In the past, when I have written about various subjects on this site, in the comments the Jeepney has been brought up in the discussion. One vocal commenter has said quite clearly that the Jeepney is not and should not be considered as part of the Philippine culture. In my view, the Jeepney is one of the most strong pieces of Philippine culture that we can find! Why shouldn’t it be?
The Jeepney is the most common form of Public Transportation in the Philippines. Where you would see a bus in most parts of the world, in the Philippines it is the Jeepney that you will see rolling down the highway, or on a rural country dirt road. Just about anywhere you are in the Philippines, a Jeepney is usually just a few minutes away from passing by and picking you up if you are looking for transportation. In Cities like Manila, Cebu or Davao there are literally thousands of Jeepneys plying the city streets, and most of them are usually carrying a rather full load of passengers. You can ride the Jeepney for a fare of P7.50 in most cases, although it may be more if you are going a long distance.
On average, for a Jeepney in the City, you can expect that a full sized Jeepney may be carrying about 15 to 20 people if it is full. When you go out in the Province, that is a small load though! Outside of town, you may get up to 30 people inside the jeepney, plus people will sit on the hood and also on the roof if needed! Of course, people will also be standing on the bumpers or anywhere else that they can find a place to stand! No question, Jeepneys out in the Province are a real workhorse! Some Jeepneys out in the Provinces are loaded down with goods instead of people – rice, fruits or whatever the local product of choice is. Other Jeepneys carry a combination of people and goods. You can bet, though, out in the Provinces it is almost always a FULL load on the Jeepney!
The Jeepney is not only a mode of transportation, but also a personal expression for the owner. Have you ever noticed how Jeepneys are painted up in all sorts of colors and decor? I would venture to say that no two Jeepneys look exactly alike, and virtually every Jeepney around is a work of art in itself.
To show that the Jeepney is indeed an important part of Philippine society and not just a passing trend, the Jeepney has been in use on Philippine streets for about 60 years now! It was first introduced here after World War II, when US Soldiers left many Willys Jeeps behind in the Philippines. The Jeeps were converted to hold passengers, and decorated with a little Filipino Flair, and it has become part of the local culture ever since! The Jeepney is not going away anytime soon either! In fact, as you will see in the photo at the right, a new cleaner Jeepney is hitting Philippine streets – the Electric Jeepney! This new vehicle is currently making waves in Makati, but will be rolling out to other parts of the Philippines soon too.
In my view, the Jeepney is one of the most ubiquitous signs of Philippine Culture. In my view, the Philippines simply would not be the same place it is today if you didn’t see Jeepneys roaming the streets! I don’t ride Jeepneys myself often, as I have a car of my own, but when I do take a Jeepney ride it always kind of gives me a different perspective, and one that I need from time to time.