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A Tribute to Jeepney Art

colorful jeepney

A colorful jeepney like this one used to be commonplace along the streets in the Philippines. Photo by David Robinson

Once upon a time, the jeepney was more than just another public transportation in the Philippines. Aside being one of the living legacies left behind by the US Army after World War II, the jeepney was literally an artwork on wheels.

From the vibrantly colored banderitas waving on either side in front to the meticulous airbrush masterpieces depicting tourist spots in the Philippines, religious images, and characters in Filipino folklore, it’s so hard not to spot one a mile away. Even the inside has been decorated with crocheted quotes and a Sto. Nino placed on top of the dashboard. At night, the interior is lighted with multi-colored lightbulbs of yellow, purple and green.

Aesthetics Makes Way to Practicality

Sadly, these days seem to just be a memory. Other than a few neon-colored stickers here and there and a splash of paint, the once colorful jeepney now makes its way through the busy streets in the Philippines humble and bare.

In her article entitled Philippine Jeepneys Nearing the End of a Colorful Road, Candice L. Quimpo wrote that practicality has forced many jeepney owners to forego this dying art. One jeepney artwork project can easily cost as much as P100,000 (approx. $2,282). With the jeepney fare only costing between P8-20 per passenger (depending on the distance), choosing to spend this meager earning to pay for bills and other basic necessities is a no-brainer.

Biyaheng Makulay Jeepney: A Glimmer of Hope

All may not yet be lost. That is what I discovered when I came across the Biyaheng Makulay Jeepney Art Contest and Exhibit recently held at the Newport Plaza in Resort’s World Manila last week.

About Biyaheng Makulay Jeepney

Literally translated as “Travel Colorful Jeepney,” the art contest and exhibit was part of Grand Fiesta Manila 2011, a series of events hosted by Resort’s World Manila to pay homage to the vibrant arts and culture of the Philippines.

Fine arts students, amateur painters and celebrity artists gathered at the Newport Mall’s Plaza for this colorful event, each giving their own tribute to the dying art of beautifying the Philippines’ iconic public transportation.

Insights on the Jeepney Art Exhibit

Even though the jeepneys on display here were miniature versions of the real thing, the artwork done by the different artists that participated in this jeepney art exhibit and contest was remarkable. Just like the old days, the designs on each jeepney featured different sceneries and sights in the Philippines.

Here are pictures of my favorite jeepney art designs:

Pahiyas Jeepney

Pahiyas Festival Jeepney by Gary Goldeloson

 

Fiesta on Wheels jeepney art

My Favorite: Fiesta on Wheels Jeepney by Emelle Felice Gamboa

Vinta Jeepney Design

Zamboanga La Hermosa Jeepney by Josetito Galla

Of these, my favorite was the Fiesta on Wheels jeepney art done by Emelle Felice Gamboa. I admit that the “face” on the front part will definitely be a scary sight if done on a life-size jeepney (can you imagine those eyes shining back at you at night?). But scary eyes aside, this was a beautiful artwork that would work so beautifully with the airbrush techniques used in traditional jeepney art.

I have to admit, I would have loved to see at least one life-size jeepney in the exhibit in all of its vibrant glory. But as I looked around the area where the exhibit was held, I figured that there was just no space for it.

Baby Steps

I applaud the management of Newport Malls and the organizers of the recently concluded Biyaheng Makulay Jeepney Art Exhibit and Contest. It may have been a small pebble thrown in a huge pond. Still, it is a start to revive the appreciation of the dying jeepney art. Hopefully, this will not be the end. With a bit more awareness, and a bit of support, perhaps the colorful jeepney would once again reign in the streets of the Philippines.

Is there something that you’d wish would make a comeback in your city or country? What is it and why do you want it to come back?

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About Adeline Yuboco

A natural-born foodie with an eye for detail, I started Life and Leisure to be a place where I can share on how to travel and live in style within your means. At the same time, I cover various events for DigitalJournal.com where I'm a contributing journalist. If you got a great story idea or have an event you'd like me to cover, drop me an email at the Contact page, message me on Twitter, or Connect with me on
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Comments

  1. Interesting one.. A lot of people seems to forget the value of the jeepneys nowadays..
    Be sure to check out Herbert’s most recent post…Using Visuals To Help Your Blog Stand OutMy Profile

  2. Wow. Those are amazing. Now I kind of want to make modifications to my Wrangler’s paint job.

  3. That was very moving Jeepney are called “Jeep” here in India but they are shrunk ,now they can not found on the streets , in here I wish the coloring of trucks will not go away.

  4. When I was young! I love to ride on jeep, until now. the reason I love to ride here is because I can see how people can communicate to each other.
    Be sure to check out TracyAnn0312′s most recent post…CZ 858My Profile

  5. I had never heard of Jeepneys or Jeepney art until I read this post–very interesting! In the mid-60s there was a guy in the U.S. named Ken Kesey who painted a bus in day-glo colors and traveled the country with his friends (he called them Marry Pranksters) taking LSD and living in the moment–the art on these Jeepneys reminds me of his bus. You can read the story about him in Tom Wolfe’s book: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
    Be sure to check out Kooz’s most recent post…Top 5 Weirdest Creatures I’ve EatenMy Profile

  6. Riding those colorful jeepneys was one of my great childhood memories. It’s sad to see this tradition fading. Beautiful jeepney designs and photos!. I’m with you, I like the Fiesta on Wheels. Love the colors and whimsical feel to it.
    Be sure to check out Mary’s most recent post…Comic Strip Wall Art in BrusselsMy Profile

    • Hi Mary, thanks so much for dropping by and for the kind words you left for me at the contact page. I really appreciate it. I used to also ride these jeepneys as a little girl, and I agree. The colorful images are among my fondest childhood memories.

  7. being a filipino citizen, riding on a jeep is one of the trademark that every filipinos must be proud of. it is unique as it is.

  8. The Jeepneys with their design look pretty cool.
    I remember when the last VW Beetle was built in Germany a couple of decades ago.
    I wish the company would bring the production back to Germany for the newer Beetle.

    ~Anja~

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