The 10 people you meet in the jeepney

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

THE jeepney has played a huge part on how average Filipinos live their daily lives. It has become a cultural icon of sort that even tourists, find it a thrill to experience riding one.

Whether the transport system could be improved or not is for another time. But for this story, the writer enumerates 10 different local personalities you meet during a ride, that make up the “complete jeepney experience.” Feel free to share if you have any more ideas! #peopleyoumeetinajeepney

The ‘free-ride-via-communication-skills’ guy


You’d be surprised how close this particular guy and the driver are. Off the street, the former would call out the latter with some “bro-style” term of endearment (Bai, Gaw, Ki). Then he would flash a huge smile, get on the jeepney and sit right behind where the driver is.

Then he would ask how many route “rounds” the driver has already done for the day. He would then proceed asking the driver more questions like: How much the rent of his jeepney is? Does it run on diesel or gasoline? How his old uncle his doing? How much he lost in a bet during the last PBA finals? And then with suave, he asks if he could read the Sun.Star Super Balita tabloid the driver just bought.

After a while, the guy gets off the jeep bidding the driver goodbye with a tap on the back. How close they really are and how deep the bond they really share is a fact we’ll never know.

Just hanging out

Literally—this guy just hangs out.

Sometimes, it’s for practicality’s sake since the jeep is already packed with passengers. Sometimes, it’s for the coolness factor, especially when it’s a teen boy’s first time to ride the jeep—hanging out by the rear entry while the vehicle is running is a passage rite to manhood—complete with the involuntarily bicep flexing that comes along every pothole and hump on the road.

But then there are instances when some guys don’t have the communication skills like the dude we mentioned earlier in the story. So he resorts to getting a free ride, via “non-verbal communication.” He just hangs by the entry and wears a stoic look; Famas-like.

The driver gets it: This guy isn’t paying.


Inspired by the Pokemon character, this individual does two things very well: snore and relax.

He or she must have had a long day at school or work—they just can’t wait to get home.

A good technique how to sleep in a jeepney would be, grabbing the safety bar with your hand and resting your head against your arm that’s already suspended. Also, make sure your internal body clock knows when to wake up, or you might just miss your stop.

But be wary, sometimes this is just a technique from not having to be one to reach out for fares from people seated at the far end and then pass the money to the driver in front.

Like a boss

Take your swagger somewhere else. But in a cramped-up public utility jeepney that’s bound to be filled with commuters, sit properly. It is considered a mortal sin to fold one’s legs or sit with ample space. Call it passenger penance. Passengers who refuse to cooperate will definitely earn the ire of 20 other people.

There is only one boss in the jeepney, and it is he who has the “Good Morning” towel wrapped around his neck.

Two like glue

These love birds sit too close to each other, they probably just take up one spot.

Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why jeepney conductors still pick up passengers and then claim, “there’s still one more vacancy,” in dialect of course.

These kinds of couples are caught up in a romantic ride and are lost in each other’s company. Close your eyes: PG-13.

Mr. / Ms. Clueless

The part of the riding population that’s a little more naive than everyone else.

Here’s a well-known secret: That stretch of traffic from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. that goes on along a particular road leading to a popular city mall? That place is notorious for robbery.

Text on your smart phone or wear jewelry near the window, and you are sure to lose your valuable items to ill-meaning members of society. But regardless of area, people shouldn’t be too clueless about what happen in public rides—rush hour or not. Better safe than sorry.

You know who else shouldn’t be clueless? The authorities who should be informed about the crime highway “hot spots” that has been happening for years already in the city.

The gentlemen

These are the boys those who get up from their seats when elderly people get on the jeepney. They are also the ones who slip from seating comfortably to enable other to sit better. They are not, in any way, affiliated with PSY. They just have a right sense of goodness in them.

Veteran moves

These rides are incomplete without our senior citizens. They are most experienced of the bunch and drivers should know better but slow down and not rush them. The veterans know how it used to be back then when rides would cost only a peso, or even lesser.

Although time has slowed them down physically, they are still quick to recall how much change they expect from the driver, after invoking their right to the law-imposed, senior citizen’s discount.

The non-jeepney species

“This isn’t Kim Chiu, is it?”

When you begin to ask yourself such questions after noticing one of the passengers, then you have just experienced encountering “non-jeepney specie.” A complexion so fair and skin so smooth, you’d guess it right that they have been pampered going from one place to another in a moderately-tinted sedan.

But there are days that cars break down. If it isn’t much of a problem for this particular kind of individual, you’ll find him or her commuting with you—to Ayala or SM. A rarity though.

The all-day holiday gang

Granting they have nothing in mind but to beg with a lame excuse, these guys just don’t know when to quit. They wear decent clothing; open their begging/jamming session with “feel-sorry-for-us” spiels that have been done to death, and then force people to give them some loose change. All in the middle of March!

It isn’t Christmas, it isn’t Valentine’s Day or Halloween! What are they begging for? Fire Prevention Month? For these boys, every day’s a holiday.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 24, 2014.


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