His death came as a shock to many. His fans hark back to his walk tours and how he viewed art as a medium for change, while others couldn’t be more indifferent towards the passing of the artist known to be critical of the government.
Many remember Celdran for his controversial September 2010 act at the Manila Cathedral where he held up a placard inscribed with the name “Damaso” right in the middle of a church meeting.
The said stunt immediately led to Celdran’s arrest for “offending religious feelings” which he was found guilty of in 2013 by the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court according to Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.
But despite being convicted for blasphemy in 2018, Celdran remained an inspiration to many by standing his ground and continuing on what he believed was right and true about reproductive health, and it only proved to strengthen his cause.
Celdran’s Manila Biennale and walk tours also spoke of his deep appreciation for Manila’s history in a way that helped many people see the beauty in the Philippine capital’s ugly past. He showed it through art which he believed had the power to move people towards change.
Manila Biennale was Celdran’s way of “bringing back the soul of the city of Intramuros” through art, expression, and performance. His walk tours that took place in the same landmark ran for 17 years and educated many on the rich past of Manila.
“I’ve always found art to be the most powerful way to change society, change the status quo,” Celdran said in 2018 interview.
“I think it’s always better to inspire than to intimidate. Because there are only two ways of making Filipinos change: you force them to change or you inspire them to change. And the best thing to use is art,” he continued.
It could be that it was that very same conviction that gave Celdran the courage to dress up as Philippine national hero Jose Rizal and interrupt a meeting between priest and bishops in an attempt to protest against the church’s position on contraceptives.
His protests may not have sat well with his critics. But if there’s one thing you can’t bash Celdran for, it’s the fact he did all that he did out of a passion for his country.
Mayor of Manila Isko Moreno said it true of the artist on a Facebook post on Wednesday, saying that Celdran was a promoter of Manila who did it in his own little way, the way he knew it best.
Kahapon, nawalan tayo ng isang tao na talagang pinagmamalasakitan ang Lungsod ng Maynila. On behalf of the people of…
Carlos Celdran was criticized for many of his opinions and he was certainly not perfect in his ways, but he was a modern-day hero who used art to educate us and ultimately inspired us to fall in love with the beauty of our heritage.