Saturday, March 27, 2010


Some American woman named Sally left this comment on my blog: Ah well...

The "walk this way through Intramuros tour was organized and well framed, but I wanted a tour that told of the local history, not a political spin. As a WWII history buff, and an American, I took offense to the "take" the guide had on the start of the Pacific side of WWII. Make no mistake, as you travel about SE Asia, you could spend weeks on tour after tour and read book after book on how the Japanese were out to cause major turmoil in every country they invaded. In Thailand, thousands were killed to acquire a passageway for goods and services, in Singapore, Indonesia and other areas people were killed in vicious ways. None of these countries had much of an American influence, if at all at the time they were attacked. Japan wanted control of most countries in the region, period. The tour guide's take that the Japanese invaded Manila because of their American influence, is nuts! To make the American military look bad in not seeing warning signs and such, we too believe we could have seen Pearl Habor's attack better, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Many Americans died in WWII trying to help other countries. War is hell.

I have been to the area twice now on work trips. I cannot say enough about how nice and caring the local people in Manila treated me. So, this tour does not effect my view on the country or Manila, but I would not suggest attending this tour thinking you are hearing about true history, at least on the WWII topics.

Sally, I remember you. You are the one who insisted upon paying at the middle of the tour and visibly walked out with your daughter. Ah. well, unfortunately, I really do not have the time to defend my opinions about MacArthur's ego and lack of preparedness for a Japanese attack, nor do I need to expound upon the cruelty of the Japanese on Manila's population because of our "western" and "Christian" ways. Filipino survivors of the liberation and any U.S. Military historian can confirm this. So Sally, kindly allow me to suggest that you take your World War 2 buffness to a library or online and perhaps STUDY a little bit more about U.S. involvement in Philippine affairs in the 20th century before you open your mouth, type on a keyboard, nor take offense.

And while you are researching, why not look this up as well, Sally: Philippine American War and 1904 St. Louis World Exposition (Scroll down to "Human Zoo") And once you are done, come back and tell me that the U.S. has always had our best interests in mind.

But having said that, I am also quite glad that you think we are a "nice and caring." people. What a terribly sweet thing for you to say. And I'm looking forward to seeing you at The Imelda Tour as well. We'll talk a little bit about U.S. involvement with the Marcoses and the American military bases of Subic and Clark during the height of the Cold War. I'm sure we'll have a swell chat right afterwards.

Have a good day.


plsburydoughboy said...

Hey man, sure you remember me from Twitter and Facebook. I don't wanna take sides here, but wanted to share that the Japanese did take over neighboring Asian countries, including the Philippines, out of ambition. Sally seems to have been referring to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

wiki here

From my understanding, you & Sally are both at least partly correct about Phils. being a key territory for the Americans in their Pacific WWII campaign, and a worthy conquest for the Japanese in its own right. I'd never taken your tour, so I can't make any claims to your historical accuracy, but it seems fair enough to acknowledge where history becomes debatable, no matter how strongly you feel about certain points.

ac said...

Nice one!

Anonymous said...


Now I really want to see Carlos' tour.

bigfoot said...

Sally and Carlos,

I think Sally may have reacted to what Carlos said, in part because she does not know Carlos, and what he stands for. She on the other may also have felt slighted by the tags on the post. :-) In any case, I think that both of you are not unreasonable folks.

Hey Carlos, why don't you invite Sally to your office and I will take care of some beer or something from the store down stairs, after office hours, the next time she is here. That is if both of you are up to it.

We can also bring in some historian friends from this side of town to have a nice chat.

There are a few key resources to consult in case there are issues that still need to be resolved.

Bodi said...

For every unsatisfied customer, you've had thousands of satisfied ones. More power Mr. Celdran!

The Brent said...

...and this makes the tour more interesting!:-)

Well, all I cay say is that there will always come a time that history will always become debatable. Sally has the American point of view, Carlos has the facts. Maybe Sally's personality type is not really included in Carlos' market. Sorry Sally, the tour is just not for you.

Paolo said...

ay yay yay... She's passive aggressive if you'd ask me.

Kent Berkey said...

