Zenfolio | gerryruiz images | Kalesas in the Metropolis
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Modified 23-Jan-10
Created 23-Jan-10
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An important mode of transportation introduced by the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines during the 18th century was the kalesa or karitela.

Basically a horse-drawn cart with two wheels, it was the ilustrados or the rich Filipinos who initially used them. Aside from travel, the kalesa was also used to transport goods and supplies.
I remember the time when upon reaching the port of Ormoc, on a trip from Cebu, one would hire a kalesa right along the ship dock to get you and your luggage to the bus terminal. Childhood memories of summer vacations spent with relatives in San Isidro, Gapan, Cabanatuan and San Jose in Nueva Ecija are full of fun experiences riding the kalesas.

The era of kalesas has long been gone, replaced by today's pedicabs and motorcycles. Kalesas have become a rarity in the Philippines but one can still see and ride on them in certain areas. You'll find them still in Vigan, Laoag, Iligan and some areas of Cebu and Ormoc and in Binondo, Intramuros, Quiapo, Ermita and Malate in Manila. Most of the kalesas of today, though, are being used mainly for recreational and tourism purposes.

In Manila last week, I found it noteworthy to see and take photos of several of them around the metropolis during my brief visit.