Wednesday, August 27, 2008


By popular demand, I have created a much more affordable weekend package for those wishing to experience a Manila weekend my way but don't have half a million pesoses to drop. The "So Cool...So Carlos...So Sofitel" program is available starting in September when I will be doing CCP and Intramuros tours on a regular basis every Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Now there ain't no yacht cruise for this one, but it's still the most chic package you can get in our ever eternal city, take my word for it.

And this is the deal:
Acommodation for two (2) in a Luxury Club Room

Private lounge with personalized service by the Club Concierge and Butler

Express check-in and check-out

Complimentary Broadband Internet Connection In-Room
15-minute Internet access at the Executive Club Lounge
Cocktails from 6:00PM to 10:00PM at Executive Club Lounge
Buffet breakfast served in the Executive Club Lounge from 6:00AM to 10:00AM

or at the Spiral Interactive Restaurant
Two-hour use of the Club Conference Room

Bottle of wine to be served in-room
Fresh tropical fruits in your room, replenished daily

Complimentary Local Calls
Free pressing of one (1) set of suit upon arrival

Complimentary access to SoFit Gym

LeSpa Massage for 2 persons
10% discount on other LeSpa Services

Cocktails at LeBar for 2 persons

Dinner for 2 persons at the Sunset Barbeque
with cultural dance show

Chauffeured BMW Series 5 for 3 hours

Choice of:
Imelda Tour of the CCP Complex
(Saturdays, 2:30pm - Meet at Little Theatre of the CCP)

Intramuros Tour
(Sundays, 9:00am - Meet at Fort Santiago Gate)

Only Php31,970.90

And if you are insisting upon a better deal, well...
There are also Superior Rooms Available at Php19,963.00
Luxury Club Sofitel Room at Php22,370.90
and Sofitel Suite at Php28,389.32

Email or call/text Christine
at 0920 9009143 or
for more details about each package.

So...see you there!

Monday, August 25, 2008


My friend Mitzie is president of an NGO called A not-for-profit organization that supports heritage preservation, local artisans, crafts promotion, and the appreciation of local Philippine crafts culture. As part of their fundraising efforts they are doing a project called 100 Taka, 100 Katao - a project where artists, artisans, and semi/legitimate celebrities take a "Taka", which is a traditional Paete papier mache figurine and dress it up to publish in a book and sell at a fundraising auction.

The above taka is my contribution to the project. It's called "Fashion Victim - Mura Kami". I took a traditional Taka maiden and collaged "Louie Butiong" logos all over it. If you look at it closely, I've switched all the LVs to FVs. Wala lang. It's just a statement about today's culture of blind consumerism and the cult that it can create. Do the clothes wear us or do we wear the clothes? I'm sure some fashionista friends of mine out there can relate. I'm sure they all know some brand-conscious parvenu out there who has clawed their way into the latest must-haves of the season only to render it lifeless once they wear it.

Close-ups below:

My friend Cathy Young, who designed my logo, helped me out with this Taka.

Check out Manlilikha's website here. Check out their cool crafts tours and the other Takas. Some of them done by artists like Lena Cobangbang, Elmer Borlongan, MM Yu, and Louie Cordero. Writers and musicians like Bayang Barrios, Jessica Zafra, and Lourd De Veyra have also designed takas for them, as well as fashion folk like Kate Torralba and random politicians like Loren Legarda (wha?).

Be sure to attend their fundraiser and buy a taka for charity too.

Exhibition opening and book launching
Friday, 5 September 2008, 4pm

Exhibition and auction closing
Saturday, 20 September 2008, 4pm

Sala'am Conference Room, Romulo Hall of the Asian Center
R. Magsaysay corner Guerrero Road, UP Diliman, Quezon City.

927 8749098 if you have any inquiries.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Yahoo...I did it. I finally have a foothold in the walled city. I always dreamed of having a space inside Intramuros to call my own. For years and years, I have wandered about the city's narrow streets looking for a place where I can just hang out and drink in the ambience. But all the places I checked out were either too expensive and/or in a deplorable state. But now, after years and years of searching and waiting and dealing with the ridiculous government bidding system, I finally found a place to lay my head inbetween tours. And it's in a perfect spot, right inside the Plaza San Luis compound in front of San Agustin Church. Check out my new digs. This is the view from my window (above).

