Resplendent in dazzling colours, the Jeepney provides cheap transport and is loved by the people of the Philippines. A hybrid vehicle modified from the left-behind American military Jeeps, the Jeepney both stands as a symbol of peace and freedom, as well as showcases the country’s rich Spanish history in its designs.
We follow the lives of some Jeepney-owners, and see how the Jeepney features in their everyday lives, as well as embodies the spirit of the people, their determination to survive hardship, their love of life and belief in a better future for all Filipinos.
History of the Jeepney
After World War II, surplus American G.I. jeeps were converted into public utility vehicles to meet the need for more commuter transport in the Philippines. The evolution of the Jeep’s form, and function that makes it a Jeepney, spans over 50 years. A period that saw it grow from a plain looking six passenger car to a well-decorated, technicolored minibus for up to 18 passengers (or even more! ). From the standard WWII Jeep, the body was extended, given a lavish dash of folk art, and trimmings, and Voila!
As one popular writer puts it: "The Jeepney is a mobile assemblage of signs, and symbols, decorative motifs and fetishes, rattling along the streets of Metro Manila and other towns throughout the archipelago with a ’Whoopie’ that would astonish the designers of the Original Willy’s Jeep."
Nowhere else in the World, except for the Philippines, can Jeepneys be found. It is uniquely Filipino in its approach to the mass transit problem. Nothing symbolizes Filipino ingenuity, innovativeness, adaptability, and grit more than this gutsy, cocky, colourful vehicle.