Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thumbs Up: Carlos Celdran - ¡DAMASO!

This photo taken around 7PM shows Carlos Celdran still behind bars at the MPD station in Ermita, Manila.

Carlos Celdran, an artist/performer, is famous for his walking tour of Manila. Although I haven't tried his tour yet, and haven't really experienced any walking  tours in general in some of the historic parts of Manila, but I always make sure that I regularly read his blog - 'Walk This Way! I've never seen anyone who is so passionate about a place, a place he loves and cares so much about - Manila. His description of Manila from his blog goes:

"I believe that Manila can be a reflection of your state of mind. Being a city of extreme contrasts it’s easy to see how it can become an intense personal experience. Manila can be chaotic and spiritual, dirty and divine, gritty and gorgeous all at once. If you don’t find beauty and poetry here, you will never find it anywhere."

In his blog, you will not only see his itineraries, the tour dates and rates, but you can also read about some of the most pressing issues that he feels strongly about,  like the Reproductive Health Bill. It is because of this issue, that he became one of the enemies of the Catholic church. He constantly maintains his position against the church's meddling of the affairs of the state, especially on the issue of reproductive health.

Early today, he was apprehended for interrupting a mass at the Manila Cathedral. He was wearing a 19th century costume, (almost the same that of Jose Rizal's), and used a placard containing the name "DAMASO" and held it up in the middle of the mass while shouting, “bakit mahihirap lang pinagbabawalan sa family planning?” (Why is it only the poor are prohibited in family planning?) and "Stop getting involved in politics!". While handcuffed, he apologizes for the method he used, but not for the message.

Damaso is a character in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. He is described as a powerful friar who wields his power to get what he wants. He is one of the most notorious characters in the novel, which touches on the abuses of the Spanish friars (belonging to the Roman Catholic Church) during the 19th century.

I'm happy! I'm happy not because Carlos Celdran is in jail, but because someone has finally found the courage to speak up against these modern Sadducees. This will certainly be the topic of every group conversation for years to come. I support you Carlos. I support the Reproductive Health Bill. Thumbs up. And damn those Damasos!