Jeepney – A Filipino 'specialty' is about to disappear

With 70 years of existence, Jeepney – the typical bus of Philippine culture is about to be wiped out by 2020 because of not meeting safety and emission standards.


Jeepney is the most popular public transport and is a cultural and artistic symbol of the Philippines. It is a small bus with brilliant exterior decorations and plenty of seats inside.


Jeepneys are made from US military jeeps left from World War II. The name ''jeepney'' is made up of ''jeep'' - American military vehicles and ''jitney'' - meaning cheap buses. There is also an idea that the jeepney name is made up of ''jeep'' and ''knee'' - because the passengers have to sit on their knees.


Initially, jeepneys were completely refurbished vehicle from jeeps. After 1953, a jeepney manufacturing company was founded and named Sarao Motor. At the beginning, Sarao Motor used Willys and Ford military jeeps to make jeepneys. Gradually, the company turned to full production with imported Japanese parts.


The jeepneys are considered as cultural symbols of Manila in particular and the Philippines in general, similar to the yellow cab of New York. In addition to public purposes, jeepney can also be used as a private vehicle. If it is a private vehicle, the jeepney will be added with a rear door and a sign that says "private" or "for family" on the back. Exceptions are jeepneys on the highway, with obligated rear doors, and in some cases the rear doors are designed to let the driver control opening and closing automatically. Jeepneys are rarely used for commercial or educational purposes.


The characteristics that make up the unique culture of jeepneys are artistic drawings outside these buses. The vivid colors work as a helper of the driver - waving to guests from afar. In addition, jeepneys are also decorated with chrome-like materials or bizarre items to increase attention. Picture of Jesus on the door of a jeepney is a typical example.


For decades, jeepney has been considered the cheapest and most popular public transport in the Philippines with millions of uses each year in Manila alone. In poor rural areas, a jeepney can also transport twice the number of passengers specified.


However, it is also a problem of jeepney. From 2020, the Philippine government will completely eliminate jeepneys that are more than 15 years old because they do not meet the standards of emission and safety for passengers.


Instead, there will be minibuses equipped with air-conditioners and spacious private seats. This new vehicle will be mass produced with modern technology, not a tuned vehicle like jeepney. However, the departure of the jeepney will lead to the disappearance of a typical Filipino culture for the past 70 years.







By: Quinn Abrams

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