By Freddie G. Lazaro
LAOAG CITY – At least 40 dressed-up calesa (horse-drawn carriage) became a crowd-drawer in the on-going Pamulinawen festival in Laoag City last February 8, 2015.
The parade of well-decorated calesa, considered the queen of Laoag City’s streets, was one of the main highlights of the month-long celebration that started on February 1.
Lawyer Francis Tolentino, the chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), graced the parade along with Laoag City Mayor Chevylle Fariñas and Vice Mayor Michael Fariñas.
The calesa display is part of the continuing effort of Laoag City government to promote the traditional transportation and depict the rich Ilocano heritage in line with this year’s festival’s theme:“Timeless.”
Tolentino cited the calesa parade as a way to promote heritage conservation.
“I salute the effort of Laoag City government in preserving our calesa vehicle because this one of the symbols of rich cultures not only of the Ilocanos but of Filipinos,” he said.
For foreign tourist Brian Faxbog, he said the calesa parade was entertaining and attractive.
“It’s beautiful because native materials were artistically used as props to make calesa more attractive,” Foxbog said.
The horse-driven calesa was introduced during the Spanish colonial period and it became one of the modes of transportation in the Philippines, especially for commerce.
The calesa, a centuries- old transport equipment in Laoag City, has became a rarity but still preserved in some areas in the country.
Aside from Laoag City, calesa is also seen in Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, Intramuros and Binondo in the city of Manila; Ilagan City in Isabela; and Tuao, Cagayan.
At present, Calesa is not only used for tourists riding but also being used as mean of conveyance from the residence down to the poblacion and public markets.
Meanwhile, several environmentalists had been promoting calesa as a mode of transportation to reduce and subsequently eliminate air pollutants.
It is noted that horse-drawn carriage is the best transportation mean to eliminate air pollution in the atmosphere which is part of the compliance with the Clean Air Act of RA 8749 and as way of mitigating global warming.
Calesa driver Edison Calamaan, 49, from Barangay Pila, Laoag City, said using the traditional transport leads to lesser oil consumption.
Calamaan, the secretary of the Calesa Association of Laoag City with at least 200 members, became a “kutsero” in 1978 to sustain his family’s daily needs.
At present, he earns an average income of P500 a day with P11 fare for every passenger while he charges P150 per hour for those who want to hire his calesa. (MCA/FGL, PIA – 1 Ilocos Norte)