He was an artist, but refused to color within the narrow lines decreed by society. He was also a jack of all trades who believed in doing good – from delivering baby mangrove trees to repopulate a shoreline, to helping disaster relief efforts. It was all or nothing for him – whether it was saving a doomed heritage structure, curating a tiny souvenir shop in Intramuros, or educating Manileños on their lost heritage via walking tours through Intramuros, the CCP Complex, or the city’s old/historical cemeteries.
Carlos Celdran had verve, style, and the confidence of an enfant terrible who used his time on earth to embody various roles such as educator, entertainer, entrepreneur (sometimes the lines would blur and he would be all of them at the same time). His was the irrepressible spirit that openly declared he loved whom he loved, and an impatience with terrible service or government with nationalistic fervor veined through it. He showed that you could still love your country even if you don’t agree with your government – from a performance art piece that landed him in jail and eventually forced him into exile, to the walking tours he breathed into colorful life with his cultural and historical insights.
He was born into a family that straddled bohemian and traditional worlds, and related to people equally, from CEOs to pedicab drivers. You were free to agree to disagree with him, as long as everyone was operating on the same platform of rights and not privileges. But in the end if you could love the things he loved (even at a fraction compared to his), he considered his job done – like the mangrove seedlings, he helped plant something and was happy to help this invisible infrastructure grow.
Carlos always had his roots in Manila, and was always happy to collaborate with others here and abroad – if he could communicate with sentient alien life to show how complex Filipino culture was, he would have found a way. Who knows, he’s probably still finding a way in the great beyond with his beloved dog Bogart – he’s never the type to stay idle.
A lovely, lively, brave man – a colorful and dissenting voice for so many worthy causes and stories; Carlos Celdran has contributed to the way we see Manila, and while very few can take the path he did, he certainly walked his way. – Rappler.com
Anna Gamboa works in Makati and believes in equal opportunity. So it doesn’t matter what nationality/gender/height/weight you are; if you stand on the wrong side of the escalator, she will gently but firmly move you while saying “excuse me.”