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John Charles Edward "Carlos" Pamintuan Celdran (November 10, 1972 – October 8, 2019) was a Filipino artist, tour guide and cultural activist. He was known for "Walk This Way", a guided tour of the Manila districts of Intramuros, Binondo, and Quiapo using a combination of music, visuals, and history lectures to immerse tourists into what was life like during the Spanish and American colonization periods of the Philippines.[1]

Carlos Celdran
Celdran performing left.jpg
Celdran on December 20, 2010
John Charles Edward Pamintuan Celdran

(1972-11-10)November 10, 1972
Manila, Philippines
DiedOctober 8, 2019(2019-10-08) (aged 46)
Madrid, Spain
EducationBachelor of Arts
Alma materUniversity of the Philippines Diliman
Rhode Island School of Design
  • Cultural activist
  • cartoonist
  • performance artist
  • tour guide
Spouse(s)Tesa Celdran

He was also known for engaging in a controversial protest, known colloquially as his "Damaso stunt", in the Manila Cathedral in September 2010, leading to his arrest for "offending religious feelings" as per Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.[1][2] In January 2019, the conviction forced Celdran to go on self-exile in Madrid, Spain, where he died reportedly of natural causes on October 8, 2019.

Early life and educationEdit

Celdran, born John Charles Edward Pamintuan Celdran, was raised in Dasmariñas Village in Makati. He was a self-identified Roman Catholic educated by priests when he was a boy. He had said he would pray the Hail Mary "[if] my plane is [sic?] crashing".[3]

Celdran graduated from high school at Colegio San Agustin – Makati.[3] He graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman with a fine arts degree,[4] and from the Rhode Island School of Design with honors and a degree in performance art in the 1990s, during which time he also worked various jobs "from cheese-counter boy to fish-station boy, from production assistant of a performance group, to technical director of a dance company" to support himself.[3][5]


Before working as a tour guide, Celdran was a cartoonist. At age 14 he worked under cartoonist Nonoy Marcelo and would deliver Marcelo's works by hand to the offices where Marcelo worked in: the Business Day, and later the Manila Chronicle. He secured the stint through the connections of the husband of Patis Tesoro, who is Celdran's aunt. Carlos Celdran joined the Samahang Kartunista ng Pilipinas, a guild of Filipino cartoonists, becoming its youngest member.[3] His stint as a cartoonist lasted until he moved to the United States for his college education.[4]

Returning to the Philippines, Celdran eventually worked as a tourist guide and provided walking tours to his patrons. His well-known and longest-running tour, If These Walls Could Talk, ran 17 years. As part of the guided tour in the Spanish-Era walled area of the Manila district of Intramuros, Celdran would sing, dance, and discuss the history of the place clad in costume.[5]

Another work of Celdran's was the one-man show Livin' La Vida Imelda that centered on the lavish lifestyle of Imelda Marcos, the wife of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled as a dictator. The show was featured at the Broadway Clurnam Theatre at Theatre Row in New York City and other places outside the Philippines such as Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Copenhagen, Denmark; and in Penang, Malaysia.[5]

After moving to Madrid, he started the Jose Rizal Walking Tour of Madrid, which took tourists to places where Filipino writer and revolutionary hero José Rizal had frequently visited during his study in the Spanish capital, and provided insights on how Rizal's experience is linked to the Philippine Revolution.[5]


Celdran being interviewed by the media

Celdran made national headlines after he interrupted an ecumenical meeting that was held in the Manila Cathedral in September 2010, in protest of the Philippine Catholic Church's perceived interference with the passage of the enacted Reproductive Health Bill.[3] He had worn a José Rizal outfit, raised a placard that read "Damaso" at the altar, and is quoted as saying "Stop getting involved in politics!"[3] Celdran's stunt, known colloquially as his "Damaso stunt", led to his arrest for "offending religious feelings" as per Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code. In January 2019, Celdran went into political exile in Madrid, Spain where he subsequently resided until his death.[1][6][7]

Celdran also opposed the construction of the Torre de Manila because it obstructed the line of sight behind the Rizal Monument.[4]


Celdran died reportedly of natural causes on October 8, 2019, in Madrid, Spain. His widow, Tesa Celdran, confirmed the death.[6][7][1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Carlos Celdran passes away". GMA News Online. October 8, 2019.
  2. ^ Villafuerte, Sai (2018-10-25). "This Artist Is the Only Man Ever Convicted of Blasphemy In Modern Philippines". Vice. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tejero, Constatino C. (February 10, 2013). "Censored in the temple of the Lord: Who was Carlos Celdran, really?". Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "How Carlos Celdran's love affair with Manila came about". ABS-CBN News Channel. October 8, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Chaves, Alexandra (October 8, 2019). "Filipino performance artist and activist Carlos Celdran dies". The National. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Cultural activist Carlos Celdran, 46". BusinessWorld. 9 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Carlos Celdran passes away". ABS-CBN News. October 9, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.