Carlos Celdran

Bad History

Carlos Celdran is wrong. Which, is kind of unsurprising; and no, we aren’t talking about his decisions on how to go about promoting the pro-RH agenda. Instead, we’re talking about history and specifically his recent take on Jose Rizal.

John Nery ran a column today concerning Celdran’s (and the editors of FHM) take that Rizal was pro-Spain. Pro-Spain. Nery points out that Celdran was probably basing this assertion on an errorneous reading of Noli Mi Tangere.

“Rizal was emphatically not pro-Spain. This is the same fundamental error that Rizal’s first biographer, Wenceslao Retana, shared with that biography’s epilogue-writer, the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. In the twilight of the Spanish empire, they saw this splendid specimen of humanity and claimed him for Mother Spain.

On what did Celdran base his conclusion? On “Noli Me Tangere.”

As Nery goes on to point out, and I whole-heartedly agree, any halfway decent ‘historian’ who has spent anytime reading the other works of Jose Rizal would never come to this conclusion.


But, for us who think it’s just more entertaining to make up history than actually learn it, that’s par for the course. And I’m not even criticizing those who come up with alternate streams of history; as long as they are based on source documentation and backed up by sound reasoning. Hell, I want more alternate interpretations, our understanding of history demands it. Actually, I find some of the alternate streams of history far more believable than what is 'common knowledge’.

What we don’t need are complete mis-readings of Rizal’s writings and this penchant for taking one moment out of time and context and applying it as a broad generalization. That at the time he wrote Noli Rizal could be interpreted as being reformist does not mean that is how he thought for his entire life. Or even at the time he wrote Noli. Remember, Rizal’s public writings were propaganda, they were specifically written to incite certain sentiments. Most of the Propagandists and Revolutionaries began as Reformists. This fallacy demonstrates more than anything else, superficial thinking and a lack of contextual history.

Before I go to far afield criticizing Celdran and his 'understanding’ of history and Rizal, let’s talk about Rizal and his Spanish sentiments. By the way, you know Retana right? No? Ok, then. He was an anti-Filipino Spanish writer, who pretty much hated the Philippines. Yet he is the unbiased historian and the basis for much of our understanding of Jose Rizal; since he collected most of Rizal’s papers after his death and wrote the first biography of Rizal. A biography that is frequently referenced even today. Oh look at that, the story of Jose Rizal was written by a vehemently anti-Filipino, pro-Spanish 'historian’. And we wonder why our histories are so shitty, most of our historians and culture 'gurus’ don’t even vet their sources.

Have we forgotten the sequences with the priests? His letter’s concerning how crappy Spanish cities were? The Spanish failure to provide the type of broad education and modernization that was promised? (Seriously, read his damn footnotes on de Morga). You can appreciate what Spain provided to the Philippines and not be pro-Spanish (hey look at that, is anyone surprised that binary thinking shows up again?).

See, this whole misrepresentation comes right back to the idea that Rizal was solely a reformist, this confusion concerning his long-stated antipathy towards violence. We praise Gandhi for being non-violent, yet we deride Rizal for being his philosophical predecessor? And let’s not forget, being non-violent is far different from never raising arms when necessary; when appropriate. Rizal, like Gandhi, believed in non-violence, but understood that there are times when force must be met with resistance.

There is one overarching theme here that irritates the hell out of me when it comes to looking at Rizal the reformist, Rizal the pro-Spanish. It’s the idea that Rizal was not a fighter; that he would not have raised arms when necessary. It is a derived from him repudiating the 1896 Revolution. He repudiated it, because of its timing. Nothing more. He believed the Philippines was not ready, the people were not ready, in his estimation for self-governance. He foresaw something even more insidious. Whether he was right or wrong is a matter of historical debate. But, no matter, it was consistent with his belief structure; one founded on self-determinaton, education and the willingness to fight when it is understood what you are fighting for. Him finding fault with THAT revolution is not finding fault with A revolution.

That ultimately remains one of the great inconsistencies when it comes to Rizal, and one of the great failings when it comes to our understanding of him. People like Celdran and FHM are not illuminating anything; they are doing nothing more than perpetuating ignorant ideas. And inevitably obscuring our national hero.

