The Gist


Do you hear the people sing? People have been singing their frustrations and seeking assistance for the jeepney drivers affected by the quarantine.

/ 28 August 2020

A quick trip around Metro Manila in a busy General Community Quarantine morning, and you’ll notice one striking difference: the lack of jeepneys crowding the streets. Instead, middle-aged men and women stand at the side of the road with tin cans and signages at hand, asking for spare change from other drivers in transit.

Just in Quezon City, the amount of groups of jeepney drivers soliciting money to support their families makes quite a scene in the city. These are fathers and mothers of families now stripped off of their livelihood, simply finding ways to get by during this already difficult time.

The movement by state leaders to phase-out traditional jeepneys and replace them with newer and greener models has not been a gradual shift for the affected majority, most especially the drivers who were hit the most by this modernization push. But with COVID-19 in the picture and public transportation shutting down due to quarantine, it’s as if this cultural icon has been wiped off the country completely in a snap.

Pre-quarantine, drivers were burdened to spend tens of thousands of pesos to buy brand new models and new engines that fit the current administration’s requirements for the Public Utility Modernization Program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Most, if not all, traditional jeepney drivers cannot afford to make the purchase, especially with their daily minimum wages and boundaries not matching the escalating cost of urban living. There was already a lot of controversies surrounding this move because of the seemingly non-existent financial support for the drivers to make these required investments.

But that was six months ago. These days, at the height of the coronavirus, drivers are faced with new foes: social distancing and contactless transactions. In a traditional jeepney, around 20 passengers are cramped dangerously close inside while passengers had to reach out for help to pass their payment upfront. With the implementation of social distancing, these former “Kings of the Road” cannot operate unless they find a way to follow protocols that limit these physical interactions inside their vehicles.

Back in June, when GCQ was first implemented only 7,000 units were allowed to operate around Metro Manila out of the estimated 55,000, and only 49 jeepney routes out of 900 reopened. Thousands of drivers were left in a complicated livelihood situation and even more commuters are struggling to find alternative ways to move about in the New Normal.

Now, almost half a year with no income, jeepney drivers are pushed out of the streets, and some out of their homes, as they scramble to find the means to pay for rent, food, and other necessities. This major public transportation issue does not only affect drivers; it also directly affects millions of Filipinos who rely on them for affordable and accessible rides around the Metro. Of course, modernization is not necessarily a bad thing, and sustainability efforts should be celebrated, and not condemned. However, if “progress” such as this comes at the expense of people already struggling to get by, is it still worth it?

As we all struggle to settle down into this new reality, and millions of our countrymen are fighting their way to survive at a day-to-day basis, here’s a list of organizations and charity events to support for the benefit of displaced jeep drivers:

Tulong Para Kay Manong Project


PARA! Kay Manong

Kamiseta For A Cause


Tsuper Man

Never Gonna Jeep You Up

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But wait there's more!!!???? We're so happy to announce that Keiko Necesario will also be joining us for Kanto Hits. ???? Ikaw ba ay in love o ‘di kaya paulit-ulit nang sinaktan pero asang-asa ka pa rin? Pagod ka na ba sa lahat ng nangyayari? Kahit na ano pa man ‘yang nararamdaman mo, sasamahan ka namin na ilabas lahat ng feelings mo. ???? Never Gonna Jeep You Up presents Kanto Hits: An Open Mic Event For The Jeepney Drivers! Featuring spoken word artists and indie musicians: @heymeetloaf, @gian.lao, @not_alfonso, @jarlobase, @zsaris, @bannaharbera, & @keikosoundslike! Join us on an emotional roller coaster ride on August 29 (Saturday) at 8:00pm via FB live, in partnership with @wheninmanila. ???? This virtual event is FREE, but everyone is highly encouraged to donate any amount. All proceeds will be used to provide for the displaced jeepney drivers in Metro Manila. ???? Sakay na kayo, kahit hanggang kanto Ang buhay ng tsuper, ay ‘di gawang biro, yeah ????

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