Carlos Celdran may indeed be a bad influence on the Filipino

carlos_celdran_damasoMaybe it is true — that Carlos Celdran is a bad influence on the Filipino. After all, hasn’t one of the biggest issues with us Filipinos always been about our lack of ability to think things through properly and act consistently upon said thinking within some sort of rules-based framework — such as the Law? In that context, it is quite clear that this Damaso stunt has set us back a bit as far as our aspirations to becoming a modern thinking society.

Apart from the clear offenses that Celdran had been convicted for, he is guilty of a couple other crimes against Filipino intelligence:

(1) Propagating demagoguery

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Damaso. Celdran puts up a single word — a single name — to encapsulate what is really a nebulous issue. It’s sort of like the way Mein Kampf and Communist Manifesto were encapsulated in the swastika and the hammer-and-sickle respectively. Or like how the whole “people power” thing is expressed by Filipinos with the hand gesture for “loser”. The difference between the demagoguery of Nazism and communism and the vacuous demagoguery of the Filipino secular and freedom movements is that at least Nazism and communism had written treatises and manifestos. Last I recall there is no equivalent Mein Kampf for the Aquinoist Laban movement.

(2) Failure to crystallize a nebulous issue

Ok, perhaps one can argue that Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere is the underpinning manifesto of Celdran’s Damaso stunt.

But why then, did that other blogger stammer out a doozy of a clarification in an attempt to lend substance to Damaso? The guy claimed that Celdran’s stunt “stirred the ambiguity between the secular and the religious” and, get this, provided us “the kind of animus that helps us rethink the relationship between Church and State.” Obviously “Damaso” dumbed down something. What that something is, not even Celdran’s most die-hard fans can quite explain clearly even given a few more words to work with. Maybe they should re-read the Noli. Yikes! I’d market that book as therapy for people with bad sleeping disorders.

I noted the comment of ChinoF there and agree it was spot-on: “Rosa Parks was never trying to get attention. She only wanted a seat.” By contrast, to the question of what it is exactly that Celdran hoped to achieve back in 2010, the best anyone could come up with is a blurb that makes use of head-scratchers like “stirring up ambiguity” and “animus.” You gotta wonder. Maybe the proverbial Emperor is in actual fact naked.

(3) Furthering the Philippine idiocracy

The thing with these catch-word/phrase and one-symbol “movements” in the Philippines is that said words and said symbols distract people from the reality that there is really nothing under the hood. And, in all ironies, it is for this very reason that stupid idiotic politicians get elected to office — because they have mastered the art of harnessing the idiocracy using these age-old mind tricks.

One moment we are urging voters to “vote wisely” — to look underneath the slogans, dig deeper into the issues, and evaluate how consistent the relevant ones are to our politicians’ platforms (if they do have one). Then the next moment we are cheering side-show costumed clowns like Carlos Celdran and the sort of sloganeering they do that, if you think about it, isn’t really much different from the campaign styles of the very politicians we claim to detest.

Houston we have a problem.

It seems the Philippine political debate lacks serious diversity as far as ideas go. The noisiest elite “communicators” dominate the discourse with their lame slogans and shallow appeal-to-emotion roadshows. Aren’t we glad Get Real Philippines is around to single-handedly fill that otherwise yawning intellectual chasm in Philippine society?

33 Replies to “Carlos Celdran may indeed be a bad influence on the Filipino”

  1. I think you can add Guy Fawkes masks (as ironic a symbol of “the power of activism” as you’ll ever see) to the list of ‘catch-word/phrase and one-symbol movements’ afflicted with unproductive, ambiguous animus.

    1. What most people don’t know is that Guy Fawkes wanted to overthrow Britain’s Anglican monarchy so he could help the Vatican return to it.

      Simply put, Guy Fawkes was overthrowing a totalitarian dictatorship so he could install his own totalitarian dictatorship.

      1. And he totally blew it, whatever he had planned. If you’re going to pick a symbol, probably ought to pick one that doesn’t represent a loser.

    2. This is somewhat related to children’s over infatuated love for the cause, yes they only have an idea of what’s going on but they don’t have the full story to back up their so called cause for the idea.

      1. A lot of people who join these causes are too busy being angry to look up the facts of an issue, as well as their pros and cons.

  2. The individual is not a political leader, it’s not possible to add more details to a board, and, if any, this event and the outcome actually leads to further discussion.

