By Reni M. Valenzuela
A jeepney without a jeepney-look is jeepney no longer. Oddly, the “modern jeepney” the government is usually showing us in the news is far from being a jeepney. It is equal to expunging the Filipino from Filipinos, partly.
Modernize our public utility transport, but please don’t do it by dumping our cherished culture, custom, identity, selfhood, peculiarity and historical heritage. Jeepney is a part of the Filipino diary.
My personal attachment to our jeepneys is beyond my school, innocent days despite driving a car for most of my life. The link goes joyously from sentimental to historical as jeepneys bring nostalgia and wonderful memories to me of the years gone by as a young person, even as I sometimes still ride jeepneys and MRT/LRT going to an appointment when I get stuck in heavy traffic. I remember one of the very first songs that I’ve composed was written and done when I was riding a jeepney, awestruck by the disarming beauty of a smiling, shy-looking girl in front of me.
I wonder if the way the government wants to modernize and progress our country was how visionary Jose Rizal saw the Philippines in his dream would one day become, apropos to his aspirations for the motherland, to which he offered his life willingly, heroically. Were all these the sense of our national hero bravely turning backwards to face his executioners to be shot in the heart on 30 December 1896?
Why copy others to dash ourselves for who we are? Retain the jeepney look and let our jeepneys, modernized as we want it to become, to be the jeepneys of tomorrow. The Filipino jeepney is iconic and artistic, variant in colors to represent our multi-shaded complexion as a people/nation. It is a symbol of liberty for all of us, historically. Bring the jeepneys back to be among the tourist experiences that foreigners can look forward to and enjoy when they come/visit our beloved, beautiful, “colorful” country – with all the great stories down memory lane behind the chronicled, world famous “Filipino Smile.”
But solve widespread criminality first, including government corruption and misdemeanors even in our premiere airport, alas!. But why propose in Congress to privatize the airport or change its name, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, when there is no other name that can be better than it (NAIA or naiyak na bayan) in significance? It is one way to declare to the whole world our vastness (in spirit) as a people. And it is in being ourselves that only we can rise, shine and emerge best as a nation – as Filipinos.
May I suggest that we restore our calesa or karitela in certain historical places/spots of our country like Intramuros, Rizal Park, Mactan Shrine, Sandugo Shrine, Corregidor Island, Baguio City, Biak na Bato, Banaue Rice Terraces and some others, not just in Calle Vigan – for better tourist endearment and exploit, and better appreciation of our hollowed, treasured, rich, forgotten past – by both foreign and local tourists. Let the universe have a glimpse of our roots, heroes and great Creator not just in places we promote, but in all of us, Filipinos of today, more importantly. Shape up.
“Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” – Psalm 119:111
Sell the Philippines to boost tourism and economic development, but don’t sell our soul.