The Birlocho

On the ground floor of the Syquia Mansion, stands a beautifully restored horse-drawn carriage called a birlocho. This was the latest in modern transportation in 19th century Manila and a favorite of the upper class. In Vigan, Gregorio Syquia set the trend.

The birlocho has a body made of wood and a top made of leather, a driver’s seat, a carriage step, four large spoke wheels and a carriage shaft that is attached to one horse. On each side of the driver’s seat are brass lamps to light the way at night.

The Syquia family’s birlocho was made especially for Gregorio Syquia and his wife Estefania in one of the carriage shops in Binondo. The wood of the body is a polished dark kamagong and the shiny brass lamps along with the other brass fittings were made by a company called Ponce Hermanos from Maypajo in Caloocan.

Gregorio Syquia was known to own only white horses and when his favorite was harnessed to the birlocho it was in sharp, elegant contrast to the deep black body which when it was taken out was a sight to see and drew many admiring onlookers.

 

Written by Carla Pacis

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