(News Feature)The Cochero as tourist guide

September 20, 2015 11:15 am 

By Simon C. Dilan

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Sept. 19 (PNA) — Gregorio Paddayuman started his romance with his horse-drawn rig (Calesa) as early as when he was barely 20 years old in barangay Capatan, Tuguegarao City. Now 73 years old, it comes as a shock that he is about to meet foreign and local individuals, ride on his calesa even, as they visit Cagayan province.

It's more fun in Cagayan he might tell these visitors as the Department of Tourism (DOT) has tapped him along with nine other drivers to help promote the latest Philippine tourism slogan.

That he is now an official tourist guide on wheels has settled on his psyche after the DOT in the region subjected them to a two-day training on local tourist guiding.

Paddayuman is just one of the 10 cocheros and eight tricycles drives from Tuguegarao and Penablanca who were given a two-day seminar by the Department of Tourism region 2 on local to guiding and effective customers service.

A residents were awed when cocheros proudly passed through major streets in the city with their DOT dressed-up Tuguegarao calesas to launch the lowly public transport into a partner of the agency.

On the bodies of the calesa are Cagayan Valley tourist destination proclaiming the slogan of the department.

DOT regional director Officer-In-Charge Lelia E. Blancaflor, said "We always believe in the power of the calesa in terms of its role as public transport and an information vehicle for our advocacies".

Thru the DOT, the trained cochero-tourist guide can now have a ready market the local and foreign tourists who want to see Tuguegarao and Penablanca on board a calesa or tricycle.

This is the first time that the local horse-drawn rig drives were utilized hands-on in a government project, Paddayuman said.

"Some agencies just paint our calesas with their programs and projects, launch them thru us and that's it" oe of the cocheros said.

The DOT went to step further when they decided not only to utilized the calesa as a rolling tarpauline but likewise asked the cocheros to do the tourist guiding themselves.<p."They will have their hands full as for every tourist arrival, riding on the calesa has been made part of the package . That will ensure the cocheros will not be shortchanged", Blancaflor said.

In Tuguegarao, officials records claim the calesas have been once the king of the road in this pat of the country from the 1880s until the early 1970s when Japan started to flood the market with motorcycles and scooters.

Already a part of Cagayan Valley's history and a cultural heritage of the Ibanags ,the calesa remains unfazed as it continuous as the public transport up to this time.

In 2002, the preserve its historical and cultural significance, the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) of the city, thru the Ibanag council for culture, passed a resolution declaring the calesa as a local heritage.

It likewise allowed them to blend with the more than 10,000 tricycle now plying all roads in the city despite traffic congestion.

The tourism department finally discovered a novel way to sell Cagayan Valley on wheels.

It may be an experience for the tourists to roam the streets and suburbs of the city thru a horse and a rolling box of a carriage. The Ibanag calesa truly has arrived. (PNA)

RMA/SCD/SCDILAN

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