Thursday, May 29, 2008


PULSE YOGA is formally launching their Greenhills studio this last weekend of May. They are offering free Yoga Discovery classes all weekend long They reflect the vast range of yoga styles Pulse teachers have been exposed to. Come try it out and see which one best suits you.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 2:00pm to
Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 5:00pm
23 Florida Street, Greenhills
Manila, Philippines


“An Evening of Interpretive
Dancing and Drumming”


9:00 pm - midnight
31st May, Saturday

The Living Room
Unit 24, North Syquia Apt., 1991 MH del Pilar, Malate

0928 5915503
Entrance is free but donations are more than welcome.


Read this hideous review of Manila by a visitor from Spain only posted a few days ago. Can't blame her for finding the place "unspectacular" and for being disgusted by the toothless street people. Really, the vagrants really shouldn't be allowed to loiter in our front-of-house, so to speak. Not that I am saying that we should jail them or commit genocide to take them out of their misery, but having them sleep, bathe, and set up camp in public spaces is an activity that should not be condoned by anyone. Paging Mayor Lim! Madame Harper of The Intramuros Administration has been knocking on your door for a while now to do something about the vagrants in Intramuros. Shall you finally put money where your mouth is and do something about it? I mean, I know solving the squatter problem of the entire Metro Manila won't be easy until someone finally overturns the RIDICULOUS LINA LAW. (which gave squatters all the rights and privilege in the world to occupy ANYONE'S LAND.) But cleaning up Intramuros of vagrants would be a start.

Sheesh. The crap I am up against in helping change the image of this damned city. It's f***ing frustrating. Ugh. It's enough to make me sick. Really,I'mthisclosetogivingup. I really am. Why bother singing praises for a city that it's own residents and leaders don't give a sh** about? It's making me feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Read here review here. Anyone out there who can help me post a translation?

Monday, May 26, 2008


Thank you PJ for sending me this link to SFGATE, the San Francisco Chronicle website. PJ was nice enough to leave it in the comments section of my post about my search for Manila's next top tour guide.

Apparently, a guy named Joe DiBernardo just came back from the Philippines and this is what he had to say:

Traveler: Joe DiBernardo, Walnut Creek

I went because: My wife, Alison, had a qigong retreat in the Philippines, and we chose to visit Palawan afterward in part due to an article in The Chronicle ("Philippines Green," Nov. 18, 2007).

Don't miss: Islands, beaches and rock formations in the Bacuit Archipelago near El Nido (on the island of Palawan).

Don't bother: Spending more than two days in Manila.

Coolest souvenir: Locally made hand-carved wooden box with frogs on top from Asiano shop in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Worth a splurge: Staying at Dolarog Beach Resort (midrange). Cost includes your individual hut, most meals and daily island-hopping by boat.

I wish I'd packed: Fewer clothes so that I was traveling lighter.

Other comments: Carlos Celdran's walking tour in Intramuros (Manila) was informative and fun.

And although I was kinda thrilled that he found my tour both informative and fun, what really broke my heart was his dismissal of Manila as not being worthy for more than a couple day's visit. Now, I don't hold this against him. I know our setbacks all too well. His opinion is a rather accurate meter of what people out there think of us. It just disheartens me to see once again just how far we have allowed ourselves to fall as a metropolis. And despite the seven years worth of hard work, sweat, and tears I have shed for this damned place, it also breaks my spirit to see how far Manila has to go in changing people's negative perceptions.

Good God. Why did we Filipinos allow Manila to go to hell? I mean, doesn't anyone out there see that Fort Bonifacio, Ayala and Ortigas Center DOES NOT COUNT AS MANILA? It never has and it never will be the face of the Philippines. No matter how many fricking fancy malls we put in these privately managed areas, the world will always judge us by Manila. Specifically, Old Manila, the areas by the Pasig River and all the way from Sampaloc to Pasay City.

