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Jeepney Code of Honor (Honesty)

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Jeepney Code of Honor

“Bayad…Two.” I speak it holding up with my two fingers to inform the passengers near the driver to transfer my 20 pesos note to the jeepney driver. I intentionally say it to let the driver know that I do not need change. I try to only use coins and small bills 50 pesos and 20 pesos notes because making change is a problem for the driver especially early in the morning. When I ride jeepneys in the Philippines I notice that the ones I ride no one ask if you have the money for the fare when you get in.

No one asks for the fare as you ride. No one asks if you paid when you get off and yet the fare is paid. I am sure there are cases where the rider does not pay, but that seems to be rare. Payment is on the honor system and the riders of the jeepney seem to me to have plenty of honor.

Throwaway Ticket Service - The Business that works while you sleep

Near the end of my 10 pesos jeepney trip from Mama’s house to the BQ Mall in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, I notice change being passed back from passenger to passenger until it reaches me sitting second to last on the bench in the jeepney. My 14-year old son was in the last position on our side. A five-pesos and 5 one-pesos coins are placed in my hand. I don’t know who’s change this is, but it is not mine. So, I ask, “Sukli?” while holding the money out with an upward facing slightly cupped hand. No one responds to claim the money. I shrug and pass the money to the passenger next to me closer to the driver and the change is passed in this way back to the driver. My guess is the driver did not see my son; my point is no one tried to claim the change that was not owed to them. I love the passing of the money from hand to hand in the jeepney. If you have a germaphobia or having a fear of germs, well the jeepney is not for you. In the Philippine, the 20-pesos note is perhaps the dirtiest money on the planet, but it is good for them, and make sure to have coins in your wallet if you are riding the jeepney.

Inside the jeepney

Inside the jeepney

Riders

The people riding the jeepney are average Filipinos, frankly speaking, most of them are poor or low earners people. Generally, the riders include students, teachers, retail sales, fast food workers, construction workers, etc. This article is about honesty, so the question is are these people honest? On the jeepneys, I have noticed that the riders are extremely honest. I think very close to 100% pay the fare. I have never witnessed a rider try to pocket another rider’s change. I guess these things are really happening, but I believe these occurrences to be very rare. It is always important to keep your valuables secure, but I can honestly say I have only felt on a couple of occasions that other riders were considering snatching and I am not even sure they were. I just had uneasy feelings from what I was observing. The riders of the jeepney seem to me to be honest.

Drivers give change correctly

Drivers give change correctly

Drivers

I admire jeepney drivers. They have a difficult job and from what I have witnessed most of them are honest. I have only on one instance, where I had to ask a driver for my change at the end of my ride. I paid a 100-pesos note for 6 riders. The fare total was 60 pesos. In this one case, I got the feeling that the driver felt a rich foreigner would not care about his 40 pesos change, but he could have just made an honest mistake. By the way, I try to avoid using bills larger than 50-pesos on a jeepney. You should strongly avoid trying to break a 500-pesos or 1,000-pesos note on a jeepney. Early in the day passengers are encouraged to use coins or exact change.

I was going to ride a jeepney from Tagbilaran City to Mama’s house in La Paz. We arrived at the terminal and saw a jeepney that had la Paz written on the signboard. I had some bags and I asked a man standing next to the jeepney that I assumed was the driver if I could sit in the front. He opened the door and closed it for me. It did not close easily. My wife and two boys sat in the back of the jeepney. We waited. While waiting I could not help but notice a large number of coins laid out so the driver could quickly and easily make a change. No one was watching. I or anyone in my position could grab several coins no one would know and yet I think few Filipinos in the position I found myself in would take coins. Stealing from the jeepney driver would break the jeepney code of honor.

After several minutes the man that opened the door came back. The man said the driver was not around and we needed to get on a different jeepney. I sat in the front of the new jeepney with the driver. We talked about a number of things on the trip. The driver was concerned about rising fuel cost and the fact that the fare in my case 10 pesos never increased. This was just before the Philippine government passed the law giving jeepney drivers a gas voucher debit card to help with rising fuel cost. At the end of the ride, I gave the nice driver a 50-peso note and said he could keep the extra 10 pesos. He gave me a 10-pesos coin and said the fare is only 40 pesos for the four of us. I think most jeepney drivers are good honest men. Has anyone ever seen a female jeepney driver? Just curious, because I have not seen it yet.