LIVIN’ LA VIDA IMELDA: Carlos Celdran in Silverlens’ Slab

Since 2004, performance artist and cultural activist Carlos Celdran has been performing his multi-media 1970’s Philippine history and disco themed “Livin’ La Vida Imelda” tour/ performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex. His performance explores issues of Cold-War geopolitics, the global influence of Hollywood, Philippine Post-colonial cultural identity and it’s constructs, the ideals of democracy in developing nations, and the creation of what Mr. Celdran likes to call: “State sanctioned arts & culture”. 

This gossipy performance is framed by the biography of the Philippine’s flamboyant former first lady Imelda Marcos and set to disco music. 

In lieu of the setting provided by Mrs. Imelda Marcos’ commissioned architecture, Mr. Celdran will be using handmade visual guides, multi-media and selected artworks among the Silverlens/SLab collection as a jumping point for the “Livin’ La Vida Imelda” narrative. This is the second time Mr. Celdran has transposed the performance to a gallery setting. “Livin’ La Vida Imelda - The Performance” premiered in 2011 at Twist Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

There will be 7 more show dates, these are scheduled on:
    March 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, and 10

All shows start promptly at 8 pm

All shows will be held at Silverlens SLab gallery located at the 2/F YMC Building II, 2320 Don Chino Roces Extension (formerly Pasong Tamo Extension), Makati City.

Regular tickets sell for P800 while student tickets sell for P400.

The performance runs one hour and forty minutes long with a 15-minute intermission.

Director Dude: Erwin Flores
Technical Guy: GA Fallarme
Props Maestro: Otto Hernandez

Players: Andrea Fe Padilla, Andrew Cruz, Anthony P. Falcon, Daniel Darwin, Irene Delarmente, JV Ibesate, Kiki Baento, Kuya Manzano, Star Orjaliza

THE Terno by: Franko Bo

THE Hair: Stagen Si

Environment/Set: Eric Quebral

Video Masters: Pepe and the Polygons

Stage Management Queen: Wowie Bonto



Carlos Celdran distributes pro-RH stickers in Quiapo

Two days after President Benigno Simeon Aquino III said he was willing to risk excommunication for pushing for the responsible parenthood (RP) bill, controversial reproductive health (RH) advocate Carlos Celdran on Holy Tuesday distributed pro-RH stickers in Manila’s Quiapo district.

According to radio dzBB’s Carlo Mateo, Celdran distributed stickers to motorists passing near the Quiapo Church.

“RH (Reproductive Health bill) Now!” read some of the stickers Celdran was distributing in the area, the report said.

It was not immediately clear how officials at of the Catholic Church in Quiapo reacted to Celdran’s latest pro-RH move.

(Click on photo to read more)

Mr. Carlos Celdran posts about INC
Do you know Carlos “Damaso” Celdran? A brave man who acted as Jose Rizal and used a placard containing a word “DAMASO” at the Manila Cathedral during RHbill campaign? I’m so happy to read his post(s) about the members of the Iglesia ni Cristo during the GEM at the Quirino Grandstand last feb 28, 2012. That’s the truth about us INC members, we are well dressed in every celebration, no “sando’s”, no “shorts, short-shorts, mini-skirts”, nor “basketball shorts or jersey shirts” and that is how we show respect to God. Thanks Mr. CARLOS CELDRAN for all the kind words about INC. I hope you can learn more about us.

here are some snap shot of his kind posts about INC:

I am a Proud Iglesia ni Cristo!

The Daily Tangina: A Call for the National Hero Award for Carlos Celdran

We, the Daily Tangina, humbly submit this request that Carlos Celdran be declared our new National Hero. If that award does not exist, let us invent it, with the carefree fervor that we invent hashtags (#FreeCarlosCeldran, #JSanchez1stSoloConcertManila, #MentionWhoYouWanttoSpendValentinesWith) and let us immediately bestow the title upon this man in a top hat. 

This paragon of boldness shrugged on the mantle of our former National Hero – what did that first dude ever do anyway, other than write subversive literature and then die in front of a firing squad? – in order to invade a sacred space! How shocking! How courageous! How bold. So bold. Bold

Not to mention that the only reason he was at the Manila Cathedral on that day – a day for laypersons and priests to hang out and discuss how to give away Bibles – was because he got the date of a big pro-RH protest wrong, and mistakenly showed up in costume and raring to roar. Celdran would have been content with hanging around outside the cathedral if it didn’t rain, and – intrepid hero! brave soul! – he was forced to duck inside the church. From there he embarked on his grand mission of waving a whiteboard in front of bemused priests. 