Now I know the government doesn't give a rats ass, but don't regular Filipinos see this? Does the business community of the Philippines see this? Do the Ayalas see this? Do the Gokongweis, and the Sys? Sorry for dragging their names into this, but these people (and all those involved in big business/real estate in Manila) have the most at stake here and have the most power in changing people's perceptions if they just bothered to look OUTSIDE their own interests. Why don't these developers strive to create real estate/commercial projects that ENHANCE Old Manila and it's culture instead of providing an ALTERNATIVE TO IT? Or if not, can't their foundations allot a little more money to the protection and proper developent of the heritage/commercial districts that they poached their clientele from? I mean, really, Manila is our central heritage/tourist district and we have allowed it to be abandoned by the middle class and overrun by garbage, bad infrastructure, moronic planning, unimaginative architecture, prostitution, drugged out squatters, and Korean Karaoke bars.

Sigh, So I guess that until all we Filipinos (and especially businessmen and government officials) realize that Old Manila is the true yardstick that the world measures our culture by (AND NOT MAKATI nor MALL OF ASIA), we should just prepare for the world to think of us as blighted and unworthy of more than a 48 hour glance.

That's all.


In behalf of my dear wife, I shamelessly plug this YOGA WORKSHOP.

Pulse Yoga officially opens with an Iyengar Workshop Series with Cle Souren. We are also offering FREE Anusara, Sivananda, 8 Limbs Hatha, Yoga Nidra, Yin, and Vhinyasa Flow classes. Dates are May 29-June 1.

Please call +6327217900 and +6391784pulse for details.

Or log onto pulse-yoga .com.

Friday, May 23, 2008



I'm just looking for a few good men and women to join me. If you are of legal age, educated, fluent in English, obsessed with Filipino culture, aren't afraid of challenges, and are a chronic attention seeker/frustrated actor, then perhaps you may have what it takes to become an ambassador to all that is wonderful in this city of our affections. Join this competition and you just will not only be given the chance to win a few prizes but also be given the opportunity of joining my signature team of Manila tour guides. It's a chance of a lifetime that will not only provide you with a fulfilling career but also help make this city of ours a better place to live in.

One step at a time.

It's easy to join the contest too. Just send me your resume, a photo, and a short YouTube video of you convincing me why you love Manila. Send it all to

Yeah. I know, it sounds like it should be a reality show no? I wish. Ahem, ABS CBN? QTV? GMA? Perhaps we can develop this into something? Whatchathink?

Deadline for submission of resumes and video is June 24. The competition begins shortly after.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


My ARTWALK at High Street in Fort Bonifacio has been reset. Try to catch it at the end of the month. We'll talk about Public art, the importance of art in developing a proper urban environment, and maybe have some free coffee and doughnuts. Just go to High Street, there will be signs telling you where the tour will begin.

MAY 31, 2008 - Saturday - 5:30PM - 6:30PM
Please text/call 0920 9092021


Saturday, May 17, 2008


Unfortunately, my ARTWALK today at Fort Bonifacio High Street was cancelled due to the weather. It will be rescheduled on another Saturday soon they say. The last ARTWALK I did was rained on, so I'm glad I'm going to be given another chance to do it on a nicer day.

Meanwhile, here is the interview I had today with Tanya Lara of the Philippine Star. Thanks, Tanya. It was really cool having coffee with you last week right before my first ARTWALK.

A walk in the rain with Carlos Celdran

CRAZY QUILT By Tanya T. Lara
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Tour guide and performer Carlos Celdran thinks he’s in on the biggest secret in the world: That it’s actually fun to live in this country. We may have hours-long traffic and garbage in the streets, but we also have Imelda, the CCP and Rizal Monument, Ongpin Street, and endless strange and bizarre stories about life here that make for one hell of an interesting tour.

Wearing a top hat and an Ilustrado costume during his tours, Carlos likens living here to playing a video game, something that can be mastered “and once you master it, you’re addicted.”

The art enthusiast/fine arts graduate/history and architecture buff says the best thing about living in Metro Manila is that “It’s constantly changing, it’s organic, it’s challenging. Nothing is what it seems. If I’m the only one who knows Manila is this fantastic, then lucky me! It’s rich in history. We keep forgetting that we’re a player in terms of global history; we keep thinking we’re just this small backwater town.”

