how to ride a jeep

I was inspired to come up with a post on how we Filipinos use our favourite mode of transportation when a foreigner popped this question under Yahoo Answers Philippines. (This one’s not actually intended for them, I just thought it would be nice to write about it. Add more if you want.)

Riding a jeep is actually very easy but the question made me realize if from a foreigner's point of view, it’s also as simple as I how I view it. I bet it isn’t. When I travel, I make sure that I have done my research on that place before embarking. I usually check on the mode of transportation – how do people get from one place to the other without taking a cab. I still believe that the best way to explore a certain place would be on foot or by trying to act as a local. I also procure a list of the places worth visiting and restaurants to splurge on food. I really think that’s a must, hehe

It is frustrating to learn that with the advent of technology, we still don’t have a good site nor a detailed map of the streets of manila posted on the web. I have seen some but it only includes the main highways of Metro Manila and the CBD in Makati, not on places like Sampaloc,Manila where the streets are tangled up like cobwebs. Google map can't be viewed with street maps and concrete directions as compared to other countries. A good one with a timetable is very useful for anyone who intends to go around the Metro.

Ok, on with how we ride a jeepney around Metro Manila:

First: One needs to know his or her destination. If one intends to go to Quiapo, then look for jeepneys bound for Quiapo.

Second: Hail the jeep – anywhere. Yes, sad but true. We can hail the jeep anytime except in the middle of EDSA Cubao and the drivers would be very willing to stop for you, though a sign up there just right beside you says ‘no loading and unloading’. Well, it’s just a sign. But then, if you’re wise enough then hail the jeepneys in proper places. I’ve been doing this but the problem is, the driver won’t stop in front of me. He prefers to be at the corner where most of the passengers are and I always end up waiting for another jeep with a driver that would do the same thing.

Another thing to consider, sometimes when jeepney drivers wouldn't stop right in front of you, always be ready to run after it or walk towards it if it stopped a few meters ahead of you. Don’t expect them to come to you.

During busy hours, there would be people willing to "sumabit". Sabit is when there are no more available seats but you always have the option to stand at the doorway, just hold on tight.

Third: Board the jeep like boarding a bus. Either you take the front seat, right beside the driver or you can stay in the long seats at the back.

Sitting beside the driver gives you a good view of the streets of Manila but in some jeepneys, you could not even see the car ahead of you with all the thingys placed on the windshield. Two more disadvantages would be, it could be very hot since you're a few inches away from the engine and you'll be squeezed by the driver and the other passenger, not advisable for women.

If you prefer to stay at the back, you’ll have a limited view of the places outside and you’ll have to endure facing a stranger all throughout the trip, that is, if the jeep is jam-packed with passengers. But if there’s a lot of space, you could even extend your feet and do sight-seeing.

Fourth: Pay your fare. Minimum fare now is P8.00. Cheap? No, my ten pesos years ago allow me to pay for my friend and pay for my two jeepney trips. Nowadays, ay deadma sa friend! She’ll pay hers, I’ll pay for mine and we’ll just smile at each other.

In paying for your fare, try to have the exact amount but if you don’t know how much it would cost you, either ask the driver or the passengers seated beside you. I still believe that there’s good in every stranger. They’ll tell you the truth. Better yet, if you doubt your seatmate, ask the question really loud, all of the passengers would give you a more definite answer.

If you’re seated near the door, ask the people near you to pass it on to the driver.

Fifth: if you’ve reached your destination, say “Mama,para or sa tabi na lang po.” Others also say, “sa kabila lang po” referring to the other side of the road when the jeep happens to have stopped before a traffic light.

I had this funny experience with a co-passenger back in College, he said "para" like three or four times already but the driver didn't seem to hear him. What he did, he shouted "ayoko na!" then next came the screeching halt. Saying ‘para’ also takes a lot of patience and i mean lots and lots of patience. Either the jeepney driver is busy scouting for passengers or has been playing that loud song which hurts our eardrums, he wouldn't hear you. But not all could be blamed on the driver, I have noticed some people saying ‘para’ whose voice can only be heard by them. Next time, try saying ‘para’ loud enough for everyone to hear but with grace..

Sixth: you can always say thank you to mamang driver but I doubt if you can. By the time you have set foot on the street, the jeep would already be meters away from you.

In some provinces, jeepneys are also commonly used but unlike in Manila where staying on top of the jeepney is not allowed, there people and bags are always welcome. We call it ‘topload’, I’m not sure with the other provinces.

To topload is advisable for travelers. You could have a great view of the sceneries and you’ll have an exciting trip. Bottoms may become sore from sitting for a long time on the metal and fingers may become numb from holding too tightly on the handles, still the experience is all worth it. Better even with rough and zigzag roads like those we have in Sagada.