Last Updated: October 18th, 2018
With its vibrant and colorful designs, noisy engines, and relatively cheap fare, the Philippine jeepney has become the country’s preferred mode of transportation since the end of the Second World War. Rivaling the centuries-old Spanish-era churches in the country, the Philippine jeepney has now become a national symbol that showcases Filipino ingenuity.
While traditional jeepneys now faces an uncertain future with the arrival of modern jeepneys, change will and has to come for the better. That doesn’t mean, however, that we’ll come to forget the contribution this iconic “king of the road” has brought the country.
1. The word jeepney is said to be a combination of the words ‘jeep’ and ‘jitney’–with ‘jeep’ referring to the military vehicle used during the War while ‘jitney’ is a popular term referring to an American taxicab.
2. With most of the country’s public transportation damaged during the War, local manufacturers modified the war jeeps that were left behind by the Americans to transport more passengers.
3. The first iteration of the country’s jeepneys were refurbished military jeeps that were developed by American automobile companies–Willys and Ford.
4. While it was initially devised as a temporary solution as a means for transport, it quickly evolved into the cultural symbol that we know today.
5. Realizing the widespread use of jeepneys after the War, the Philippine government began to regulate its use. From having special licenses to regulated routes to having a fixed rate to charge.
6. The jeepneys that we see today, however, are now run using surplus engines and spare parts from Japan.
7. Countries like Papua New Guinea and Vietnam imported thousands of jeepneys from the Philippines. With Papua New Guinea, it was done as a more cost-efficient alternative for buses while Vietnam received donation from the Philippine government to alleviate its traffic situation. News reports also say that India and Guam are said to be the next export targets for jeepneys.
8. The design of the modern jeepney have several iterations in different parts of the Philippines:
- Jeepneys in areas like Benguet, Sagada, Baguio, and Ifugao are fitted with truck wheels to better maneuver unpaved mountainous roads.
- Deviating from the usual long-nosed front of the jeepneys, Cebu’s jeepneys are flat-nosed and are made from surplus trucks from Japan.
- Commonly known as “passad” Iloilo’s jeepneys are built from sedans and pickup trucks with an elongated body.
- Most of the jeepneys in island of Leyte are built using “multicab” imported from Japan.
- Known as uso-uso, the Nelson-type jeepneys manufactured and used in Davao City feature a front grille and elongated designs that are usually fitted with a powerful stereo system.
9. With the Transportation Department’s plan to modernize jeepneys plying the roads in the country, we may now see the end of the traditional jeepneys that we’ve come to know since the end of the Second World War.
10. Prototypes for the new jeepneys now comply with new standards including a minimum seating capacity, Euro-4 compliant engines, higher headroom, and some even feature CCTVs and Wi-Fi.
The Manila Project
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