One of the more polarizing figures in the Philippines, Carlos Celdran is first and foremost a performer. His performances and opinions have cut through the fabric of Filipino society by questioning it with a razor and a sign. He is most known for his Intramuros tours that journey people back in history and time, showing what was once lost and forgotten in a new modern, and sometimes harsh light of day.
Be that as it may, there is still a tenderness to his tours, almost like a nostalgia of bygone days. He injects humor into the story that he weaves, making it a little bit easier to bear under the humid Philippine weather.
But in 2010, Mr. Celdran found himself embroiled in controversy when he did a protest action inside the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral to protest the Catholic Church’s interference in the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill.
Using the imagery of National Hero Jose Rizal and the name of a character in his novel “Noli Me Tangere” called Father Damaso – a name synonymous with the abuses of the Catholic clergy, Mr. Celdran dressed up as Jose Rizal himself, brandished a placard saying “Damaso” and raised it over his head in front of the altar while all the Bishops of the Catholic Bishops Conference were present.
His arrest and incarceration became a cause celebré and after a two year trial Mr. Celdran has been convicted of Article 133 of the Philippine Penal Code. He faces one year in prison for “Offending Religious Feelings”. His case attracted both international and local attention. In 2013, the RH Bill was passed. Mr. Celdran’s case is currently in the Supreme Court awaiting a final decision.
His latest performance achievement was last 2014 when he appeared in a one man show entitled “Livin’ La Vida Imelda” on the off Broadway stage in NYC. This show is derived from the script of his famous “Imelda” tour which he performed in several locations around the CCP complex. This tour, which was turned into a highly successful play, earned him sold out houses and won him high reviews from the New York theater press.
Carlos Celdran still resides in Manila and does shows of “If These Walls Could Talk” four times weekly.