Q: How many people can fit inside a jeepney?
A: One more.
A: One more.
For the uninitiated, the jeepney would look like an aluminum box on steroids. In Manila, jeepneys are notorious for violating traffic rules and overloading passengers. Here in Cagayan de Oro, well, it seems much much worse.
Haggling for Passengers
While waiting outside Xavier University High School campus in Pueblo de Oro, you would see jeepneys numbering around to or three, occupying both lanes of the main road. There you would hear the barker yelling, "Kooh-goon, kooh-goon!" which actually refers to Cogon, a marketplace in CDOC. If you decline their offer, they will cross your path and berate you once more, "Kooh-goon!"
If you say "no" once more, then they ask what you are going, "Asa ka mangadto?" as if they would change their route for you.
If you decide to board the jeepney. Prepare for an interminable wait. Yes, the jeepney will wait until every nook and cranny is filled by your lubot. When then you think you're done waiting, do not be fooled: the drivers rev up the engine to feign departure but then wait for ten minutes more.
Then the jeepney actually begins to move. The drivers here either drive too slow or too fast. Too fast because they actually race against each other on the curving roads of CDOC. Too slow, because some are not satisfied with the number of passengers in their jeepneys.
The passengers themselves do not seem to mind. They hail a jeepney, and walk very slowly (imagine an ant wading through a pool of molasses) because they know that the jeepneys will wait for them. Yes, these jeepneys are that desperate for passengers—that even while moving, when the drivers think they have spotted a passenger, they will stop and drive in reverse, just to make sure.
There was a time that I rode the jeepney and the barker was acting weirdly. He seemed to be looking at everyone suspiciously, as if we had some planned conspiracy. Another barker was hesitant in calling in passengers because it was raining and he seemed afraid of getting wet.
Colourful Jeepney, Colourful People
Yet amidst all of these, I continue to ride the jeepney because it is the most affordable form of transport and moreover, it is an opportunity for you travel with your students and fellow faculty members. You travel with colourful people—the baby in nothing but a t-shirt who rests on her mother's bosom, the old man with gray hair chewing some gum, the elvin grade school student who has bag that is taller than he is—these people, are on a journey with you. The jeepney, and the people in them, is as colourful as life.