(In fact, it was this defiant and super pogi act that single-handedly ensured the passing of the RH Bill last December! Never mind the long hours of battle in Congress and the thousands of women who took a stand for their own bodies and common sense. Bah, women.)

One might call the Damaso stunt an act of God: Celdran’s punctuality, the rain, the fact that the ecumenical service he disrupted had nothing to do with the RH Bill – but we don’t believe in God around here! We hold nothing sacred!

Just like our idol Celdran. The Daily Tangina loves making a fuss, we love having lots of people tell us we’re right, we love getting noticed when obviously more important issues are getting ignored – so Celdran is our saint and martyr. Except, you know, we’re on Tumblr, not inside Manila Cathedral. 

So free Carlos Celdran! Even though he is actually not at all behind bars. Free him anyway, make him our new National Hero. He’d love that.


When non-Filipinos plan a trip to the Philippines, they are often advised to spend as little time as possible in Manila and just jet off to their island paradise of choice (Palawan, Bohol, Sirgao, Batanes, etc).  

I’ve never felt that way, of course.  Manila is chaotic, for sure, bit it’s home for me, and I love it - traffic, noise, dirt, and grime notwithstanding.  My family lives not too far from the the city of Manila and when I lived in Manila and I had friends from abroad visiting, I always make sure to take at least a day to show them Old Manila: Intramuros, Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral, Rizal Park, Binondo.  My mom and I love shopping in Escolta and Carriedo for stuff and in Ongpin for food. I think the drive along Roxas Boulevard towards the Quiapo Bridge has many buildings that showcase the Philippines’ rich Architectural Heritage.  It’s quite amazing, really, but it does take a lot of effort to see past the traffic and poverty that dominate the landscape.

For those interested in seeing the beauty of Manila, I highly recommend that you check out Walk This Way - a tour of Old Manila led by Carlos Celdran. 

Carlos is funny, witty, opinionated, irreverent, and very, very animated.  Don’t expect a textbook-like tour, an affirmation of MacArthur’s god-like persona, blind veneration of Uncle Sam and everything American.  If you’re a conservative Catholic, this might not be the best tour for you.  Not that Carlos is anti-Catholic or anti-religion (the tour included a moment of silence and saying the Our Father to commemorate the fallen Filipinos of WWII), but my sense is that he is against the Medieval way Catholicism/Religion practiced in the Philippines and this is quite evident in the tour.   Anyway, ‘nuff said about that.  

What really comes through in the tour is Carlos’ love for Manila. He’s passionate about raising awareness on the importance of preserving Old Manila - a place so rich in history and beauty if one takes the time to see past the modern-day distractions.  

Unknow Fact About Me: I admire Imelda Marcos.

I have this admiration towards the former Philippine first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Yes, the widow of 10th Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. For me she is the symbol of a woman with beauty, brains and let us not forget, the power. She is one of the greatest women alive.

Keep reading

Petition to preserve the Rizal Monument sightline

Guys, please spare 30 seconds of your precious time to sign this petition!

Ranting of how ugly, disorganized and filthy Manila is? Stop complaining and start doing.

For what this petition’s worth, let’s make it count to a million until it reaches DMCI and their buyers! Oh god, is it so hard to respect the cultural and historical landscapes of Manila through responsible city planning?

Carlos Celdran, Manila Re-Framed

Every time I make a trip out to Manila, my friends who are first time visitors usually come with to take a look out of curiosity.  I completely believe Manila is well underrated as a destination and tourist hotspot.  Say what you want about their post-colonialist mentality and less than stellar political situation, Manila is all about good food, good friends, and good parties.  This is a city where locals go above and beyond to make a foreign visitor feel at home and well fed.  And for first time visitors like my friends, a Manila trip is not complete without first getting a face to face crash-course education of its history with Celebrity Artist Activist, Carlos Celdran, via his Intramuros Walled City Tour.

