Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg
Travel

Philippine Jeepneys: Art on Wheels

As ubiquitous to Manila as the black cab is to London or the yellow taxi is to New York, 'jeepneys' are the Philippines' most iconic mode of transport. The noisy, colorfully decorated vehicles -- sometimes equipped with special horns or boom boxes -- first hit the roads in the early 1950s and were built from U.S. military jeeps left behind after the Second World War ended.Take a look at how these unique mobile masterpieces are created. Photographs by Sanjit Das for Bloomberg

As ubiquitous to Manila as the black cab is to London or the yellow taxi is to New York, 'jeepneys' are the Philippines' most iconic mode of transport. The noisy, colorfully decorated vehicles — sometimes equipped with special horns or boom boxes — first hit the roads in the early 1950s and were built from U.S. military jeeps left behind after the Second World War ended. Take a look at how these unique mobile masterpieces are created.

 

 

 

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    The highly-personalized vehicles - world-renowned for their often wild paint jobs - were modified from U.S. military vehicles left behind following the end of the Second World War.

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    The jeepneys have flamboyant names such as 'Black Prince', 'Reina Rose' and 'Super Kid' with equally wild paint jobs that are a source of pride for the drivers.

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    Morales Motors is a small independently owned jeepney workshop in San Mateo, Rizal Province, which is around 50km east of Manila. Morales has been in operation since 1978.

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    A Doctor Motors jeepney paint workshop in Manila. The outer designs of jeepneys can be somewhat eccentric.

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    Images of the Virgin Mary can sit comfortably alongside superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man.

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    Body parts of the jeepney are welded together at the Morales Motors workshop.

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    Drivers can request add-ons such as "laughing horns" and a coil of LED lights on the hood that blink in tandem with the brake lights.

     

     

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    Some jeepneys, mostly in the provinces, have started offering free WiFi.

     

     

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    As a passenger, you have to say "para!" which means "stop", to alight. But on some jeepneys you can pull a cord that triggers a light or sound to alert the driver to stop. 

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    In the provinces, jeepneys have room not only for passengers; drivers sometimes load vegetables and chickens on the roof.

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    A mechanic wipes the engine of a custom-built jeepney at the Morales Motors workshop.

     

     

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    A completed custom-built Morales Motors jeepney.

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    The jeepney industry is facing increasingly tighter regulations on pollution control, with some makers building electrified versions to counter the problem.