Monday, September 17, 2012

Make Way for Jeepney Makeovers

One time, it was dubbed as the King of the Road, these American military jeeps left over from World War II transformed into colorful jeepneys. These have become ubiquitous vehicles in the streets of the Philippines and were embellished and added with flourishes according to the owners’ taste to become an amusing, moving mélange of folk and pop art, and a country’s icon.  
But over time the jeepneys have become a source of headache. The “king” has become a bully in the streets. Their colorful adornments have faded over time. People complained of rude drivers, reckless in their driving and indifferent to traffic rules. They have become the primary source of traffic jams.
Additionally, Undersecretary Corazon Jimenez, general manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), admitted that jeepneys are the biggest source of air pollution in Metro Manila.
“The jeepney is one of our greatest challenges,” she said, adding that there are half a million of them in Metro Manila.
            But when she was informed of a project of rehabilitating the Philippine jeepneys, she was supportive. The Jeepney Arts Festival will happen from Sept. 20 to Oct. 20, a corporate social responsibility project of the Hop-On Hop-Off Travel, Inc., the operator of the Jeepney Tours, which provide daily city tours of Metro Manila onboard a modern version of the jeepney with air-conditioning system, videoke facility, cooler and a tour guide.
            According to Clang Garcia, managing director of Hop-On Hop-Off Travel, the Jeepney Arts Festival, which has been in gestation for two years, aims to celebrate the Filipino artistry, relive the values of bayanihan, and rehabilitate jeepneys by repainting and redesigning them into works of art.
            The highlight of the festival is the four-day, on-the-spot jeepney painting event at the SM Mall of Asia open grounds, behind the SMX Convention Center, in Pasay City from September 20 to 23, 2012. The organizers invited all artists to join in the spirit of volunteerism (bayanihan) through online registration at their Web site ( Participants submitted design concepts for evaluation. To support the campaign of the Department of Tourism, designs must be inspired by the tourism slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” depicting the country’s cultural heritage, destinations, attractions, etc. The basic materials such as paint, spray guns, etc. will be provided by the organizers in cooperation with Nippon Paint, the leading paint brand of the automotive industry in the country (83 percent of the market). The interior as well as the exterior of the vehicle must be also be refurbished with the option to upgrade the interior materials (such as the seats) and to add decorations inside the jeepney.
The organizer will also supply the jeepneys. In cooperation with the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), they will select 50 working jeepneys for the venture. Participants can also bring in their own jeepneys. The jeepneys must be of good condition and must have the proof of a successful MMDA emission testing and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) Certificate of Public Convenience that states that the franchise is still valid until November 2012.
            The event is not only concentrated in beautification. The drivers and operators of the participating jeepneys are to attend a comprehensive training program on value formation, culture of tourism, passenger handling, road ethics, road safety tips and others.
            Environmental awareness is also part of the training program, although there are more things to be done concerning jeepneys and pollution. Hopefully, the festival will be a venue for highlighting this issue.           In the end, “we want to see beautiful jeepneys plying our streets using clean, natural gas as well as electricity,” said Jimenez, who also envisions for jeepney drivers to courteous and in uniforms.
Culminating the on-the-spot jeepney painting session is a grand jeepney parade on September 24 at 10 A.M. The jeepneys will also be used as a shuttle for foreign visitors in the travel mart of the Pacific Asia Travel Association. The Jeepney Arts Festival is also part of Design Week Philippines of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) happening from October 14 to 20, 2012, and the ManilART 2012, which will auction as many as 50 artworks in various media featuring redesigns and reinterpretations of the jeepney on October 4, 2012, 4 to 6 P.M.
According to Garcia, the Jeepney Arts Festival aims to be an annual event. She envisions the jeepney to be a roving museum of Philippine arts and culture.

For more information, contact telephone numbers 994-6636 and 869-7771, e-mail or visit Web site

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