The Walking Man
14" x 20"
pen and ink on paper
His name is Carlos Celdran. I like to call him The Walking Man. Were it not for what he does for a living one can easily mistake him for being an
I first came across him during one sunny mid-afternoon a few years back as I was coming down from my usual haunt at the walls of Intramuros. That was back when I would hang out at the ramparts of the walled city to draw or be inspired. Of course, nothing came out of it except getting some afternoon sleep in the shade of a big mango tree behind Padre Blanco's Gardens of the San Agustin church.
I was walking towards the front of the old Agustinian church when I saw one of the strangest sites I’ve seen in that walled city. A short man with aquiline nose, a toothy smile and with a haughty air about him was wearing a barong Tagalog with the sleeves folded up. With a top hat on his head, he was holding a radio in one hand blaring out some queer music (at least to my ears at that time) and a flag on the other. Several people were gathered around him – a few caucasians and some, well, obviously touristy-looking Pinoys. He was in an animated delivery of words that were spewing from his mouth like a hundred per second and was talking on a microphone clipped to his head connected to a speaker attached to his waist.
“Hmmm… a street performer perhaps,” was the first thought that popped into my head. When I got closer, I realized that the guy looked familiar. I remember this guy from the college of fine arts. No, I don’t know him back then but he was a familiar face that hung around in the main lobby of the college (back when it was on top of The Main Library) or in front of the classrooms with his friends. I never knew his name then. I just know that he was, like the others and me, a student of that college.
As I stood there watching with amusement, he plucked out a big black book from a black bag dangling on his side. He did it with such aplomb and in the same manner that a seasoned magician would pluck a rabbit from his hat. And when he opened his big black book, he turned to a page and showed a vintage picture of the church’s façade with WWII soldiers kneeling in front of it.
Aah, a tour guide! So that’s what he’s up to. He’s a tour guide with a top hat and a funny way of wearing a barong.
On that lazy sunny afternoon, it was pretty interesting to see an old familiar face in a new setting.
I stayed on for a few minutes and when he motioned the small group to enter the church’s museum, I walked away. I didn’t have any money to pay if I were to join that group at that time. Besides, I wasn’t even sure if it was a paid tour.
I just promised myself that one day, I’d take that tour with The Walking Man.
…and eventually, I did. It was delightful.