sister
  14. Lian Hua Temple – Industrial Ave., Marcelo, Malabon | Manila | 1976 | Lay sisters
  15. Holy Buddhist Temple – 150 N. Domingo St., Cubao | Manila | 1975 | Nuns
  16. Che Wan Temple – 550 Santol St., Sta. Mesa | Manila | 1965 | Lay sisters
  17. Wan Tong Temple – 1020 Severino Reyes St., Sta. Cruz | Manila | 1983 | Lay sisters
  18. Tien Lian Temple – 678 A. Bonifacio Road, Quezon City | Manila | 1977 | Lay sisters
  19. Hai En Temple – 2443 Severino Reyes St., Sta. Cruz | Manila | 1976 | Lay sisters
  20. Tien Tiok Am – 1319 Narra St., Tondo | Manila | 1984 | Lay sister
  21. Kim Sha Temple – 1021 Upper Ongpin St., Sta. Cruz | Manila | 1990 | Private laity
  22. An Bao Vihara – PH-2 Victoria Condominium, Valley Golf, Ortigas Ave. Ext., Antipolo City | Antipolo | 1990 | Monk
  23. Miao De Chan Temple – Metro Gate Estate, Tagaytay | Tagaytay | 2006 | Nuns
  24. Fa Tzang Temple – Narra Extension | Bacolod | 1972 | Nuns
  25. Yuan Thong Temple – 2876 Burgos St. | Bacolod | 1991 | Foguangshan Nun
  26. Baguio Buddha Temple – Assumption Road near St. Louis University | Baguio | 1978 | Nun
  27. Ling Hong Temple – Gen. Luna St. | Cabanatuan | 1938 | Lay sister / lay board
  28. Buddha-Light Temple – 6th Avenue, Reclamation Area | Cebu | 1970 | Monks
  29. Chu Un Temple – 246 V. Rama Ave. | Cebu | 1988 | Foguangshan Nun
  30. Phu Shian Temple – 25 Beverly Hills, Lahug | Cebu | 1979 | Monks
  31. Long Hua Temple – Cabaguio Ave. | Davao | 1968 | Monks
  32. Po Lian Temple – Quirino Ave. | Davao | 1959 | Lay sister
  33. Iloilo Fo Guang Yuan – 13-A Fuentes St. | Iloilo | 1999 | Foguangshan Nun
  34. Fayu Temple – Honday Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan | Palawan | 2010 | Monks
  35. Lam Hua Temple – Sabang District | Tacloban | 1982 | Monk
  36. Hoc Chuan Temple – J.R. Estrada St., Tetuan | Zamboanga | 1950 | Monks and Nuns
  37. Sam Poh Temple – Canelar St., Caburihan | Zamboanga | Not clear | Monk

Notes: 1. The names of temples are given as they are known in the Philippines. Most are romanized from their Hokkien pronunciations without following a particular romanization system. 2. The foundation years refer to the time when the present temple buildings finished construction and opened for use. Some communities existed in temporary lodgings for quite a long time before a proper temple could be built. The most important examples are the Holy Buddhist, Wan Tong, and Hoc Chuan temples, all of which had communities gathered around an image of Guanyin (enshrined in private homes) for many years before a temple was built. 3. Monks and nuns refer respectively to bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, the Sanskrit terms for male and female monastics who have ‘left home.’ Lay sisters refer to the unique tradition in Southern Fujian of unshaven women who devote their lives to spiritual cultivation in a temple community. In the Chinese Buddhist system, they are not formally considered monastics and have a lay status equivalent to the Sanskrit term upasika. 4. Temples that no longer function as such are not included in the list. These were built by lay devotees but are no longer open for public use due to the absence of monastics to direct temple life.

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Early Buddhism in the Philippines

Philippine Flag

No written record exists about the early Buddhism in the Philippines. The recent archaeological discoveries and the few scant references in the other nations’s historical records can tell, however, about the existence of Buddhism from the 9th century onward in the islands. These records mention the independent states that comprise the Philippines and which show that they were not united as one country in the early days.[1]

The Philippines’s early states must have become the tributary states of the powerful Buddhist Srivijaya empire that controlled the trade and its sea routes from the 6th century to the 13th century in Southeast Asia.[2]-[3] The states’s trade contacts with the empire long before or in the 9th century must have served as the conduit for introducing Vajrayana Buddhism to the islands.

