Jeepneys the Backbone of the Philippine Transport System
No matter where you go in the world, each destination or country you visit, has something uniquely there own. They can range from landmarks, both manmade and natural, right the way through to transportation. For example, kangaroos are synonymous with Australia, Big Ben with Great Britain, cigars in Cuba.
Now one of the things that sets the Philippines apart from all other countries, is one of there many forms of transport, in particular the jeepney.
When visiting the Philippines, you cannot miss these colourful additions to the Philippine National Transport system. They are the means of transport for anyone who wants to travel short distances, whether you are in the cities of Manila or Cebu or in the mountain provinces, you will find a jeepney to take you where you need to go. Jeepneys are more than a form of transport, they are an indication of the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the Philippine people. They are a magnificent reflection on the capability of all things Philippines, once they put there mind to it.
Jeepneys evolved at the end of the Second World War. After the United States started sending home there troops, following the surrender of the Imperial Japanese Army, a huge surplus of equipment was left over, which was probably just as well as it gave birth to the jeepney.
The destruction the Second World War created, leveled the Philippines capital city of Manila and choked the roads with debris making them almost impassable. With the ability of the Willy’s Jeep to navigate, due to its off-road capabilities, this sturdy vehicle was to become the father of all jeepneys.
The original Willy’s Jeep was modified. A metal roof was the first modification to help keep out the various elements the Philippines weather can throw at them. It was the painted in bright, bold and startling colours, so that potential passengers could easily identify them and know where the ultimate destination was. Business soon boomed for these entrepreneurs, in order to increase passenger numbers, the Willy’s Jeep was stretched at the back and become the jeepney. Further modifications were made, including chrome bumper bars, screeching horns, blaring radio cassette recorders (now banned) and any number of religious ornamentation.
As with all things, bureaucracy plays a lending hand. All jeepney drivers need to be licensed fore the designated trips and have set fares imposed by local Philippine Government agencies. If a rogue Philippine jeepney driver steps outside the government rules and regulations that bind the jeepney drivers, the fines and penalties can be crippling. What maybe worse is the added confrontation with other jeepney drivers who your misdemeanors may have financially affected.
What any amount of regulation cannot change is the fantastic culture that you become exposed to when you jump in a jeepney. Not only are you traveling in a Filipino’s pride and joy and a work of art, but you are embracing a modern tradition that is showing no signs of abating.
If you are lucky enough to travel to the Philippines, ensure you give yourself a treat and catch a ride in a jeepney. The moment will be with you for ever.