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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jeepney Scenes (Mga Eksena sa Jeep)

Being a commuter for much of my life, I have witnessed (and experienced) all sorts of things inside the jeepney… some funny, some scary, some gross … you name it. For those who are clueless what jeepneys are, these are the most popular form of public transportation here in the Philippines.

From Wikipedia:
Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II and are well known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating. They have also become a symbol of Philippine culture.
Just the other night, on my way home, I witnessed a woman drop a peso coin as she was putting her change into her purse. The coin bounced off the floor and landed on the step of the jeepney’s entrance. She couldn’t get her eyes off the coin and it was evident that she wanted it back. Every time someone would get off, she would become edgy, perhaps fearing that her precious coin would be kicked off to the street. At one point, she tried to reach for the coin and the driver (who didn’t notice what she was doing) suddenly stepped on the gas… good thing she was able to hold on, if not, she would have rolled of the jeepney and fell on the pavement. Well, she eventually got her coin back.

That story is NOTHING compared to a lot of what I have encountered inside the jeepney over the years.

Like the one that happened on September 29, 2001, along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City…

My seat wasn’t even warm yet when two men suddenly declared a stick-up. They started off with a guy (seated behind the front passenger seat) who was at that time talking to someone on his cell phone. One of the SOBs (let’s call him SOB#1) pointed his knife (I think) at him and demanded for his cell phone. The guy initially resisted to hand over his cell phone. His resistance infuriated SOB#2 who was sitting one person away from me to my left. SOB#2 then pulled his gun out and rushed towards the guy with the cell phone and hit him in the face with the handle of his gun. When they got the poor guy’s cell phone, they shifted their attention to the other passengers, myself included. “Give me your cell phone!” SOB#2 yelled at me. Thinking that I probably could get away with it (with my cell phone inside my pocket), I told him “I don’t have one!” He then reached over to my pocket, grabbed the bulge that was my cell phone, pointed his gun at my face (with just a couple of inches to spare) and yelled “You SOB! You don’t have a cell phone?!” Well, they eventually got all the passengers’ cell phones (except for an old man’s) and jumped off the jeepney (at the Roces/Pantranco area).

That’s, by far, the scariest thing that has happened to me as far as my commuting life is concerned. As for the grossest, well…

I can’t really remember when this happened, but there was this time when the lady sitting across where I was seated started to jerk… she appeared to have some difficulty breathing and her face was turning red. She bent forward and started to make choking sounds… then some thick phlegm-like substance came out of her mouth and slowly stretched its way to the floor. The old woman sitting beside her was so grossed out that she yelled at her telling her to stick her head out of the window (which I realized at this point wasn’t really such a good idea as she could have lost her head that way). Well, some kind soul pulled out a plastic bag and handed it over to her.

There’s one story my friend has told me about which I find very funny (gross as it may be). He and his friend were on their way home after a drinking session. In the middle of the trip, his friend started to make those “pre-puking” facial contortions and body movements. Since my friend was seated right beside the entrance, he asked his friend if he wanted to switch places with him. His friend declined his offer and told him he was alright. Then, suddenly, his friend placed his hand over his mouth in an attempt to keep his mouth shut. Unfortunately, the pressure was probably too great that puke squirted out from the corners of his mouth! (Can’t resist chuckling as I was writing that.)

I have tons more stories like these with many hilarious ones… I could write all day about them but, I’m thinking, witnessing these things first hand is much better than hearing/reading about it. So, go out, ride a jeepney and enjoy the show.


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