The History of the Jeepney


 The Philippine Jeepney has a very colorful history and is an integral part of the foundation of culture and development of commerce in the Philippines, needless to say that is considered as one of the contributing  factors that helped support the backbones of the social infrastructure of the country. At the end of World War II, just as the Philippines was rising from the ashes of the rubble of war, and the chaotic aftermath of a crumbled economy, the country needed to regain its capacity to open its transportation and infrastructure  system.Before the war, the Philippine’s primary mode of transportation was primarily the horse drawn carriage or more popularly known as the “Kalesa”.

Although there were other modes of transportation such as the “Tranvia” which transverses only in the main thoroughfares of the city of Manila,the rest of the entirety of the country and even in the far flung towns  of the provinces have relied solely to the horse drawn carriage. In the light of this seemingly difficult task, some cunningly ingenious individuals had thought of an elaborate way to utilize some of the numerous military vehicles left by the Americans particularly the Jeepney.

Most of these military vehicles were either barely functioning or totally irreparable, but knowing the Filipinos, nothing is impossible specially at times of necessity such as this.As the saying goes “Necessity is the mother of all inventions”- by Plato. As soon as the Americans had pulled out from the Philippines, they left almost if not all of their jeepneys, trucks and most of their unusable equipment and as far as the Filipinos were concerned, it was a new way to put all of these leftover equipment into good and practical use and the rest was history.

It was not until 1953 that the first public transport Jeepney first took to the streets of Manila. Leonardo S. Sarao of Imus, Cavite, is considered to be one if not regarded as the grandfather of the Jeepney industry of the Philippines. Starting with just 700 Pesos as an initial investment and a small garage located in Las Pińas, who would have thought that a small investment such as this would one day grow as a cultural representation of a nation that would symbolize its rise from the ashes of a war torn era.

At its early infancy, the first Jeepney was designed primarily as a transport vehicle to convey goods and other necessities across the city. It was crudely made just to facilitate the movement of goods,thus the reason for lacking such aesthetics.Latter on, the appearance of the Jeepney took a drastic change.Gilded iron moldings,intricate art work of paintings depicting country side scenery,lapels,tassels and sometimes glittery tinsels abundantly distributed inside and outside.And finally, the wrought iron symbol of a horse drawn carriage and a chrome finished horse,festooned on top of the hood as an ornament and as a reminder of a past glory representing the horse drawn carriage.

This was the image representation that was the Philippine Jeepney.A symbol of perseverance and dignity to its people, the Filipino nation.The Philippine Jeepney was considered the “King of the Road” and its grandeur and efficiency was unquestioned,not until the early years of 2000, when Sarao Incorporated decided to decrease production and eventually closed down. Though not to say that it was the end of the Jeepney era but rather the end of the beauty that was the Sarao Jeepney. Compared to the skillful craftsmanship that was put into making a Sarao Jeepney,the painstaking attention to detail and the dedication of making meticulous artful pleasantries that represents a people and its country.

The Jeepney will always be the favorite mode of transportation of the Filipinos despite the changes that the years have brought to this country. With the arrival of more modern forms of air conditioned transport plying the streets of the Philippines, one can not help but ponder to the thought of how long will the Filipinos patronize the traditional Jeepney? Even though there are now more convenient forms of transportation, the symbolization of the Philippine Jeepney is still in high regards considering the tale behind its purpose and history.Though its sad to say that change is inevitable,one can not forget the proud history of the Philippine Jeepney.

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3 thoughts on “The History of the Jeepney

  1. Pingback: Philippine Jeepney: World War II Surplus Vehicle that Became a Cultural Icon · Global Voices

  2. Pingback: フィリピンのジプニー:文化のシンボルとなった第2次大戦の置きみやげ · Global Voices 日本語

  3. Pingback: The Philippine Jeepney – King of the Road | Colorful Philippines

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