Carlos Celdran changed the way I looked at Manila

Last Tuesday, 12/6/2011, I invited my friend, Justine, to go with me to one of Carlos Celdran’s Walking Tours. It was a barter tour, so we get to pay him however we wish. I couldn’t miss the chance to go on one of his tours, despite not knowing at all what to expect.

The venue was Fort Santiago (which prior to the tour, I had no idea where it was located. Seriously, this historical place should be included at least once in high school fieldtrips). Since we were bartering for the tour, we at least had to pay 75php for entrance to the Fort Santiago. When we got in, there were already lots of people waiting for the tour to start. Half of the group composed of foreigners, while the other half, Pinoys.

I won’t spoil you with the itsy-bitsy details of the tour, but here’s the tour in photos, just enough to make you want to join the next tour:

Armed with his flipchart, a lapel mic, a speaker and a radio, he transformed the whole of the Fort Santiago, and the rest of Intramuros into a classroom for the ultimate learning experience

The tour was very theatrical. I overheard a couple of foreigners talking about how Carlos Celdran was very “humorous”, and it seems that they really appreciate the tour.

Hello, ChocNut! Or as Mr. Celdran puts it, the “Philippines’ National Chocolate” haha! Complimentary ChocNuts for everyone!

We got to ride the kalesas for free :D They were included in the tour, to take us around Intramuros, and ultimately, to the spot that was severely devastated by the bombing in the 40s. I love how the kucheros really make an effort to contribute to the tour by sharing trivia about the churches, as well as the buildings in Intramuros, not to mention, in English! :)

It was almost 6 in the evening when we headed to San Agustin Church, wherein we were asked to examine the architecture of the church. Mr. Celdran stressed that while the San Agustin Church, was of course, built in the Spanish period, the architecture of the church is not solely Hispanic in influence. Chinese lions decorated the front of the church (and he asks, “How Spanish are the Chinese lions?” hmm?) It was then that he likened the Filipino culture to a hodge podge of all the other cultures that came across our way during history, much like a halo-halo. And then he treated everyone to a glass of Halo-Halo!

It was such an amazing tour. I started and ended the tour not knowing what to expect, with all the fun surprises he was throwing our way. This is learning at a whole new level, something that kids (older kids like me) with poor attention span would love. My eyes and ears glued to him the whole three hours of the tour, there were so many things I learned, and more importantly, understood about the culture. You think that being a Filipino, you’d know everything there is to know? Well, you thought wrong. It would be great if everyone (Filipinos and foreigners alike) gets a chance to go on this tour at least once in their lifetime, so that we get to develop a sense of respect and deeper understanding of why Filipinos are the way they are.

Thank you, Sir! :) You should have been my History teacher in college. Maybe I would have loved History more.

For those interested to join his tours, you may visit his website for tour schedules and contact info:

Definitely looking forward to the Imelda Tour. :)

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