the kalesa The Kalesa 234

The Kalesa

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A kalesa is a horse drawn carriage, and according to historical accounts, it was first introduced in the Philippines during the 18th Century by the Spanish. During the said era, the kalesa served as a luxurious mode of transportation that only the nobles, rich, and high ranked officials can afford. The carriage served as a status symbol and mark of prestige during those times. Owning a kalesa back then is similar to having a luxury car of today.

The kalesa is also known as “Karitela”. It is a carriage with two large wheels on each side, a roof to provide shade from the sun, and is then connected to a horse that pulls the carriage. The kalesa is capable of accommodating at most four people. Through the years however, the design, length, and passenger capacity of the kalesa has evolved. Now, the kalesa has more decorative features, as is mainly used to attract tourists.

For several years, the kalesa is known as the undoubted “King of the Road”, until the arrival of the jeepney during the American period. While commuters nowadays have chosen to take modern modes of transportation for personal travel, the kalesa can still be seen plying the routes of Binondo and Intramuros.

Philippine life and culture will never be the same without the kalesa. It is part of Philippine history, and its importance can never be overlooked. Regardless of the challenges of modernization, the kalesa will always provide a unique mode of transport that is environmentally friendly.


Anonymous. (n.d.). Kalesa, the 18th Centuries Rolls Royce. Retrieved from

theBAT. (2012, August). The Philippine Kalesa. Retrieved from

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