Monday, October 11, 2004


Jeepney Posted by Hello

Pic: A jeepney, the most accessible and visible mass transportation in the Philippines. Leftover remnants of the war, locals ingeniously made used of the surplus jeeps and converted them into mass people carriers. A common sight, often richly painted and decorated with everything imaginable (lights, horns, charms, stickers, bells, flashing signs, crosses, etc), it’s cheap and constant. The only downside is the diesel consuming engine generates mass heap of pollution and entering Manila is like entering a pea soup of smog and pollutants. Ilog-ilog Beach, Bolinao, Philippines, 2004.

Mabuhay means Welcome in Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines). I was carrying out my industrial training in the Philippines from March until May 2004 at the Bolinao Marine Research Institute under the University of the Philippines (UP). Considering that the Philippines is one of the highest users of marine based products, especially fishes, crustaceans and mollusks, aquaculture and marine based research has had a long history in this island nation. I’ve always wanted to visit the Philippines and to my surprise it was not all the negative news that people often quote of the place such as terrorist breeding grounds, high crime rates and high poverty levels. True all these exist but not generalized through the country as we all believe. I wasn’t mugged though from my professor I heard that once a jeepney in the UP campus was halted by robbers and the lecturers relieved of their belongings!

Luzon is the northern most island, home to the capital, Manila. The other three archipelagos include the Visayas in the center with famous locales such as Cebu, Davao and Palawan while the Southern most island is Mindanao, a predominantly Muslim district with the lowest developed principality. During our trip we managed to skirt most of Luzon, either on working stints or through our own travels. Places visited include, Metro Manila, Bolinao, Baguio, San Fernando, Alaminos City, Dagupan, Vigan City and a host of other smaller provinces in between.

Truly the sights and experience there was fascinating, a mixture of extremes, of poverty and riches, of degradation and excellence, of rural and urbane, of god and vices, of simplicity and of complexity. I’ll share a little of my travels for the week and maybe in future write up more when there’s time. For now enjoy and buckle your seat belt for the trip.

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