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Jeepney Culture and Burloloy Effect


To any tourist new to Manila, the first surprise beyond the airport would be a moving box of many colors, and alot of chrome --- speeding in the highway alongside cars and trucks.

What will surprise any tourist new to this vehicle is that it' name is quite familiar: a Jeep, or dyip. The ephemeral Jeepney. 'It is a showcase of Filipino artistry aboard a highly ingenious hybrid commuter vehicle', his companions may explain to him. Quite possibly they will explain how it was fashioned from army jeeps left by the United States after the World War II. Or more: That it was from the word 'GP' general purpose vehicle, and how the American's called it, a 'jeep' that the dyip was born from.

Filipinos the world over have fond memories of this vehicle: from 18-30 passengers shoulder to shoulder to each other, each having a different story to tell; it's noisy horns and loud music and how that makes their day; it's candid driver managing the road and still having enough skill to get the fare and give you your change, without, looking at the money at all, or worse without looking at the road at all; the gush of wind from it's elongated and narrow window and the many jeeps that you see from it; and perhaps one's first chance of having to ride without sitting: sabit,

Sabit sa Jeep

the world over have fond memories
of this vehicle: from 18-30 passengers
shoulder to shoulder to each other, each having a different story to tell

or that is to say, clinging on it's end and hanging in there and letting yourself be swayed by jeep's turns.

Tourists too will have their fond memories. And why not? What's more surprising than seeing so great amount of a culture packed in a singular spot? This box, or more aptly, a vehicle, is not just a show case of artistry for its many designs and customizations, but more like a moving advertisement of everything Filipino: wit and humor, family history, values and tradition, pop culture, and to some tourists, a living museum of how the west is being assimilated by the Philippines.

The first jeepneys were actually the army jeeps themselves, numbering into the hundreds all over the country, but mostly concentrated in the metropolis, which were repainted or scraped to the metal, upon which various decorations were attached. Moving horse figurines, flags, colorful lights, paintings, traditional designs, bonnets, mirrors and stickers were put on these vehicles, making each vehicle startlingly different in terms of appearance from the next one. Ford Fieras were also soon used for jeepney production. Later on, however, the companies that did these remodeling jobs started making much bigger bodies running on surplus diesel engines (which are cheaper in the long run for the jeepney driver), thereby increasing the overall capacity of jeepneys. This, of course, gave much advantage to the jeepney drivers who bought them, over the ones with original remodeled jeepneys. Soon, the army jeeps and Ford Fieras were all but totally displaced by the Philippine-made jeepneys with bodies entirely crafted locally, but with the high-tech parts obtained from surplus shops throughout the country. The Philippine jeepney industry was thus born, and later on, it spread to the different provinces from Metropolitan Manila where it all started, making the jeepney the most ubiquitous vehicle indeed in the Philippines.

The unique thing about jeepneys is that no jeepney is exactly the same as another. Each jeepney is a testament to the artistic ability of the designer assigned to it.

Source: George Guntur Pujalte. PageWise, Inc
This is where I begin to bring to everyone's attention the Filipino's Jeepney culture. If you want to understand Filipinos, you should take a ride inside the Jeep and open your mind to possibilities. Case 1: Architecture, Design and Fashion. This is what I call the Burloloy effect and it is so visible inside the Jeep.

I do not fault people without much sense of design, especially if they are not educated.Burloloy means accessories.

It's nothing but an unofficial designing technique that basically is anarchy. Drivers without any sense of design will personalize their dashboards with stickers, glue air fresheners into the wood panels, hang rosaries and just about any chimes there is, perhaps a token from a foreign country, or souvenirs from relatives overseas - with no intention but to just put it there. They will even add side mirrors or concave mirrors on the side or on the hood, perhaps even where it does not hold any functionality.

I do not fault people without much sense of design, especially if they are not educated. Seeing that same burloloy attitude alive and well in a person though is something else I cannot take, however.

Inside the jeepney there will be one or two guys who think they are P.diddy or Nelly - aspiring to be black and rapping and sporting their extra loose pants

It is seen in the Catholic Altar of some Filipinos who have been to immersed with materiality that all novenas, articles of faith and wedding souvenirs of angels and doves, perhaps all version of Child Jesus and just about all antiques and all saints --- all with no sense of balance or color harmony or purpose: they are just there to stay there. Mediocrity is something that is easily found in these homes, and it is one of the many things I hate. If you want a good altar then make it good and make it so.

Further, burloloy is seen in people with too many accessories in their bodies ala bling-bling. Inside the jeepney there will be one or two guys who think they are P.diddy or Nelly - aspiring to be black and rapping and having their extra loose pants. Now I do not take it against them if that's how they define their fashion sense, however I think it is a social problem that is not addressed. That of amassing wealth, the morality degradation of value by signature brands, all the overall life of getting everything from everywhere and putting it all in one place for nothing but just to show it off and say you got it.

What of people and their Entertainment system from just about everywhere - accessorizing their living room with nothing but our preoccupation with global brands? Something's wrong somewhere.
Heck, if one is a real audiophile, Bose or Kenwood is still not the best. You don't stuff things just there. Something's wrong somewhere. Are we bringing the Jeepney culture at home? Some people say it is ingenuity and I tend to think it is, the jeep that is. I heard they are exporting jeeps to Papua New Guinea already. Nice. Ingenuity though is nothing if we are a mediocre people and we do not build on what we have achieved.

I feel bad, perhaps I'll write about more on positive things about Jeepney culture next time. There's alot more to the jeep than meets the 'ride'.

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posted by Jdavies @ 8/03/2004,


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The Author


Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.

About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.


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