When I was a kid, my mom and I would always make it a point to ride the kalesa when we went to Laoag. It was some sort of a tradition for us. I remember being excited when my mom would tell me we were going to the city, since I could have the chance to ride the kalesa again. It was a good break from the noisy, cramped and smoke belching tricycles that inhabited the city streets.
During my college days in Baguio, I missed the kalesa rides with my mom a lot. In Baguio, it was either cabs, passenger jeeps or you walk to where you’re going. But each time I went home and mom would ask me to go with her to Laoag, I would still get excited to ride the kalesa with her again. It was our bonding moment, where we could chat and gossip or just enjoy the rhythm of the click-clack of the horse shoes as it patiently takes us to our destination.
When I worked in Manila after college, I became used to riding noisy tricycles, smoke belching jeeps and fxs, and sometimes full packed buses. With the heavy traffic and smoke-filled roads of Metro Manila, there is no time to enjoy the sceneries or the chats with our friends without being interrupted by the noisy cars racing to beat the traffic lights, or the eardrum popping “music” of the passenger jeeps and fxs. In Manila, there is very little time to enjoy…to relax…to patiently go through our routines. Everyone is almost always in a rush.
Taking the whole week off last Holy Week, I was excited to go home to relax.. to refresh my mind and body…to get away from the stressful life in Metro Manila. All I wanted to do was sleep, eat, watch my favorite tv shows, and read a good book. But when my mom asked me to go with her to Laoag, I gave her a YES before she could even finish her sentence. Though the sun was scorching hot there, I thought it was a great opportunity for bonding. The summer heat was obvious and it was irritating. Riding the tricycles around the city was pushing me to my limits. When we were done with the last errand and ready to go home, my mom pulled me to the kalesa stop. Irritated by the heat, I just jumped into the kalesa and closed my eyes. As the horse started galloping, I felt the humid wind brush my cheeks. I felt relieved for a while. Going through the not-so-busy streets within the city, I just found myself enjoying the sceneries we were passing by – trees filled with yellow flowers, old houses…sights that refreshed my mind for that short while we were riding the kalesa.
That kalesa trip took me back to the old days – when noisy tricycles and jeeps were not yet around. With the influx of modernity in our country, I just wish and hope that kalesas would not go to the “baul” like most of our country’s heritage. I hope that people would continue to appreciate them… I hope that kalesa drivers would not get tired of their work, despite the continuous struggle with modern means of transportation. I hope that someday, my children and our country’s next generation will get the chance to experience and enjoy kalesa rides…just like I enjoy them all the time.