No respectable travel log of the Philippines would be complete without a post about Jeepneys.
Americans Allied Forces drove out the Japanese Imperial Army from the Philippines at the end of World War II, the American military decided that it would be cheaper to leave their military jeeps in the Philippines than to transport them back to the States.
Entrepreneurial locals saw a great business opportunity (free jeeps!) and quickly converted the abandoned jeeps into their own unique form of transportation.
Today, more than half a century after the end of the War, Jeepneys had become one of the most popular forms of public transportation in the Philippines. Available in almost all parts of Philippines, along with their outrageous designs and blazing colors, some could even argue that they are a cultural symbol of the Philippines.
Regardless, it’s definitely the cheapest form of transport around. A ride from one end of the city to another typically cost 8PHP – 22PHP (less than 1 USD)
It’s squeezy, uncomfortable and stuffy, but seriously… no trip to the Philippines would be complete without a ride in a Jeepney.
It is like a car ride combined with performance art.
I’m not even talking about the ability of the driver to dive headlong into crazy traffic (many times oncoming ones) and squeeze through the narrowest of gaps that are all but invisible to the naked human eye. I’ve come to realize that this death defying stunt is all too common in the Philippines to be considered a “super power”.
No… a ride in a Jeepney leaves us, quite literally hanging on the edge of our seats.
A Jeepney is designed to seat 8 people comfortably on each sides of the aisle. So far, we’ve taken our share of Jeepney rides, and I think we are in good stead to say that a normal Jeepney is not able to function without at least 20 persons cramped into the back seats and along its aisle.
And those were on good days.
There were also times when we thought that the Jeepney could not possibly take on another passenger. Stools would then magically appear, and defying all known laws of physics, more passengers would squeeze onto the jeepney. I actually thought they might start handing out red noses and wigs and drive us to a Big Top. It’s kinda like a clown car in reverse.
At the height of the insanity, Jo counted 36 people in one of our Jeepneys. “In” being relative, since there were people hanging out of the back and some riding ON TOP of the Jeepney.
Great fun indeed.