For frequent jeepney riders, encountering a lot of people and their varying personalities is not a novelty. No matter what route you take—Pasig-Quiapo, Divisoria-Cubao, Lawton-Baclaran, Caloocan-Bulacan, etc.—you’re bound to ride with different sets of folks who have similar habits and circumstances, usually based on where they sit.
A few good men
Courteous people usually sit beside or behind the driver or near the back of the jeepney. Those who sit up front or behind the driver usually carry bulky baggage. They want to sit there so as not to block the entry and exit of passengers, and usually extend their hand when another passenger pays the fare.
It’s as if they feel that their baggage lessens the number of passengers the jeepney can carry, so they just compensate by being the “fare crane” for the driver.
When they don’t have much baggage or ride the jeepney first, or when only a handful of passengers are aboard, they usually slide to the front and pay the driver first and slide back down near the exit, so as not to trouble other passengers. In some cases, when elderly people climb up the steps, they move and allow the “young once” to sit nearer the exit.
Get a room
There are some passengers who act like newlyweds, as if they’re on a honeymoon in transit. And then there are also those who hold mini conferences on the road. These people usually sit in the middle of the “siyaman” seats that, in all honesty, only fit seven.
Some couples really have a hard time controlling urges. They tend to forget that there are people around them who see the things they do, even those whom they think they can hide with a sling bag. Most jeepney routes pass by at least one hotel or motel, and it’s not that hard to pull the string to signal the driver to stop.
There are also hotels and motels that cater to conferences and meetings. People who ride in groups and think that the jeepney is a place to hold discussions, arguments and debates should really consider booking a whole day for these activities, and allowing those who wake up early to go to work to get at least a 15-minute nap.
These passengers are the most irritating. Like some of their courteous counterparts, they usually place themselves on the last seat near the exit. They sit like they paid for three persons, and have a general love for footwear and a general hate for their elders.
These people redefine the idea of paying it forward—in a negative way. They strategically wait for another passenger to whom they will pass their fare, even if they are the only two persons there. Most of them sit as if they are on a couch. They don’t move for anybody, not even for the elderly, as common courtesy would dictate.
Finally, additional wear and tear on their shoes or slippers is not a welcome thought for them, as they insist on going down at the exact point of their destination, even if it was just two steps away from the last stop.
These are children denied the comfort of seats. It is a harsh reality that syndicates are enriching themselves at the expense of children. It’s a weakening sight to see a young boy carrying an infant, holding on for dear life, after chasing moving jeepneys to ask passengers for alms. Equally sad is how a young boy learns, at such a young age, to snatch wallets, watches, mobile phones and earrings from jeepney passengers.
What’s worse is that parents sometimes take part in the exploitation. There are times when a child jumps off a moving jeepney. The parents then come to their “rescue” and ask compensation for injuries from the driver. These children end up with broken elbows and scathed knees from the multiple jeepney dives.
Reflection on the galvanized iron
Filipinos pride themselves in saying that the jeepney is found only in the Philippines. It is a source of pride for us; it is part of our culture.
However, as you alight from the jeepney, it seems nothing has changed. Though they are not in their seats, the people you encounter inside the jeepney are the same folks you see in our society: a few good men; opportunists; and inconsiderate individuals.