Jeepneys: Culturally-Significant Pests of the Philippines

I have thought about this post for quite some time because of the gravity of the situation. The title itself piqued your interest and already wondering what this is all about. Just remember that this is my opinion and I’m always welcome for a debate. So here goes.

After my trip to Asia and experiencing Philippine traffic first-hand as an educated driver, I realize that there are many issues to iron out.

The one thing that stood out to me the most are these:


Yes, that’s right; the jeepney. Before I start bashing about this, let me provide you with a quick history lesson.

So it was the mid 1940’s and the Americans liberated us from Japanese occupation in World War II. The war was over and it’s time to head home. While leaving, the US Army had many assets scattered across the country; one in particular are the Willy Jeep’s. So either they gave or sold them to Filipinos and we turned them into these pseudo-buses.

To make things lively and let’s face it, attention-seeking, people have painted these jeepney’s with funky color schemes. One in particular stood out to me and I heard about it from my relatives but never did have the opportunity to see it first-hand.

Thankfully, here’s a taste courtesy of Cecilia Rojas (@SiCeciliaDiva):

Only in the Philippines

Educated? Now here’s the reality.

The big problem of these jeepney’s is that they are privately-owned. Sure, they’re (loosely) regulated by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), in charge of the city-related issues like traffic congestion, and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), which is like the DMV for the North American readers. However, since they’re not fully regulated by the government, they can go to their respected route as they please, even if they only have ONE PASSENGER. That’s right; they wait and clog the road, hoping to fill their jeepney when subconsciously, after doing this for many years, this is the best they’ll get that day. But no, hope is keeping them planted, causing 1/3 of the road to be congested. Multiply that dilemma with 5 on the same road and you get an idea.

There are some things in life where it should be publicly-owned. This should be one of them. The government can control the quantity of buses running on the city that day and send more/less depending on demand. This is what the jeepneys and the buses (yes, buses are privately owned too!) in the Philippines need. Regulation.

You need regulation because when you have buses with no one in them clogging the highways, compounded with jeepney’s looking for a fare, competing with taxi’s, private cars, motorcycles, jaywalkers, stray dogs… You’ll go insane!

Keeping a government body in charge of the jeepney’s will keep things at bay. Case in point, my grandparents live on a street in Cubao unofficially run by jeepney drivers. What does that mean? Well:

– They turned the road into a hub, making the already narrow two-lane highway into a one-lane puzzle piece. Just to let you visualize how narrow Philippine streets are, just imagine one with no shoulder and instead of a shoulder, there’s a house. Or a wall.

– Because of that, they turned that stupid road into a one-way road, complete with a guy holding a rope gate to block drivers! How awesome is that? Not.

– They’re noisy, crude, and smells terrible. And don’t get me started on the jeepney’s themselves.

And who’s taking care of this situation? No one really. After endless complaints, the government just became apathetic and complied. It’s absolutely pathetic.

Regulation will also keep those unmaintained jeepney’s away from the roads. Nothing worse than a broken down vehicle in the Philippines. Unless you’ve always wanted to experience what a pariah goes through every day.

Finally, regulation will make these jeepney drivers educated on the rules of the road. To name a few, these people don’t give way in uncontrolled intersections so it causes more unnecessary pain, and don’t follow lane markings and just find any tiny space around and plays a game of chicken with you, whether you wanted to or not.

The government needs to step up and solve this problem and while they’re trying their best, this is what I believe will solve it. If you don’t believe me, look back in time when the Marcos government implemented the Love Bus. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I heard nothing but good things about this because it was a government-regulated public transportation for the masses. It’s what the modern world does business now.

I wrote this knowing I’m definitely going to get flack; “You’re not a true Filipino”; “those people are just trying to make a living!” to get you started. However, I did this for a reason.

I wrote this because I am a Filipino. I love my country and the culture that I’ve engrained myself into. I love it so much that I want to improve it for the future. I don’t want to see the jeepney, not a damn bit.

I just want to see the jeepney become a better example of the Philippines.

– Don

PS If you liked/disliked that post, please reply. I’d love to hear from you! Also, share it as much as you can so we can start a debate going. I love to hear opinions of others. Cheers!


One Reply to “Jeepneys: Culturally-Significant Pests of the Philippines”

  1. They belong in a museum. They have served their purpose long enough, they were meant to be a temporary solution for mass transportation after the World War but then we never really progressed after. I hope that the EV (electric vehicle) revolution that will come in 2020 (hopefully) will fix these problems.

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