Learn the 10 words and phrases you should know when riding a jeepney!
Knowing how to use the public transportation system in a new country is an important skill to learn, especially in the Philippines. You can’t always bring around your car and not all cities and towns have taxi cabs. Public transportation is so important in the Philippines that we evolved a word for it: commute.
In the Philippines, “commute” is more than the travel between one’s home and place of work on a regular basis. It means to travel using the public transportations regardless if the destination is your work or your home. Basically, it is whenever you are not using a private car.
And what better way to experience actual commute in the Philippines than riding a jeepney! In the Philippines, the jeepney is the Hari ng Kalsada or “King of the Road”. It is everywhere and anywhere with its flamboyant colors and various imagery. Some people would call it “art on wheels”. Useful, powerful, and can be beautiful, it is undeniable that the jeepney is the mascot of Filipino transportation.
Without further ado, here are 10 words and phrases you should know when riding a jeepney!
Meaning “Here’s the payment, please!”, you use this phrase to get the attention of the driver and the rest of the passengers in the jeepney. Yes, everyone and no, you’re not inconveniencing everyone because it is a common courtesy in the Filipino jeepney culture to help each other pass payments and change down the aisle to and from the driver and passengers. So, really the complete meaning of Bayad po is “Here’s the payment! Please pass it to the driver”.
This means “coins” in Tagalog. If you’ve been in a jeepney or read our earlier post, How to Really Count Tagalog Numbers, you may have already encountered the sentence, “Barya lang po sa umaga”. This is loosely translatable to “Use loose change when paying in the morning, please” and it’s common due to two important facts. One, the jeepney fare is relatively cheap, around 0.17USD. Two, jeepneys drivers usually start fresh when starting out their routes early in the morning. So, you literally have to use literal loose change for your and the driver’s convenience.
Sukli po sa ____
This loosely translates to “Change for the[amount that you gave him], please”. On the off chance that the driver forgot to give you back your change, you can say this to get his attention. If the driver remembers you, you’ll immediately get your change back. But if not, he may ask “Saan tong/yung _____?” (“Where did this _____ come from?”). He is not asking you where you got your money, he’s asking you the area where you alight his jeepney so he can give you the appropriate amount of change.
Pa-abot po/Pa-suyo po
As I’ve said before, it is a common courtesy to help each other pass payments and change down the aisle to and from the driver and passengers. However, not all people practice this common courtesy (which is rude), or they didn’t hear you the first time you said Bayad po, or they didn’t see the driver passing the change over his head. In this cases, you can repeat Bayad po or just say Pa-abot po/ Pa-suyo po. This loosely means “Please, pass the payment/change”.
Between driving, accepting payments, giving back change, maneuvering through the traffic, and looking out for alighting and potential passengers, jeepney drivers have their plates full. That’s why some employ the help of barkers to take care of shepherding passengers to the jeep and sometimes, the transaction.
There are two types of barkers. The first one is the “in-house” barkers of jeepney terminals and the second are the irregular dispatchers in the streets. The “in-house” barkers are those who are employed to stay at the terminal to help several jeepney drivers with gathering passengers and taking care of the payments. The irregular barkers are those who are randomly employed by the driver along his route to shout out the route of the jeepney. Their job is to gather passengers, so don’t give your payment to them.
___ sa Kanan/___ sa Kaliwa
This means “right” and “left” in Tagalog, respectively. As you can see in the image above, the interior of a jeepney consists of two long seats bolt against the walls of the jeep. The seat behind the driver is Kaliwa and the seat to the right of the driver is Kanan. Sometimes, the jeepney may look like it’s full but there are actually remaining spaces on the seats. This is when the driver/barker would say _[#]_ sa kanan/_[#]_ sa kaliwa. For example, there are still spaces for two people on the right side of the jeepney, the driver would say, Dalawa sa kanan which means “Two more on the right”.
(For more on Tagalog numbers, you can read How to Really Count Tagalog Numbers.)
Another common jeepney courtesy you should know is that when riding a jeep, you should sit to the end near the driver as much as can. This ensures that when a new passenger alights the jeepney, they don’t have to scurry their way along the aisle while hitting several knees in the process just to get a seat. Granted, this common courtesy is not really that common that common. To prompt the passengers to give way for new passengers, the driver/barker usually say Punuan. You usually hear this in jeepneys in terminals. Punuan translates to “to fill” but in jeepney context, it means “We need to fill this jeepney so scooch over so this person can sit already”.
Para!/ Para po!
Originating from Spanish, the word para means “to stop”. You say this to signal the driver to stop the jeep and let you get off this vehicle. However, be mindful of the speed of the jeepney and try to signal the driver to para a few meters before your actual destination to give the jeepney time to decelerate.
Sa tabi lang po
This translates to “Just on the side, please” but it can also mean “My stop is getting nearer, please stop on the side”. The advantage of this is you’re giving the driver enough time to decelerate his jeep. However, to some, sa tabi lang po is too wordy so they just stick to para.
Sa terminal po
Some jeepneys travel terminal to terminal. These terminals are usually situated in strategic areas near malls, markets, centers, and bus terminals, to make traveling easier for both drivers and passengers.
In cases when you didn’t pay the exact amount, the driver may ask you, Saan to? (“Where is this?”). He is not asking you where is the money, he’s actually asking you for your destination. Now, if you forgot the name of the place but you know that you’re going to end up at the terminal anyway, you can simply say Sa terminal po.
Bonus: God knows Hudas not pay
If you haven’t guessed it yet, this is a play on the sentence, “God knows who does not pay”. If you read Tagalog Swear Words to Help You Cuss Like a Local, you know that Judas or Hudas is an offensive word you use to call someone a traitor. You can usually see this in signs near the driver. Payment while on the jeepney is on an honesty basis. Sure, the driver might remember those who already paid and there are roughly 20 other people in the jeepney to vouch for each other. But with the driver busy on the road and passengers minding their own business, it is hard to remember who paid and who didn’t.
Payment on an honesty basis may be ridiculous for some but it works. In my opinion, it’s a great way to see the day-to-day honesty and trust between strangers in the Philippines.
Did you find this helpful or do you have a jeepney experience to share? Tell us in the comments below!