    1. True, Celdran acted as an individual and is not responsible for the further degradation of the Filipino psyche. The article seems to suggest an individual act, like that of Celdran’s, not an official representative of any organization is detrimental to Filipino morals. This is a dangerous pattern of thought from a thinker I respect on GRP. This is socialistic thinking and is not what democracy demands.

    2. I agree with Monk, Celdran had the balls to be rude to deliver his message strongly to the powers that be and does not deserve imprisonment!

    3. @monk: But that’s precisely my point. Does this outcome, in practice, really lead to “further discussion”? My observation is that the stunt takes on a life in and of itself and the nuances of any underlying message (if there was any to begin with) is lost as people focus more on the spectacle than on the substance. You can see it in the “discussion” that came in its aftermath — nothing but sloganeering and catchphrase brokering amongst his fans over social media. Where is the substance?

      Indeed, @Nieves, this may be a noble message delivered in a rude manner. So the stunt has two dimensions: (1) a noble message highlighted via (2) a rude delivery approach — which means this stunt can be responded to in the same multidimensional way: (a) take on board the message, and (b) deal with the rude behaviour (which in this case, was rude enough to warrant imprisonment according to the law that happens to be in effect and applicable to this case).

      1. Everybody knows this law is bullshit, and will be shown to be in conflict with secular guarantees of freedom in our modern constitution. Let’s see when it reaches the Supreme Court, Celdran will appeal. . . and will not just march quietly to prison as some people think he should for breaking a “law”. The people who were at church were not even having a religious service, apparently, they were just having a meeting, come on, how vindictive could the Church be, which now appears it really wanted to attack the RH bill supporters by proxy. I am sure there are loads of ridiculous archaic laws in our legal books that a highly paid lawyer could pull off to satisfy the blood-thirst of his client. The first judge advised the parties to settle amicably and Celdran had already apologized twice to the Manila Church, but the Church wanted to put him in his place, after all, it could afford the best lawyer there is to hire who could dig up antiquated laws. Come on BenigO, let Celdran be, his act of protest at the church does not deserve all these gut-wrenching articles of condemnation. It is his right as an individual to choose how to air his protest which is guaranteed by the constitution.

        1. @Nieves: You echo the precise point I make when you said “Let’s see when it reaches the Supreme Court, Celdran will appeal…” Let the process run its course. One party prosecutes, the other defends. But the law is the law. There is also a process for repealing it. But until it is repealed, it is in effect.

          Perhaps the Church was “vindictive”. But between them and the other, which of the two barged into whose premises?

          That’s Philippine democracy, then. The one who has the most money to hire the best lawyers are naturally at an advantage. Think about it. If it was some unknown schmoe who did that stunt and not Carlos Celdran, would there even be a social media buzz to begin with? It works both ways. Even now, thousands of people in Mindanao are suffering in the aftermath of a storm. I wrote just as many articles about it last December, even before it became a POPULAR topic among the chattering you-know-whos.

          Thousands of people who perished in ships operated by Sulpicio lines haven’t had justice delivered to them and no Sulpicio board member has seen any jail time. And that is all because the victims here are not the sort of flamboyant celebrities that social media bozos love to chatter about. But I’m sure you, being a long-time follower of GRP, know that I also keep harping about those Sulpicio disaster victims — even when NOBODY in amongst that clique of “social media practitioners” hardly mentions them anymore.

          If you read my Celdran articles carefully, you will see they address broad issues across topics such as media hypocrisy, arbitrary application of the rule of law, substance in activism, and other things. Celdran just happens to have been the latest sap who walked into the crosshairs I’ve ALWAYS fixed on those issue. That’s no different from my fixation on Noynoy. The focus on the issues have ALWAYS been there and remain a consistent of ALL of my articles.

          People come and go, but the issues remain THE SAME. Carlos Celdran came, and he will certainly go. The next bozo who walks into my radar will be treated the same way. It’s a pattern you will recognise if you step back far enough.

    1. You are telling what GRP can and can not write about? Defining the parameters of discourse. That is the most dictatorial thing I have seen today. Are you sure you are not Cuban?

  3. Sir benign0, allow me to commend you on a clear, coherent, and thoughtful article. However, I could not help but note that the demands that you make of Carlos Celdran reflects what I believe to be a deeper problem that afflicts the Filipino intellectual.

    I vehemently disagree with the manner of Carlos’ protest, but upon reflection, his actions are merely the natural consequence of a young people that is learning to explore the language of democratically assured protest. We cannot expect Carlos, and the other brave, if not intellectually mature protesters like him, to produce a complete, cogent and cohesive protest statement upon inception, as if our thoughts were like Athena, who emerged fully formed from the head of Zeus.

