Jeepney Language

Probably the most popular form of public transportation in the Philippines. They are literally the kings of the roads. A distinctive feature of a jeepney is its jeep-like front appearance. Each jeepney has its own decorations of either movie characters, religious imagery, flags of other countries (usually the US or the UK) or anime, so two jeepneys do not look the same. They are only found in the Philippines and nowhere else.

What is a Jeepney?

A jeepney is a small bus modified from a US army jeep. After World War II ended, there was an abundant number of jeeps left by the US military all over the archipelago. Filipinos, using their creativity, extended the rear of the jeep in order to accommodate more passengers.

The layout of a jeepney is fairly simple. Behind the driver’s seat are two long benches leaning on both sides facing each other, rather than rows of seats facing the front like on a bus. By having two long benches, a jeepney can load up to an indefinite number of passengers.

What makes these beasts even popular is how cheap they are compared to tricycles or taxis. For the first 4km, the fare would cost only 8 pesos one way.

Jeepney etiquette

There is somewhat a predefined etiquette when riding jeepneys.

As soon as you hop on, you pay the fare by giving it to the driver or if you’re sitting far from the driver, you give it to the passenger next to you who then will pass it along to the driver. While doing so, say “Bayad” which means “payment”.

If you are paying for more than one person, you’d say “Bayad, (number)”. For example, if you’re paying for two people, you’d say “Bayad, dalawa” or for three “Bayad, tatlo“. Use the Tagalog numbers for this.

When someone says “Bayad” and is far from the driver, offer to pass along his/her fare to the driver while saying “Bayad daw” which means “He/she said this is payment”. Daw means something like “it is said”.

When you’ve reached your destination, yell “Para!!” (which can mean “Stop”) or “Tabi lang” (“to the side”), which tells the driver to stop close to a road curb you can disembark.

Likewise, let disembarking passengers get off first before boarding the jeepney.

Terms

As you’ve noticed, the terminology used in jeepney rides are short, simple and contains not too many words.

The terms are:

Bayad! – This is my payment

Bayad daw! – This is someone else’s payment

Bayad, (number in Tagalog) – Payment for this many people

Para! – Stop
Tabi lang! – Stop (to the side)

If you do get to ride on these iconic road beasts, do try using these terms as you get to your destination. Also don’t forget to bring a handkerchief.

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