As public mode of transport, Jeepneys are the most basic, popular, and economical means of public transportation in the Philippines. Jeepneys are known for their crowded seating and kitsch decorations, which have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art. Since almost 90% of Filipinos are Catholics, most designs and arts reflected in their jepneys are of religious symbols and names. The jeepney is the cheapest way to commute in the Philippines and it is easy to spot one too. Because of its open rear door design, picking up and dropping off is easy for both passengers and drivers, they can stop anywhere. In provinces, roofs of jeepneys are also useful to accommodate more passengers and luggage. Jeepneys can be flagged down much like taxis by holding out or waving an arm at the approaching vehicle and it will stop. The usual signal for asking a driver to stop is “para” in Filipino.
Also known as “king of the roads”, most Jeepneys can be found at designated jeepney stands with dispatcher / barker present usually calling out the destination to usher in passengers. The routes are painted on the sides and below the windshield of the vehicles. They are often manned by two people, the driver and the conductor (the person collecting fares from passengers), and helps people with their luggage. In cities, like in Metro Manila, only the driver is present, and passengers have to ask the adjacent passengers to pass on the fare to the driver. The driver in this case, relies on the honesty of the passengers in paying their fare. In cities, passengers are limited only to seating capacity, unlike in provinces where even the roof-tops are loaded with passengers as well as the front seats.
Jeepneys were originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II. The word jeepney came from the combination of the words “jeep” and “jitney”, a franchised small bus that carries passengers on a regular route with flexible schedule. Some entrepreneurial Filipinos took those US Jeeps and modified them, adding features to make them roadworthy, and creating a new form of mass transit. One of those entrepreneurs was Leonardo Sarao, who at the time drove a kalesa, or horse-drawn cart. The brand name that has actually come to mean jeepney is Sarao, the company that first started making them in 1953 and became famous worldwide for doing so. Before the growth of backyard builders, Sarao Motors and Francisco Motors — both in Las Piñas — were the largest manufacturers of jeepneys. Sarao Jeepneys alone reached a number of 7:1 in Philippine roads during the 1970s.