Before he blew into town and started his now-famous walking tours, Carlos was the youngest editorial cartoonist at 14 for a major newspaper, he was a Fine Arts student at UP and later at Rhode Island School of Design. When he was in his third year in Rhode Island, he found out that he was allergic to oil paint.

“After paying all that tuition, right? I couldn’t just drop it, so I took up performance art as my thesis. I was still able to graduate from the painting department — without doing a single painting!”

After school, he went to work for the Socrates Sculpture Park in New York, which used to be a landfill and an illegal dumpsite until artists and community members under the leadership of artist Mark di Suvero transformed it into an exhibition space for large-scale works in 1986. Here Carlos learned all about public art and got to know the major artists in New York, and at the same time he was interning with the Blue Man Group.

“Blue Man Group exposed me to performance art and how it can be a tourist trap, so I kind of made my own version of a tourist trap for Manila,” he says with a laugh. “Because when you’re in New York you gotta watch Blue Man Group; the same way that when you’re in Manila you gotta do the Carlos Celdran tours.”

On a very hot and humid Saturday afternoon, Carlos sat down with us to talk about public art, the country, our culture and history, and his tours. Naturally — and characteristically of the Philippines — it rained right before he started his tour.

Ever the trouper, Carlos led his dozen or so fans through a wonderful walking tour in the rain.

THE PHILIPPINE STAR: Did you ever regret having to abandon fine arts?

CARLOS CELDRAN: No, because I’ve never been an introvert. I was born with the skill to draw. As a child I was a cartoonist for Samahan ng mga Kartunista ng Pilipinas. I was the youngest member of SKP, working for BusinessWorld. It was just assumed that I would be painting. Being a painter requires you to stay in a room, lock it, and then… depression…and work your issues out on a canvas. You know what, I got over that really fast!

You look like a genuine extrovert.
I like being with people, I like being out there with the rest of the world. There’s more ways to express my artistic self than through my hands. But learning how to draw was necessary because you do need to learn the rules before you break them. Fine arts allowed me to get my basics in, my art history. I brought those skills to my performance and my tours. My tours teach people how to look at Manila in another way.

Do you include local legends in your tours, like the ones in Nick Joaquin’s ‘70s book Fairy Tales for Groovy Children?
No, my parents were conservative. They were so square, so Catholic, they probably would have said, “Don’t touch that” because the word “groovy” is in the title.

What were your first walking tours like?
Oh, very simple. The tours I used to do were for the Heritage Conservation Society, which was under Toti Villalon. We would just go around old parts of Manila like Quiapo, FEU and Luneta. You know, choo-choo-choo to the left, choo-choo-choo to the right. It didn’t have any of my interest in performance art yet.

When they reorganized the structure of the society, I took the tours with me. I started to put on the top hat and costumes, to really make it more interesting for myself. And then I added the pictures, the visual element, the musical element and the rest is history.

The first time I read about you some years ago was in a foreign magazine.
Cool. Not even here, eh? Time magazine was my breakout. I also had one in a Dutch magazine in the beginning.

What are the common elements in your tours of Intramuros, Imelda and Chinatown?
My tours always have to do with art, culture, history and architecture. For my Imelda tour, we explore the architecture of Lindy Locsin and try to relate the feeling of that era to the architecture, to the life and aspirations of Imelda. Because, really, without her ambitions, that building (the CCP Main Theater) would never have been built. My tour is kinda like the unauthorized biography of Imelda.

What kind of feedback do you get, what’s the most bizarre?
Some are offended, like a lot of Americans don’t realize that they were the ones who blew up Manila in World War II. And when I try to tell them that it was actually MacArthur who destroyed Manila, which is why Manila lost its spiritual center and its heritage, they get offended. Not that I use the word “imperialist” purposely or anything like that, but there’s a lot that can be learned from what’s going on in the world right now, especially with the Iraq War and relating it to Philippine history in 1898 — a country that didn’t need to be freed — and imposing your own imprint upon it. And then World War II came along. The big disappointment. We were dragged into a war that wasn’t our own, and we were destroyed.

