Ubiquitous jeepney rolls into town

DUBAI - The ubiquitous jeepney that clogs the streets of Manila and the Philippine provinces has been in the emirate for a week now, and will soon be seen touring Sharjah and Abu Dhabi for the whole month of January.

By Ramona Ruiz

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Published: Fri 2 Jan 2004, 12:28 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:14 AM

Widely known as the poor man's mode of transportation, this colourful vehicle is a testament of the post-war Filipino ingenuity and artistic ability. The army jeeps left by the United States inspired the making of these vehicles.

No jeepney is exactly the same as another in terms of appearance. Paintings, bonnets, moving horse figurines, traditional designs, mirrors, stickers and even blinker lights that come on when passengers who have to alight press a button or a string are among the unique features of this everyman's communal Cadillac.

Colourful, fast and reckless, the jeepney makes for an interesting ride although one must hang on to one's seat, especially if the driver is a daredevil!

Chan Gammampila, District Sales Manager for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, Qatar Airways, said that the jeepney is part of a promotional campaign launched by the airline to promote Cebu as a destination.

Qatar Airways, which currently flies three times weekly from Doha to Cebu, launched its maiden flight to Cebu on December 10. "We thought of a novel way to promote a destination and decided on the jeepney. The jeepney, which is a traditional mode of transportation in the Philippines, will be in Doha by February and will continue to travel to the AGCC for up to 10 months. Assembled in Manila, the colourful jeepney seats upto 12 persons," he said.

The jeepney proved to be an effective campaign strategy of former president Joseph Estrada who ran for president in the 1998 elections. JEEP was a shorthand for "Joseph Ejercito Estrada for President". The jeepney was used as a campaign vehicle, a brilliant way for Mr Estrada to identify himself with the masses.

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