By Monico D. Mekaniko
DUMAGUETE CITY, NEGROS ORIENTAL – Have you ever seen a “tartanilla?
The “tartanilla” is a horse-drawn carriage that the Silliman University is hoping to revive as part of its efforts to help reduce air pollution as well as increase tourism in the city.
Under a partnership with telecommunications firm Smart Communications, Silliman University embarked on developing a four-wheeled prototype of the “tarnatilla,” which also had disk brakes for added stopping power.
The modernized tarnatilla’s carriage has also been redesigned with a hood to protect four passengers from the head and light rain.
Traditional designs of the tarnatilla, which is similar to the “calesa” but only smaller, could only carry two passengers. These vehicles are also drawn by a single horse.
Smart provided a P150,000 fund to SU's project, which was dubbed the “Powered by Grass Tarantilla,” referring to the fact that horses eat grass.
During the unveiling of the new tarnatilla last August 27, SU President Ben Malayang III said the revival of the tarnatilla should encourage more people to travel around the city using an environment-friendly vehicle. He added that tarnatillas also add to the flair of the city that would also entice tourists.
“We launched this to show that it can be done, and to see if others can adopt this. This is not just for Silliman but for Dumaguete as well. In addressing climate change, we are putting value in indigenous practices such as the tartanilla,” Dr. Malayang said in a statement.
On the other hand, Malayang noted that the welfare of the horses is also considered in the use of the tarnatilla. For one, they have to provide veterinary support to ensure that the horses are in good physical condition when they are used to pull the carriages.
In addition, they need to find methods to collect the animal’s droppings.
Plans are also underway to find other sponsors to bring the tarnatilla back in the streets where they can help reduce air pollution and provide more scenic view of the city for tourists.
Tarnatillas, like calesas were among the most popular mode of transportation prior to World War II as gas-powered automotives were still luxury. These horse-drawn carriages remained popular throughout the Philippines until the late 80s.
Only a few operate calesas anywhere in the Philippines. In fact, there are only two tarnatillas that are said to be continuously providing services.
Till next time, this is Monico D. Mekaniko, Va-va-vroom!
(Photo courtesy of Smart Communications)
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