About a little more than 30 years ago, if I remember correctly, the tartanillas (local horse-driven carriage) were still plying some routes passing through streets like Sanciangko. I recall riding the tartanilla going to various destinations.
Of course now the tartanillas are already few. And perhaps one gets to experience it again only in Gabii sa Kabilin.
My wife was particularly interested in experiencing the tartanilla so we really set time for it in our itinerary that night. We rode a bus to Fort San Pedro and there along with many others, lined up to wait for our turn to ride the tartanilla. Of course we took several pictures to document the experience.
Riding the tartanilla was fun! One nice thing about being in the tartanilla is you can have time chatting with the "kutsero" (carriage driver) or anyone in the tartanilla. I guess that's why you have the tagalog term "kwentong kutsero".
We learned from the kutsero that there are only 3 places in Cebu City that assembles the tartanilla. And they rent the tartanilla unit together with the horse for a certain amount per day (I think 150 pesos). The usual tartanilla fare is around 5 pesos and these days it only travels in very few routes including the Carbon area. Despite this limitation, it is nice to know that there are few people who retain tartanillas.
Regarding the horse and kutsero relationship, the kutsero feeds the horse and basically becomes its buddy so that the horse would be more comfortable only with a certain kutsero it is used to. We can tell that our kutsero takes good care of the horse. It appears to be healthy and it follows the kutsero's directions without it being whipped. Just a little pull of the ropes here and there and the horse knows what to and where to go. There was even one time that the kutsero did not do anything and the horse just went into its designated "parking" area. Amazing! The kutsero was a horse whisperer I guess.
My wife was all smiles during the short but memorable trip. We were bouncing up and down a bit inside the carriage but it's ok. That's part of what's enjoyable in this experience. Even if the carriage is made of simple wood without much decorations as a jeepney would have.
As I stepped down the tartanilla, I told myself that if I have time I would like to know more about the tartanilla by researching more about it. For now, I am just glad that even for a day, many people are able to experience the tartanilla thanks to the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Incorporated through the Gabii sa Kabilin (GSK).
From our Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Convention experience, I know many doctors would want to experience the Gabii sa Kabilin. I hope some of them were able to attend the 2013 edition and ride the tartanilla because it is definitely one of GSK's highlights.