Exclusive! Demolished: Manila’s oldest Chinese temple, it was 137 years old

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The oldest Chinese temple in Manila was demolished on March 15, 2015 — another sad incident in the life of the city’s heritage buildings.

Chong Hock Tong Temple, built in 1878, was one of the very few remaining pre-war structures in Manila. Closely associated with the Tsinoy community, it was never declared a historic landmark by the government.

 


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‘There was a violation,’ says Heritage Conservation Society

‘Demolition was not illegal,’ says Chong Hock Tong property manager


 

Located inside the Manila Chinese Cemetery, it’s architecture has been described as “reminiscent of those in Fujian province as well as those in Singapore and Malaysia with their colorful friezes and uniquely upturned eaves.”

Despite that, it had some touches that made it distinctively Filipino: behind the display of various Buddhist images in the main altar, you could see in the background a row of Catholic images such as that of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.

 

The 137-year-old Chinese temple is no more. Photos: Anson Yu

 

The temple was already in poor condition by the time it was demolished, according to the caretakers Coconuts Manila spoke to last week, who say they were told by the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association, who is managing the temple, that craftsmen and artisans from Taiwan will be flown in to build a replacement, which will resemble the old one.

We left a message for the PCCA’s president, but have not received a reply as of press time.

The images that used to be inside the temple have been stored inside a tin shed next to the cemetery’s administration building. Also in storage is the statue of Gobernadorcillio Carlos Palanca Tan Quien Sien, who has been credited for building the temple.


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