Carlos Celdran—how he keeps fresh while walking this way and that | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

CULTURE VULTURE. “To make sure I don’t reek of the sun, my signature scent is Johnson’s baby soap. For real.”

Becoming a cultural activist was not Carlos Celdran’s original career plan. But this performance artist, now represented by Silverlens Gallery, became famous for the tour program he established in 2002, “Walk This Way,” which later received a thumbs-up feature in Time magazine (2005).


There could be no better guide for proper style and grooming habits than Celdran, who lives such a hectic life—mostly under the sun, but who always appears dapper in person. So how does he do it?




I created the walking tours of Intramuros because… I needed a job.


My Intramuros tour is not the same tour you had in grade school because… I use bad words and you can drink beer while I’m talking.


The Imelda tour is about… everything except her shoes.


I’m influenced by… Jose Rizal for my values; Vanity Fair for knowing what’s going on outside of Manila; New Yorker for my opinions outside of my own; for what to do; Metropolis Magazine for the way I want to live my life; Chuvaness for chismis; and Topman, Mental and Team Manila for my clothes. I love watching interviews with Boy Abunda and too much reality TV.


For fashion… truth be told, I don’t think I have any style icons. I’m stocky and beefy; not exactly fashion-plate material. I pretty much wear what fits. But if I had to twist my own arm: Ernest Hemingway. Fun fact: I collect ’70s style Pierre Cardin Marcos-style Barong Tagalogs. It’s a costume for my Imelda tour.


When I’m not in my Spanish Colonial era costume… a staple piece of clothing for me would be puruntong shorts, black long sleeve cotton shirts from Gap, Topman, Guitar, Crispa, among many others. I call it my Steve Jobs look. I have, like, 30 of them or something. Long sleeves make anything look formal. Even when worn with shorts.


The men’s fashion accessory I have the most of is… Hats, hats and hats. It’s part of my work. I’m practically unrecognizable without one. I have four top hats from New York Hat Company.


The bath products I’ve trusted for years are… Johnson Baby Soap; Colgate; tawas deodorant (whether the “branded” Nature’s Touch variant or straight from a stall in Quiapo—it’s just the best when trying not to stink); virgin coconut oil—good for the hair and the skin and way cheaper than anything out there. And of course, just to be fancy, I use Clarins for Men Revitalizing Gel every now and then. After a harsh night, it helps a man look human. Again.


When it comes to grooming myself, I never forget to… clip my nose hair. I got tisoy blood. We’re hairy. What can we do?


To make sure I don’t reek of the sun, my signature scent is… Johnson’s baby soap. For real.


If you want to catch my attention, I am most drawn to scents of… sandalwood and sampaguita. Oh. And roast chicken.


CARLOS Celdran hosts the “Livin’ La Vida Imelda” tour at the CCP Complex and “If TheseWalls Could Talk” tour in Intramuros.

I see myself as… the last tisoy inside Intramuros. All are either dead, in history books, or living in Merville.


Every time I stage a tour… I make it a point to brush my teeth.


The most interesting group of people that has attended my tour is… Joe Jonas and his crew. It’s interesting because I didn’t know who the hell he was. But seriously, meeting up with Pulitzer Prize Winner Junot Diaz was perhaps the best tour and post-tour intellectual party experience I’ve had ever.


I splurge on… wooden chairs and cabinets from Philtrade Hall on Roxas Boulevard. Cheap, cool, Filipino retro “made-to-order” ambassador chairs, tocador and baul. I get all my furniture there. My Dahon bike is a treasured possession.


(Know more about Carlos Celdran through his blogs The Living Room and Walk This Way. Join his tours “Living La Vida Imelda” and “If These Walls Could Talk.” Call 4844945, 0920-9092021;  e-mail [email protected];   visit


Top tip


Relive the old days and wear some of the most prized possessions of the era: scents. Some tips from fragrance expert Michelle Asence-Fontelera:


“Musky fragrances are attractive to women because according to some studies, musk is an aphrodisiac. Since some musky fragrances are quite strong, it can be a headturner. People will surely notice you when you are wearing it. Personally, I like scents that are musky but on the mild side and not too overbearing.


For women, vanilla and rose scents are considered aphrodisiacs. So wearing perfumes containing these oils tend to attract men. Most men also like sweet scents like vanilla. It somehow makes them want to smell you over and over again. Vanilla is a very comforting fragrance. Rose is also good as a base note. It is too strong as a top note. Just a hint of rose is enough to make men want to sniff you.


To create a scent tailor-made for you, call Michelle Asence-Fontelera of Zen Zest and All Occasions personalized cologne at 9331201-02.

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