Riders of Manila’s Famous Kalesas Forced to Sell Horses

Only a handful of horse-drawn carriages can be seen still navigating the streets of Manila amid the COVID-19 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 and the famous “walled city” of Intramuros.

Laylo said with no tourists around, he is left to pick up regular commuters on roads where public transport like jeepneys is still prohibited. Without the usual swarm of tourists in Intramuros, Laylo said he suffered a big loss of income. 

The Department of Labor and Employment 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. Unlike his fellow kutseros, however, Laylo chose to stay.

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