Sugar Sun series glossary term #1: Calesa

The calesa, or kalesa, is a two-wheeled carriage drawn by a single horse. It has one or two benches, plus a small seat for the driver (typically up front). Introduced in the 18th century by the Spanish, the calesa was a fashionable and popular mode of transportation in Philippine cities before the automobile. Wealthy people owned their own (and hired their own cochero, or driver) and others rented them for the day or a single ride, like taxis. The going rate in 1908 was 40 centavos for the first hour, and 30 for each additional hour. Tourist calesas can still be seen and ridden in Intramuros (Manila) or Vigan today, but don’t try to offer 40 centavos! Rates start at about 250 pesos, last I heard.

Featured image copyright Stephen Wallace, all rights reserved. Used with permission.