We created this blog in order to share memories and stories of our dear friend Ignacio Celedon (aka Fito), who was killed in an attempted robbery early in the morning on Sunday, September 12th in South Berkeley. Fito led an amazing and enthusiastic life, and we invite everyone who knew him to contribute your memories and pictures. You can also find updates here on community meetings and links to news stories about his passing and the ongoing effort to bring his killers to justice.

Fito was from Chile, and since his death his family and his fiancee's family have spent a lot of money on travel back and forth between there and the Bay Area. We've created an opportunity for you to donate in order to help offset some of these costs.

Hemos creado este blog para compartir recuerdos e historias de nuestro querido amigo Ignacio Celedón (alias Fito), quien fue asesinado en un intento de robo por la mañana temprano el domingo, 12 de septiembre en el sur de Berkeley. Fito llevado una vida increíble y entusiasta, e invitamos a todos los que lo conocieron a contribuir con sus recuerdos y fotografías. Usted también puede encontrar las actualizaciones de aquí en reuniones comunitarias y enlaces a las noticias sobre su muerte y el esfuerzo en curso para llevar a sus asesinos ante la justicia.

Fito fue de Chile, y desde su muerte, su familia y la familia de su novia han pasado un montón de dinero en viajes de ida y vuelta entre ésta y el Área de la Bahía. Hemos creado una oportunidad para que usted pueda donar para ayudar a compensar algunos de estos costos.

More about Fito

The following article was published by the Chilean magazine Caras on October 15, 2010.  It was translated from its original in Spanish.

Adolfo Celedón:
The Story of the Chilean Murdered in the United States

by Silvia Peña

Engineer, passionate actor, dreamer, adventurer, and defender of the poor was shot in San
Francisco the same day as his birthday. A month since his death and at this time the $15,000 reward offered by the municipality of Berkeley and the investigation still has no results. There are no suspects, no detainees. The family and his fiancé are speaking for the first time.

In the house of Maria de la Luz Bravo and Adolfo Celedon, lawyer and ex-auditor of
the Chilean Air Force, the pain comes through the walls, two small altars, one at the entrance
and the other in the living room are reminders that Adolfo Ignacio (Fito for his friends, Pito for his parents and sisters) the youngest and only male of three children is no longer here. A young man with deep social vocation that had a large turn in his life, gave up a job as a commercial engineer at IBM for street theater. Through acting, he wanted to create conscience and help the neglected. . .
Life changed early in the morning of September 12 for this family, owners of Viento Sur Hotel in Puerto Octay in Southern Chile. That night Fito was shot at the intersection of Adeline and Emerson in Berkeley, California, where he lived. It was 3:40 in the morning and he was returning along with his US fiancé, Amber Nelson, 28, after celebrating his 35th birthday dancing in the popular club Ashkenaz. It is a safe neighborhood, declared a secure zone,
which is why the community is so moved to the point that until today they maintain a memorial (flowers, photos, candles, the Chilean flag, and a soccer ball) in the place where the young man fell wounded. . .
Adolfo Ignacio was transferred to the Highland Hospital of Oakland where he died 35
minutes later. That night Amber had organized a small birthday party at their home and from there they left to go dancing. There is a video that shows them minutes before leaving the bar. “He was so happy. I wanted to return home early because the next day we had plans to go on a trip. I rented a car to visit some beautiful natural areas, it was my gift to him. In fact, our last conversation was about what we were going to do on Sunday. We had a list that included the beach, swimming pools...but he wanted to continue dancing. That’s why we stayed out longer.  As we were leaving for home he gave me a very intense, meaningful, deep kiss, so big it was like the one that made me return to Santiago to be with him when we first met...I feel constantly the tremendous pain of his loss but I have this little piece of happiness still very present. It was a pure moment, we were at the height of our relationship... it is the only thing that gives me a little peace.”

The Celedons only found out about the tragedy when the sun rose.
At 8 in the morning the telephone rang in Santiago. Amber asked to speak to her
father-in-law. “I said ‘hello’ and on the other line I only heard in between the sobs ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ ‘What happened?’ She replied ‘Thieves.’ ‘Did something happen to Fito?’ ‘The worst.’ she told me... Then horrible drama broke loose and we could not continue speaking. Mariluz was listening on the other line and she was frightened,” remembered his father, Adolfo Celedon. What came later was a thunder of pain that ran through family and friends. “It was such a shock that he was shot. In my life I have never felt an equal tear... The last thing anyone thinks is that someone will kill their child, and so far away. One can be old and their children grown, but that feeling of wanting to protect them before adversity is always present. It really overwhelms me not to be able to have been there,” said the laywer.
Mariluz did not succeed in finding answers; “I walked the cemetery asking if there is
anyone who has died the same day as their birthday and there is nobody. It is very strange. I
can’t explain it to myself.” In a state of shock, his sisters Alejandra and Constanza, his twin, called the Oakland Hospital where they confirmed the news because up to that point they had hope that there was a mistake. They traveled the same afternoon to California. “The tickets were difficult to get during the Bicentennial but LAN was incredible and found us tickets. My father left the day after because he had to renew his Visa,” stated Alejandra.
After several days, they were able to repatriate him and they returned Sunday, the 19th
of September. “At first the tasks were really difficult, and we had some problems with the
Consulate, but later they ran smoothly because the Chilean Ambassador to the US, Arturo
Fernandois, contacted me and succeeded to do everything as expedited as possible,” said
Adolfo Celedon. Since it was a crime in a public street, the city offered as part of the lawsuit a reward of $15,000 for whomever delivers information regarding the perpetrators. “. . .We are in constant contact with the police who are carrying out the investigation. They have the hope to identify the murderer quickly. They have secured some good leads but they haven’t given us major details. Once the trial starts we will travel there. The consulate promised to be in constant coordination with the police,” added the father.

