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Blog- The Jeepney Joy Ride
There is a mean of transportation in the Philippines that you may not find anywhere else in the world. Colorful, flashy, loud, unusual and it is found everywhere and used by almost everyone: the Jeepney.
Jeepneys are very decorated open-air public buses with passenger space not higher than 1.5 meters: it is only possible to sit down in it and you have to be curled down a bit when you come in or go out of it. You would be anyway surprised seeing how many people could fit in it. The two rows of long cushioned benches can hold upto 22 commuting passengers, plus two more in front beside the driver. If it gets crowdy and roads are busy, some even risk to stand up hanging right by outside by the vehicle’s end (more fresh, but dangerous!).
After the II World War, American soldiers’ military jeeps were sold to the locals, who started using them as a sort of “car sharing” taxi system. During the decades, their shape was modified and imagination produced new features.
For foreign tourists, their use might be a bit complicated, and would probably be needing some assistance of a local. For instance, it is quite difficult to comprehend where it exactly stops along its route because only terminal stations are indicated in the jeepney board signs. The routes and the fare meter of this super vehicle that move without hesitations in the Manila traffic is also something you need to understand. Can I still fit in? Can it stop here and let me in? Will this jeepney pass by my destination? Can it stop there? How much do I pay? To whom do I pay? How do I make him stop? These and other hesitatant questions are some of the things a tourist will know by trying and just getting used to (and later on enjoy it!). By the way, tourists don’t have to get worried: using a taxi in the Philippines is easy and affordable, and even more for tricycles (motorbikes or bycicles with passenger cabin).
For Filipinos, on the other hand, it is quite easy to move with jeepneys. It is being used a lot, being the most affordable and convenient mean of transportation to move around in urban areas. It is part of a common Filipino’s everyday life when going to work or school and back home, sitting side by side and faced with other commuters.
Jeepneys are often decorated with spray paint and are very personalized, as there are no identical-looking Jeepneys around. For instance, some jeepneys will be painted with a theme featuring religious features, or cartoon characters, superheroes, bands, or a family portrait and so on. It just showcases the jeepney owner’s hobbies or passion. There would even be surprising fusions between metal music and religious symbols or a blend of island beach setting and Mickey Mouse playhouse on the other side.
Music volume is usually set very high during the trip, it seems that the drivers have radio speakers competitions on who gets to play louder music as if to catch passengers and everyone else’s attention. 80’s power ballads (Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Motley Crue, Guns’N’Roses and the likes) dominate the playlists, representing the both macho & romantic soul of the locals. More developed jeepneys might even have TV for passengers playing movies and some have karaoke to take away the boredom of long rides and relieve the agony of chaotic traffic jams. Add the colorful disco lights flashing to add to the groove.
In some areas of Manila, there are jeepney hybrids wherein they are made closed with air conditioning and more defined routes, making them more accessible and comfortable for everyone.Onemost rescent development is having free wifi on board for those who want to be online on the road. Woof, how cool is that?
Hop on to the Philippine jeepney as it is definitely one awesome commuter’s party ride!
(Written on July 2013)