Wednesday, May 16, 2007

OUR TREASURES: The Philippine Jeepney

It is affectionately called “The King of the Road” and by god I do understand why! They would stop anytime, anywhere as they wish when loading and unloading passengers. Other motorists would do all they can to avoid a speeding jeepney, and they would cut you off when they see a gap as little as 5 feet between you and the car in front of you! Filipinos have learned to more or less tolerate it. This unconscious tolerance made the jeepney the most loved symbol of the Philippines.

These traces of American influence after World War II can take you almost anywhere you’d like to go. It is the most popular means of daily transport for the Filipinos. It is used as a passenger bus, a delivery truck, a school bus, a tourist shuttle and to an extent, a social status.

They come in different sizes. There’s a four wheeler that can accommodate 14 passengers comfortably; a six-wheeler usually used to travel to remote far flung villages; and I’ve seen some really, really huge ones with 8 wheels that can carry more than 40 passengers! (just like the photo here on the left!) The sight is incredible like they are attempting to break a world record or something. LOL

They also come in different classes. Some jeepneys have air-conditioning, a sound system that could break an eardrum in one boom, and a sedan-like with all the amenities of a little van. They also have the ordinary ones being used as it is intended for -- transportation.

A mobile artwork. What strikes me most is how they adorn their most beloved jeepneys. No jeepney is alike! They are lovingly decorated with colourful stickers, air brush paintings, plastic ribbons that flutter as it speeds though the streets. Some jeep owners would decorate it with hundreds (ok, ok! it's an exaggeration!) of mirrors faced towards the back; meters long radio antennas and to top it all, a colourful plastic panel just above the windshield proudly bearing the family’s name or other whacky slogans. The Jeepney has become a work of art – a channel for self expression.

The first time I ever laid eyes on a jeepney was when I was a little kid. And it wasn’t in the Philippines but in Kuwait in the Middle-East. I remember there was an Asian Expo or something and the Philippine participants brought in a really shocking jeepney!

I was playing with my Kuwaiti and Indian friends on a kiddie park and suddenly there’s this huge, glistening, never before seen vehicle with all it’s colourful splendour! It clearly says “Mabuhay” in front. People on the streets applaud in amazement as it passed by. And I, motionless in awe.

Efforts were made through the years to banish this icon from the streets.
But the Philippine Jeepney is here to stay

A true pride of Southeast Asia.


--written by Pisanu


Misterhubs said...

The jeepneys of today, particularly those plying the streets of Metro Manila, are not as colorful or heavily-adorned as they used to be. Now, they're just mostly rusting steels on wheels.

Miong21 said...

I couldn't agree more with misterhubs. You can only see colorful jeepneys on museums, tourist parks or whenever there's a huge festivity.

But with all that, the jeepney still remains one of the most remarkable entity that's truly Filipino.

Cypocalypse said...

I actually want it to be removed from the streets since they're already less efficient than their more contemporary counterparts, such as the local SUV's (popularly known locally as the FX).

Anyway, I was actually surprised that the author of the article mentioned a 6 wheeler variant. That's a bit surprising.

Sofia for Bisean said...

Thanks for dropping by, I'm Sofia. Pisanu is actually a very thorough observer. And he usually accompany it with photos. Oh I can tell you, he got a collection of everything odd he sees.

A 6-wheeler jeepney is just the tip of the iceberg. I've seen 8, 10, in his photo collection and all of it are in the Philippines, where else? You should travel more in your homeland honey. And observe.

It's funny to think that a foreigner sees what you don't see and cherish the things locals usually take for granted.

Oh the irony of it, isn't it? :-)

Thanks for dropping by. Please come again.

Cypocalypse said...

I live in Manila, and to be honest, I haven't seen that many jeepney variants since I don't go to the Philippines' countryside that much. The only variant I've seen is the air-conditioned variant that travels within Makati (Manila's financial district). Other than that version, I haven't seen those monster variants you mentioned.

The fare rate for these jeepneys are as low as 7 pesos (16 US cents) for the first kilometer. For those air-conditioned SUVs (which are usually from Toyota) it's about as cheap as 10 pesos (22 US cents). Normal Manila jeepney, on the average has an 18 person capacity while these SUVs have 10.

I've seen a new Nissan van that's now used as a public transportation vehicle that has a seating capacity of 14, which is pretty much now catching-up to the jeepney in my opinion.

Call me elitist but I think the jeepney's diesel engine and the non-airconditioning has to go now. Manila is already polluted as it is.

I would say that the jeepney is more efficient than, let's say Bangkok's Tuk Tuk but Manila is more congested than any other ASEAN city anyway. Something has to be done.

redpanda17 said...

I really don't care about the comments made. I agree with the writer of the article and I appreciate how much you appreciate our uniqueness as a group, ASEAN. There is no time in my life that I have ever been prouder than now.

I am aware, that there are effors being taken to make the jeepney more eco-friendly through the use of bio-diesel.

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

I totally support bio-fuels, redpanda17 and thank you for the comment. I believe this is your first here, right?

I'd just like you to know that your comment is appreciated and always welcome.

About the jeepney... I cannot imagine a united ASEAN without it. Progress doesn't always mean change. I want to see the jeepney in the streets of Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and all the major cities of the ASEAN.

There are millions of possibilities.

Mihael Keehl said...

Actually, there are now jeeps (as we call it but I'm uncomfortable with an 's') that runs purely on electricity. You can see them in Makati and Bacolod and other parts of the Philippines. They are pollution-free and are less noisy than the diesel ones. I hope the Philippine Government fund the manufacturing of electric jeepneys because, as I know, we import them from China.

riain said...

I think this is your best post about the Philippines yet. Thanks. We love our jeepneys. Its the drivers that we need to give some real good spanking. :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for this post. i admire you guys for being "at home" in SEA. it's really one of a kind...:) more power to your blog!

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

This is one of my few a-bit-serious posts. I'm glad you guys liked it. I do love the jeepneys, of course, because of its cultural and iconic importance.
But I'm not gonna ride it ever again after Cagayan de Oro! LOL!

car said...

i actually love the jeepneys - well at least the function and convenience of jeepneys. But I hate the drivers. I actually have ridden on some variants: namely an airconditioned one, a jeepney that has rows of seats instead of two columns, and another jeepney with a built-in television. the last one definitely made my day when i was going home from school and a PBA championship was going on. :)

Allen Yu said...

So how do you really ride a jeepney? Check this out!

danyhael said...


it's actually better to ride a jeepney than to ride a train. if you're an ordinary and really humble ^_^ filo like me you would know the difference.

after riding a jeepney, you'll look messy but after riding a train (LRT) you'll look like sh*t. so pick one!

don't tell me you're going to ride a taxi, you elitist! (i just granted your wish)

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