The Philippine Jeepney

The Philipppine Jeepney
The Philipppine Jeepney

Jeepneys are a popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They were originally made from US military jeeps (Willys) left over from World War II and are well known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating.

As American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to local Filipinos. Locals stripped down the jeeps to accommodate several passengers, added metal roofs for shade, and decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors and bright chrome hood ornaments.

Although the original jeepneys were simply refurbished military jeeps, modern jeepneys are now produced by independently owned factories within the Philippines. In the central Philippine island of Cebu, the bulk of jeepneys are built using second-hand Japanese trucks, originally intended for hauling cargo rather than passengers. These are euphemistically known as "surplus" trucks.

Jeepney as Mode of Transportation

After the war, surplus army jeeps were converted into the famous "jeepneys" seating about 12 to 15 passengers on longitudinal benches behind the driver’s partition. They are privately owned and ply along fixed routes painted on the side of the vehicles. Fares are modest, and they stop anywhere on request.

Enterprising Filipinos salvaged the engines of surplus GI jeeps that were about to be disposed of, and used them to manufacture then much needed low-cost mass transportation vehicles. The engines were given an all-new body and design, and with an unsurprising touch of creativity and ingenuity, out came the uniquely Filipino jeepney.

The jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to re-establish inexpensive public transportation, which had been virtually destroyed during World War II. Recognizing the wide-spread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to place restrictions on their use. Drivers now must have specialized licenses, regular routes, and reasonably fixed fares.

Payment while on a jeepney is on an honesty basis, with the jeepney driver just hoping that everyone who goes on his vehicle will pay the required amount for the distance traveled. Apart from the occasional companion while driving, the jeepney driver has little way of knowing who among his passengers has not paid. Sometimes, designers therefore put on signs to stoke the conscience of passengers, or to admonish passengers who fail to pay, with lines like “God knows Judas not pay.”

Today, the jeepney is the most popular mode of transport in the Philippines, owing to cheap fare and the convenience afforded to passengers to board and alight practically anywhere they want. It is said to be comparable to the jitney, the taxi/minibus that travels along a fixed route, found in many countries. However, every single Philippine jeepney is personalized – each one dressed up and given little touches that are often reflective of common-man sentiments of the time.

Jeepney Manufacturers

The unique thing about jeepneys is that no jeepney is exactly the same as another. Each jeepney is a testament to the artistic ability of the designer assigned to it. Work on the vehicle itself sometimes takes much shorter than work on the design and decorations on the vehicle, as the former has become almost mechanical, but the latter requires repetitive planning, and sometimes, mistakes can put back the designing effort by 1 or 2 weeks behind. It is a matter of pride for a jeepney designer to come up with a jeepney pleasing to the eye, and with an interior design that is both beautiful and not an impediment to function.

Local companies like Sarao Motors and Francisco Motors are prominent names in jeepney production in the Philippines. These companies build jeepneys piece by piece and in painstaking individual production. Buyers may have jeepneys made on a contractual basis, with designs specified by them. Visitors often pass by the workshops to watch jeepney artisans at work, to which the latter have no objection.

Launching of the Electric Jeepney
Launching of the Electric Jeepney
Air conditioned Jeep on display
Air conditioned Jeep on display

Jeepneys of the Future


The jeep was created by Solar Electric Co. (Solarco). The jeep is said to have a range of 120 km on an 8 hour charge while ferrying 17 passengers. According to Solarco, it would cost about P150.00 to charge the vehicle for 8 hours.


Due hot sunny days in the Philippines, air-conditioned jeepneys were developed which are good for long road travel. But air-conditioned jeepneys are rare and are considered a novelty with less than 20 air-conditioned units being registered as of October 1997.

