Ruston Banal recently shared an article with us that was published in a regional newspaper in 2013. He tells us that it was “dug out of the grave” as it is being shared by younger generations in the community these past few days. The story revolves around a 1940 jeepney that has become an icon in a small town in Pampanga with a very interesting driver named Tatang Kitong.
(RELATED: Jeepney: Filipino Culture on Wheels)
Ruston tells us the story of Tang Kitong:
At 3 AM in the morning, Francisco Alfonso aka Tatang Kitong wakes up and grooms himself for another day of battle. He has a mission to fulfill. Getting his keys from his closet, one of these will ignite an engine that will prepare for a roar. An engine of a reconverted World War II GI Jeepney that will fetch every market goers to avoid the morning rush before the sun rises.
“They are having the ride of their lives”, stated Tatang Kitong as he maneuvers along the narrow stretch of San Agustin which heads to palengki (Guagua Public Market). His jeepney is filled with a mixtures of old ladies and middle aged women carrying their empty bayong and plastic bags, murmuring about the latest gossips in town.
This GI Jeepney has been a witness to the ever changing Betis street scape for the past 62 years. Bought in the amount of Php1,800 by Tatang Kitong’s parents in 1945, it was originally owned by a certain Waning from San Miguel Betis, which the latter won from a raffle contest. From its original setup, the parents of Tatang Kitong brought it for a reconversion to Boling-a popular talyer beside the Royal Theater in Guagua during the post-war era. From then on, the GI Jeepney-turned-pamasadas became the King of the Road in Betis.
The people love this jeepney, which has been serving the Betiseños for over 3 generations. “Masanting yang sasaken. Maligwa yang sasapak uling pang-anaman yamu. (It’s a very nice jeepney. It will not take you too long for it to be filled up because it’s too small”, states a commuter when asked why he prefers riding the legendary jeepney.
13 presidents of the Philippines have already been outlasted by this jeepney. Its legacy in Betis is undeniably long considering it still exists today.
When asked whether the condition of his jeepney can still take another generation, Tatang Kitong replied, “Driving this jeepney to fetch any Betiseno who wishes to ride on it will be my ultimate mission on what is left with my life. This jeepney is quite old. As old as my memories. It may not run as fast as the latest car in the world. But it will sure run forever.”
Camera: Sony Alpha SLT / Lens: Carl Zeiss 24mm-70mm from Digital Photograper Nigel Ian Laxamana
Do you have any similar stories to share? Share them with us! 🙂