There are two ways to look at jeepneys. One is the usual “crowded” scene where people practically rub their elbows against one another, with the familiar aroma of newly-puffed perfume mixed with the fishy smell from the basket of the local vendor on the adjacent side, and yes, the symphony of crying children and the occasional elderly ranting. The second is simply looking at it as a quick public ride to your destination.
I won’t deny it though. There was a phase in my life that I actually hated riding jeepneys – not because of the smell of fish or the tiny hands of babies touching my shoulder, but rather the time it would take me to head to school. Just because being a few minutes late (especially during Nursing duty hours) is already a demerit. Trust me, nobody wants a demerit – haha!
Back in college, I was taking cab rides almost every day and I did that because tardiness was not tolerated in the university and also the fact that I wanted my white uniform to remain white and not to have mud spatter all over it. So, most of my reasons are just precautions to miss out on demerits. Other than those that were mentioned, I am completely ok squeezing myself in public utility vehicles.
Personally, I find it really fascinating to be sitting inside a vehicle filled with strangers. Now that I am not tied with strict time frames, I happen to enjoy every single minute I spend in jeepneys because I get to observe people and their personalities – such a long spectrum if I were to enumerate. But to me, their individual stories and backgrounds are interesting if I am able to spark a small conversation.
There is absolutely beauty of being in that zone – that despite traveling alone (in the city or in various provinces), you still feel connected to the people around you with massive differences in age, occupation, gender, culture and such. I guess that instant connectivity is innate in human nature because that’s probably how we all are and that’s how we all function.
Here is a painting of a jeepney in Ormoc, Leyte – a scene that is so common in our country that people would just say “Oh look it’s another jeepney.” Well it’s not just a jeepney to me. It’s an open book exploding with stories withdrawn from society in silence.
When was the last time you had a conversation with a stranger in a jeepney?