Conductor at back of some jeepneys

Conductor at the back of some jeepneys

Conductors

I honestly rarely see conductors on the jeepneys I ride. The conductor rides at the back mostly and collects the fare, encourages people to ride, ask people to sit closer together, get the extension ready if needed, etc. And I am a kind of person who prefers to ride jeepney without conductors because I like it when the passengers are not asked to pay and just pay when they feel like it. I think conductors are most useful on bigger jeepneys. My impression is the conductors are honest and do a good job.

Question

I like to encourage reader feedback on my articles. One way I sometimes do this is by asking questions. Feel free to answer one, some, all or none in the comments section provided below.

  1. Do you feel comfortable and safe on jeepneys?
  2. Have you ever seen a passenger robbed?
  3. Have you seen or heard of a jeepney driver being robbed?
  4. Have you seen a female jeepney driver?
  5. What do you find most interesting about Filipino jeepneys and riding Filipino jeepneys?

Posted in

Jay Stainback

Jay Stainback lives in Raleigh, NC, USA and is hoping/planning to retire to Bohol in about 10 years. He is married to his beautiful Filipina wife Juliet whom he met on-line. They were married 12/7/02 and have two boys’ ages 9 years old and 5 years old. Jay has visited the Philippines 4 times the first time 1 week, the 2nd time 2 weeks, the 3rd time for 3 weeks, the 4th time 4 weeks spending most of their time in Bohol.

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Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

Hi Jay: A nice article about a common Philippines experience. I ride jeepneys in my neighborhood in Cebu sometimes and there are women and kids on them; I’ve never seen a jeepney robbery or theft there but i have heard about them. I haven’t seen a female jeepney driver, but lots of “wife helpers” riding with their husbands. Most interesting: I really hope the new government “Replace the jeepneys with cleaner ones” program happens.” I cough up the jeepney smoke regularly. Anyway, nice writing and good photos to support it. Thank you. -Rob

Jay
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Jay

Hi Rob, Thanks for adding to the article with your comment! I am not sure how the “Replace the jeepneys with cleaner ones” will work out. I was on a jeepney this summer that was a real rust bucket. The driver was actually turning the steering wheel half way around turns and I don’t think it was even changing directions. I think the jeepney was older than me and I am 53. The thing I wonder about is if they take this guy’s old jeepney is he going to be able to get a new one to put rice on… Read more »

Murray
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Murray

I use jeepneys a lot in Angeles City. I am too scared to drive a car here, coming from a country where we drive on the other side of the road compounds the difficulty. I have been pick pocketed once to the tune of 9000p, boy that guy must have been good. I have only ever had one ride where I had to remind the driver about my change.

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi Murray, Thanks for your comment! I am with you on driving a car in busy areas. I once got a hotel in Manila and the lady who took the reservation over the phone asked if I wanted a rental car. My reply was, “in Manila…no way!” Sorry to hear about your pick pocketing, but thanks for sharing. I think one reason there are not a lot of pick pockets on the jeepney is that the pick pockets figure people riding the jeepney probably are not carrying much money. I like jeepneys and feel safe, but to be honest on… Read more »

Cordillera Cowboy
Guest

Hello Jay, In all my visits, and now living here, I’ve never ridden a jeepney. It’s just never been practical for where we tend to travel locally. Before we had a car available to us, it was much simpler to pay a tricycle driver extra and convince him to go out of his jurisdiction and take us to the ranch. Even today, it is tricky to get a tricycle outbound from the ranch to the main drag where we could catch a jeepney. I’ve not yet seen a female jeepney driver. But it is not unusual around here to see… Read more »

Jay
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Jay

Hi Pete, I have not seen female trike drivers, but I rarely ride them. We took one recently though on our vacation and I rode behind the driver on the seat for the first time. Our younger son, 10 years, had gotten sick and been hospitalized for a couple of days. My wife got in the side-car with him when we left the hospital. I was a bit confused. I first tried to stradle the seat, but the driver let me know I was to sit side saddle. We didn’t want to transport our sick son on a jeepney and… Read more »