Other Means of Transportation in the Philippines

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A carriage being pulled by a horse, the calesa had been introduced to Filipinos during the period of Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.The tricycle is a motorcycle with a sidecarA trisiboat is a tricycle run by a pumpboat engine.The pedicab is a bicycle with a sidecar
A carriage being pulled by a horse, the calesa had been introduced to Filipinos during the period of Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.
A carriage being pulled by a horse, the calesa had been introduced to Filipinos during the period of Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.
The tricycle is a motorcycle with a sidecar
The tricycle is a motorcycle with a sidecar
A trisiboat is a tricycle run by a pumpboat engine.
A trisiboat is a tricycle run by a pumpboat engine.
The pedicab is a bicycle with a sidecar
The pedicab is a bicycle with a sidecar

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Comments 7 comments

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needful things 7 years ago from Poland

Truly an art...

Justin Hill 7 years ago

elaine bartolome of Maddela Quirino 7 years ago

I want to relate an old experience the first time I went to Manila at Sto Cristo in 1981, I was grade four and that was Vacation of April. I was lost at the heart of Sto Cristo and I accidentally rode to the calesa of a certain man named George, He is a cochero, tall in height. I told him Manila pala is mabaho because of the Kabayo of the kalesa, I told, pang Luneta na lang dapat and kabayo at kalesa, dapat bibilhin mo na lang ang mga lumang weapon truck gaya ng tatay ko sa Maddela, pero sabi ko hindi naman kilala ang Maddela, Santiago Isabela lang. Taga Maddela ako. I told the cochero yung sasakyan, gawin din parang kalesa, tapos lagyan ng palamuti. Sabi ko pa. para aandar kailangan ng gasolina pero kung polusyon din lang ang idudulot sana may makapag-imbento ng tubig para magpaandar ng sasakyan gaya ng mga bapor noong araw..steam ang ginagamit. sabi pa niya nawawala ka yata Neng, Sabi ko opo nawawala kasi yung kasama ko Si ate Flor Andres Rapisura, nanay ni Mariel Vincent Rapisura na nagtuturo ngayon sa Ateneo de manila, Head of Entreprenuership etc.(search in the Internet na lang)This is my experience whwich is true I don't invent this but I remember now. Sabi pa niya, Neng, mayroon namamng jeep na kay Sarao, kaibigan ko siya sabi niya. I told him, eh business is business naman po walang monopoly. Kaibigan ko yun kasama ko sa giyera sabi niya. Mukhang wala kang kasama aampunin na lang kita. Wala po ba kayong anak sabi ko. wala sabi niya.. MMm meron po baka naman meron kayong anak sa labas ha. Tsismosa ka ang bata-bata mo pa. Manghuhula ka ba sabi nioya hindi ko po alam. SIge, kung mayroon , ano ang pangalan niya sabi, Jose. sabi Naku, pagdadalhin sa iyo, pangalanan mo ng WIlliys kasi pagmayaman ka na mapapaaral mo na siya.pagdadalhin yun sa iyo. He asked me once again about my name and I said, I am Elaine, pitang po ang palayaw ko dahil ipinanganak ako noong bagyong pitang. George naman ako neng, Kapangalan mo ang uncle ko na George, sundalo din George Zagada sabi ko. He told pag mangyari ang imbensyon natin, Ipangalan ko na BMG Beautiful Maddela Girl..Sabi pa niya siguro magpatulong ako sa kapatid ko mayaman yun sa akin. Kung ano na ang nangyari sa plano namin ewan ko basta ito ay totoong kuwento ko. I am already a teacher, 39 years old but presently enrolled to a new course this time. This I swear is true.God bless that COcherona si Mamang George.

psepheroth 6 years ago

Hi! Here's a real life jeepney experience (with actual photos)

Rose Ravilas 5 years ago

My boss who is Qatari Nationality is interested in purchasing a vintage jeepney. I would like to ask whom to contact with and if you may reply to this thru my email:

I will wait for your reply the soonest possible time.



Romy Ferdinand Mazon 4 years ago

Hello, can you give me the email address of the manufacturer of air conditioned passenger jeep, this is my email address:

thank you for providing my requested email address..


romy ferdinand a mazon

Leonida Esteban 3 years ago


can you given the e-mail address and complete address of the manufacturer of the passenger jeepneys in Las Pinas???

Please send me your answer to my e-mail address...

Thank you in advance..

Leonida Esteban


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