Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jeepney drivers versus the so- called "Call boys"

photo from

The jeepney has been a common form of transportation of the Filipino masses or the proletarians. It is everything Filipino aside from the fact that it’s cheap, it’s accessible and it has become part of every average Juan’s daily  life. Some of bourgeois and the upper class prefer not to ride the Philippines’ King of the Road because of safety reasons (if you know what I mean), discomfort (when full is like a can of sardines) and the pollution (some jeepneys are smoke belchers). 

Being a member of the lower class I took a jeepney and sat on the front seat on my way home one night. As I sit beside the driver I attentively observed how he maneuvered the steering wheel, accepted the money from the passengers, shifted gears, computed and gave change to the passengers simultaneously sans effort. The eight kilometer trip way home made me realize that this guy ain’t got an easy job. Although you don’t need to pass a test to become one, being a jeepney driver really requires some serious skills that I think they learn along the way in order  to survive the locomotive jungle of the Metropolitan Manila. You need articulation, determination, alertness, preciseness, tenacity, accuracy not to mention patience and a strong will with a twist of faith.

In the middle of our course the jeepney stopped to load more passengers on a stop point. I was astounded when I saw a young man approach the driver and asked for money, this was the man who was shouting the destination of the jeepney. He was there standing effortlessly inviting more people to ride the jeepney. He didn’t do anything, just to yell and say “sakay, sakay sakay” meaning to ride. Since when did this career started and what right does it have to own the stop point as if it were some property to be rented by the drivers passing by? Who passed the law stating that the jeepney driver must pay him? I just felt sad for the poor driver seeing that he was indeed a victim not only to the traffic enforcers but to those I don’t know what you call them  maybe “call boys”  who don’t invest anything but their voices shouting. Surprisingly they might be earning even more than those drivers who work hard all day.

Some of you might not picture the situation because you might not have tried riding a jeepney in your entire life. But what I’m trying to say is that this is a sad reality. The perfect image of the “isang kahig isang tuka” (no work, no meal) situation of most Filipino families. I am not really sure whether I am writing about the glory of being a driver or my sentiments against the so called call boys; their abuse, greediness and how they should be put to jail. But all I want to say is that I really appreciate driver’s humble job of being in charge of the safety and lives of the passengers not to mention keeping with the injustices from the traffic enforcers, and the taking advantage of the so called call boys.

Despite all his problems, the jeepney driver still goes on with his route tirelessly everyday; whistling a happy tune, greeting his passengers and giving out a sweet smile and his very known “basta driver sweet lover”  attitude.

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