This is the view from my door. It isn't big. It's around 25 square meters including the bathroom.

This is the view looking towards the door and San Agustin Church.

This is the stairs leading down into the toilet and shower.

The view from the courtyard looking up at my window. It's amazing, if I may say so myself. But then again, the old adage does kinda ring true for me right now. Be afraid of what you wish for. Because now that I have it. What do I do with it?

Stay tuned. I'll think up something soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I received this in the mail today from a friend of mine who is works at a Reproductive Health NGO. It seems that she put up a signature campaign online just to prove to congress that there are Filipinos out there who believe that the Reproductive Health Bill should be passed:

To: Philippine Congress

We are seriously disturbed that more than 10 Filipino women die every day due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. The big majority of those who die are poor women at the prime of their lives.

We are alarmed that 29 out of 1,000 infants die due to various sickness and illnesses that are preventable and curable.

We are troubled that 4.9 million Filipino youth, aged 15-27 are sexually active but programs that would ensure their safety and help them become more responsible in dealing with their sexuality and relationships are severely lacking. Especially worrisome is the fact that 1 out of 5 female teenagers get pregnant before they reach their 20th birthday.

These are just a few of the problems in the midst of the ongoing economic crisis, escalating poverty, and the ever-increasing prices of basic commodities and services. Moreover, the Philippine population grows unabated with almost 2 million individuals added every year. Researches consistently show that poverty is more prevalent among big families compared to smaller ones.

The acute lack of services and information regarding reproductive health:

* results in the untimely death of women and children;
* is the reason why our youth are largely unprepared to deal with matters pertaining to their sexuality and relationships; and
* exacerbates the effects of economic crisis and poverty on millions of ordinary Filipinos, especially those with big families.

We believe that Filipinos, particularly the poor, urgently need access to information and services that will address their reproductive health needs.

We believe that a rights-based, comprehensive, and responsive reproductive health law will help empower Filipinos to achieve a better quality of life.

We firmly believe that the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill into law will help actualize people's, especially women's rights to make informed decisions.

Therefore, we call on our legislators to pass the Reproductive Health Bill into law now.



And frankly, I was surprised that there were only 185 names on the list! C'mon. I think that there are far more Filipinos out there who think that this bill should be passed.

So go sign the petition here:

Let's see what our numbers really are.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Back in 1992, when I was a long haired, tie-dyed Island Spice T-Shirt wearing pseudo leftist, I ran away to Baguio to escape my bourgeois Makati upbringing. Right in the middle of my sophomore year in the UP Diliman Fine Arts Department, I pocketed the tuition fee my father gave me (all Php2,800.00 of it), dropped out of school and moved to Baguio to work as an intern for the artists Santi Bose and BenCab.

It was such a liberating time of my life. I spent a full year just making rubbercut prints, chopping sticks, cleaning brushes, hanging out with artists, and walking through the empty, cool streets of a post-earthquake and pre-SM Baguio City. And through that year, it was the Cafe By the Ruins where I would run to when looking for a place to center myself. It's indigenous, eco-friendly architecture (totally ahead of it's time), homegrown greens, and dishes like Amapola Salad and Gado-gado capped with a shot of Tapuy (rice wine) became the icons and images that I associated with fine artsy Baguio Living. I would just hang there for hours, reading magazines, sketching in my book, or having fireside chats around their Dap-Ay.

It goes without saying that I learned a lot from hanging out at the Cafe and I am who I am today from what I learned from people that I met there.

And having said that, I'm so glad that the Cafe is still around and that people are sharing their memories about it. On August 23, join Laida Lim, Lia Llamado, and Feliz Perez for the launch of Cafe By The Ruins: Memories and Recipes. It will be held at the same location where they have been for the last thirty years, 23 Chuntug St. at 4:30 PM. And if you can't make it to the Baguio launch, go to the one in Rockwell on the 28th of August at the National Bookstore in the Archeology area.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I recieved this in the mail yesterday. It was printed out on bond paper and sent to my Malate address:

Dear Mr.Celdran:

I am a travel writer and have in fact, promoted your walking tours in one of my assignments. However, I was appalled after reading about your birth control agenda at the Sunday Inquirer. If I knew that you use your tours to promote your social agenda and not the country’s agenda, then I wouldn’t have recommended your tours in the first place. Now I know better.

