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Weird-Looking But Versatile: Meet the Kuliglig

The kuligligs are noisy and strange-looking, that’s for sure. And they’re not exactly what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) will rate as a ‘Top Safety Pick+’  anytime soon (or perhaps even forever). And speaking of insurance, we highly doubt any insurance company would be smart–and brave enough–to cover them in the event of an accident.

Whatever the case, we do have to admire Filipino ingenuity and improvisation when it comes to making the best of what they have. Kuligligs, which are makeshift vehicles resembling tricycles, are named after crickets–kuligligs–in the local dialect. They first started as three-wheeled vehicles powered by engines used for outriggers or bancas, and were originally used by farmers to assist them in plowing their rice fields. The kuligligs became a popular vehicle in North Luzon. Over time, they became known as ‘tricyboat’ in Visayas and Mindanao.

Taken from Wikimedia Commons

Different Kinds in the Philippines

The kuligligs comes in two variants. The rural versions found in most provinces have the engine attached to a hand tractor that then pulls a wagon or cart like this one:

Taken from Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, the urban versions are just like pedicabs (bicycles attached to a sidecar), but with an engine. In fact, it’s hard to tell the difference from afar. These are seen seen plying through Manila’s roads, particularly those in Divisoria, the port areas, Binondo, and other narrow streets within the city.

A typical one costs around PHP60,000, and needs to undergo an emission test before it could ply the streets of Manila. Last year, the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau (MTPB) in Binondo banned kuliglig drivers that don’t carry permits. Moreover, they are mandated to pay a penalty fee of PHP1,000. Yet even today, drivers are not required to get a license before they can operate the vehicle.

Here’s what these “urbanized” kuligligs look like:

Taken from Wikimedia Commons

Despite their differences, they do have one similarity: Noise. Both are as noisy as a tricycle–in fact, some are noisier. Here’s what they sound and look like in action:

An “Acquired Taste”

So as you can see, a kuliglig may not be something for you if 1) you don’t like your eardrums to break over time; 2) you don’t like to drive vehicles that don’t fully support your internal and external organs; 3) you prefer covered vehicles that don’t make you an easy target for assassination; and 4) you prefer “classier” vehicles that go well with your branded suit.

Whatever the case, these simple but quite versatile kuligligs are here to stay.

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