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Riders of Manila's famous kalesas forced to sell horses, head home to provinces

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 7/23/2020
a man riding a horse drawn carriage: Tourists ride a kalesa on the eve of World Tourism Day at the historic walled district of Intramuros in Manila on Monday, September 26, 2016. The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has set a theme of 'Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility' for World Tourism Day 2016, which will be observed on September 27. Richard James Mendoza © Richard James Mendoza Tourists ride a kalesa on the eve of World Tourism Day at the historic walled district of Intramuros in Manila on Monday, September 26, 2016. The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has set a theme of 'Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility' for World Tourism Day 2016, which will be observed on September 27. Richard James Mendoza

Only a handful of horse-drawn carriages could be seen still navigating the streets of Manila amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, as some of their riders have been forced to sell their horses and return to the provinces.

But there are some who chose to stick things out, like Lolo Laylo, one of the city's remaining kutseros whose usual routes include Manila's Binondo district or the famous "walled city" of Intramuros.

In Mark Salazar’s report on “24 Oras,” Laylo said with no tourists around, he is left to pick up regular commuters on roads where public transport like jeepneys is still prohibited. 

“Halimbawa, may mag papahatid na pasahero sa, halimbawa, sa Caloocan. Pero bumibiyahe kami doon sa may Divisoria at saka Agora,” he said.

“P50 isang tao kasi wala hong byaheng jeep doon. Eh, ngayon ho naman lockdown naman. O, kaya all around na lang ho,” Laylo added.

Without the usual swarm of tourists in Intramuros, Laylo said he suffered a big loss of income.

“Dati kapag nandoon sa Intramuros, kontrata roon, eh. Sa kalahating oras, P500. Pagka-isang oras, P1,000. Sa mga tourist kasi sa GOT ‘yun eh. Sa Intramuros ngayon wala, pati Luneta wala, wala mga tourist,” Laylo said.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has already extended assistance to Intramuros' 19 accredited kutseros in April and May. But that did not stop some of them from giving up the trade, selling their horses, and returning to their provinces.

“They were actually the very first groups that were given assistance by the Department of Labor and Employment sa TUPAD,” Intramuros Administrator Guiller Asido said.

“[Pero] mayroon na ngang umuwi sa probinsya na mga kutseros. Kahit na ‘yung mga umuwi na ‘yun, actually na-facilitate din naman sila sa TUPAD Program. Sila ‘yung nasa batch,” he said.

Unlike his fellow kutseros, however, Laylo chose to stay and hurdle the pandemic alongside his trusty horse companion.

“Kasi nakakakuha naman kami ng mga damo, eh, mga pagkain ng kabayo… sa may mga ano, Valenzuela, ‘yung mga damuhan ho, ‘yung mga bakanteng lote,” he said. -Joahna Lei Casilao/MDM, GMA News

This article Riders of Manila's famous kalesas forced to sell horses, head home to provinces was originally published in GMA News Online.

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