Thursday, July 27, 2006


Certainly, anyone who grew up in the Philippines has distinct memories of riding jeepneys. I have two, which happened when I was still in grade school — one was with my sister, the other with my father and uncle.

My eldest sister who was 13 years my senior used to drag me along to Divisoria and Quiapo when bargain-hunting for shoes. Whether she intended to buy a pair or not, the salespeople weren’t spared the agony of bringing out several boxes of shoes for her to try on. I was the one who would get embarrassed for her, but learned soon enough to just bring a comic or pocket book to cover my face with, while she tested these people’s endurance.

One afternoon, after handing me my usual wage — a half a dozen mini hopia* — as her reluctant shopping companion, we boarded a jeepney to take us home. It was empty, for the evening rush was still two hours away. She took the seat right by the steps while I sat on the opposite side but more towards the middle.

The driver was waiting for the light to turn green, my sister was in some deep thought and I was about to take a bite out of my first piece of hopia, when a teenager nonchalantly walked by and snatched my sister’s brand new Bulova watch. She turned pale and I froze in mid-bite. Before we recovered from our shock, the snatcher had disappeared among the throng of pedestrians. Although neither one of us said anything else until we got home, but there was one word that remained prominent in my mind — karma.

On another occasion one Saturday morning on our way to my father’s office (he used to take me along on Saturdays when he worked only half a day), my uncle got on the same jeepney my father and I were on. He chose to sit directly in front of us — within arm’s reach of the driver.

A couple of blocks into our stop, both my father and uncle — as if engaged in a duel — vigorously insisted to pay for each other’s fare. As both these grown men shoved their money towards the direction of the driver who turned his head to check out the commotion, one of them accidentally poked him in the eye. When he winced and jerked his head back in pain, he momentarily lost control of the jeepney and slammed it onto another ahead of us.

Luckily, he wasn’t going that fast so no one suffered any harm, but the driver was so enraged he yelled for all of us to get off his jeepney — and fast.

It must be true what experts say; that our psychological make-up basically stems from childhood. Perhaps, this explains why, later on in life, I’ve become quite adept in negotiating my way out of accompanying any female on a shopping trip. Moreover, I’ve also become somewhat of a risk taker; that is, I’d rather be thought of as a cheapskate than insist on paying for another’s fare while aboard a jeepney.

(*Hopia is a pastry of Chinese origin similar to moon cakes filled with sweet bean paste, sometimes flavored)



posted by Señor Enrique at 7:55 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss the jeepneys. I have a lot of not so nice experience riding with it too. The last time a group of young people (bunch of cuties!!!!lol!!)snatched my handphone .... but they weren't lucky as I was back then. They left cursing at me cause they didn't get my "pangkaskas ng yelo" shape handfone.

lanya sagwa ng ingles ko wahehehehehe!!!
nabababoy ang blag ni senyor.

July 27, 2006 10:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was funny about the driver getting poked in the eye because 2 grown men were both insisting to pay the fare. But it's good that nobody was hurt.

I also have quite a few experiences with jeepneys. Nakakainis kapag nagpapasakay pa eh puno na so nagsisiksikan ang mga pasahero. Once, I was still attending CEU at Mendiola, naka-uniform pa naman ako ng white bestida. Paano ka ba naman uupo nang maayos nuon eh di nabosohan na ako. Or that time na hindi ko namalayan na nakapatong na pala yung kamay nang mamang katabi ko sa dibdib ko. Hmph. Kakainis.

I like your last line. A lesson well learned.

July 27, 2006 12:52 PM  

Blogger Rey said...

I can really relate to jeepneys because it is my parent's form of living and was the one who made us all go to school.

My father was a driver in his youth, but strived hard to have his own. He said the first jeepney he owned was really the most hard to aquire. Blood sweat and tears ang puhunan. He didn't stop until he owns several.

i crashed one in a two- storey cliff that almost killed me. That was 18 years ago and never drove one again.