Once upon a time Manila was dubbed “The Pearl of the Orient” by the Americans in the early 20th century, when it quickly modernized Manila into its image.  The Pearl symbolized the modernity of its urban infrastructure for that time, of which Manila then stood as the Oriental East’s decompression gateway with the West.  But before it was “The Pearl” Manila was a province of Mexico and NOT a colony of Spain, which I suppose to this day is why the Philippines is dubbed “The Mexico of Asia”… for better or worse.  This and other tidbits about the city pepper Celdran’s three hour tour within Manila’s fortified walls of Intramuros built within the Spanish Colonial Period to protect the colony against Muslims and the Chinese. Celdran gives us a sweeping history of the Philippines and all its colonizers from the time of the Sultans, Chinese trade, The Spanish and the Church, the Japanese occupation, its Bombing and destruction, and to the subsequent American post-war reconstruction.  

I also noticed and will become pretty clear to anyone on this tour, that the state of the preservation of the Walled City is generally okay but should be better due to its supposed stature as the core and heart of Manila’s history. This inconsistent planning and chaotic mess is everywhere in Manila and defines the city’s various stages of decay and preservation, and Intramuros gets no special treatment.  That said, Carlos Celdran makes use of this surrounding environment and left over architecture to his advantage and re-frames Manila’s current social and political ills within a historical vantage point. It should be noted that while the Church today has taken issue with Celdran’s political point of view, the tour itself touches politics only within the context of the historic retelling and even then he highlights the beneficial contribution of each colonizer while underlying the social stigma that still exists in the Philippines from colonization and its hinderance of general development.

May 2011 was the umpteenth time i’ve come to join his tour, and I have to say it’s well worth the early wake up call to meet the 9AM Saturday appointment.  I leave with something different each and every time, and his tour and presentation styles shift slightly to respond to the times and situations. (As of writing this piece, Carlos Celdran is being sued by the Catholic Church in the Philippines for demonstrating in a Mass due to his support of the controversial RH Bill, and therefore the San Augustine Church and the adjoining museum were both out of bounds.)  Whatever the case may be, Carlos does have an agenda, and that is to educate locals and visitors with a deeper understanding of Contemporary Manila and Philippines via the retelling of its glorious and often turbulent political history.  And if that doesn’t get you, he’s a fun guy, and his presentations are quite theatrical and upbeat.  Your kids and friends will not get bored.  Nor will you.

x JJ

Check Carlos Celdran’s Blogspot for Tour Dates Descriptions and Information. / Carlos Celdran’s Facebook and Twitter.



We photographed Carlos Celdran for UNSCRIPTED right after he finished his Intramurous Tour.

Once he finished, a large crowd gathered immediately to take photographs with him. I thought it was really nice of him to to attend to every single person. He waited until the crowd had entirely dispersed and then walked up to us for the shoot.

He didn’t need to prepare… In fact, he didn’t every seem conscious. He just put on his hat and said he was ready.

It’s great working with someone so carefree.

- V



Cultural Center of the Philippines & Carlos Celdran

29 November - 1 December 2012
7pm; Silangan Hall

“A delicious mix of history, gossip and social commentary.” - New York Times

“LIVIN’ LA VIDA IMELDA” takes a good look at Philippine history during the Marcos Era via the life and times of former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Using the greatest hits of Manila Sound, archival photos, a dancing-and-singing Greek chorus, the show is a cheeky commentary on our country’s history, both the high points and the low moments. The original script, developed by Carlos Celdran over the years he performed it as a tour, has chismis mixed in with historical trivia and audacious name dropping. Funny, shocking, and provocative, “Livin’ La Vida Imelda” is an interesting and entertaining work coming from one of Manila’s most relevant artists.

Director: Erwin Flores
Technical Director: GA Fallarme
Costumes: Franko Bo
Set Design and Installation: Eric Quebral
Props: Otto Hernandez
Carlos Celdran
Andrea Fe Padilla
Andrew Cruz
Anthony P. Falcon
Daniel Darwin
Irene Delarmente
JV Ibesate
Kiki Baento
Kuya Manzano
Star Orjaliza

-free seating
For tickets and inquiries, please contact: CCP Box Office (632)832-3704, (632)832-1125 loc. 1409 & 1406; Ticketworld (632)891-9999
Vote for Carlos Celdran as activist on the 4th Shorty Awards on Twitter

Go to their website at: and go to their vote page here

Copy and paste this on your tweet:

I nominate @carlosceldran for a Shorty Award in #activism because he bravely faced religious opposition for #RHBill

Let’s help make the world know how serious we are about the RH Bill and support the people who are for it.