John Reyes
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John Reyes

Hi Jay – I’ll start with your last question. For me, there is nothing more interesting than a jeepney ride if your purpose is to observe Filipino culture up-close, sitting hip to hip with Filipinos from all walks of life to the left and right of you, and nearly knee cap to knee cap with the passenger seated across the aisle from you. Although we rarely ride the jeepney or a bus when on vacation in the Philippines, I remember the time when we had to take the jeepney from in front of the Quiapo Church to Robinson’s Mall in… Read more »

Jay
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Jay

Hi John, Thanks for commenting! I think riding the jeepney is one of my favorite things about the Philippines, but my sons sometimes complain about waiting in the sun by the road for one to come by with available seats. I agree with your observation of passengers on the jeepney, but I encountered an exception on my last day in Bohol. I was riding with my 14 year old son and 3 men got on. Two out of the 3 were obnoxious and seemed drunk, but I did not smell any alcohol. The 3rd sat quietly watching behind sun glasses.… Read more »

Gary
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Gary

Jay,
Many years ago when riding a jeepney in Laguna, I had my wallet lifted in a distraction style robbery with one guy shuffling me along the bench seat which took my attention whilst his friend took my wallet. I must confess to not feeling comfortable riding them anymore, although I am more aware and keep my money etc. in a more secure location close to me.
I do sometimes ride tricycles, despite their inherent lack of safety, but only for short journeys.

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi Gary, Thanks for commenting! I love riding jeepneys because of the interaction with Filipinos and almost all of them are good honest people, but all it takes is one or two and you could lose your valuables as you did. I had a similar experience the last time I rode a jeepney where I felt a rider was trying to distract me so another could get at my wallet. In my case I cannot be sure that was what was going on because it did not happen. Trikes are good sometimes for short journeys to specific locations not necessarily… Read more »

papaduck
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papaduck

The worst thing about riding the jeepney is the pollution. I did see a robbery in a jeepney we were riding in Manila City. A lady had a cellphone stolen right from her ear as someone from the street reached in the window and snatched it. The funniest thing i see while riding is when i see the spare tire completely bald.

Jay
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Jay

Hi Randy,

I am not sure on how I feel about pollution and jeepney. I take in account how many people are riding in the jeepney. I figure the jeepney is taking the place of a number of cars and figure it balances out. IDK. I could be wrong. I saw a news story where someone phone was snatched as they sat on the curb texting by a couple of guys on a motorcycle. You have to be alert to your surroundings. Thanks for your input!

Peace

Jay

Richard
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Richard

Great article Jay. Im somewhat new to this site but have been visiting Cavite now for a couple of years. In the discussion of the future of the Jeepney I am worried it will be seriously transformed forever. The new rules, must be side mounting, must have air con, must be handicap accessible will effectively wipe out the Jeepney as we know it. From what I understand, there is not one single Jeepney that will survive the change. As an American and someone who watches the “Crony Capitalism” prevel ant there I worry for the hundreds or thousands of Jeepney… Read more »

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi Richard, Has this legislation passed or is it proposed? In July I know the Philippine government started a fuel voucher program to help jeepney drivers deal with rising fuel cost. This was to avoid having to raise the fares for the riders. To me I think the Philippine government is well aware of the importance of the jeepney to provide low cost transportation. I saw news stories where some citizens did not like the program and favored putting resources to “modernize” jeepneys, although I get the feeling this group was in the minority. All this is up to Filipinos… Read more »

Steven Rood
Guest
Steven Rood

Your “one million in the bank” (with which I agree) post reminded me that I wanted to say I really liked this post. You captured the experience very well.

JY
Guest

#2 Yes. Me! Someone snatched my cap while I was in a jeepney way back when I was in high school. Have witnessed others getting robbed too but not at knife/gun point. And all of it with the perpetrator not inside the jeepney. They just lurk around street corners or common stops where the driver has to slow down or stop.

# 4 Don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman who makes a living driving a passenger jeepney. Does it count if she was just driving one but that is, as what Filipinos like to call, “For private use only”? Lol!

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi JY,

Thanks for your input! I thought this site was dormant. You are right that one must be diligent of snatchers. I was talking about driving a jeepney for profit.

Peace,

Jay

June Paliwag
Guest
June Paliwag

Sir, good afternoon!! Ask Lang PO ako Kung safe ba mag free wheeling Ang isang jeepney? May law ba pinagbabawal yan? Thanks

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi June,

Thanks for the comment! I do not understand what you are saying, so I cannot reply intelligently.

Peace,

Jay

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