    As I wrote elsewhere, his manner of protest shows precisely why one goes to school, or immerses one’s self in the arduous process of learning. You’re not required to get it absolutely right the first time around. But you are invited to stick around and keep plugging away.

    Carlos’ protest raised many significant questions about nationhood, the nature of belief, a faith rooted in the understanding of the human person, and the need to work together to carve out a bright future. If we end up reflecting deeply on these, then we are all the better for it. Sometimes it’s not the answers we get. It’s the questions we raise.

    Despite our disagreement on this issue, I remain very much an admirer of your work.


    1. Indeed, youth excuses us for our transgressions. But to learn from said transgressions, the consequences must be experienced. So in this case said consequences need to be applied. It just means future activists need to be a bit more careful, mindful, and deliberate in their actions. And if that changes the way activists behave in the future (and underpin their work with REAL thinking), then Celdran’s experience will not have been in vain.

      Whether one is a child or a grown up, the experience of getting burned when touching a hot kettle is the same — which is why EVERY normal person learns to avoid touching a hot kettle.

      Such natural consequences do not discriminate on the basis of age. So when man-made consequences are consistent and blind not only to age, but also to race and social class, then the learning borne out of said consequences becomes more effective and more embedded in the psyche of both individuals and the collective.

      1. I wish young people would stop using their youth as an excuse for their transgressions. Even while young, I hope they wise up and stop being emo. And even if they’re not emo, they can still enjoy being young.

      2. Well said, sir:

        “But to learn from said transgressions, the consequences must be experienced. So in this case said consequences need to be applied. It just means future activists need to be a bit more careful, mindful, and deliberate in their actions. And if that changes the way activists behave in the future (and underpin their work with REAL thinking), then Celdran’s experience will not have been in vain.”

        I look forward to your next entries. Peace!

  4. Why is it that the Filipinos seem to admire people who are against the law? Like from the 1970s, with the criminals and hoodlums who are the stars of movies, which I really hated. If this is how Filipinos are, then don’t be surprised why we’re still Asia’s Grand Basket Case.

    1. Because being a rebel is cool. Gotta fight the power and all that.

      The way I see it, if by chance the entire government was thrown out, it’ll just end up being like what happens in the climax of the Dark Knight Rises, where everyone who isn’t a criminal is sentenced to a railroaded fate. In this case, anyone who isn’t like them would be thrown out or whatever, while the country becomes a ghetto where the ones left will waste away everything, drinking and partying every day until it’s all gone. Then they’ll just squat there everyday wondering what they’re going to do now that the ones who have any sense of how to run a country is gone.

      1. It ain’t cool being the rebel when the rebel is wrong. That’s what I hate about the movies these days. Somebody, please make the emperor the good guy.

        On the other hand, we here in GRP tend to be the “rebels” of today’s times.

  5. Hi @John-D Borra. I just wanted to understand your comment especially the part where you mentioned that “his actions are merely the natural consequence of a young people that is learning to explore the language of democratically assured protest”. You got me confused with the rhetoric. I don’t think that the actions of a 40 year old man belonging to the upper crust of society and educated in the performing arts is indicative of a generation exploring their social freedom. Doing so would be unfair to those “unsung heroes” who are really doing something about the issue and not just by doing a public stunt that caters to the least common denominator just to earn social media greatness. Correct me if I am wrong but handing out condoms during your guided tours to those who would ask doesn’t really put a dent on the Reproductive health issue. I haven’t seen a public awareness video done by the guy on you tube promoting the practice of using contraceptives.

    1. @RM Javines:

      You are correct, sir. I misspoke. I refer to a people whose understanding of the language of protest is in its nascent stage. I meant no disrespect to those who labor valiantly in anonymity. I did not want to compare their work to that of Mr. Celdran.

      You are also correct when you suggest that there are better ways of dealing with the issues embedded in reproductive health and nation building.


  6. Whatever is said and done is within the cycle of the rotten morality of the Filipino culture (with exception to those marginal few who deserve all the respect).
    To begin with the government’s moral values are from the people, and these people are the products of the so called “church”.
    The (majority) Filipinos so proudly claim that the Philippines is the only “Christian” nation in the Far East. Having the majority of the citizens despise being reprimanded of their mistakes and inappropriate conducts and love to willfully and intentionally violate the rules and laws, on what then can “Christian” be correlated into? UNDISCIPLINED??!!

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