The Jeepney Arts Festival: A Drive to the Glory Days of a Philippine Icon

“Manong, bayad,” “Pasuyo naman po,” “Para! Sa tabi na lang ho,”—we’ve all heard and said these lines at least once in our lifetimes.

The jeepney won’t be the country’s most popular mode of transportation for no reason. For a stash of coins or a couple of small bills, this iconic Philippine vehicle can take you to every twist and turn capturing the essence of the country’s cities.

Grand Jeepney Parade
Grand Jeepney Parade

But why do today’s jeepneys remind us of reckless moments on the road instead of thrilling trips?

Bringing Back Pride to the King of the Road

Despite the setback that has beleaguered the Philippine jeepney, the end of the vibrant road for the classic street icon remains infinite kilometers away.

This year, Jeepney Tours, a tourism enterprise offering Daily City Tours onboard the jeepney, aims to promote its vision further by initiating a unique corporate social art drive—the Jeepney Arts Festival. An advocacy set to bring back the glory days of fun and vibrant jeepneys, the celebration pays homage to the renowned vehicle as a true Filipino icon spread through a series of events.

1st Place Jeepney Design Contest
1st Place Jeepney Design Contest

A three-day initial salvo of the Jeepney Arts Festival dubbed as the On-the-Spot Jeepney Painting kicked off the noble initiative. “A whole level of bayanihan spirit transcended the ordinary as the event brought together more than a hundred registered volunteers—from professional artists, to students, to even handicapped individuals—with an aim to rehabilitate the eponymous Philippine vehicle,” says Clang Garcia, Managing Director of Jeepney Tours.

These volunteers redesigned fifty (50) jeepneys by dressing them up with images depicting the Department of Tourism’s It’s More Fun in the Philippines campaign, which generously evokes our rich cultural heritage and world-class tourism destinations.

2nd Place Jeepney Design Contest
2nd Place Jeepney Design Contest

Stretching this concept, the excellence of Filipinos was further unleashed as the participants were also allowed to upgrade the jeepneys’ interiors by re-upholstering the seats, redoing the walls, and adding decors to give the vehicle a total makeover.

“As a way of reaching out to the industries of art and tourism, our organizers and sponsors provided the materials that we needed, such as bare jeepneys, paint, and even fuel, to make these events possible,” Garcia added.

Apart from the thrust of Jeepney Arts Festival to bring back the glory of the Philippine jeepney, the organizers also sought to further equip the men behind the wheels with valuable knowledge. For this reason, DoT provided a training program for participating jeepney drivers simultaneous with the On-the-Spot Jeepney Painting, immersing them in vital topics such as values formation, the culture of tourism, proper handling of passengers, and road safety, among other.

Gearing Towards a National Revolution

From a blur of bare metal to a haze of pulsating colors, the second part of the Jeepney Arts Festival—the Grand Jeepney Parade—brought back a whiff of vibrancy to the city streets with a one-time display of all 50 rehabilitated jeepneys last September 24, 2012.

Plying the SM Mall of Asia-EDSA-Ayala route and back, the spruced up jeepneys bannered the country’s rich cultural heritage and world-class destinations splashed on their walls as it once again made Manila roar as a vibrant city of roving arts and culture.

This corporate social responsibility project was made possible in partnership with the Department of Tourism and SMART Communications. Its sponsors include Petron, Bosny Philippines, Café Jeepney, SM Mall of Asia, Nippon Paint, Design Week Philippines, ManilART, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Tagaytay Tourism Council, Nurture Spa, and Nescafé Classic.

“The Jeepney Arts Festival is our way of taking that first gear towards revolutionizing the Philippine icon. We aim to take this social undertaking on a yearly basis until such time that the creative brilliance and community values of the Filipino people are embodied in the Philippine jeepneys,” Garcia concluded.

Shedding new light on this noteworthy revolution, the Jeepney Arts Festival is set to take us one step forward in reviving the Philippine jeepney—not only as a world-renowned means of transportation in the country, but as the Philippines’ bona fide iconic vehicle eminently showcasing the artistry, ingenuity, resiliency, and entrepreneurship characteristics intrinsic to the Filipino people.

The Jeepney Arts Festival is a social investment of Jeepney Tours. For more details about the event, visitcall +632 994 6636, or email bayanihan@jeepneyartstival.com.

  1. Adelle says

    nice post! would have loved to see some photos though 🙂

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