The Philippine Jeepney – King of the Road
In visiting the Philippines Islands, one common sight as you travel along its roads is the Philippine jeepney. In every part of the country’s islands and provinces, you see this bulky yet magnificient road vehicle warrior roaring with hundreds of other Philippine jeepneys racing always with time.
This mode of transportation has become one of the symbols of contemporary Philippine society, and especially that of Filipino ingenuity. The jeepney of the Philippines is adorned with different types of stickers, large and small, of images of god-knows-what and anything man can ever conceptualize.
The stickers emblazoned in the metallic body of this automotive monster range from the image of the virgin mother, a beer bottle, an image of Michael Jordan, to a representation of the Martians invading the Earth. If you see American walls full of grafitti, call the graffiti in a philippine jeepney as informal art – graffiti on wheels.
The predecessor of the philippine jeepney is that of the jeep commonly used during the last World War. Combining the ruggedness of a truck with the speed and mobility of a light car, the original jeep, called a “peep” during World War II, was about 3 meters long and 1.5 meters wide, carried six passengers, and could travel about 105 kilometers per hour. Essential features were a powerful engine, two and four-wheel drive, and deep treaded tires. A standard jeep can haul a load of half a ton or more and manuevers well over muddy or hilly terrain. Modern jeeps, availble commercially, are often capable of traveling at speeds of 144 kilometer per hour or faster.
After it was decommisioned, the Filipinos revolutionalized it into metallic art. The modern King of the Road’s body is retrofitted with panels of thin metals to serve as it exterior surface, where it is outfitted with brightly-colored tassels and decorative rear-view mirrors,and customized with an engine with that of a small truck or a big automobile. Depending on the taste of the owner, the jeepney’s interior is sometimes fitted with custom-made stereo -speakers blaring on all points of the jeep- complete with all overhead panels control panels on the driver’s side. The passengers’ seats are styled with sofa-like seats customized with tailored edges of different colors.
When you ply the routes to and fro anywhere in a certain location in the Philippines which is cheap and riding in one is an experience, expect nothing more than riding the Philippines’ number one mode of transportaion, the King of the Road, the Jeepney – It remains today as one which a Fiipino could say “uniquely Filipino.” Yunik!