Perhaps Sally needs a tour of the restored church in Balangiga! Americans continue to celebrate their "greatest generation" (ie. HBO's "Pacific War") that Sally references. Indeed, my own cousin, an English Major at the University of Michigan and poet took a direct and fatal hit from a Japanese mortar somewhere in the Cordillera during the last days of the war in Luzon. That he died "trying to help other countries" is not in doubt. However, we Americans totally ignore at our peril the powerful lessons the Philippine-American War at the turn of the century teaches us about our "shadow selves' - that there is a powerful strain in our political and economic culture that promotes the very colonial impulse, cultural arrogance and exploitation that we so bravely fought in World War II. Shaw and Francia's book on the Philippine-American War ("Vestiges of War") put the recent US war in Iraq in a more understandable context for me than any contemporary journalistic commentary.

Carlos, I am a huge fan, though I have not yet had an opportunity to take one of your tours. I have enjoyed them vicariously on line. I follow your blog and postings on Facebook. Keep up the wonderful work of facilitating personal connections with the past.

riain said...

America had always the best of intentions for the Philippines.

That's why on March 7, 1906, US troops under the command of Major General Leonard Wood massacred as many as 1,000 Filipino Muslims, known as Moros, who were taking refuge at Bud Dajo, a volcanic crater on the island of Jolo in the southern Philippines. Afterwards, US soldiers pose for the camera in the aftermath of the massacre.

That's why about 50.000 Filipinos were massacred by American soldiers when Samar was turned into a howling wilderness in September 1901.

That's why about 600 Filipinos were massacred by the Americans in Bohol also in March 1901.

That's why during the War of Pacification, Americans murdered 1.4 Million Filipinos. I believe the word for this is GENOCIDE. A genocide one no one really talks about.

And this was before the "Liberation" of Manila in 1945 where those bombs were indiscriminately dropped over the city.

Sally, get off the Fox News and read about the American atrocities in the Philippines.

Pau said...

As a Fil-Am who was born and raised in LA, received an American education all her life, I've gotta say: none of my textbooks back in grade school, high school, AND college ever illustrated the atrocities the Americans did to Filipinos in the Philippines (to this day, the country is still highly affected and influenced by the US).

Now that I've taken a class in the history of the PH in UPD, I see now the pain and the struggle of my people.

America had the Philippines' best interest in mind Sally? Take a history class here in the PH and come back to us with your findings.

Anonymous said...

it's american hypocrisy. they never said they colonize. they say they're "helping out". Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq... i wonder which country will be next.

it's no wonder why regular americans like sally don't know anything because none of those are taught in their history classes as attested by the comment from Pau.

Karyn said...

Firstly, Carlos, I've been to one of your tours & thought it was great. It's a different perspective to our history.

Regarding this matter... I think that you & Sally both have your own points & opinions. I wouldn't say one is more right than the other. We have to remember that history is subjective Not all the "facts" that we know of today could actually be 100% accurate.

I do believe that the Japanese wanted to take over Asia and they came to the Philippines because we are in a strategic location w/ a LOT of natural resources. The fact that the Americans were "occupying us" may or may not have made things worse. But Sally had her point that the Japanese didn't come here just because we were "westernized" or a Christian country. You can look into Korean, Chinese or Taiwanese history to see the violence & cruelty that the Japanese inflicted even 2-3 years before they came to the shores of the Philippines. And if you know of the rape of NanKing, one would realize the cruelty humans can do in times of war...( just because one emperor wanted domination).

And we all have to remember that Sally or anyone of us could have grandparents or great-grandparents who were "involved" in WW2 here in Asia or in Europe or anyplace else in the world. It's a sensitive topic. And we'd like to remember our loved ones who died for a good cause. They were young men risking their lives for the "good of the world" even if they might have had "stupid or arrogant generals".

I've been to different war cemeteries all over the world. I've been to concentration camps like Dachau. War is horrible. Hate is horrible. It's unfair to blame the American's for what the Japanese did. Remember, history is subjective. :)

Anonymous said...

