While courteously introducing to me the Philippines in a soapbox – the places I should go, the weather, economy, food, what to “avoid” – the airport taxi driver sitting next to me abruptly pointed to what looked like an open-ended, SUV-sized tin box containing silhouettes that drove ahead on a dark freeway. “That is for poor people,” He pointed at what was now in front of us, with headlights revealing an SUV Jeep that looked like its cargo flesh was scooped out and replaced with seats lined along the sides. “That is only for poor people because it is cheap.”
I loved riding the open-air *jeepneys:
trying to figure out where the oncoming jeepneys are going by reading the signs stickered to their windows, hailing one down from wherever, jumping and crouching your way in to sit, passing the few pesos to the people sitting around you so that they pass the amount to the driver, glimpsing at the incoming passengers: men, women, children, students (and nurses-to-be), young adults… what is common is an incredible fascination.
There are no handout maps for jeepney routes, or posts with laminated directions. There are men carrying wooden boxes filled with individually wrapped candies and rows of open cigarette packages. When traffic momentarily stops, they’d exchange a cigarette or candy for a few pesos to drivers. Nobody blinks twice to this open interaction.
*Other ways of getting around Metro Manila are traysikels, cars, metered taxis, bicycles and the Light Rail Transit.
Just visiting? start from the beginning.