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Jeepney's Guide

Philippines, Philippines

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Jeepneys, sometimes called simply jeeps, are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines: known for their crowded seating and kitsch decorations, they became a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art. A Sarao jeepney was exhibited at the Philippine pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair as a national image for the Filipinos. Jeepneys were originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II.

In an age of incredible automotive innovations for fuel efficiency, aerodynamics, safety and creature comforts, the jeepney has remained an immutable, uncomfortable, gas-guzzling and polluting anachronism, severely lacking in safety features and unadaptable to universal safety and seat-belt regulations; its boxed interior is designed to cram up as many passengers as possible.

Jeepney art is a combination of the "art of the accessory" and the "art of the color" applied on a basic canvas shell of galvanized metal or buffed and glimmering stainless steel. Accessories are, for the most part, decided or handpicked, altered or added on at the owner's whim. The "art of the color" is usually applied by airbrush or sticker artists: jeepney art is probably the sole venue for expression of true proletarian art.

Anachronistic, unchanging, dreadfully unaerodynamic, punishingly uncomfortable: yes, the jeepney is all that.

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