July 27, 2006 1:36 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ay naku, Melai, iha! Wala akong pakialam kung mag-Tagalog ka man o Ingles o Aleman -- mas mahalaga sa akin na nabubudburan mo ng kaaliwan ang aking munting blogsite :)

Pang kaskas ng yelo? Goodness! Nagkaroon din ako ng ganyang pagkabigat-bigat na Motorola cellphone na ang baterya ay tumatagal lamang ng limang minuto ata. At kung nasa taas ka ng building above 50th floor, wala ng signal!

Mabuti na lamang at di ka sinaktan nga mga yan!

Ayan! Ganyan pa nga di dito, Niceheart! Pero ang mga manyaki daw ngayon as sa LRT o MRT na dumidiskarte kaya hiniwalay na ang mga babae sa LRT. Daming bastos dito pero ganoon din sa NYC, eh -- simple nga lang.

And what I'm most happy about now is that smoking is not allowed inside the jeepneys anymore!

So that was the driving accident you mentioned on your 3s, Rey. Boy, I'm glad to hear you survived it without any fatal consequences!

I can imagine how tough it is to drive a jeepney for a living, Rey. This is also the reason why when driving, I yield and let them go ahead of me, because I know they're busting their butts off even in sweltering hot weather without the luxury of air conditioner. It is indeed blood, sweat and tears.

July 27, 2006 7:41 PM  

Blogger NeiLDC said...

Speaking of Jeepney,
We had once a jeepney, but we had that in the was really good for the start to ride then and go to other area near the beach as it was form of service... It still reminds me the name SOCIALITE... with the green plate. anyway since if you couldnt maintain it, it deteriorates until we decided to sell it out..
But regarding of jeepneys, we always use it as daily in college and me and my friends are looking things out that happens in the jeepney from proj 8 to recto... and on the next day we will had a chats in the catwalk about peoples of every type and the experience for the night. Students always stares at each others passenger wheter they are student from what school.. Like being studious, bringging books and stuff to make impression to other college students.. hahah
anyway fishball and quail eggs after you drove out!

July 27, 2006 11:43 PM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Jeepney stories.. it doesn't get more 'pinoy' than that !

Hehehehe poke the drivers eye ! hahahaha.....

July 28, 2006 5:27 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

FYI, I'm still re-reading your quiapo posts. (sniff) pa rin (sniff)

July 28, 2006 5:38 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Know what, Neil? I learned how to drive on a jeep ... and my older cousin in the province had a jeepney and drove it for a living, but in the early afternoons when he was done for the day, he'd take all of us kids to the beach! It was fun!

Fishball and quail eggs in Recto? Still there!!!

July 28, 2006 5:44 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm sure, Senorito Ako, that you have some rather interesting jeep memories since you are a pure bred Manila boy :)

Don't worry ... I'll have more Quiapo-oriented posts in the offing!

July 28, 2006 5:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Losing a Bulova watch isn’t a trifle thing and I would have sulked and called for police help. Once I was window shopping with a classmate when we were in highschool and this classmate of mind was a little naughty that he had taken a set of pencil colors without paying for it, hiding it inside his bag. I panicked and urge him to return it until the salesperson actually saw it and apprehended us. I was so scared then that the salespeople there warned us that we’d be taken to the police. I said we will just pay for it and since we had no money then, I just gave my watch that my grandfather bought for me for about a thousand bucks when I was so much younger—that was real expensive watch already then for a child. Till now, I regretted that incident that whenever I go window shopping, I always remember how I lost my watch once when I was so much younger.

You know, my wife had the same attitude with your sister when shopping. It would take us about three to four hours buying a pair of shoes that I always feigned something to do when she ask me to accompany her on shopping. Talagang inaaway ko na sa daan sa sobrang tagal….palibot-libot pa sa lahat ng mga tindahan…

July 28, 2006 2:37 PM  

Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Major Tom's observation is right on the money about the watch-snatching episode, and it points out another typical Pinoy thing besides jeepeys, that is, your ability to simply "accept" bad things that happen to you. I'd have raised bloody murder and ran after the thief. But good or bad, that's American style. In some ways, the passive acceptance can be a good thing, because it keeps the blood pressure down.

