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King of the Road: The cultural relevance of the Jeepney in the Philippines.

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THE CULTURAL RELEVANCE OF THE JEEPNEY IN THE PHILIPPINES
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During WWII, there was a heavy United States occupation in the Philippines. The army used the Jeep as their main source of transportation around the islands. They were known as Willy's Jeep. At the end of the American occupation, the abundance of these Jeeps littered the Philippines. The States cut their losses and left the Jeeps there. 
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The broken and beaten vehicles were left on the islands of the Philippines. What the Americans thought was waste, turned out to be a treasure to the Filipinos. These jeeps were stripped to their skeletons and reworked. The front of the car was used as a base of the reconstruction. A cabin was attached to the back, which extended the vehicle to the length of a small bus. From trash to treasure, the king of the road was born. 

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Each Jeeps' interior is almost as unique as its exterior. Some Jeepney seats are made of hard material that resembles that of a school desk, where as some are soft cushions that are similar to diner booths. The Jeep is lined with cut out square windows that act as ventilation for the passengers due to the extreme heat and rising temperatures in the cabin. The ceilings within the Jeep are also a piece that can be customized by the owner. Some have steel hand rails attached to the plain gray steel ceiling where as some have padding to guard the patrons from hitting their heads. The most unique aspect of the interior of the Jeepney are the trinkets that are placed by the owner/driver. These items can be a representation of the driver himself or a tool to attract more customers. Popular items seem on the inside include trinkets, religious items, curtains, and ceiling  hangs. The use of CD's is on the rise, for the blinding reflection that bounces off of the them and shines through the streets, luring customers. 
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This is a common cabin of a Jeep, These benches are cushioned yet the ceiling is just plain metal. The interior is not yet decorated, or the driver chose to keep it simple. 
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Before a paying customer experiences the inside of a Jeep, they are drawn to the art on its exterior first. Many Filipinos, or Pinoys, use the Jeep as an every day public transit. The demand for them is high, allowing drivers to use this as a relatively reliable source of income. In order to drawn in as many customers as possible, they have to stick out. They do so by decorating their Jeep. The decor includes pieces attached to the hood or mirrors and the most memorable part, the body art. No two Jeeps are alike, each one is unique and encompasses a different theme or idea. The most popular themes of art are religion, country pride, media, and bright colors. Art is an integral portion of the Filipino identity. This idea of identity is tied with their mode of transportation. 


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Jeepneys are very colorful, invoking joy when seen. The bodies of these vehicles are littered with images and sayings. Pride, religion, and icons are reoccurring themes that appear plastered on its sides. This Jeep presents aspects of the American flag, Catholicism, graffiti, well known images, and sayings. 
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Cartoons and Anime are popular throughout Asia, This image depicts characters from an Amine show. 
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Where there are not images of famous icons, there is color. Filipinos incorporate many different hues which is said to resemble their colorful and bright spirits. Not all the combinations of colors have meaning, some are just patterns chosen by the owner. 
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It is said that the word Jeepney (Jeep-knee) comes from the literal meaning of passengers in the jeep whose knees touch because lack of space. Many different people ride the Jeepney, which brings together diverse groups of individuals. Both literally and figuratively for the cabin is so small. This mode of public transportation has become the most popular among the average Filipino, for they are abundant and cheap to read. The average cost of a ride is about 7 - 10 pesos which is around 15 - 25 cents! Most drivers have started a discount program for students and seniors which allows them to ride for 20% off the original price. 






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In order to pay the driver, one must pass his fares forward. Individuals near the front of the Jeep are responsible for handling fares between the driver and other patrons. The honors system plays an integral role in the cabin, for each individual is responsible for paying his share. The Jeepney does not have a designated route, and is usually determined by the driver and number of passengers. In order to get off at your stop or near it, one must say "Para po!" which roughly translates to Please stop sir! If the passenger is to shy to speak, and the Jeep is driving slow enough, the passenger might just jump out the cabin even if it is still driving!
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The Jeepney has become a famous icon for the Filipino community. Its popularity has expanded throughout the media such as songs, movies, commercials, and even its own TV channel. In songs and movies, the Jeepney has become a romanticized symbol where two individual will ride the Jeep and fall in love in the cabin. Jeepney TV plays famous songs throughout the night and day. 
The woman singing is speaking of how she got onto a Jeepney, and while passing a school she noticed a man get on and couldn't take her eyes off of him. Now they do not want to get off the Jeep because they are in love and want to relish in the moment although they just met. 

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The Jeepney has become an unintentional symbol of the Philippines. These vehicles show how innovative Filipinos are, by taking a beat up piece of metal and transforming it into a work of transportation as well as art. The bright colors and fun designs on the interior as well as exterior represent how optimistic Filipinos are. These modes of transportation have been around for over 60 years, although they were old used pieces of metal, they were transformed into something functional which represents resilience. 


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The Jeepney is called the King of the Road for a reason. They are the size of small buses and litter the road. This causes major traffic congestion in the inner cities. They are also a safety hazard, these vehicles do not have a set of standards they must follow such as seat belts or wait until the Jeep stops to jump off. Not to mention they are aging and becoming outdated in regards to the new era of modes of transportation. A discussion of upgrading the Jeep has been discussed, to include more eco-friendly fuel types and body materials. These posed upgrades would modernize the Jeepney yet inflate the prices. The cost of a modern Jeepney would cost more than double what they do now, restricting poor families from purchasing them and using it as a source of income. The fares for each ride would increase as well, leaving the poor with no other option but to pay the increased fare or find another way to their destination. These decisions are at a stand still for the Filipino community has been pushing back the much needed change, for where would it leave the poor?


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