Maayong buntag from the Philippines!
I am happy to report that this blog will not be about what I have been doing in the Philippines but rather it will be about something regarding the Philippines! Today I talk about “types of public transportation”. It might seem like a strange topic but when I first got to the Philippines two things happened:
- I was in awe, not only at how many modes of public transportation there were, but also at how ingenious and creative they were.
- I was terrified that I would have to use public transportation. Where I lived in Florida wasn’t exactly known for having a great system (I guess we have uber now. Does that count?) I was not excited at figuring out how to get around here. The thought of hailing down one of these vehicles was scary, figuring out if it was going to the place I needed it to go was scary, knowing how much to pay was scary.
I’m happy to report I’m over those fears, and it was really
a quick process. Because it’s so freaking simple! The vehicles tend to have markings telling you their routes. But what’s more is that people here are super friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Before, I would be scared of going to a new place and figuring out how to get around… but then I realized something quite remarkable… if I open my mouth and ask… people will go out of their way to show me where things are or how to get places! The only real downfall I’ve had with public transportation here is that when I go to a new place I might get ripped off, because I am a foreigner. BUT the magical thing is that if I say just a few words in Cebuano or Tagalog they seem to know they shouldn’t rip me off. I will say 99% of the drivers are honest and won’t scam you but there is always that one (especially at the airport) that will want to overcharge you because they think you don’t know.
So without further ado.. Here are the main forms of public transportation I have used/seen in the Philippines. For all of these you will often see that the drivers take great artistic liberty and will deck their rides out with different colored paints, decorations, etc.:
- Jeepney: So in English it’s jeepney but in Tagalog its dyipni.
This is the form of transportation that is a staple of the Philippines and the most common means to get around. Jeepneys are actually made from US military jeeps that were left over from WWII. On the side of the Jeepney it tells you the route and on the front there will be a sign that will indicate in which direction it’s going. The seats are in the form of two long parallel benches along the sides with passengers facing each other. When it’s time to pay, you pass your pesos to the person next to you who passes them to the next and so forth until your pesos get to the driver in the front. There is the rumor that these might start to get decommissioned.
2. Multicab: This is basically the exact same thing as a jeepney, it all works the same from the marking of routes to sitting arrangements to the payment. However, multicabs are a newer version (aka it was manufactured recently and not during WWII) and they are smaller so they fit less passengers.
**When you get on jeepneys and multicabs, people tend to sit near the door so you will have to scramble your way in between a bunch of people to find a sit – not an easy task if you’re not “Philippino sized”
- Putput: these have different names according to where you are, in my municipality they are “put puts”. Basically they are your
normal bicycle but they are outfitted with a side car for passengers. Obviously, these are normally for shorter distance rides. You just flag these down, get on and tell them where to take you
4. Tricycle: Or trike for short, these can have a set route (such as in my municipality, they’re even color coded!) or they may be for hire like a taxi. The gist of it is that it’s a motorcycle affixed with a side car, but they can look different depending on the municipality. The motorcycle and side car are usually covered, although not always by the same roof
5. Ferry: As we live on islands, a big form of transportation is of course boat travel. There are ferries that run between a lot of the islands; they can take from just an hour or two to many more hours. There are even overnight ferries, with bunk beds, which are awesome for traveling cause it eliminates having to pay a night at a hostel.
6. Buses: There are open aired buses or fancier air con buses. Haven’t experienced the air con ones myself but I’ve heard they’re freezing so take a sweater. All the buses have specific routes, as buses usually do, and they will display on their front dashboard where they are going. There is usually the driver and someone walking the isles or at the door to collect money
7. Vans: Vans are huge on my island, and I’m sure in other islands too. They are usually airconed and are crammed with people (aka 4 people to a row that normally fits 3)
8. Uber/Grabtaxi/Taxi: these are just the same as anywhere, just make sure that if you take a taxi they turn on the meter otherwise they’re ripping you off and making up some price for the ride (happened once to me, I wasn’t happy)
9. Habal Habal: This is just a normal motorcycle except the sit is modified to fit more than two people and it has a roof over it. They usually are the ones that take on the rough terrains, such as mountains, where the other public transport options can’t go
So for all of these the cool thing is they will stop wherever you need them to or pick you up wherever, there is no designated waiting shed you have to be at (except for the ferry, duh). When you want them to stop you just say “para kuya” or you can tap one of your coins against the hand railings on the ceiling to make a “bing bing” noise (the driver knows this means they should stop). As you can see some common themes prevail
- Maximize amount of passengers
- Use normal modes of transport and modify them in such a way to make them public transportation
But the most common theme when going on any form of transportation is “there is always room for one more”! But of course even though I have all these options, for me my number 1 mode of transportation: my legs and bike!
Hope you enjoyed!