Please re-think your strategy as it serves to divide the people. As a tour guide, your role should be to provide a good historical and cultural overview, not to moralize. While you may think that the people around you are amused, there are those who have taken notice and are sorely disappointed.

Please try to unite not divide the country. After all, the role of a tour guide is sensitive because you do represent the country to the world. If you can bring the people to a common ground, then you may become more renowned than you’ve ever been.


M**** R****

Huh? My own "agenda"? The country's "agenda"? What? Oh my. I have nothing to say to that. I will leave it all up to everyone else to fill in the blanks with what I might say.

Meanwhile, peace to you Miss M. Your opinion, though unwarranted, is totally valid. I am really quite sorry for disappointing you, I really wish it could have been otherwise.

Meanwhile, back to my, ahem... "agenda"...

Updates: Hey, remember Dinlay? The lady from the shantytown near San Agustin Church who begged for me to pay for her ligation? Well, good news. I checked up on her a few days ago, and she got one. Frankly, I was really afraid she was gonna run off with the Php500.00 I gave her but she actually went out and got one. See? She kept her word. Not all squatter folk are wretched beings willing to steal your cellphone and sell their first born for a packet of meth, ok?

And it seems that my "agenda" is gaining ground. Since my "poverty" tour and press conference for the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) in Intramuros last August 14, (above - view of press panel, organizers, and a few of the attendees), I heard that ten (10) more congressmen have signed on to approve the bill. Thank you very much Dr. Azucena Suplido, Former Health Secretary Dr. Alberto Romualdez, UNFPA Representative Ms. Suneeta Mukherjee, and UP Economics Prof. Philip Medalla for speaking so eloquently during the forum. I also learned from this event that this conservative stance against contraception (Humanae Vitae) was only picked up by the Catholic heirarchy only recently (as in 1968) and it's passing was not unanimously approved within the heirarchy itself. So this letter, which has resulted in the oppression of Catholic women/mothers for the last 40 years could just be a product of inter Vatican politics and drama pala? Well, I guess that's true. All the laws and rules of the heirarchy are written by human beings at the end of the day. And human beings, unlike God, are not perfect.

Best of all, Miss Lisa Macuja Elizalde joined the meeting and volunteered to be the face of a new movement called Speak Out! Catholics for Reproductive Health. She is so brave to publicly show support for such an (undeservedly) controversial topic. And she is also really glamorous. Once again, I look like a giggling idiot in the photo.

And of course, a Carlos Celdran tour of poverty would not be complete without the mandatory giving away of condoms like candy to the city's less privileged (above, me looking for people to throw condoms at).

Finally, watch RH DEBATE at 8:00pm ANC tonight and watch Atty. Jess Sison, Congressman Zialcita, and Cong. Liwayway Chato talk themselves into a hole in a debate with Dr. Alfredo Romualdez, Cong. Edcel Lagman, and Prof. Philip Medalla of UP Economics Department. Be sure to send your text votes in at the end of the show. Support the speakers that make the most sense, OK?

Oh, and one more thing. I have in my grubby little hands the names of the congressmen who are UNDECIDED about the RH Bill. Hmmm. Perhaps we should send them a nice note saying that they should do the right thing and vote the right way? Tell them things like , "The Reproductive Health Bill is not pro-abortion" and that "The RH Bill is absolutely integral to the improvement of Philippine society as a whole."

And you can quote me on that. Email and I'll send you the list. It's way too long to print on this blog.

And on other completely unrelated matters, thank you so much Dot for the great feature in the Davao Sun Star, and thanks Vonjobi for the post. See y'all later.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Just in case you weren't paying attention, allow me to introduce you all to the new streetlamps of Roxas Boulevard (above and below).

