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Manila to Showcase Jumbo Jeepneys
By Rowena dela Rosa Yoon
Associate Editor & Australian Correspondent

Philippine Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace H. Durano appoints Korean actress Eugene as Philippine publicity ambassadress in an event held in Seoul on June 7, 2006.

The "King of the Road" is back on center stage. The jeepney, an iconic landmark of Filipino ingenuity, is reinventing itself to become friendlier and more accommodating in serving local commuters as well as international tourists. Time and again, richer and more intricate colors and artistry of Filipinos are being showcased as jumbo jeepneys pick up a larger number of local and international passengers and bring them to their specific destinations.

Jumbo jeepneys are ready to run the routes of SM Mall of Asia-Ninoy Aquino International Airport, SM Mall of Asia-Intramuros, and Rustans Makati-Eastwood, Libis. Other routes are also being considered to provide utmost convenience of commuters.

These jeepneys are huge —26-seater, a far cry from the ordinary 12-seater jeepneys. They are about 7.8 meter-long, 2-meter-wide, and 2.5-meter high. Passengers can hop in and walk inside upright and no longer bend the way they do in ordinary jeepneys.

What's more? Passengers will indulge in some kind of luxury while commuting. The units are air-conditioned and furnished with upholstered seats, alarm, stereo systems, televisions, and digital video disc players.

Jeepneys are said to be the Philippines' most popular mode of transportation plying along the roads of metropolitan cities and even in the narrowest streets of far-flung rural villages. The design has evolved from the army jeeps used during the World War II and has been transformed into a colorfully crafted public utility vehicles. The body is made up of galvanized iron and steel—painted and crafted with ornate designs and decked with all sort of things: flags, horses, horns, strove lights, and many more. If the driver is carefree, his jeepney could be imbedded with a loud stereo sound system. Jeepneys have been metaphorically labeled as the king of the road in contrast to the smaller and yet equally exotic vehicles like the ubiquitous tricycle or those horse-driven carts called "calesa."

The jumbo jeepneys were launched following a newly approved policy by the Philippine Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), through its attached agency the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to allow jumbo jeepneys to ply major routes along tourism landmarks nationwide.

Philippine pavillion is attracting Korean visitors at the KOTFA which opened for a four-day run on June 8 at the COEX in Seoul..Philippine Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace H. Durano stands again on the center stage of the KOTFA this year as a special guest of honor.

This is hoped to bolster tourism, showcase Filipino ingenuity, and improve riding convenience of local and foreign tourists, local officials said.

Opening up routes for such units is also in line with governments development thrust towards modernizing public transportation, officials continued.

Interestingly, Philippine transportation authorities are now eyeing the possibility of making the jumbo jeepneys as export products as they push to adapt international standards.

It was revealed that Malaysia, Hongkong, Singapore, and Australia are among countries interested in jumbo jeepneys. Already, the Philippines is said to have been able to export 12 units of such vehicles to Guam, the Marshall Islands, South Africa, and Uganda. An official of the Philippine Jeepney Operators and Alliance Inc. said that Papua New Guinea even passed legislation making the jumbo jeepney as the country's national transportation mode. He reported local manufacturers have signed five-year contracts with Papua New Guinea authorities to supply of 4,500 jumbo jeepneys.

Meanwhile, ordinary jeepneys will get a facelift with the new campaign dubbed as "Makisaya, Bihaye Na" (Have Fun, Take a Ride), a jeepney wrap sticker project which was launched on June 6 in Malacanang spearheaded by the Department of Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano The campaign involves over 1,000 units of jeepneys to get a brand new paint and stickers to promote top destinations all over the nation.

The campaign is summed up as color-coding scheme which will assign particular jeepneys to ply certain routes. Blue jeepneys for Makati, yellow for Quexon City, and red for Manila, for instance.

Durano is positive that these color-coded jeepneys will further boost the tourism icons of the Philippines.

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Rowena dela Rosa Yoon serves as an Associate Editor & Australian Correspondent for the Seoul Times. She is a communications specialist with extensive professional experience in journalism, public relations, and corporate communications. She wrote for Manila Bulletin and Korea Herald. She has a MA degree in Communications and Media Studies from Monash University (Australia), a postgraduate degree in Comparative Literature from University of the Philippines, a BS degree in Journalism from Lyceum of the Philippines, and a Diploma of Information Technology from Victoria University (Australia). She is a current member of the Melbourne Press Club.






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