How To Make Your Jeepney Ride Fun and Interesting
by JC Ansis
When in Manila, it’s hard not to notice the number of jeeps/jeepneys that roam around the streets every day. Everywhere you look, multi-decorated jeeps are always blowing their horns and picking up passengers. Thousands of people all over the country ride jeeps. Whether they’re on their way to school, to the office, to the malls, or anywhere else, jeeps have always been and always will be a staple in Philippine transportation due to their low cost and the opportunity of employment for the jeepney drivers and owners.
Every time I get into a jeep, I find a vacant seat and take a quick scan of the people inside. I reach into my pocket and pay the fare. But when traffic gets terrible or if I’m still miles away from where I need to go, I think of all sorts of crazy things. I create a playground in my head and start coming up with a bunch of stuff to make the ride worthwhile, especially in a fully-loaded Manila jeepney.
Here are some things I do to make a Philippine jeepney ride interesting. You’re not going to actually DO them (well you can, but you’ll look pretty stupid), just play them in your head.
The boat jeep is sinking…
This one’s pretty easy, like that drunk girl at the bar… All you have to do is group the passengers. I usually always start by dividing the guys from the girls. Separate the people wearing jeans from the people wearing shorts. Shoes or slippers? Categorize the people by the color of their clothes. Separate the students from the professionals. Who’s wearing watches and who aren’t? Split the group of passengers into two. One group for people who you think you can become friends with, and another group for people you want to start throwing coins at. It’s amusing, I tell you.
“One! Two! Three! AH AH AH!”
It’s all about numbers! Count how many stickers the jeep has, the number of signboards stocked inside. Count the number of passengers it can occupy. Count how many times you hear the word ‘para’. How many people are gripping the hand bars? How many passengers have bags? Spot the number of umbrellas. You know that ‘God Bless Our Trip’ sign? Count how many tassels it has. Here’s a challenge: Look for someone you can have a staring contest with and count how many seconds till one of you breaks.
Ever wondered what it would be like to be in a rock band? If your answer is yes, now’s your chance to be a rockstar (well, not quite) Look at the passengers inside the jeep and choose which people you want to form a band with. I’ve done this a thousand times and I always end up being the frontman (why wouldn’t I be?). What kind of music would you play? Think of a cool name for your band (dibs on The Passengers, Demon Driver and Tambutso). Once you’ve formed the band in your head, find your manager, your roadies and groupies. Also, choose someone you want to smash on the head with your guitar.
There is no I in TEAM!
This is similar to the ‘rockband’ concept, except this time, you’re creating a basketball team. Or whatever team sport you prefer. Undoubtedly, I take it upon myself to be the franchise player. I always thought that if a parallel universe existed, the ‘other’ me would be a famous professional basketball player. Anyway in this scenario, I’d pick four other starters. Obviously, a tall guy would make a good center. If you have problems looking for forwards, pick the dudes who clog the aisle and take up a lot of space. And for a point guard, choose someone who has a knack for passing around jeep fares. You’ll need a cheering squad, too. Gather the girls in your head, and hold auditions. Choose women who scream ‘BAYAD PO!’ the loudest. You don’t have to picture them in mini-skirts, but it helps.
Survivors, ready?! GO!
Know that hit TV reality game show called Survivor? If you don’t, I advise you to stop reading and pour a jar of red ants in your ears. Shame on you. Anyway, for those of you who do, think of the whole jeep as the island and the passengers in it as your tribe. Look at all the passengers’ faces and bodies. Who do you think are threats? Which people can you trust and build an alliance with? Any naive person you can manipulate and screw over? Who do you want to vote off the tribe immediately? (Imagine telling that person “the tribe has spoken” then literally kicking him off the jeep. Entertaining, isn’t it?)
AND THE AWARD GOES TO…
Look for certain qualities of the passengers that you find humorous and attention-grabbing. For instance, you can glance at everyone’s shoes and come up with the “Best-Original Shoes” award (yes, fakes are disqualified). Are there people texting or using their phone? Nominate them for the “Phone Most Likely To Be Snatched” award. Is anyone in business attire? Label that person Executive of the Year. If there are females, pick the most stylish girl and name her Ms. Fashionista. Take a peek at everyone’s feet and spot someone who should be given the “Worst Nails Ever” award.
Anyone sick in the group worthy of the “Loudest Cough With Phlegm” title? If a lady berates at the driver for not stopping immediately, you should give her the award for “Best Jeepney Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role”. If someone pretends to sleep to avoid passing other people’s fares, there’s your Best Actor. And never EVER forget to choose someone who deserves the “Most Annoying Looking Passenger A.K.A. The Backpfeifengesicht” award. (FYI, backpfeifengesicht is German for “a face badly in need of a fist”)
There are a lot of other ways to make a jeepney ride interesting. These are just a few nonsensical things I usually do, but you can come up with your own. You may think it’s geeky, but it’s really fun. It’s a good way to beat the traffic and heat while getting around. So When In Manila and find yourself inside a jeep, unleash your imagination and play with your thoughts. Who knows, the person next to you could be thinking the same things, too.
How to make your Jeepney Ride Fun and Interesting: When In Manila Jeep Info
Special thanks to Athan Francisco, Cleng Punongbayan, Michelle de Jesus, Paul Ang and Angelica Gabriel for their photo contributions. I know how hard it is to take photos inside a jeep, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH!