One of the most polarizing figures in the Philippines, Carlos Celdran is first and foremost a performer. He has cut through the fabric of society by questioning it with a razor and a sign. He is most known for his tours that take people through a journey back in history and time, showing what was once lost and forgotten in a new modern, and sometimes harsh light of day. Be that as it may, there is still a tenderness to his tours, almost like a nostalgia of bygone days. He injects humor into the story that he weaves, making it a little bit easier to bear under the humid Philippine weather.
The base of his controversy would be rooted in 2010, when Mr. Celdran did a protest action inside the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral to protest the Catholic Church’s interference in the passing of the country’s then non-existent Reproductive Health Bill. Using the imagery of National Hero Jose Rizal and the name of a character in his novel “Noli Me Tangere” called Father Damaso – a name synonymous to the Filipino ear with the abuses of the Catholic clergy, Mr. Celdran dressed up as Jose Rizal himself, brandished a placard saying “Damaso” and raised it over his head in front of the altar while all the Bishops of the Catholic Bishops Conference were present.
His arrest and incarceration became a cause and after a two year trial Mr. Celdran has been convicted of Article 133 of the Philippine Penal Code. He faces one year in prison for “Offending Religious Feelings”. His case attracted both international and local attention. In 2013, the RH Bill was passed. Mr. Celdran’s case is currently in the Supreme Court awaiting a final decision.