Vajrayana Buddhism of Srivijaya and Majapahit Empires

Both Srivijaya empire in Sumatra and Majapahit empire in Java were unknown in history until 1918 when the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient’s George Coedes postulated their existence because they had been mentioned in the records of the Chinese Tang and Sung imperial dynasties.[4] Ji Ying, a Chinese monk and scholar, stayed in Sumatra from 687 to 689 on his way to India. He wrote on the Srivijaya’s splendour, “Buddhism was flourishing throughout the islands of Southeast Asia. Many of the kings and the chieftains in the islands in the southern seas admire and believe in Buddhism, and their hearts are set on accumulating good action.”[5]

The Srivijaya empire flourished as a Buddhist cultural centre over 600 years from 650 to 1377 in Palembang, Sumatra. Built as a mandala on a hill from 770 to 825 in central Java, the Borobodur stands today as the living testament of the Srivijaya empire’s grandeur. Three generations of the Sailendra kings built the temple that displays a three-dimensional view of the Vajrayana Buddhist cosmology. Later on, the Javanese Majapahit empire took control over the Srivijaya and became the leading Buddhist cultural centre from 1292 to 1478 in Southeast Asia.

Both empires replaced their early Theravada Buddhist religion with Vajrayana Buddhism in the 7th century.[6]

Ritual practice rather than meditation makes Vajrayana Buddhism distinct from the other forms of Buddhism.[7] Vajrayana Buddhism was also known as Tantric Buddhism and Mantrayana, the esoteric teaching, which was conveyed only by a master to a disciple through initiation or empowerment. Vajrayana means Adamantine Vehicle or Diamond Vehicle that shows the way to awaken the Enlightenment.

Mantrayana comes from the word mantra, which means words (incantation, spell, oath) of special vibrations.[8] Mantrayana makes use of upaya or skillful means, such as the mantra and the mandala. They serve as aids to mind cultivation.

The Mantrayana practitioner visualizes the mind as a mandala that expresses the mind’s innate nature as the ahistorical Buddha or Enlightenment, which means the Absolute in its emptiness and which has no beginning and no end.[9] The mind is its sacred dwelling place. The Mantrayana practitioner sees her/himself as divine because, according to the Mahayana Buddhist perspective, their mind has been endowed with the ahistorical Buddha or Enlightenment nature.[10] It is also known as the Dharma nature, the eternal law that governs the universe.[11]

Buddhist Artifacts

The Philippines’s archaeological finds[12]-[13] include many Buddhist artifacts. They have been dated to belong to the 9th century.

The artifacts reflect the iconography of the Srivijaya empire’s Vajrayana Buddhism and its influences on the Philippines’s early states.[14] The artifacts’s distinct features point to their production in the islands[15] and they hint at the artisans’s or goldsmiths’s knowledge of the Buddhist culture and the Buddhist literature because the artisans have made these unique works of Buddhist art. The artifacts imply also the presence of the Buddhist believers in the places where these artifacts turned up. These places extended from the Agusan-Surigao area in Mindanao island to Cebu, Palawan, and Luzon islands. Hence, Vajrayana Buddhism must have spread far and wide throughout the archipelago. And Vajrayana Buddhism must have become the religion of the majority of the inhabitants in the islands.

The gold statue of the deity Tara is the most significant Buddhist artifact. In the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition, Tara symbolizes the Absolute in its emptiness as the wisdom heart’s essence that finds its expression through love and through compassion. The Vajrayana tradition also tells about the outpouring of the human heart’s compassion that manifests Tara and about the fascinating story of the Bodhisattva of Compassion shedding a tear out of pity for the suffering of all sentient beings when he hears their cries.[16] The tear created a lake where a lotus flower emerges. It bears Tara who relieves their sorrow and their pain.

The Golden Tara was discovered in 1918 in Esperanza, Agusan and it has been kept in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois since the 1920s. Henry Otley Beyer, the Philippines’s pioneer anthropologist-archaeologist, and some experts have agreed on its identity and have dated it to belong within 900-950 CE, which covers the Sailendra period of the Srivijaya empire. They can not place, however, the Golden Tara’s provenance because it has distinct features.[17]

The golden-vessel kinnari was found in 1981 in Surigao. In Buddhism, the kinnari, a half-human and half-bird creature, represents enlightened action. The Buddhist Lotus Sutra mentions the kinnari as the celestial musician in the Himavanata realm. The kinnari resembles the chimera or the harpy in the Greek mythology. The kinnari takes the form of a centaur, however, in India’s epic poem, the Mahabharata, and in the Veda’s Purana part.