I don't ride jeepneys anymore. My bad back gets worse, and I don't have the patience it takes to put up with the continuous stops. My wife and I were almost the victims of a knife wielding gang, but she noticed them setting us up and then saved us by screaming at the top of her lungs for the driver to stop and let us off when the knives were half out of their pockets. I didn't even notice. All I know is she yelled and we "ejected!" She probably saved my life, because my macho American style of putting up a fight would probably have gotten me killed.

The last time I rode in one was about 3 years ago. The reason it was my last: I had my FRONT pocket picked and lost the money I was bringing home for my wife's bday. After that, I bought a scooter and if necessary, I just take a trike now. It's worth the extra cost to me!

July 28, 2006 8:56 PM  

Blogger Analyse said...

that made me remember my jeepney days infront of cityhall, where i had to fight my way to get a place, minsan pa nga, as in walang place, hanging ang beauty ko between two pasaheros, thinking there will surely be somebody who will stop at quiapo..

nyways, hopped from pinoyblog!

July 28, 2006 9:12 PM  

Blogger j said...

Smoking not allowed in the jeepneys, now that's good news. I was always scared of riding the jeep, LRT and MRT Senor, I was afraid of manyakis and snatchers - a reason why I avoided these public transports.

July 29, 2006 2:15 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

We were both shocked and frightened by the swiftness of the snatching. That watch was a birthday gift to her -- though not gold, she did treasure it.

But what happened to your watch given by your grandfather, Major Tom, was sad although quite heroic of you. My nephew once did what your friend did -- grabbed a couple of candy bars from the newstand where I used to buy cigarettes from. It was more to show that he was a tough kid (I chocked it to misguided puberty), but I made him return them and apologize to Mr. Shwartz, the shopkeeper.

Ay, ganyan sister ko ... dami kinakalkal tapos di naman bibili. Awang awa at hiyang hiya ako sa mga sales people. Ewan ko ba, pero happy pa din sila pag nakikita siya.

July 29, 2006 5:52 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I was too exhausted from my sister's shopping episodes, Phil, to even think of running after that snatcher :)

Truth be told -- more than anything, we were really scared by the whole thing.

Same here, I avoid jeepneys and tricycle because I might harm my back (once pinched a nerve at the bottom of my spine when younger). And this jeepneys often have vacant seats all the way inside -- akin to crawling for me.

Not wise to fight with those goons, Phil, and your wife certainly did the smart thing! God bless the women for their uncanny intuition.

Scooter would work well out where you are but not in Metro Manila with all its smoke and fumes from exhaust pipes of vehicles.

July 29, 2006 6:01 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Analyse, getting a seat in a jeepney during rush hour has become a sport for most Metro Manilans! I've even seen women in their high heels (stilletos even) grab the jeepneys' rear handrail and step on before it even stopped. Whew!

And one always has to wedge his/her butt into a non-existent vacant seat only because the driver would pack them in like sardines before driving off. Kaya tingkayad ka hanggang may bumaba ... lol!

July 29, 2006 6:09 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm sure many other women do just that, Jairam -- avoid taking public transport because of these crazies!

But not all have a cool RAV 4 like you do ... hehehe!

July 29, 2006 6:12 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from fear of snatchers and maniacs, my aversion towards riding the jeep stems from the fact that I never learned how to say "PARA" loud enough for the driver to hear me. So it's either I had to always choose the seat closest to the driver or pray hard that someone's getting off in the same place that I intend to get off. If not, I'd most likely end up getting off at the next place where the driver steps on his brakes. Sigh....

July 29, 2006 7:43 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I don't mean to laugh at your misfortune, Anonymous, but you are indeed correct -- you have to practically scream out PARA! just to get off exactly where intended.

