There’s No Place like “Maynila La Imelda”

Livin La Vida Imelda 

I’m not really into writing stuff but let me give this a try to express my gratitude for this man who will tell and teach you how to look at Manila differently.

I have been a fan of Carlos ever since I saw him the first time inside the walls of Intramuros when I and my college friends were strolling around 4 years ago. He was in front of a group of foreigners, pointing his fingers to some historical structures and narrating some stuff as if he’s the spokesperson, it seemed fun because of his jolly aura which is very perfect in presentations. His tiny speaker hanging around his belt makes his voice vivacious which adds up to the energy of his audience. Back then, I was just a mere observer on how he does his tour and a person in the background who wished to be part of it in the future.

Fast forward, 4 years later. Being a Twitter follower of @CarlosCeldran I got a chance of taking advantage of his generosity by having Barter Tours. Given that as of this writing I don’t have the capacity to pay the tour fee, I requested two slots for the Barter Tour for me and my friend which gladly he confirmed.

So me and my friend brought our gifts for him in exchange of joining his tour for free yesterday (October 21, 2011| 14:00). The tour that we joined in was titled: “Livin La Vida Imelda”, it’s all about the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Romualdez Marcos, he shared some bits of her biography, tiny drops of romance here and there, her grand ambitions for Manila, her achievements and the best part, the spicy gossips about herself, her husband, her insurmountable pairs of shoes, and the undying controversies behind all the structures that was built during her reign as the “Steel Butterfly”.

The tour lasted for about 2 ½ hours. I totally enjoyed how Carlos presented it in a way that his audience literally pays attention to any word that he utters. With him is a folder with mostly pictures that I have not yet seen on Google, which serves as his secondary presentation tool next to his tiny speaker.  A portable CD/Cassette player which is really my favorite because as we “Walk this Way” (transferring to another spot inside the CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines)  and PICC (Philippine International Convention Center)) he will play the 1970’s music which was dubbed as the “Manila Sound”, since my parents have not thought of having me yet in this world during that time, I can honestly say that I am familiar with VST & Co. songs like “Disco Fever”, “Magsayawan” and “Awitin Mo, Isasayaw Ko”. (PS: as I’ve said I was not yet born when those songs were played over the radio, but I thank my parents for having and keeping these records at home, thanks also to YouTube. LOL). For the record, Carlos was not playing these songs from a CD, he literally used cassette tapes that I find really really cool! The best part of the presentation was when he mimics the way Imelda Marcos speaks while throwing some really funny lines and yes this was partnered by Imelda’s signature of having a hankie, in this case, if my observation was correct, Carlos used the Black Nazarene of Quiapo handkerchief. And of course, who can forget his black hat that surely fits his round head. =)

Cultural Center of the Philippines

The entire tour was very educational and entertaining. I really learned a lot and there’s really some “Ah-a” moments. For a guy who really did not witness howManilawas so impressive and famous back in those days, I was really amused and surprised about the things that I saw and heard. And given the main subject of the tour, Imelda Marcos, it just made me really fascinated to know more about her. I clearly remember my late Dad who happened to be an architect once said that he was very fond of Imelda because of her great sense and appreciation in beautiful and grand architecture.

Of course in every story, it can never always be just happy times; you cannot be at the pedestal forever. The dark side of the “Steel Butterfly” was also exposed which I am sure will give you some “Oh? Really?” moments, and did I also say about some conspiracy theories about the People Power and Ninoy Aquino’s assassination? Interesting, interesting stuff. Yes, these were all covered. Although not very detailed but the idea will keep you inclined to the stories. I almost forgot, Carlos also dropped some well-known and who-is-that-again names that Google cannot tell you. (Idk, I haven’t checked but for sure there were some names that surprised me.)

The controversial ghost-inhabited Manila Film Center

Oh well, after the tour I just observed one thing. Carlos did not give us the opportunity to ask questions which I thought an important part in presentations. Lack of time perhaps? However, I realized that there’s no need to ask questions because I haven’t thought of asking anything during the tour which only means that he pretty covered if not all, most of it. And yes, we are not in a classroom setting where there’s recitation and stuff after all.

So, if you guys want to be part and enjoy it the same way I did, contact him now. I’m sure you will not regret it.

Here’s a snippet of the Livin La Vida Imelda Tour when an Al Jazeera correspondent joined and featured Carlos Celdran:




(I hope he liked my gift. I gave him my own copy of a book titled “The Poisonwood Bible” and I thought it’s a good read.)


Twitter:             @CarlosCeldran

Facebook page:


Thanks for reading!


From another man’s suggestion: The experience will be the “bestest” (if there’s such a word) had Carlos gave away some souvenirs as a token of appreciation too. (Like a key-chain with the image of his hat or whatever just to remember that you were once a part of his journey.)


4 thoughts on “There’s No Place like “Maynila La Imelda”

  1. hi! i read your writing above and wants to join the tour… would it be possible for you to provide the contact info or email of carlos? i sure would love to have a tour the same way as described on your writing. BTW, i like the articles that you wrote.

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