Having taken two of your tours Carlos , and as a "white" male i found nothing offensive in anything you said on those tours . The Coloniser has only their own interests at heart , nothing more nothing less . Huge sacrifices were made by both Filipino and US forces during WW2. Ultimately the goal was freedom and democracy , both attained at great cost in The Philippines . A thought to keep in mind at the upcoming elections. And please if you can read a book called " American Caesar" by William Manchester .An American writer who fully explore Mac A's huge ego lol . And Sally in Australia MacA is detested by Australian WW2 veterans as well.And finally more firsts for Filipinos . During the war a large number of US serviceman were stationed here in Australia. One of whom was a Filipino , he fell in love with and married a white Australian girl and in doing so he challenged what was called The White Australia Policy . They married and settled in Australia , I believe he was also a boxer either in the army or as a civilian . So where am I going with this ? We are all humans , we all want and need the same things , food shelter and love . So lets get along , not take things too seriously and make the most of what we have been bequeathed by those that came before us . And if you haven't already , then take a tour with Carlos ....I loved standing at attention while the National Anthem was played , and he looks great in the top hat , lol .

Anonymous said...

Go Carlos! As a canadian and as a filipina - i find this is to be such a typical "american" response. It lacks ownership and critical thinking! I guess we know who wrote her history books!! WTF!

Anonymous said...

Carlos doesn't blame the Americans for the Japanese atrocities. If you go to his tour, you'll see he just points out that the Philippines was an unfortunate host to a war that was not even of their own making and paid for their alliance to the United States very dearly. The Philippines "was just caught in between" is what he says.

Anonymous said...

You know what guys? "Shit happens!" Move on! Arguing who did what to whom and who committed more atrocities is an endless debate. So America phucked up and is still phucking up along with Japan or any other country past and present. Blaming this country or that country will not solve our problem in the Philippines. Filipinos are not perfect, nor are the Americans or Japanese or whoever. Every country acts in their best selfish interest to survive--during World War II and today.

So, enough history lessons and reliable sources or disgruntled customers. What I like about Carlos Celdran's tour in Intramuros is no matter how we analyze or interpret history, Intramuros is an historical sight that WE Filipinos need to rebuild. How long has it been now since the end of World War II? Still to this day, Intramuros is embarrassingly unrestored (only a few buildings have been). What does this tell you about the Filipino? It says we keep dwelling in the past with little action to face the future.

Manila is not special when it comes to destruction. Other world cities suffered the same fate. But what makes Manila special is the fact that we Filipinos did little to restore and redevelop our capital.

In closing, war is shit. Shit happens. Whether we eat the right food or the wrong ones, something inevitable will come out. So don't sit on the toilet seat analyzing what you should have eaten or should not have drank. Rather, we should all wipe, wash, get up and move on by flushing the toilet. Then fix what needs to be fixed around the house.

If we can't keep our own house in order, no visitor will understand the mess in it.

Gary said...

Does this Sally really know her history??? I agree with you that she's just an "online historian"...

Yes the Japanese had the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" as a guise to occupy us...

As a colonizer, the Americans are no saints either... Remember Balangiga???

Anonymous said...

Sally has a point. Carlos should have defended through well reasoned and well researched history instead of being offended.

miclimptrp said...

History is written by the Victor

Anonymous said...

Carlos, after all, is more of an entertainer than a historian. I think he said so himself in an interview somewhere. Not everything he says in his tours, therefore, ought to be accepted as facts, right?

I've taken one of your tours, Carlos, and it's quite entertaining. I wouldn't say it's a reliable trip through history, but I guess it can make some people more interested in the local culture.

carlosceldran said...

Yes. Anonymous. I'm glad you listened to my disclaimer at the beginning of the show. It is entertainment bent on changing your opinion of Manila.

And sorry to disagree with you about this, but it is a reliable trip though history.

It does not claim to be the definitive version, but after working on it for almost ten years worth of updating/corrections, I'm pretty sure the broad strokes are reliable.

Anonymous said...

As a visitor to the Philippines I think Carlos' tours give the most interesting perspective of Philippine history. I believe he does highlight different points of view, so it's not simply biased entertainment. Even if you don't agree, I think it is still a valid interpretation of events that have occurred in his country.

Sally was probably looking for a different tour, perhaps one that glosses over the darker sides of European and American colonialism.