I've gone on many of Carlos Celdran's walking tours, some more than once, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about the Philippines or who simply wants to be entertained for a few hours. Because much more than just a tour guide, Carlos is a highly-entertaining street performer.
Save for the photos I've taken while on his tours, this post isn’t going to be about that. If you're looking for information about his tours, please click on this link and this one. Neither is this going to be about my experiences on his tours because you already know I'm a big fan. He's been written about countless times by bloggers and has even been featured on television shows both here and abroad, even making it to Time and Lonely Planet.
Instead, I’d like to share with you some interesting tidbits about Carlos' past and personal life that most of you probably don’t know. There was quite a few items I had to leave out because they’re not meant to be published and I didn’t want to be responsible for ruining his reputation. ;)
If These Walls Could Talk collage
As early as the 5th grade, Carlos designed his own cards with the cutest caricatures and witty sayings. I remember the first one I ever received from him, I think it was for my birthday, and I was amazed! It looked like the work of a professional graphic artist rather than that of a 10 yr old. At that moment, I knew this guy was going to be famous someday.
He slept through school. Literally. As you can imagine, this amused his classmates but drove his teachers batty. He got away with it, because each time they caught him sleeping and tried to get him with a difficult question, he managed to answer it correctly.
He knew a whole lot about anything and everything without having the slightest ‘know-it-all’ attitude that usually comes with the territory. You can talk to him about anything!
He swallowed mayonnaise by the spoonfuls just to gross us out.
He once shaved off our girl friends hair on stage, for art’s sake.
Carlos was the youngest cartoonist of the Samahang Kartunista ng Pilipinas. He had a funny comic strip in Business Day & Manila Chronicle called Bar Sins.
He played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Metropolitan Theater, but was rejected when he auditioned for the Miss Saigon London cast.
The North Bank tour collage
Whatever is the opposite of OC, that’s Carlos. His room and car looked like mini-landfills.
He’s the man responsible for the designs of the then famous Island Spice T-shirts. With the profits he made from the shirts, he replanted an entire forest in Mindoro, single-handedly driving the trees across the channel.
In between all the careless partying and beach-bumming that made up our high school life, Carlos was already an active member of the Haribon Foundation.
His bathroom mirror had “Lose weight, Charlie!” written across it in permanent marker.
While everyone around him was going through teenage angst, and struggling with the trials that come with puberty and high school, Carlos was just…..steady. Nothing fazed him. He was our rock, and that was always comforting.
And I bet you didn’t know Manila’s favorite tour guide CAN SING! During the Battle of the Bands, he treated us to a fantastic rendition of Hotel California!
All the way down to Chinatown collage
His first car was a silver VW bug with a green stripe that would noisily announce his approach from 2 blocks away.
He was our comedian, our jester and our clown without even trying to be.
He’s been known to take his dog with him to a meeting with one of the heads of a big corporation.
He secretly dropped out of UP to live like a hippy in Baguio.
He was already frequenting Penguin and Cosa Nostra long before Malate became a popular bohemian hang-out.
When he had used up all his allowance, Carlos would borrow small change from different people in school, in the pretense of using it to make a phone call, until eventually he would come away with more food from the cafeteria than those who donated their change
Living La Vida Imelda collage
Our friend John claims you could count on Carlos to lock his keys inside his car especially when it was raining cats and dogs, and most definitely lose his parking ticket as well.
He once dated a 250 lb lady doctor whom he painted nude, before he married Tesa. But he himself also posed nude for other artists while in college at RISD.
Carlos is a genius. He’s like the Rain man, but not quite autistic. Just a naturally tremendously talented artist and intelligent person.
But those who know Carlos and know him well, will attest to the fact that he was the one person you could count on to cheer you up no matter how down and out you are, because within a minute in his presence you’re sure to be laughing your butt off.
Carlos shows us how it's done - at a temple in Chinatown
HS Grad Picture
Follow these links for some articles on Carlos:
Carlos Celdran is changing the way you look at Manila - by Pepper Marcelo
A Walk through History - by Trina de la Rama
Walk the Talk with Nostalgia - for Go Negosyo
Local Heroes - by Irwin Cruz