Often considered as the road warrior, the jeepney is the most common mode of transportation not only in the urban areas but also in the rural ones. Jeepneys ply many routes in places all over the country and the most common form of public transportation throughout the many islands of the Philippines. The jeepneys offer one of the cheapest ways of getting almost anywhere. Usually, they don’t have air-conditioning and have only open windows as source of ventilation. Most of the time the jeepneys are constantly-packed with many passengers. “Pwede rin ang sabit!”
They seldom have a specific place to stop, meaning they can stop everywhere and anywhere, and anytime “basta mabilis ka lang sumigaw ng para!”. Though I’m not saying its admirable – its somewhat arguable if its a positive or negative because unlike buses that have designated loading and unloading zones, jeepneys are somehow the infamous “king of the road” – the “patok” during my college days, the “hari ng kalsada” while it zooms throughout the busy streets of Metro Manila, as if going pass the sound barrier or the speed of light, the jeepney drivers weave in and out of traffic like bats out of hell.
All picturesque and festive with their funky colors and funny signs, it’s the typical “pang-harabas” that you can take anywhere to hang out in beaches or parks, or use for business na “pang-deliver” at public markets or “sari-sari” stores.
We thought it was best to start out this blog with a “jeepney” feature showcasing the iconic public transportation that we see everyday on the road. Though this certain activity happened a few months ago, it was never highlighted in our previous blogs.
The event was just a sideline event that happened during the Manila Fame 2012. It was called Paint your (P)ride – showing how we are very proud of our ride, the Philippine Jeepney!
Young teens grabbed their paintbrushes, put on their creative thinking caps, and got out those color wheels, because they showed the beauty of our country’s pride through an art exhibition!
Almost in every neighborhood that we went to (we constantly had to move around because we had no permanent house back then for several reasons quite complicated to explain – and that’s another story worth telling some other day) there would always be a jeepney driver that will become one of our friends. …and believe me, they are one of the nicest group you’ll ever meet. As Jolly as Jollibee or the barber across the street, they never fail to make us laugh with their stories from the road citing humorous incidents they encounter with their passengers, the traffic aides, their operators, or their fellow drivers.
“If you talk to foreigners about Manila, the first thing that comes to their minds is the jeepney. The jeepney is our very own cultural and automotive icon. We have to be proud of it and take care of it. If no one will initiate a program to save it, it will die. Its story is the story of our people, of our nation,” says Clang Garcia who is Managing Director of a company called the Jeepney Tours and she once organized a Jeepney Arts Festival last year where the objectives where to “paint 50 passenger jeepneys with stunning tourism destinations; revive the Filipino values of bayanihan by sharing one’s artistic skills to help paint the jeepneys; unleash the creative excellence of the Filipino people; make Manila a roving museum of arts and culture; and celebrate our own pride.”
“The paint-a-jeepney project gained so much interest and support from various groups that professional artists and even those talents in wheelchairs participated in the rehabilitation of the Philippine jeepneys. Even the gifted abandoned children from the Shepherd of the Hills took their paintbrushes to the venue and painted flowers and Tagaytay scenes on the two jeepneys assigned to them. For these street children, the painting activity was a healing of sorts because they used to sleep in jeepneys, their former home and shelter in Metro Manila.”
More info from here.
“We want to bring back the glory days of fun and vibrant jeepneys. This is an opportunity for us to be proud and pay homage to the Philippine jeepney as a true icon of Filipino artistry, ingenuity, resiliency and entrepreneurship,” Assistant Tourism Secretary Domingo Ramon Enerio said at the launch of the Jeepney Arts Festival at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City. The effort centers on the DOT’s promotional theme, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”
More info from here.
“Jeepneys were originally made from US military jeeps (Willys) left over from World War II and are well known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating. As American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to local Filipinos. Locals stripped down the jeeps to accommodate several passengers, added metal roofs for shade, and decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors and bright chrome hood ornaments.Although the original jeepneys were simply refurbished military jeeps, modern jeepneys are now produced by independently owned factories within the Philippines. ”
More info from here.
In a country that is made up of over 7,100 islands and islets, travel has a lot to do with transportation. Rest assured that options are endless for getting around, some typical and others quite unique. But the jeepney will always be the most iconic means of transportation that would appropriately represent the Philippines and its people – a tough and resilient race that no amount of disaster, whether flash floods, fire, typhoon, earthquake, landslide, etc., can ever bring down. Filipinos would still be on the go amidst the “bruises”.
Since it first emerged after the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, the Jeepney has become a fixture in roads all over the country. It has been around so much that it is considered a symbol of national pride. These Philippine road icons are adorned with vibrant and colorful designs that uniquely distinguish them from one another. They have themes that ranges from the simple to the sophisticated, from the serious to the humorous, from the high-tech to the pimped, but all uniquely showcasing the creativity of the Filipino.
The jeepney could be considered “struggling yet rising”. There’s a lot of them everywhere that offer the not-so-luxurious means of traveling or going from one point to another, no air-conditioning like a taxi or bus (though some modern jeepneys have already offered airconditioning but I don’t see them lasts), making them somewhat less appreciated by the upper classes and patronized only by the ones willing to sweat it out, or by the ones willing to go on an “adventure”.
Get to experience the fantastic culture when you jump in this work of art. Not only are you traveling in a Filipino’s pride but you are embracing a tradition that is showing no signs of abating. Jeepneys will remain the backbone of the Philippine transport system. If you haven’t rode on one yet, then you are missing a great portion of your life. Come and visit the Philippines now, and get to ride on the Philippines’ pride!