Theater was one of Fito’s passions. The others were football- especially Argentina, he followed Boca and Maradona- and music. He admired U2, Bob Dylan, Los Jaivas, LLapu, and Al Green. But the motor that moved his life was helping those with less. His school, San Ignacio de El Bosque, formed his solidaridous spirit. The ‘factory work’ (student service work on the land) was a determinant. “He lived a week in a poor village, and I died of fear. That experience changed him forever. His concern for the poor began here. He was a friend of the weakest, the marginal,” added Mariluz. Despite of his social vocation, he chose to study commercial engineering, but in his third year he decided to change to theater, an extra curricular activity in which he participated for years. “We talked and we asked him to finish his career, we told him that with the economic means he could make his own theater. Our point was heard,” recounted his mother. With a degree he worked with IBM Chile, but street theater remained in his heart. He took a vocational course in the University of Chile and later he enrolled in La Mancha School, and definitively quit his job. He began to create masks and characters. “He wanted to change the world through acting. Last year he was helping me for a few months in the hotel in the South. During that time, he made acting classes for rural children. . . He was facinated with that project, he went however he could to places far away.” Theater brought his fiancé to him in February of 2008. “I was living for a while in Peru. A friend who was dating a theater friend of Fito’s, came to visit me. We went together to Santiago, her boyfriend didn't have a car, so with him Fito arrived with a car. He was the first Chilean I ever met. We met up again in the South, although he didn’t speak much English, and my Castellano was bad, we talked for 12 hours! I realized that I had found someone who understood me. I left to return to Peru. But his emails were so insistent that I returned to Chile to stay with him for a month in Santiago. We never separated again,” told Amber. They had decided to marry after May 2011, when she would finish her postgraduate degree in Architecture at the University of California- Berkeley.

The last time that his family saw him was in February. On the 16th, he left to live definitively in the US. “We had a very tearful goodbye, even though we had become accustomed to him coming and going all the time. Perhaps it was because this summer we spent a lot of time with him. We were in Puerto Octay, I went to drop him off at the bus terminal so he could return to Santiago, it was raining. When I hugged him a crying fit overcame me, I told him “you’ll never return” and he responded ‘Don’t say that, I will return for Christmas,’” remembered his mother between tears. In Berkeley he joined the theater group of Carlos Baron, an ex-tennis player and Chilean actor, professor at San Fransisco State University. They were working on a new play, meanwhile Fito introduced himself with his two star characters. One was the Secretary General of the United Nations that passed by with a helmet, made of a chamber pot on the head, in front of the UN offices in San Francisco. He would speak of poverty, discrimination and of war. The other was the Old Woman, that ran the streets selling masks, (the same that he made) and reciting a social monologue. In fact, he was hired by Marco Enriques-Ominami to make a show for a woman’s club when he was in the country. “His theater was of protesting, to create awareness. He didn’t want to be on TV or be famous. Acting was a tool to help the marginalized,” says his sister Constanza.
He was preparing another project: “During the night, he spent hours photographing the people who sleep in the streets of San Francisco. His idea was to make post cards to ‘wake up’ the people and say to them that in a country as rich as the US, there are people that don’t have a place to live.” During the day, in addition to acting in the street, he had secured a job building boats. “The owner of that place was very affected by his murder. He told me how he met him: One day he showed up asking for a job. He asked him if he had experience making boats and he responded that he had no experience and that he had only sailed. He said that he needed a job and that this seemed like a nice place, right by the sea... they hired him and that afternoon when he finished working he left saying: I’m a sailor now!” remembered Adolfo Celedon. . .
Amber will return in a week to Berkeley. She has to return to her studies, life interrupted.
Also she has to remain attentive to the investigation because she is the principal witness. “I feel very lonely, sad. I lost my dreams as well. We always thought as a couple. We had a lot of trust that we would realize our projects, that we would marry and now without him I am lost... I can’t imagine continuing without his support...” her story cuts short by sobs.
The Celedon Bravo family is full of pain. “None is prepared to loose a son. This has been devastating, like carrying Christ’s cross since they day we were notified. We have to wait for things to calm down a bit...I have no explanation and for all the looking I know I will not find one. Things happen because God wants them to. He lived a short life but an intense one...I told Mariluz that at least he was able to live his life how he wanted, he was very happy...” affirmed Adolfo Celedon. Mariluz, for her part, continues thinking it as a nightmare. “When I open my eyes and I look towards the photo in the altar, I realize that it’s true, that I am never going to have my son, that his dreams are underground... I had a huge faith, I always thought that my family was protected, and then this horrible pain arrived to us. How to explain when you ask God everyday please, not your children...I am without hope. It’s trying to get up, dress, live...I know that little Pito would not have wanted an old bitter mom, without desire to continue, and this gives me a bit of strength. Also I have two marvelous daughters and four grandchildren that don’t deserve a destroyed grandmother. For this I try to comply with his wishes. My idea is to put up a theater school for children in Puerto Otay. This is my goal now. It is the only way he continues to live.”

For more about Fito, here is a link to an article published in the SF Chronicle on September 18, 2010.