Discover Cebu – Photoshoot Heaven at Temple of Leah

Do you want to visit Cebu City’s newest attraction? Are you interested in a romantic story about someone building a temple for love? Is finding the perfect location in Cebu City for instagram or prenuptial captures important to you? How about discovering a great place to enjoy sweeping views over Cebu and out to the islands? Look no further than the Temple of Leah, situated in Busay, high in the hills to the west of Cebu City in the Philippines.

Like India’s Taj Mahal, the Temple of Leah is all about love. Teodorico Adarna, owner of Queensland Motels, constructed the temple in 2012 as a symbol of his undying love for Leah Villa Albino-Adarna, his wife of 53 years. The site includes a museum, an art gallery and a library with all Leah’s personal belongings. Inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, gigantic lions guard the main temple and a grand staircase with brass angels lie inside. It’s quite an attraction, unlike anything else in the Philippines.

Our Road to the Temple of Leah

After two years living on Siargao Island, we left behind our family, friends and home for an uncertain future. Before final departure to UK, we decided on a few days in Cebu City. Many Siargao residents fly to the city, but we always choose the nostalgic Cokaliong ferry from Surigao City. In twenty years of on and off Siargao residency, we have never taken the flight and probably never will. The ferry only takes eleven hours, you get a bed and arrive conveniently early in the morning. Anyway, our ferry drifted under Cebu’s famous bridges at first light and dropped us at pier one at 6.30am.

By 7am, the pace of city life at had already startled three island souls. While Cebu is always quite an assault on the senses, it hit us harder than usual after so long on Siargao. First of all, we escaped the hassle by taking a taxi from the pier to our favourite budget guest house: Kiwi Lodge. Then, we dropped our belongings at reception and got a bit dressed up. Finally, we negotiated a special fare with Kiwi Lodge’s driver to take us to the Temple of Leah. He drove us directly west, past Cebu IT Park and up a steep, scenic road high in the mountains above the city to Barangay Busay.

Temple of Leah Photo Shoot

It was early enough in the morning for us to have the temple and its grounds more or less to ourselves. From the viewing platform, we delighted in amazing views over the city, Mactan and the Philippine sea. To the north and west were green mountain ranges for as far as one could see. While the structure is relatively new, it felt more like being in Europe than the Philippines.

Primarily, we visited the place to click a few portraits, so I asked my wife Mirasol and son Rafael to pose for a few shots in front of and inside the temple. After that, Mirasol changed her dress for a few final shots overlooking the mountains. Minimal visitors made it easy to get some memorable pictures (you can see a selection of shots at the bottom of this post). Temple of Leah is a photographer’s dream, especially if no one else is around. Maybe more suitable for prenuptial shoots than family love.

We definitely enjoyed our visit but probably won’t return in a hurry because we prefer more authentic Philippine backgrounds. However, it’s well worth a trip for an amateur or professional photo shoot if you like the unique architecture on offer.

SM Mall, Cebu City

Kiwi Lodge’s reliable taxi driver waited for us the entire time. He drove us back through the city, straight to SM Mall. We took lunch at our favourite Thai restaurant: Royal Krua Thai. Just like always, we adored their authentic flavours and friendly service. While Mirasol spent the afternoon getting a cut price makeover in SM,Raf and I headed back to Kiwi to watch cartoons. And why was she getting a makeover now? We had booked a very special meal for tonight at the Blu Bar, to celebrate our second to last evening in the Philippines and the uncertain future in front of us.

Follow in our footsteps

– Options to reach Temple of Leah depend on your budget.

– The quickest way to get there is by taxi. Negotiate the fare beforehand and ask the driver to wait. You can’t get a metered taxi to the temple. Therefore, expect to pay P800-P1000 for a round trip from the city, including waiting time.

– Alternatively, take public transport to J Y Square. From SM City, take jeep 04L. Ride jeep 04M from Ayala. From Colon, ride jeep 17B, 04B, 17C, 04C, or 04I. Just inform the driver to drop you at J Y Square.

– Once at J Y Square, ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) to Temple of Leah. Motorcycles can only take two passengers at a time. The fare per person, one way, is P75, with a waiting fee of P50.

– Temple of Leah is open 24 hours. To avoid the crowds, go early in the morning or at night. It gets very crowded (and difficult to take photographs) at sunset.

– The entrance fee for the temple is P50 per head.

Photo gallery of our family pictures at the temple



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