(September 01, 2006 to January 09, 2007)


The Kalesa is a horse-drawn box-like carriage on two wheels. It has been around since the Spanish times in the Philippines, providing taxi service from one end of town to another, and from one town to another. The horse that pulled the kalesa went through several stages of training under its kuchero or driver.  The Ilocos Norte kalesa differs from its cousins in other parts of the country in that two pairs of passengers sit opposite each other, face to face. Wealthy Ilocanos maintained their own elaborately designed kalesas. These were parked in the ground floor of the brick house, or in a carriage shed. The horse had its space in the caballeriza or stable.  As a bridal car, the kalesa is transformed into a fairy-tale Cinderella carriage. Hand-crocheted curtains drape the windows, while flowers and ribbons adorn the rest of the body. At the head, a kuchero, dressed in his finest directs a well-groomed white horse festively attired in glittering livery.  Other vehicles, from the pedicab to the Mercedes have come and gone, but the kalesa has survived their competition. Town fiestas would not be complete without the parade of kalesas in full regalia. Today, with tourism on the rise, visitors enjoy cruising through town in these horse-drawn carriages.  Today when you hear the rhythmic clip-clop of a horse and the resonant ding-dong of a bell, you can be sure a kalesa is coming. Long live the Kalesa!

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