Yes. I know. You don't need to say it. They are hideous. I have no idea what's going on with the flame action above and I really wonder how much energy the one below consumes considering that it has over twelve bulbs. Sigh.. I really thought times had changed over at City Hall now that Mayor Atienza has left office. Thanks to the bad taste of the City Engineers Office during his term, Manila had really taken a tacky turn. Badly proportioned fountains, cheap pavement, and miles and miles of ugly streetlamps were a hallmark of the Atienza administration. I really thought that perhaps good taste might still have a fighting chance over at the purchasing department of the Manila City Engineers Office now that Mayor Lim is in power. I mean, really - Atienza's former gullwing streetlamps (below) - albeit tacky - looked way better than these new ones.

And just when I was about to curse Mayor Lim to all hell, it turns out that it is still the tacky arm of the Atienza-era City Engineers Office reaching out from the grave. According to Mayor Lim's Office, those are not new lamps. Those are surplus lamps left over from the former administration. Apparently, a few years ago, the former administration went on a buying spree and still had all these lamps (all of them ugly) sitting in storage. So instead of wasting them and throwing them away, Mayor Lim decided to install them to add light to a now restaurant-free Baywalk.

But what really struck me about Roxas Boulevard, was that as I was taking these pictures, I was walking by a unusually clean Manila Bay. Believe it or not, these trash/flotsam/jetsom-free beach photos of kids playing in the sea were taken right beside the US Embassy. Wild! Is Manila Bay getting cleaner? Have pigs finally learned to fly? Or is this just a fluke? If so, how did that happen?

I'd really like to know..

Saturday, August 16, 2008


SO NICE... SO ... SO NICE...
I'm in love with the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. Yes, I'll admit it. I am. But I have to say, it wasn't always so. Once upon a time, I hated every hotel in Manila. Truth be told, up until recently, when it came to recommending luxury accomodations in our ever loyal and noble city, I was at a total loss. All hotels near the heritage districts were either too boring, too gross, or too anonymous. There was no hotel that offered a luxury experience distinct to the City of Manila. The Manila Hotel had gone to hell, the Manila Hilton and Sheraton both left the country, the aesthetics of the Hyatt went totally 21st century anywhere-in-Asia, and all the hotels in Makati, were, well - in Makati, and not downtown. It seemed like Manila lost all it's thunder when it came to looking for any luxurious "Filipino" accomodations - until the Sofitel.

Originally built for the Westin group, The Philippine Plaza (top photo, upper left) was one of seven scandalously sumptuous hotels that Imelda Marcos commissioned for Asia's first IMF World Bank Meeting, hosted by Manila back in 1977. Built at a cost of U$20 million dollars, it was designed by Leandro Locsin, National Artist and architect of our national theater, the Cultural Center of the Philippines. And aside from being the regions first Westin Resort, The Philippine Plaza boasted of having Manila's largest hotel rooms (above), the country's most elaborate swimming pool, an indoor garden with fountain, and modernist public art done by another National Artist, the painter and sculptor, Arturo Luz - all set amidst 12 acres of landscaped greens fronting the Manila Bay.

The hotel was a casual mix of Philippine hospitality and cutting edge design, truly Manila's most chic hotel/resort (original lobby above). No wonder it became Imelda Marcos' favorite hotel. Apparently, the former first lady preferred their Imperial Suite over the Manila Hotel's MacArthur Suite. Unfortunately though, by 1996, in a ham-fisted effort to standardize their hotel image, The Westin Hotel management ripped out all the hardwood from the lobby, chopped down all the indoor Dapdap trees, removed the lobby fountains, capiz chandeliers, dumped the Arturo Luz sculptures in an empty lot, and replaced it all with a jarringly inappropriate faux Italian piazza, complete with fiberglass streetlamps and a cheezy central fountain. The Philippine Plaza had denied it's modernist lineage, tried to go classical, and lost it's edge.

And there The Philippine Plaza stood - right by the Manila Bay in all it's drab neo-Italianate blandness until 2005, when the Sofitel group took over operations. And now, thanks to a multi-million peso refurbishment and a touch of French flair, The Sofitel Philippine Plaza has dropped its' schizophrenic design scheme and returned to it's rightful place as the city's most stylish hotel (refurbished lobby restaurant Spiral, above).

