For at least a couple of hours, people at the streets of EDSA and Ayala Avenue got a surprised and delighted look when they saw a group of colourful and artistic jeeps roam the streets. For a while they stopped what they were doing and stare, take a picture with their mobile phones or simply admire the moving steel canvasses zooming past their sights. About 43 rehabilitated jeeps have undergone a makeover in the hands of a few creative volunteers for the first ever Jeepney Arts Festival. Reviving the Filipinos creativity and ingenuity represented by the Philippine Jeepney.
The Philippine Jeepney
If people would ask me what would represent the Philippines as an icon, the jeep would definitely be one of them. This eponymous vehicle, which is the most popular form of transportation in the Philippines, has its beginnings from the US military jeeps used during World War II. Filipino ingenuity upgraded its design by adding a tailgate to accommodate more people since Filipinos love big groups and company. But the jeeps as is looks drab by itself so to reflect Filipinos fun-loving and cheery disposition they decorated the jeeps ostentatiously. Making sure they get noticed even before the jeepney’s horns scream its “beep beep”
Rehabilitating the Jeepney Culture
The Jeepney Arts Festival and Parade not only aims to rehabilitate old jeeps with new designs but also aims to change the image of the Jeepney Culture itself. Lately jeeps and jeepney drivers have been painted in a bad light as arrogant, reckless, dirty and no regard for traffic. The Festival also gave lecture and workshops to drivers to be better on what they do.
The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP) were tapped to take part in this event. Their spruced up jeepneys would soon be making their rounds again on their respective routes around Metro Manila.
I definitely enjoyed looking at each of the jeep designs. There were a lot that I really liked especially those doodle parts. The theme of was “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” in line with Department of Tourism’s (DOT) campaign so there were a lot that illustrated the tourist destinations around the country. Since the many artist who volunteered showed a lot of heart, the organisers decided to award artist behind the top 3 with the best artworks.
Despite the event being short, I do hope they have another one next year. Probably filled with more activities to keep other guest entertained and certainly more jeepneys! Next year, I will start my Manila hotel booking early so I don’t miss this exciting event.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.