Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines, Jeepneys were originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II. The word jeepney is a portmanteau of the words “jeep” and “jitney”, a franchised small bus that carries passengers on a regular route with flexible schedule. Jeepneys are plentiful on most routes, but you may have to wait a while to get your ride: jeepney drivers are not inclined to depart until they’ve got (at least) a full load. During the rush hours or in the aftermath of a sudden downpour, be prepared to be packed in like sardines, with three or four hardy souls clinging to the back or the roof of the vehicle for dear life.
When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to the Filipinos. The jeeps were stripped down and altered by the locals; metal roofs were added for shade; and they decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors with chrome-plated ornaments on the sides and hood. They reconfigured the back seat into two long parallel benches with passengers facing each other to accommodate more passengers. Its size, length and passenger capacity had increased as it evolved though the years .
Paying for a jeepney ride is straightforward – there’s a price (ask other passengers if you’re unsure) and you pay it, usually under the watchful eye of fellow travellers, who will help with translations if need be.
The average price for a short trip in Manila is P7 about 15 AUS cents, and you can pay anywhere along the way. The driver usually has change, at least for smaller bills. If you are too far from the driver, simply hand your money to a passenger near the driver – not only will they pass on your money to the driver but will hand you back your change as well.
When you want to get off, you can rap on the roof, hiss you’ll be joined by a chorus of ‘Psst!’ from the other passengers or use the correct term, pára (pa-ra), which is Filipino for ‘stop’.