The growing number of GSK participants, museums and heritage sites also called for free, fast and efficient modes of transportation that will help make museum hopping on Gabii sa Kabilin safer, easier and hassle-free.

In 2008, the Gabii sa Kabilin experience was taken up a notch with free tartanilla rides in downtown Cebu. GSK teamed up with  kutcheros to bring participants, kids and adults alike, from one site to another all night long. Aside from being an added experience for GSK participants, the tartanilla ride also helped boost the income of many hardworking kutcheros. The tartanilla remains to be a favorite among participants and tops the list of Gabii sa Kabilin must-tries. 

“One of [my] most memorable editions of the Gabii sa Kabilin was in 2018. The 12th [GSK], was one for the books [since] it was the first time that my eight-year-old daughter joined the event and her first time to ride a tartanilla.” – Jesson Morata

Heritage for a Living

For Christopher Cabaluna, 35, horses are his life. Since he was a child, he grew up in a family who owned and bred horses. 

“Naa mi walo ka kabayo sa una (We owned eight horses before),” recalled Cabaluna.  

But tragedy struck his family. His parents got very sick, prompting them to sell their valued horses to pay for medical treatment. By 2002, all of their horses were sold. Cabaluna stopped going to school after he finished his elementary education. Right after, at age 13, he became a tartanilla (horse-drawn carriage) driver, or a kuchero. 

He remembered that the fare back then was only 75 centavos and kucheros like him did not have to follow any route. 

“Maabot god mi og tumoy sa Sanciangko Street, A. Lopez Street sa Labangon, hasta Calamba. Makontento na sab ko kung maka-income ko og Php 100 sa usa ka adlaw (We would reach up to the end of Sanciangko Street, A.Lopez Street of Labangon and even in Calamba. I was already contented with a daily income of Php 100),” he said. 

The picture changed in the early 1990s when, with the growing number of vehicles, Cebu City implemented traffic ordinances that limit tartanillas from reaching certain places in the downtown area in the city.  

“Mas ganahan ko sa una tungod kay dali ra ko makakwarta ug dili pa kaoyon ang among kabayo sa rota (I liked the times before when it was still easy for me to earn money and our horses were not easily tired by the route),” Christopher said. 

Since then, the kucheros’ route is bounded within Barangays Duljo, Pasil, and Tabo-an, and the Carbon Market. His passengers are usually market buyers who go to and from the city’s wet markets. 

With his family’s horses all sold, Cabaluna started renting a tartanilla from entrepreneur Ritchie Mascariñas in 2006. He pays Php 50 to Mascariñas daily as rent. He also spends Php 100 everyday for food for his horse. At the end of the day, he is left with Php 200 to spend for food for his family, medicine and clothes for his two daughters, as well as other expenses.  

In May 2008, he learned about the Gabii sa Kabilin (Night of Heritage) when Mascariñas called up all his kucheros and informed them about the heritage night tour. Although he was informed of the route and how much he could possibly earn from the event, he initially expressed his doubts due to the fact that the Gabii sa Kabilin was new to him. 

During the Gabii sa Kabilin, participating museums and heritage structures open their doors to the public beyond the conventional operating hours. Participants only need to purchase a Php 100-ticket to gain access to all participating museums, and 50 for the unlimited bus rides throughout the night and one-time tartanilla ride. 

In the first year of the Gabii sa Kabilin, the tartanillas were considered the event’s official mode of transportation. During that time, driving to and from participating museums from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight. Cabaluna earned Php 950. 

In 2010, when more than 1,800 visitors joined the Gabii sa Kabilin, he was able to earn around Php 1,650 during the event. 

“Nindot kaayo ang Gabii sa Kabilin para nako isip usa ka kuchero. Maayo unta pirmihon ni (The Gabii sa Kabilin is very good for me as a kuchero. I hope this will be sustained.),” he said. 

Cabaluna was one of more than 25 kucheros who earned through the Gabii sa Kabilin beyond their usual daily income.  

In 2010, the number of participants grew by close to 150%. From 728 who participated in the heritage tour in 2009, there were 1,800 participants last May 2010. In 2010, the ticket sales amounted to Php 238,350, a 125-percent increase from Php 105, 500 in 2009. Of this, Php 69,000 were sales of tartanilla and bus tickets. 

Staff from the Mandaue City Government also earned through the Gabii sa Kabilin by promoting and selling delicacies of Mandaue City, including bibingka, tagaktak and masareal. Participating museums also earned nearly double than their usual daily income during the annual cultural heritage event. 

Cabaluna is once again looking forward to take part in the Gabii sa Kabilin 2011 not just to earn additional income but also to promote one aspect of Cebuano’s rich past– the exciting tartanilla ride. By Karl Hegel Damayo 

Previously published in the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. 2010 Annual Report and 2011 Gabii sa Kabilin Magazine

As the number of participating museums and heritage sites grew beyond downtown Cebu and later beyond Cebu City, there was also a need to provide transportation to the increasing number of participants. 

Shuttle buses were added in 2010 to transport attendees from one site to another for free all throughout the evening. Different routes were added as more museums and heritage sites joined the event. Volunteers were also assigned in shuttle buses to assist and guide participants throughout the night.