Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Focus: Tartanilya

Have you ever known, seen or taken a ride on a tartanilya or kalesa? This could be easily answered by our old folks but a tough question to answer for the younger generation.


A tartanilya or kalesa is a horse drawn carriage which was introduced by the Spaniards to the Philippines in the 18th Century. It was used as one of the modes of transportation then but only the nobles and officials could afford its luxury. The tartanilya or kalesa was not only used for personal travel but for the transport of goods as well. Later in that period, the kalesa became a common sight anywhere in the country. It was then considered as the “king of the road” but because of the introduction of the modern motor vehicles, it became a rarity.

Tartanilya or Kalesa is rarely seen in the roads nowadays but there are a few places in the country that preserved and still use the century-old example.

iligan-tartanilla4 Iligan City is just one of the few cities in the Philippines and the only place in Mindanao where one can find a tartanilya or kalesa plying on its streets. It’s also fast becoming a tourist attraction and an iconic symbol of the city. True blooded Iliganons may consider a tartanilya a common service as part of their daily lives but for non Iliganons, visitors, and tourists, it’s a sight to behold.

Riding on a tartanilya is an experience like no other. Other than the feeling of excitement and pleasure, it’s like walking through time, exploring our past, and connecting with our ancestors.


Today, these horse-drawn carriages are no longer allowed in the main streets of Iligan but one can regularly catch them along Badelles Street down to Tambacan Road, its designated route. There is also a special “Tartanilya Express Ride” around the city streets during the month-long celebration of the Diyandi Festival sa Iligan.

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