And why do I like this place so much? Well, first of all. Their rooms are huge. Their corner suite, where I stayed for a weekend last month (note: on my own bill - so this is NOT a biased article) is bigger than most apartments in Manila at 100 square meters. And with a view like this outside your window (below), the room seems even bigger.

Secondly, the Sofitel believes in the necessity of minding the details. Things like having all items in the gift shop arranged by color, having a library full of art and fashion books/magazines in the lobby, and having different iPod music selections for your massage (Lounge, Nat King Cole, Nature, among others) show you that this is a hotel that tries to think out of the box .

But most of all, I really like the Sofitel because they respected the architectural heritage of the building. Done by my favorite Filipino architect, Leandro V. Locsin, the building is one among many historically relevant sites within Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex. It is the perfect jumping point for checking out other Locsin masterpieces like the Philippine International Convention Center (above), The Cultural Center of the Philippines (below), and Folk Arts Theatre.

And being the art freak that I am, The Philippine Plaza is also perfect for any culture vultures out there looking to make a kill. One is only walking distance from the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, The GSIS Museum, the Coconut Palace, and a few minutes drive to Intramuros, the National Museum, Quiapo, or art galleries like Galeria Duemila or Albert Avellana Arts in Pasay City. The Philippine Plaza is so embedded in Manila's art and cultural identity, it's like staying in a Spanish Parador, except that it isn't the Alhambra outside your window, but a compound of brutalist structures dedicated to a disco era Sun God named Ferdinand Marcos.

And due to the historic nature of the building, the Sofitel's refurbishment had to be both sensitive and sensible. So in keeping with the casual Philippine chic theme, the rooms are devoid of any neo Italianate/Renaissance/Baroque detailing and are quasi-minimalist. The furniture is lined in coconut shell inlay, the beds are flanked by capiz lamps (above), and their legendary swimming pool is lined in real Piedra China (raw granite) (below).

And since I truly believe in this hotel, I am pleased to say that I have collaborated with them to create a luxury package worthy of the area and it's history. So if you are so inclined, come experience Manila my way.

Experience Manila's history in ultimate style with The Cool Carlos Cultural Weekend Package, A So Suite Luxury Promotion. For just half a million pesos (Php500,000), you and five of your friends can stay at the Philippine Plaza's Imperial Suite with it's three bedrooms, atrium, music room (above), and library-den (below). Of course, all three bedrooms come complete with balconies and spectacular views of the Manila Bay.

Aside from the accomodations, you and your friends shall also enjoy the following fabulousness:
Chauffeured BMW service from check-in to check-out.
An exclusive Imelda Tour or Intramuros Tour with yours truly*
Private helicopter ride to historic Corregidor Island, Taal Volcano or Mount Pinatubo.

Gourmet Picnic on the tours.

Sunset Cruise Champagne cocktails out on Manila Bay with a butler and DJ.

Aromatheraphy and Revitalizer massage at Le Spa.

Breakfast on the Spiral Deck.
Late check-out at 4pm.

*Depending on Availability

But of course, if you have a slightly smaller budget or don't know five people that you can call a friend, you can call the Sofitel and ask Ms. Christine Ibarreta-Urbanozo to tailor make A Cool Carlos Cultural Weekend Package just for you. May I recommend a corner suite with confirmed reservations for a Saturday afternoon Imelda tour capped by sunset cocktails? Make sure to catch their nightly traditional dance troupe perform poolside before getting even more tanked over at their 7 Pecados nightclub. And if you are still up to it the next day, catch a Sunday Intramuros Tour or have a Filipino Hilot Massage at the 24-hour Le Spa to complete this magnificent Manila moment.

Take my word for it. It's the only way to experience the city of Man.

So Cool. So Chic. So Sofitel.

So Call Christine now at:
(+63)2/5515555 - (+63)2/5515610
or email:
Sofitel Manila
CCP Complex Roxas Boulevard Pasay City 1300

Thank you equinox1, revcruz, and jagfromspain for the pictures.

