I usually ride kalesa whenever Im having a hard time flagging down a cab or when some areas in Manila are flooded. Last Friday, I went to SM Manila to get my business cards printed out and to have a late lunch. Since the sky was gloomy I decided to go home after running my errand but it was too late, the rain started to pour and all the commuters scattered as they frantically tried to catch an available cab. Kalesa has always been my lifesaver specially during times when I’m rushing home since most taxi’s are busy choosing their passengers or demanding for additional fee before rendering their service.
While traversing the busy streets of Manila, Manong Angelo – the kutsero shared that Its really hard to get a passenger nowadays since streets of Manila are dominated by Jeepneys and Pedicabs.
Manong Angelo also shared that during the peak of Kalesa’s old glory, Kutsero’s can support their family and provide their children a college education. Unfortunately he never got the chance to finish his bachelor degree since he helped his grandfather manage their horse drawn carriage Business back then.
Manong Angelo learned the do’s and dont’s of Calesa driving from his grandfather who owned and operated several kalesa’s back in the 50’s. Since the demand for Kalesas dwindled, their family shifted from a Kalesa Business to a small Carinderia in the San Nicolas District of Binondo.
Just like Taxi Drivers, Kutsero’s also pay their daily rental or “boundry” for the use of the Pinoy inspired horse drawn carriage. Kalesa used to be the primary mode of transportation in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period. Now these beautiful Calesa’s can only be found in the Tourist belt and some rural areas in the Philippines.
In Metro Manila, Kalesa’s are visible in Intramuros, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Divisoria and some other busy streets of Manila while Vigan in Ilocos, Angeles City, Ormoc City and Iligan City are still supporting Kalesa as a mode of transportation.
The Calesa is basically a horse drawn carriage, it was introduced to the Philippines in the 18th Century by the Spanish. It was the upper classes mode of transport, only the nobles and officials could afford the luxury of the Kalesa.
It was originally designed to carry two people and some baggage with a roof to protect passengers from the glaring sun and heavy downpours. Calesa also has two huge wheels which makes it perfect for Manila residents since it’s the most suitable mode of transportation whenever the streets are flooded.
Do you think Calesa can be the answer for a Greener Manila?
Tips: Make sure to negotiate with the Kutsero (the Calesa Driver) before you step foot on the kalesa, otherwise you may be in for a unpleasant end to your kalesa trip!