Written by @Joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com team members)
Thought of the day-“Don’t put a cart before the Horse.”-John Heywood
I was looking at the pictures of our recent trip to Manila, Philippines. Of all the places in that vibrant and colorful city, we love the Intramuros. An image of a Kalesa (caritela/horse cart) pretty much reminds me of how we both struggled to have that ride, helping us to navigate the enormous Intramuros. Normally, the visitors will have the final say, to be on it or not, be it for ethical or budget reasons. This time around, it’s the Horse that had the final say. Introducing, Jacob (well, we gave him the nickname), The Horse, that rejected both of us..!
One thing that I am pretty sure about Intramuros, it’s damn prodigious historical site. There are colossal amount of facts right from the Spanish Era. While it’s full of many interesting things to see inside (including San Augustin Church and Universities such as, Universidad de San Ignacio and Universidad de Santo Tomas), one will need tremendous ‘inner and outer strength‘ to go around, not to mention it’s time consuming, that is if you care enough to go into each small alleys/streets. There’s a walking tour organized by some locals or you may opt for DIY walking tour.
We were lazy at the time we were at Intramuros and having standing near to one of the main entrances, it was indeed one opportune moment when we saw that Kalesa. The Horse, we named it as Jacob (for fun), tied to a cart at its back. The rider came to us, offering us (Philippine) Peso 900. @Lan haggled down to a said ‘local price’ of 250 Peso. Soon after the hands shaking between the rider and us, the Horse started to make some noise. And indeed, that Jacob, was very ‘vocal’.
Perhaps Jacob was hungry. Jacob didn’t look that fit to drag that cart with two curios and curious passengers inside. The rider then tried to persuade Jacob using all possible techniques. To each of the ‘kind’ gestures by the rider, Jacob became more aggressive, moving its head to right and left as if we both are not that welcomed. We moved some steps from Jacob and all of the sudden Jacob became more relaxed. It was at that moment when we both realized that Jacob do not want us to be nearer.
It’s okay to be rejected by human beings but when an animal, particularly a Horse, rejected both of us, it felt like ‘something’. It was an awkward moment so to say, being ‘pushed’ away by such one beautiful animal. I had to stand further from Jacob, puzzled by its action while the rider looked so gloomy as he wasn’t able to put both of us on that cart. That’s 250 Peso, gone for him, enough to buy meals for the day. Pity him but we pitied Jacob most as we’re not sure if he’s that fit enough for the rounds in Intramuros.
I did read an article by John Grant (Here is the LINK). He wrote:
“The issue I have is that the horse looks like it is about to keel over and die. Thin and harassed and walking all day through Manila pollution carrying heavy foreigners is something I cannot get my head around. The horses are not well fed or looked after. There is no money to do that and there is no enforcement to do that.“-John Grant, philippinestransportations.com.
I am still not sure how to properly react with his statement. However, I have to agree that perhaps Jacob (as an example) was not fed that well as Jacob didn’t look that ‘happy’ at all. If the rider able to assured us that Jacob will be given proper meals we’re sure to pay the rider the full price, no discount or whatsoever so that Jacob will get his favorite food. We will never ever regard it as a scam if we’re being overcharged provided that Jacob will be ensured of sufficient food, every single day.
But not all Kutsero (Horse Cart Driver) are bad. Not all of them are scammers. Some are great Kutsero. Some perhaps do take care of their horses. There’s one Kutsero that can be a great example for all other Kutseros. If he’s able to return that $5000 he found in his cart to the owners then he’s sure to be able to take care of his horse.
A calesa (horse-drawn carriage) driver in Manila’s Luneta Park was reported to have returned approximately $5000 cash lleft in his carriage back to tourist passenger. He was quoted as stating, even with the little money that he makes, he cannot bring himself to take what does not belong to him. TripAdvisor (LINK)
Back to Jacob, we’re pretty sure now that Jacob was not in its best condition on that day we were at Intramuros. Something made Jacob that way. To say that we annoyed Jacob not indeed an acceptable situation. We followed all instructions by the Kutsero. Jacob must be hungry, Jacob needed that ‘food’ it deserved at that time. We can’t totally blame the Kutsero 100% as he might was still looking for extra income to buy some food for Jacob. However, it might be best if he didn’t take Jacob with him that day. But then again, if Jacob ‘did’ not ‘work’, there will be no money to put bread on the table for both the Kutsero’s family and Jacob. That’s a dilemma while being a Horse and a Horse Rider.
We left Jacob and his ‘Kutsero’. We left some 200 peso and told the Kutsero to buy something for Jacob, hope he did. For a while, we had to walk a bit until ‘someone’ came to ‘rescue’ us from that tiring walk. ‘Kuya (brother) Miguel’ came with his Traksiyad and we were more than happy to be on his ‘mode of transportation’. Though the price was a bit higher than we’d expected, we were happy to pay him that amount as he did great job, taking us around that monumental fort, while explaining things, the facts about each place we went.
Maraming Salamat (Thank you) Kuya Miguel.