“Masakit po sa aming puso na ipagbili ang ilan sa aming kabayo kasi madami na din kami pinagsamahan,” the man tells us over the phone, his voice fraught with sadness and worry. “Pero dumating na din talaga sa puntong kailagan naming magsakripisyo para may maipakain sa ibang alagang kabayo at sa aming pamilya din.”
The man is Cyrill John Sunga, the leader of the Samahan ng mga Kutseros sa Intramuros (SAKSI). Tourism being one of the sectors hit hard by the pandemic, among the workers struggling to make ends meet are the kutseros inside The Walled City.
A week's worth of feeds per horse is worth P1,500. “Hindi naman katulad ng mga alagang aso natin ang mga yan na pwede nating pakainin ng kanin at ulam. Ang kinakain nila soybean (sapal ng taho), molasses, and pollard. Pag di mo pinakain ang mga yan, talagang magwawala. Parang tao din, kapag gutom, mainit ang ulo nila,” he says.
There used to be 20 registered horses in the Intramuros community, but others had to sell their animals during the pandemic, so now the horses are down to 16. “Yung iba, nabebenta lang ang kabayo ng P12,000,” laments Sunga.
Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks, who had met some of these kutseros in his Intramuros tours, found out about this predicament when a friend of his, the tour guide and B and B proprietor Gregory Dorris, posted that a kutsero was asking for help to feed his horses.
“The kalesa is a centuries-old Manila transport icon. To date, only two areas of the old city still have them: Intramuros and Binondo. While originally a form of public transport, they now mainly service the tourism industry, which at this point, is sadly still in coma,” reads a post by Dy on Old Manila Walk’s Facebook page.
Donations may be deposited to Old Manila Walks and Tour Services BDO#003830054461. All donations will be documented, accounted, and acknowledged. For inquiries, you may send a personal message to Old Manila Walks Facebook page.
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