Tuesday, May 13, 2008


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 Alice in Wonderland madhatter wannabe that simply went wrong.

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 fa├žade 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.


carlosceldran said...


But I lost weight na ha. But yeah, I'm sure my aura is still rotund I guess.

We were fellow peyupians eh? Hope to see you at another tour. Come for free and bring a friend too. Hope you get to try my Imelda Tour.

See you later, bro.


palma tayona said...

i have been quietly pointing my friends visiting from abroad towards trying your tours. to date, not one of them went away unsatisfied.

and yeah, being a manileno, i agree with what you said that "you can't change manila, but you can change how you look at it." i hope i quoted you right.

carlosceldran said...

Thanks for the referral. Yeah. You got the quote right. Hope to meet up with you soon.


Felix said...

first time here. napaka-ganda ng mga gawa mo. very distinctive. matagal na akong nawala sa eksena ng visual arts sa pilipinas, pero sa tingin ko ay nag-iisa ka sa istilo mo. bravo!!!

akashy said...

Let's do the walking tour!!! When are we finally going to do it? Summer is almost over and I'd like to take the kids.

Remember, i recommended it to my Israeli boss' mom? (You remember Alon, don't u?) I even set it up for her. And she was raving about it. Kept thanking me for recommending it to her. :)

palma tayona said...

@ jake: salamat po. :-)

palma tayona said...

@ akashy: ahem, let's not plan things like these. let's just do it. take a leave from your office that coincides on any of the guy's tours and just text me. :-) you know me naman, kaladkarin. :-)

Frankie Calcana said...

Alam ko, brother yata siya ni David Celdran, yung host ng Battle of the Brains. Gusto ko ring mag-tour sa Intramuros!

christine said...

Lovely tribute, Palma! And I love the drawing, aside from the weight his lost at this point, you captured him perfectly. :) I really like your work, hopefully I can make it to the gallery to check out more.

palma tayona said...

@ keitaro : i think they're cousins, not brothers. :-) try his tour. masaya. ako nga kahit taga-maynila na eh there are still things that actually surprised me in his tours that i thought i knew eh did not pala. :-)

palma tayona said...

@ christine: i agree on the weight loss thing, for health reasons. but methinks it becomes him to be on the jolly-jello side. :-) that's just my opinion.

oh, and uhm, thanks for the notice. methinks my works will be hanging at the gallery until the 23rd. and yeah, i like botero. :-)

amazingmusings.com said...

nice post! i can almost imagine the scene..as if i was there =)

my sister and i have long been planning to join his walking tour with our father. hope we can join soon =)

Didi said...

Such a cute capture! He's truly an asset of Manila! I hope the city realizes that! Hahaha.. :)

Cool drawings ah!! :)