05 October 2010

A Tour Guide with a Mission

Carlos Celdran
The Facebook pages are again flooded by issues about the country’s Family Planning (FP) and Reproductive Health (RH) debates after Carlos Celdran was arrested on 30 September 2010 after making a scene at the Manila Cathedral. He dressed as national hero Jose Rizal and shouted at the bishops during a Mass to stop meddling in government affairs, particularly on population management.

He also held up a placard with the sign "Damaso," referring to a priest who fathered a child in Rizal's novel "Noli Me Tangere."

What he did was not as grave as the crime committed by pedophile priests who continue to defy both local and international prosecution or church administrators who refuse to pay taxes for acres of land they acquire from donations, but one can't help wonder if the authorities would have been quick to arrest if the Episcopal Commission calls its meagre flock to rally against the President's FP-RH stand.

An account on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news site said the bishops present during the Mass included Papal Nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams and Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. The same people who espoused the religious nonsense called Natural Family Planning (NFP).

On the phone with the Inquirer.Net, Celdran recalled the afternoon's event:
"I finally had enough, so I brought a placard [to the Mass]. It took them a while to realize what I was doing, and when they did they could not look me in the eye.

"I started screaming, 'Stop getting involved in politics!' I kept screaming until I could not scream anymore, then they took me away. Why keep President Aquino hostage when reproductive health is the fundamental right of Filipinos?"
Fortunately, for Celdran his actions did not remain unnoticed and unsupported. Social networks were all buzzing in frenzy in support of his effort to topple a medieval hierarchy, who for the last 100 years or so has been prancing about in the Philippines like a self-styled messianic–in-waiting. It is gratifying to note that the irrational political aspirations of the Church is being destroyed slowly by the people they probably least suspected would ever do such a thing – a tour guide with a mission.

When asked if he had any regrets for his action, Celdran said, "Wala (none)."