Netizens clamor for Carlos Celdran's freedom

By Karen Galarpe,

Posted at Oct 01 2010 12:13 PM | Updated as of Oct 02 2010 09:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines - As soon as popular tour guide and artist Carlos Celdran was arrested yesterday at the Manila Cathedral for disrupting the homily during a Mass, netizens were on the Web reporting the news and asking for confirmation.

Carlos Celdran in a photo taken from "Free Carlos Celdran" Facebook fan page

Celdran, clad in a black coat and top hat like national hero Jose Rizal back in the 19th century, was nabbed for putting up a placard with the word "Damaso" in front of members of the clergy and shouting "Bakit mahihirap lang pinagbabawalan sa family planning?" and "Stop getting involved in politics!"

Damaso refers to Padre Damaso, one of the characters in Rizal's novel "Noli Me Tangere." In the novel, Padre Damaso was an abusive friar.

The tour guide, best known for his "Walk This Way" walking tours of Intramuros and other points of interest in Metro Manila, is a staunch advocate of family planning. He would give away pills and condoms to people he meets along the way during his tours.

President Benigno Aquino III, in a press conference in the US last week, disclosed that his administration will promote both natural and artificial methods of family planning. Bishops and pro-life groups have threatened to stage mass protests if the Reproductive Health bill becomes a law.

Free him, keep him in jail

On Facebook, two fan pages have been put up representing two sides to the issue.

One is the "Free Carlos Celdran" page created by Celdran's friends "clamoring for his release, condemning the antiquated views of the church, and supporting the Reproductive Health Bill to uplift Filipinos' lives".

The group said Celdran, who is detained in a Manila city jail as of press time, will post bail today.

As of 10:55 a.m. on October 1, the fan page registered 5,352 fans.

Comments on the fan page's wall were supportive of Celdran.

Dracir Basa wrote, "Mabuhay si Carlos Celdran!!! Padre Damaso!!! Abusado!!!"

Vip Cuenco added, "Do not be afraid! You are doing the right thing, Mr. Celdran!"

And Erle Czar Mantos wrote, "Yeah, free Carlos Celdran!"

Meanwhile, as of 10:58 a.m. on October 1, the "Keep Carlos Celdran in Jail" Facebook fan page has only 99 fans.

Achinette Villamor, the creator of the page, had a message for Celdran: "Dear Carlos Celdran, You rock. This is why I think you should stay in jail. We need more corky activists like you. Xoxo, Achinette Villamor."

Satire and humor seem to be the theme of this fan page, though, as can be gleaned from comments such as that of Tin F Garcia: "Keep Carlos Celdran in jail. He might inspire the other prisoners to cosplay."

And from user Keep Carlos Celdran In Jail: "Dear CARLOS CELDRAN, you make jail time look adorable. And exciting. And trendy. Viva should get you already."

Some netizens, though, had direct messages to Celdran:

Chuckie Campos Juan: "how about you protest NOT during mass? :))".

Chuck Aguinaldo Carlos posted: "enjoy your jailtime! I wonder kung pwede pa bumalik si Carlos sa pagiging tourguide sa Intramuros after nito."

Tweets for and against Carlos Celdran

The scene is pretty much the same on the microblogging site Twitter as tweets for and against Celdran have been pouring in by the second.

Twitter user ilovegeorgina wrote: "I find it annoying how the church gets involved with the Government! Do we live in the medieval era? Carlos Celdran is 100% right! Free him!"

JudeBacalso tweeted: "Say it with me: KEEP YOUR ROSARIES OUT OF OUR OVARIES!!! I echo that cry and this: FREE CARLOS CELDRAN, FREE YOUR MINDS!"

And chockwit plans to take the next step: "wants to send Carlos Celdran a care package. Hahaha".

whamosdlrosario posted: "masaya na si Carlos Celdran, nagawa na nya gusto go back to your tours. hahahaha."

sehuang suggested: "To make his point to more people Carlos celdran should have disrupted Kris Aquino's new game show. The priests would have supported him pa."

And gonzylla kept it short: "this Carlos Celdran is an idiot".

Meanwhile, Celdran's supporters said they will stage a rally today in front of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) office in Manila to call for Celdran's release from jail.