How do you do your research?

Books, the Internet.

Was Renato Constantino a source of history?

A lot of my "leftist" leanings, yes. I came from UP — from 1990 to 1992 — then Rhode Island from 1993 to 1996. We were the first Fine Arts batch to move from the Main Library to the Vet Med building. There’s always been that “art for a social cause” in UP. But mostly I was influenced by Nick Joaquin and all those books like Gilda Cordero-Fernando’s The History of the Burgis, and The Streets of Manila. It was important for me to have history taught in a very entertaining, graphic manner. It was the first time that I was seeing history that wasn’t cold or seen through a foreigner’s eyes. These books were written for and by Filipinos. The History of the Burgis, for me, is the bible for explaining everything here. Period.

When did the costumes come in?

Later on, just to keep things interesting. If I got bored, you’ll all get bored. It became necessary when I was doing tours downtown, because if I wore something plain, you would lose me going through Quiapo, but now you see this guy with a funny hat and an Ilustrado outfit.

For the Imelda tour, I wear bellbottoms, a Ninoy T-shirt and a Marcos pin. I try as much as I can to not take sides in any of my tours. I try to be an equal-opportunity offender. If I can’t treat everyone nicely, then I’ll treat everybody badly.

What’s your favorite building?

The CCP with all its warts. It’s a wonderful marriage of traditional and contemporary. It’s something that’s undeniably Filipino and yet it fits in the international stage. It’s dramatic, bold, pioneering; it took guts to build something like that. It’s really one of the first monumental things we built for ourselves. All those churches, think about it, they were done for religion, for Spain. It took Imelda to build the CCP.

I love Lindy Locsin, but his buildings seem to me closed off and dark.

I think it was also the times, it was all about air-con back then. Imelda wanted to see the CCP against the sunset. Everybody said, “Why not face the building the other way so you see the sunset when you’re coming in?” But actually it looks better when you look at it from the front and the colors are behind it. Locsin was brave and also a victim of the times — without Madame and her endless purse strings to fund his projects, he wouldn’t have been able to do what he did. No artist or architect today has the same opportunities that he had. I’m obsessed about Lindy Locsin.

Do you like Imelda?
I do recognize her importance and contributions to the country. I give her props for that.

Then and now, parang may sarili siyang mundo no?
Oo naman, pero there’s a fine line between sanity and insanity. All the characters in the world naman were lukaret di ba? The only problem with her was that she was loony on our government coffers and she played out her issues on the world stage. That’s the only part I cannot forgive her for.

Your tours are mostly composed of what kind of groups?

Puti — North Americans, English, Australians — and a few Japanese who speak English. A lot of Lonely Planet readers because I’m in their guidebooks, expats whose parents are here and they don’t know what to do with them. My No. 2 is Fil-Ams, like from Toronto or the US, who are all looking for their soul, their identity. You know what, what makes you think you’ll find any answers here? You have identity crisis over there? Same shit here! Except that we’re here. And then my last one is students.

Which subject do your tourists love best?
Imelda. You know, we made the Marcoses as much as they made us.

What’s the question you get asked most?
“So, where did it all go wrong?”

And your answer?
After 1986, we went back to the 19th century. We brought back the landed gentry and the Catholic Church to run the country.

Is that off the record?
No, you can put it (laughs). This is UP talking — as I eat in Starbucks.

And speaking of Imelda, my dad sent me the funniest text today.


Which proves a theory set by my friend, Junjun: "Nobody is every ready to talk to Imelda, but Imelda is always ready to talk to you."

Thank you Drinoboi for the picture.


Check out who I met at the dry run of my friend Cecile's restaurant, Pepper Lunch.  Good thing we didn't talk politics.  But truth be told, even if I am called, "The Midget Lover", I do agree with Ping's position on population management.  