As a kid, jeepneys came equipped with a string you would pull that will ring a bell near the driver to indicate your intention to get off, but I guess too many kids thought of it as a source of amusement, which probably annoyed most drivers :)

July 29, 2006 7:55 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

My sister in law in the States emailed to say, "hoy! di pa kami ulyanin, no? dami din atang hopya dito sa chinatown."

In response, I said that I added the very last line about what hopia is for the benefit of other foreign readers who may not know about hopia, because this entry was picked-out by GLOBAL VOICES.

July 29, 2006 10:26 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother used to drag me along to Divisoria when I was a child. It was so boring but she bought me candy. Nagugutom na ako para sa hopia.

July 30, 2006 12:29 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

They have got to have hopia -- maybe not near MIT campus -- but in chinatown in Boston, Aurea. Is that too far from where you're at?

Yes, even these days, I prefer Quiapo more so than Divisoria.

July 30, 2006 6:04 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senor Enrique, it's my first visit here and I really enjoyed this post about jeepneys. When cousins from Manila came to visit us in Bacolod, one of their first comments was about how our jeepneys here look so different from the jeepneys in Manila.

I have two unforgettable anecdotes about jeepneys: 1- when a friend's shoe slipped off on his way up the jeepney, exposing a big hole on the toe part that made everybody in the jeepney laugh and 2- when another friend got off the jeepney along Espana Extension and promptly disappeared into a manhole - good thing one of the bystanders was quick enough to grab her hand and pull her up but by that time she was all soaked in dirty water.

July 31, 2006 3:34 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh my God, Bugsybee, if I were handing out an award for the most incredible jeepney memory, you definitely would have won it! A friend of yours disappearing into a manhole is just too much -- I hope she didn't suffer any great physical harm.

Your other story reminds me of my sister's friend's high heel that got caught once in the step -- which seemed more like a barbeque grill -- and the heel snapped right off her shoe. She had to spend the morning walking rather awkwardly until lunchtime when she found time to buy another pair.

Thanks for sharing these amazing anecdotes and please come visit again.

July 31, 2006 8:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

She got a small bruise on her forehead, lucky she! But she didn't realize what a close shave she had until I told her she could have ended up floating in the Pasig River. Unfortunately for her, it was very traumatic and it took her close to 20 years before she ever went back to Manila again.

I linked your very interesting blog, Senor Enrique. I never realized how much I miss the Manila of my younger days until I read your posts. Thanks a lot!

August 01, 2006 6:03 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Twenty years? Wow! She was really shaken by it, huh? I guess I would have been traumatized by it, too.

I'm glad to know that my posts bring some sort of joy to others -- truly a nice feeling to be of some service to others, Bugsybee! And thanks for adding me to your links as well :)

August 01, 2006 9:03 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Nice post. I was browsing through globalvoices and I read this. Very nostalgic topic. I love all the stories.

It's a national symbol for us Filipinos. What's Manila without the jeepney? And there's hopia! The best I remember is the Holland brand in Chinatown. We have to drive all the way just to buy that. I think it is available in supermarkets now.

Thanks for this post. I love your blog title too...Wish You Were I wish. There's no place like home.

I'm blogrolling you. :)

August 05, 2006 8:46 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Ipanema,

I live nearby Holland hopia factory at Mayon Street in Quezon City, and from what I understand there is also a newly-opened Holland hopia cafe at Escolta, which Carlos Celdran raved about. I am yet to visit it.

Thanks for the visit and do come again!

I'll add your site to my links as well.

August 05, 2006 9:40 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Thanks for the update. Holland used to be a small store and now they have a cafe...good news.

Don't be cross with me now, but i TAGGED you and you're IT.

August 05, 2006 10:58 AM  

Blogger Nostalgia Manila said...

Great blog!
Fore more nostalgia, check out:

Maraming salamat!

September 23, 2006 6:19 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I just checked out your site, Nostalgia Manila. It is very interesting. I will be a regular visitor :)

September 23, 2006 7:29 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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