A few weeks ago, during my Acculturation series, one of the articles I wrote was about how I enjoy riding jeepneys for my normal means of transportation. After I wrote that article, somebody made a comment suggesting that perhaps I should write an article explaining the process of how to ride a jeepney. Upon reflection, I think that was a good suggestion, so I thought I’d put together an article that kind of goes through the process of getting around town using a jeepney. Keep in mind that 99% of my jeepney riding experience has been in Davao City, so of course my article will explain how it is to ride a jeep in Davao. Around other parts of the country there would be slight differences, but for the most part this article should give you a good idea of how to ride the jeepney without making a fool of yourself. Don’t worry, I took care of the part about looking like a fool, now I can tell you how to do it without going through that step!
Choosing a Jeepney
Of course, the first step in riding a jeepney is that you have to choose which jeepney to ride on! Keep in mind that Jeepneys don’t go down every single street in town! No, they follow routes. They generally ply the main thoroughfares in town, not the side streets and such. So, in my case, I have to walk about a half mile (you can take the tricycle, of course, I prefer to walk) to get to the area where the Jeepneys pass by. Now, once you get to the area where you can catch a Jeepney, you still have to decide which Jeepney to get on. Jeepneys follow different routes, so you have to know which route goes to the part of town you want to get to. Here in Davao, the Jeepney route is printed on the side of the Jeepney. However, the jeeps can go by quite fast, so I find that there is not time to read the route, and you end up not knowing if it is the right jeep or not. When I was first getting started on jeepney riding, I would usually just ask people. Like, if I wanted to get to Aldevinco (a shopping center in Davao), I would just ask my nephew before leaving the house and he would let me know which jeepney to watch for. This was a good way to get started, and he helped me a lot. As I rode more and more, I would learn of other jeepney routes that would also pass by Aldevinco, or wherever I needed to get to.
If I was out and had not asked in advance about the route, I would just ask somebody in the area where I was. For example, I remember one time, I was in the Uyanguren area of Davao, and needed to get to Gaisano Mall, but I didn’t know which Jeepney would be the right one to take. I saw a fellow selling Buko Juice at the side of the street, and I asked him. He told me to take the “Route 13″ Jeepney, so that is what I did, and sure enough, I ended up right where I wanted to go! I find that people are very willing, in fact happy to help you if you just ask them politely.
Now, there is another factor, in my opinion, when choosing a jeepney. Here’s an old joke that will give you an idea of what I am talking about:
Bob: How many people can fit into a jeepney?
Carlos: Always one more!
In other words, they will squeeze as many people as possible into a jeepney, and it’s really true. No matter how tight the people are packed in, they will always stop for one more passenger! Frankly, I’m a big guy, and I don’t like getting squeezed in too tight! When I am waiting for a jeepney, I never get on one that is already full, or one that is full in my opinion! I like to have plenty of space, so I just wait for one to come by that has plenty of space, which usually is not a problem. At certain “rush hour” times, though, it is hard to find a jeepney which is not cram packed with people. I just avoid travel at those times.
Getting on the Jeepney
When you see a jeepney that is going to the area where you need to go, and has available space, just wave your hand to the driver and he will stop to pick you up. At some areas, they just stop naturally, because it is an area where plenty of people are waiting for jeepneys, but if you are in a place that is not like this you just wave your hand, no problem! Just get in the jeep through the back where the door is located, look for an empty area and sit down. For me, I like to take the very back of the jeepney if it is available, so that I don’t have to duck down so low and walk way up to the front. Being right in the back also makes it easy and quick to get off the jeepney when you reach your destination. Of course, you can choose any location you want to take a seat, it’s a personal decision. In fact, in many cases, if you want to sit in a location that is taken, you can just start to sit down and the people will scoot over to the side to make way for you. Personally, I just choose a place that is already empty, though, so as not to inconvenience the other riders. But, I do see it a lot where people just take a seat in an area that is already full, and the riders always just scoot over for the new passenger.
Paying for your ride
Of course, you need to pay the jeepney driver for your ride on the jeepney. The standard fare is P8. Some trips are more expensive, if you are going far. I know of destinations in Davao that run up to P16. You don’t have to pay immediately when you get on the jeepney, you can really pay any time before you get off. If you don’t have exact change, it’s a good idea to pay early, though, not right when you want to disembark, because the driver needs time to make change for you. Sometimes the driver does not have change, especially if you are paying with a P20 or larger bill, so if you pay early, he can get the change as more passengers board the jeepney. Basically, when you are ready to pay, you just shout out “bayad” (which literally means “pay”) and you give your money to the driver. If you are sitting toward the back of the jeepney, where you are separated by quite some distance from the driver, you still shout out “bayad” and then you give your money to another passenger who is closer to the driver, and that passenger will pass the money up to the driver. In some instances, if the driver did not hear you when you said “bayad” the passenger who passes your change will say “bayad daw” which means “he said he will pay.” If you paid in larger than exact change, the driver will pass back your change to the person who passed your payment, and that person will pass the change to you. It’s all rather simple. Remember, if you are sitting around the middle of the jeepney, if people in the back want to pay, you should offer to pass their payment to the driver.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to let the driver know where you are going, so he will know how much the payment should be. For example, today I rode the jeepney to Abreeza Mall. When I was paying, I said: “Bayad. Sa Abreeza, palihug.” Which means, “I will pay. To Abreeza please.” Now, if I have been on the jeepney for a while before paying, I need to also let the driver know where I got on, or he will not know how much the fare is from when I got on until I get where I am going. So, in my case, I would say: ”Bayad. Sa Abreeza, palihug, gikan Matina,” which means “I will pay. To Abreeza, please, from Matina.” If you pay when you first get on, you don’t need to say where you are coming from, because the driver already knows that you just got on the jeepney.
One thing to note on this, some jeepneys have not only drivers, but also conductors. The job of the conductor is to get more passengers to ride the jeepney, and also usually the conductor is the one who handles the payments, so you don’t pay the driver, you pay the conductor.
As you ride along in the jeepney, you need to watch for your destination. When you reach the place you want to go to, you just let the driver know to stop. There are several ways to do this. Here in Davao, you can yell out, “Lugar lang,” meaning that this is the place you want to get off. In other areas, like Manila, instead of saying “Lugar lang” you say “para.” You can also knock on the ceiling of the jeep, and the driver will know that you want him to stop. Another thing you can do is to tap a coin on the metal rail that you hold on to this clinging sound alerts the driver that he needs to stop for you. Doing any of these things will let the driver know to stop. You should generally wait until the driver has pulled over to the side of the road (usually they stop on the right side), and wait until the jeepney has come to a complete stop before getting off.
Like I said in my previous article, I really enjoy riding the jeepney! I have been riding since about July or August of 2011, so I’ve got about 6 months experience in riding jeepneys now. I feel like I know all the ins and outs of jeepney riding, which I am happy about. When I first started, I was really in the dark, so I had some learning to do. Learning is a good thing, though!
Happy Jeepney Riding, folks!
Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.