Manila is a beautiful city long forgotten by many, tarnished with its reputation of poverty and corruption. Given this, I was more than delighted to revisit and reminisce about some of its landmarks and rediscover its history while riding a calesa.
A Calesa is a horse-drawn vehicle used in the Philippines that was first introduced in the 18th century by the Spanish colonizers. Today, calesas are seldom used in the streets but they can still be found in some tourist destinations in Manila and other provinces.
Last weekend, I got the chance to ride a calesa (or karitela in Tagalog) and revisit some of Manila’s famous cultural and historical landmarks. It wasn’t planned at all. We only wanted to go to Binondo (Chinatown), but as we exited the main gate of Manila Zoo in Adriatico, we were offered a calesa ride. Might as well; after all, it’s cheap (only 250 pesos)!
The calesa ride from Adriatico St. to Binondo took about an hour. Riding one seemed like a time travel to the past, amidst the noisy cars, taxis and jeepneys in the busy streets of Manila. The route brushed up my knowledge of Philippine history again. It was such a nostalgic experience and made me appreciate how charming and beautiful the City of Manila is.
While on a leisurely ride on the carriage, we passed by the magnificent harbor view at the Baywalk, the historical Rizal Monument in Luneta Park, the stunning old buildings of the National Museum, the Planetarium and National Art Gallery, the cobblestoned streets of Intramuros, and the lively Ongpin stretch of Chinatown.
Manila is a beautiful city long forgotten by many. And I was more than delighted to revisit some of its landmarks and rediscover its history while riding a calesa.