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“Bayad…Two.” I speak it holding up with my two fingers to inform the passengers near the driver to transfer my 20 pesos note to the jeepney driver. I intentionally say it to let the driver know that I do not need change. I try to only use coins and small bills 50 pesos and 20 pesos notes because making change is a problem for the driver especially early in the morning. When I ride jeepneys in the Philippines I notice that the ones I ride no one ask if you have the money for the fare when you get in.
No one asks for the fare as you ride. No one asks if you paid when you get off and yet the fare is paid. I am sure there are cases where the rider does not pay, but that seems to be rare. Payment is on the honor system and the riders of the jeepney seem to me to have plenty of honor.
Near the end of my 10 pesos jeepney trip from Mama’s house to the BQ Mall in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, I notice change being passed back from passenger to passenger until it reaches me sitting second to last on the bench in the jeepney. My 14-year old son was in the last position on our side. A five-pesos and 5 one-pesos coins are placed in my hand. I don’t know who’s change this is, but it is not mine. So, I ask, “Sukli?” while holding the money out with an upward facing slightly cupped hand. No one responds to claim the money. I shrug and pass the money to the passenger next to me closer to the driver and the change is passed in this way back to the driver. My guess is the driver did not see my son; my point is no one tried to claim the change that was not owed to them. I love the passing of the money from hand to hand in the jeepney. If you have a germaphobia or having a fear of germs, well the jeepney is not for you. In the Philippine, the 20-pesos note is perhaps the dirtiest money on the planet, but it is good for them, and make sure to have coins in your wallet if you are riding the jeepney.
The people riding the jeepney are average Filipinos, frankly speaking, most of them are poor or low earners people. Generally, the riders include students, teachers, retail sales, fast food workers, construction workers, etc. This article is about honesty, so the question is are these people honest? On the jeepneys, I have noticed that the riders are extremely honest. I think very close to 100% pay the fare. I have never witnessed a rider try to pocket another rider’s change. I guess these things are really happening, but I believe these occurrences to be very rare. It is always important to keep your valuables secure, but I can honestly say I have only felt on a couple of occasions that other riders were considering snatching and I am not even sure they were. I just had uneasy feelings from what I was observing. The riders of the jeepney seem to me to be honest.
I admire jeepney drivers. They have a difficult job and from what I have witnessed most of them are honest. I have only on one instance, where I had to ask a driver for my change at the end of my ride. I paid a 100-pesos note for 6 riders. The fare total was 60 pesos. In this one case, I got the feeling that the driver felt a rich foreigner would not care about his 40 pesos change, but he could have just made an honest mistake. By the way, I try to avoid using bills larger than 50-pesos on a jeepney. You should strongly avoid trying to break a 500-pesos or 1,000-pesos note on a jeepney. Early in the day passengers are encouraged to use coins or exact change.
I was going to ride a jeepney from Tagbilaran City to Mama’s house in La Paz. We arrived at the terminal and saw a jeepney that had la Paz written on the signboard. I had some bags and I asked a man standing next to the jeepney that I assumed was the driver if I could sit in the front. He opened the door and closed it for me. It did not close easily. My wife and two boys sat in the back of the jeepney. We waited. While waiting I could not help but notice a large number of coins laid out so the driver could quickly and easily make a change. No one was watching. I or anyone in my position could grab several coins no one would know and yet I think few Filipinos in the position I found myself in would take coins. Stealing from the jeepney driver would break the jeepney code of honor.
After several minutes the man that opened the door came back. The man said the driver was not around and we needed to get on a different jeepney. I sat in the front of the new jeepney with the driver. We talked about a number of things on the trip. The driver was concerned about rising fuel cost and the fact that the fare in my case 10 pesos never increased. This was just before the Philippine government passed the law giving jeepney drivers a gas voucher debit card to help with rising fuel cost. At the end of the ride, I gave the nice driver a 50-peso note and said he could keep the extra 10 pesos. He gave me a 10-pesos coin and said the fare is only 40 pesos for the four of us. I think most jeepney drivers are good honest men. Has anyone ever seen a female jeepney driver? Just curious, because I have not seen it yet.
I honestly rarely see conductors on the jeepneys I ride. The conductor rides at the back mostly and collects the fare, encourages people to ride, ask people to sit closer together, get the extension ready if needed, etc. And I am a kind of person who prefers to ride jeepney without conductors because I like it when the passengers are not asked to pay and just pay when they feel like it. I think conductors are most useful on bigger jeepneys. My impression is the conductors are honest and do a good job.
I like to encourage reader feedback on my articles. One way I sometimes do this is by asking questions. Feel free to answer one, some, all or none in the comments section provided below.
- Do you feel comfortable and safe on jeepneys?
- Have you ever seen a passenger robbed?
- Have you seen or heard of a jeepney driver being robbed?
- Have you seen a female jeepney driver?
What do you find most interesting about Filipino jeepneys and riding Filipino jeepneys?