This may look just like your run-of the mill type of transportation but there’s something about this super brightly colored, heavily decorated jeepney that defies even the most complicated laws of Physics.
Before I discuss that, let me discuss the basics of the wonder that is the jeepney.
Jeepneys originated from the jeeps left by the American troops after the second world war. To make it their own, the drivers decorated it with bright paint, flags, posters and whatever they could think of. Soon, it became the most popular mode of transportation in the Philippines.
It’s origins are simple, clearly. The laws that govern its very existence, however, are not.
Let’s see… the jeepney driver must be some kind of super being as he or she is able to do all these things(and more) at the same time:
- driving the vehicle, of course
- keeping an eye for who has paid their fare and who has not
- announcing how many did not pay yet (and there’s that awkward moment when the only one who hasn’t paid is actually sitting beside the driver)
- computing for the change of fare
- dodging the potholes in the road
- analyzing when a passenger needs to go down
- psychically deciding if the person on the roadside is a potential passenger or not
- and of course, mad driving skills needed to evade cops
Now, what’s really baffling is how so many people can fit in a tiny space. The secret is the driver’s or the conductor’s magic words:
“Ipit-ipitin lang po!” (sit closer to each other) or “Sikit- sikiti bisan dili mag-uyab!”(sit close to each other even if you’re not girlfriend-boyfriend)
And just like magic, 30 sweating and extremely uncomfortable passengers fit into passenger seats intended for 18 people. This is not counting the dozen sitting on the roof just like celebrities on motorcade during MMFF week and of course, the 2 unfortunate ones left to dangle on the jeepney door.
Another mystery is how it has the ability to gather the most diverse groups of people. From the rich-looking, well made-up donya to your loud, bubbly colegialas, to your headset-donning, head banging rockstar wannabe to the guys sporting that “just-got-out-of-bed” look.
I actually have friends who have ridden jeepney just once or twice in their entire lives. I tell them, they’re missing out on a lot.
Riding it, however mundane it may seem after thousands of rides, kind of gives me a sense of adventure. An interlude before I reach the end of my journey is trying to figure out the other mysteries of this amazing contraption.