Cebu vehicles

Cebu jeepneys: Of flying pigs and bold hues

Bright and bold, a typical jeepney in Cebu sporting colorful paint and images

Bright and bold, a typical jeepney in Cebu sporting colorful paint and images

Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Niño , the province’s patron, come to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.

A pig flew. A rooster stood proud. Dragons billowing a firey breath. Christ carrying his cross. These images amidst backdrops of stunning, gorgeous or sometimes gaudy colors drove passed me. I was wide-eyed and very much delighted at what flashed before my eyes. Brief, fleeting seconds it took for these marvelously hued transports winding their way. Welcome to the streets of Cebu!

A flying pig decorates the body of another jeepney

A flying pig decorates the body of another jeepney

I have traveled much around the country and never have I seen so beautiful painted modern public transport than in this island province. Of course, Metro Manila has its iconic jeepneys originally leftovers from WWII converted as vehicles of public transport.

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An image from a minibus

An image from a minibus

Windshield of a minibus

Windshield of a minibus

Multidecorated and done in the traditional, as we see now, Sarao model, it has dated looks. But there are stand outs. Just spend some time in Cubao, along Aurora Boulevard and the Marikina jeepneys has one of the most gorgeous examples of Pinoy pop-art. Or those that ply the Manila-Pasig-Rizal route. Contrast these with the ones, with my apologies, to the often uninspired and drab jeepneys found in Bacolod and Nueva Ecija/Nueva Vizcaya, to cite two.

A "surplus" multicab from Japan awaiting conversion either as a private or public vehicle.

A "surplus" multicab from Japan awaiting conversion either as a private or public vehicle. There are many shops around the province, doing these.

A painter putting on finishing touches. One unit can cost as much as P150,000 - P200,000 plus depending on the style and accessories installed with franchise included.

A painter putting on finishing touches. One unit can cost as much as P150,000 - P200,000 plus depending on the style and accessories installed with franchise included.

Cebu vehicles Those on Cebu are different. From jeepneys, tricycles to minibuses, the streets are awash with color. Some are done in solid butreally bold colors while most have paintings and images in modern design. What you see is just mindboggling and I am at a loss for words that these haven’t been, as far as I know, featured before.

The 80s saw the Cimarron type, blunt nosed jeepneys often with strips of color. Later, the Sarao model became en vogue. The 90s saw the influx of surplus vehicles from Japan (but mostly second-hand) flooded the country. Colors were more bolder but still striplike with a few bits of design. In this decade, surplus multicabs, smaller and more compact are the norm. This time, body decorations are bolder and has blossomed into what you often see.

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Tricycles decorated with nonfunctional lights

Tricycles decorated with nonfunctional lights

Side view of another tricycle

Side view of another tricycle

These are the best Pinoy pop-art there is in public vehicles in the country.

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Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

8 Comments

  1. Lydia
    September 19, 2009 @ 9:23

    Hi Estan,
    Since I became a private car owner, I detested jeepneys in Manila, in every city. They can be interesting with their captions but to me, the festooned kings of the street are rolling coffins driven by devils.

    But Cebu jeepneys are like butterflies, how can I not adore them! They are beautiful rolling works of art. I salute the artists of Cebu. Cebu should have a jeepney galore exhibit…more “endemic” to the Philippines than the Maskara Festival- It will surely be the tourists’ delight next to your Sinulog.

    I salute your website. It is a great library of information in artistic form. In lepidoptera lingo, even a caterpillar with another plant host preference will devour it.

    Your love for your place of birth is so evident. Your father is beaming, the Lord who gave you the skill, delighted. Keep on, Estan.

    Mabuhay ka! telyds

  2. Sidney
    September 19, 2009 @ 10:05

    Wonderful… and if you think about it…quite amazing and unique !

  3. jessforget
    September 20, 2009 @ 8:24

    wonderful jeepneys of cebu. cebuano’s really are atistic people… mabuhi ka bai!

  4. ferdie
    September 22, 2009 @ 13:16

    Cebu Pop-art, galing!

  5. whia
    December 8, 2009 @ 1:27

    <3 We know how to appreciate art… 🙂

  6. Cebu jeepney article at Juan Magazine | langyaw
    December 31, 2009 @ 18:13

    […] my portfolio blog post. The article was based on the blog post that I’ve done last September: Cebu jeepneys: Of flying pigs and bold hues as part of my series Cebu-Sugbo kini. As the article only included one image, head on to the […]

  7. Langyaw in 2009 | langyaw
    December 31, 2009 @ 18:15

    […] not so known natural attraction. There’s also the stunning moving works of art that is the Cebuano jeepney as well as the once popular jai alai still being played. Included also are multimedia presentations […]

  8. emerly g drye
    August 20, 2015 @ 10:45

    Its a talent what esthan did is amazing yay😊👍👍👍😉yes cebuano pinoy they are very artistic people quiet of talent that’s the lord give us amen haleluyah😊😘💖

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