Oh. And this offer only lasts until the end of December 2008. Au Revoir et Mabuhay, folks!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Remember when I joined that Rogin-E contest for weight loss?  I'm pretty sure I won.  But now I'm going for the gold and will try to hit my college weight of 155 lbs..  The good folks over at Institut Santre called me a couple weeks ago and asked me to be a "spokesperson" for them. And since both Joy and Leia (who run the place) are good friends of mine and frequent fliers of Walk This Way, I said "Surely"! Truth be told, I really don't want to lose THAT much weight. I am comfortable with the way I look now (below at 168-170 lbs) as opposed to last January (top at 185-188 lbs.).  A totally skinny Carlos might a really strange thing to look at. 
I just like their lymphatic therapy because it does rejuvenate and give me more energy.  Believe me when I say that being quasi-electrocuted and rubbed down like a Kobe cow can be fun once you put yourself in the right mindset. And the proof is in the pudding. Due to this therapy, coupled with a sensible diet and a regular exercise regimen, I now look and feel better. N'uff said. And as a spokesperson for Intitut Santre, I guess I am now part of a team that includes Cito Beltan, Chiz Escudero, and Butch Jimenez. Now I wonder if Joy and Leia are going to slather me on a billboard on South Super Highway too? Oh my.
If so, I want it to be totally glammo just like the other "slimming" ads with Dawn and Kris and the like. Perhaps a picture of me going through a curtain of beads? Ala the cover of Britney Spear's second album?  Hmmm?  Perhaps not.  I am supposed to make people go there, not run from it. Stay tuned as I walk you all through the process during the next posts.


It was a lovely Thursday last August 7.  I did a private Imelda tour for the uber gorgeous Dita Von Teese who was here to do her thing for the 18th anniversary of Vicky Belo's clinic.  So nice to see her in Manila.  Her presence made the CCP hallways seem so much more cosmopolitan. I must say, Dita was so amazingly ethereal, I couldn't really look at her directly. Just like the sun, I had to look at her through the corner of my eye. I swear, the lady has no pores and she doesn't sweat. Even when having to sit on a staircase, Dita knows how to do it with class.  I guess there are some people who are like that. Here is a giddy picture of a starstruck me with Miss Dita. Gosh. She was awfully sweet. Thanks Mich Dulce for the photo.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Sigh. It really breaks my heart to do this, but I am going to remove Casa Manila from my Intramuros Regular and Deluxe tours. Due to new rules, the Intramuros Administration has to limit the amount of visitors that enter the museum.  Only thirty people are allowed to enter the museum at any given time.  And my tours usually go up to 35 on the average and unfortunately, they will not give exception to even ONE extra person (and I don't want to leave that one person behind downstairs while we go inside).  But for those who reeeeaaally want to see this replica of a 19th century Ilustrado mansion, worry not, I will still end the tour at the Casa Manila courtyard and all guests will have the chance to see the museum on their own AFTER the tour. The usual spiel that I gave inside the Casa Manila will now be done in different sites around the Plaza San Luis Compound and Intramuros.  

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


The Ortigas Foundation Library invites you to their August Lecture Series

Carlos talks TOURS and other THINGS…

Carlos Celdran, Manila’s most entertaining multi-media cultural tour guide, will share with us his thoughts, ramblings and legendary humor regarding the Philippine’s most pressing national culture issues.

Thursday, August 14 at 6pm
For more details please call 631.12131 locals 222 and 228
or email
The Ortigas Library is at the 2nd Floor, Ortigas Building, 
Ortigas Avenue corner Meralco Avenue,
Ortigas Center, Pasig City

Monday, August 04, 2008


Please help the residents and friends of Quiapo, Manila by signing the petition letter below. Unenlightened property developers threaten to destroy the historic skyline with the construction of an oversized and inappropriate (READ: Ugly) building right in the heart of Quiapo (above). So sad. Let's petition that they change the design to one that is more appropriate to the historicity of the area... This is the plan of the bad bad developers (below).
This is what we want them to do. Just shorten the building and keep the lines the same height as the rest of the street. IS THAT TOO HARD? What the hey?
Your signature will be of great help to preserve and protect Quiapo: the heart of Manila:  Please log on here.  Thank you Professor Zialcita and The Heritage Conservation Society for sending this info to me.