Go to Cecile's restaurant, everyone.  It's super good and it opens at the food court level of Rockwell on May 20.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Someone out there has heard our pleas for good taste.  The formerly garish Carriedo fountain has been recently repainted into more subdued tones and looks less like a painted whore.   Thanks, Teng, for the shout out.  Now let's hope the rest of the local government infrastructure projects for the rest of Mayor Lim's term could be just as classy.  Is there hope for Manila yet? Let's see...


Thanks so much to fellow artist/fellow UPalumni Palma Tayona for the lovely lovely drawing of my fatter self walking around Intramuros (above).  Gosh his memory is great.  He really captured what I look like when I'm touring.  Log onto Palma's site here.  Thanks too to Mr. TravelLady, JJ Scott, for another great article on Manila in their series about our ever loyal city.  Read that here.  And finally, last but not least, one of my oldest (not eldest) ever friends, Nena, posted up a list of things (some embarrassing, some not) that people perhaps never knew about me. She asked a whole buncha high school classmates to contribute to the list so I can't really be blamed for the content. Log onto her post here.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Some thoughts by eazytraveler about the Casa Vizantina in San Nicolas, Manila. Log on here. According to my sources, the house is still up. The demolition has not happened yet. But in light of this, I am announcing my farewell "All The Way Down To Chinatown Tour" this coming June 1. Instead, I have decided to combine both Chinatown and Quiapo into one tour. Perhaps without the Calesas and without visiting San Nicolas (which has become depressing with the loss of all the 19th century houses there). In the last three years that I have been doing "All the Way..", I have seen at least twelve beautiful (and perfectly intact) houses torn down. Time for me to move onto other things. Hope to see you all on June 1.

And if you haven't been to John Silva's tour of The National Museum yet, you have to go soon. Due to popular demand, more dates have been added. John L. Silva has been Senior Consultant of the National Museum for close to ten years and has the most incredible stories and insights about the collection. Proceeds from the fees (700 pesos for adults, and 500 pesos for children up to 18 years) will go to John's I LOVE MUSEUM PROGRAM, which brings public school teachers to the National Museum and to their local museums, taught the importance of arts appreciation and transmit that information to their students. Studies show that an arts educated child raises their academic achievements, promotes love of reading, and makes them better citizens. The tours are three hours in duration, and begins at 10:00 am sharp (ending at 1:00 pm) at the rear entrance of the Museum of the Filipino People, (former Finance Building) Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park. Attendees are requested to wear walking shoes (please no heels) and reservations are strongly encouraged by texting or calling John Silva at 0926 729 9029. The tours will be May 2, 10, 17, 18, and 24, and June 7, 11, 21 and 25.

Cheers all. Over and out. For now.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Three more weeks to go till I win this damned contest and I post the "after picture" by Juan Caguicla. Not sure how much I weigh now but I am now thrilled that I can fit into shirts and pants that I haven't worn in years (below). I'm wearing my "ambisyon" shirt, a shirt I never threw away with the hope that one day I would fit into again. And voila! I finally do. Actually, the shorts that I used to pop out of on my Intramuros tour now falls unless I have a belt to hold it up. And as for belts, they have all gone down a couple notches. Yahoo. Whee-ha.

Hopefully, I'll look thinner onscreen when I am a guest on "The Debutante" on Qtv Channel 11 in the coming weeks. The Debutante is a reality show that seeks to find a lady who will become the "It Girl" role model of the year. The show is not your regular beauty pageant style reality show. It emphasizes as much on personality and intelligence as on appearance. (Below) here I am with host Marc Nelson and all of the contestants during their "Intramuros" challenge plus a disruptive Italian tourist that barged in on the taping. The Debutante airs every monday night at 7:00pm on QTV11. I was also surprised to realize that the show was done in English. It's been a while since I have seen an all English program on a public channel in the Philippines. Perhaps it's an attempt to improve our English proficiency? Whatever the case, congratulations to QTV11 for promoting the English language on television once again. I always believed we would be better off as a fully bilingual country.