The other finds are the garuda, the mythical bird that has been common to Buddhism and Hinduism, and several Padmapani images. Padmapani has been also known as Avalokitesvara, the enlightened being or Bodhisattva of Compassion.

The archaeological surveys did not yield any statue of the Hindu deities Shiva and Ganesha as well as phallic-like monuments representing Shiva.

First Record

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription[18] (LCI) is the most significant archaeological discovery in the Philippines because it serves as the first written record of the Philippines nation and also of Buddhism in the Philippines.

The LCI mentions a debt pardon for a person, Namwaran, and his descendants by the chieftain of Tundun (now Tondo, Manila) on the fourth day after Vaisakha, the holiest day for the Buddhists, in the Saka year 822, which has been estimated to correspond to 21 April 900 CE.

Vaisakha refers to the thrice-sacred full-moon day when the early Indic and Theravada Buddhists commemorate the birth, the great awakening and the death of the historical Buddha on the fifth month of the old Buddhist-Hindu lunar calendar.

The LCI implies a moral code, therefore a legal code, of the people. As a debt pardon document, the LCI expresses the Buddhist cardinal virtue of compassion.

The LCI identifies also the Buddhist enclaves around Manila Bay and the distant Dewata state in Agusan, and the LCI refers also to the kingdom of Medang in Java.

Antoon Postma, an anthropologist and an expert in ancient Javanese literature, has deciphered the LCI and he says it records a combination of old Kavi (an ancient Javanese language), old Tagalog (a Philippines dialect), and Sanskrit.[19]

The LCI’s transliteration,

Swasti Shaka warsatita 822 Waisaka masa di(ng) Jyotisa. Caturthi Krisnapaksa somawara sana tatkala Dayang Angkatan lawan dengan nya sanak barngaran si Bukah anak da dang Hwan Namwaran dibari waradana wi shuddhapattra ulih sang pamegat senapati di Tundun barja(di) dang Hwan Nayaka tuhan Pailah Jayadewa. Di krama dang Hwan Namwa

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Mahayana Buddhism

Mahayana means great career or great vehicle.The Mahayana Buddhism movement originated from the split of the liberal Mahasanghikas from both orthodox Mulasarvastivadins and conservative Sthavira circa 250 BCE onward.  The Mahayana Buddhism refers to the complete teaching of the northern and new wisdom school of Buddhism that indicates salvation for all because they are gifted with the Buddha or enlightenment nature and they can awaken the enlightenment through it.The Mahayana Buddhism promotes the ideal of the Bodhisattva or enlightening being that postpones his entry into Nirvana or the perfect enlightenment for him to take other beings on the road to the enlightenment out of compassion for them. The Mahayana Buddhism has flourished in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam as well as Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladahk, Sikkim.  The Mahayana sects have taken root recently in western countries.

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Theravada Buddhism

Thera means a person that is firm and stable.  Thera designates an elder.  “He is not thereby an elder, merely because his head is gray… in whom are truth, virtue, harmlessness, restraint, and control, that wise man who is purged of impurities, is indeed called an elder.” (Dhammapada, 19.)

Theravada means speech of the elders.  The southern Theravada movement is the orthodox and old wisdom school of Buddhism that relies on the Pali Canon as the basis of teaching.  Its followers come from Sri Lanka (Ceylon,) Myanmar (Burma,) Thailand, Laos, Khmer (Cambodia,) as well as Chittagong, Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam.  The Theravada sects like the Mahayana schools are also established now in the West. (pp. 149-150, Quest of Zen, Awakening the Wisdom Heart, Bloomington, IN: Xlibris, 2010.)

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Welcome to Filipino Buddhism

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This is a place for anyone to learn about the teachings and practices of the Buddha. 

Those who are just beginning to explore Buddhism may want to first read about the basic ideas outlined in this book written by the Theravada monk S Dhammika :

A more comprehensive coverage is provided by the late Buddhist scholar Dr. Peter dela Santina, a teacher & Vajrayana practitioner:

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