This article discusses colonial misrepresentations of a marginalized occupational group in the American Philippines. Colonial authorities had pinned their hopes on the transformative power of motorized transportation, which they introduced in Manila. They regarded cocheros or carriage drivers as relics of a backward past that the progress of modernity would render extinct. However, the cocheros were not easily eradicated, and frustrated colonial authorities tagged them as barriers to modernity. This article analyzes this colonial discourse and offers a nuanced characterization of a voiceless yet ubiquitous group.
Keywords: Urban transportation • working classes • American colonialism • modernity • imperialism