We took a ride on God is Love yesterday morning, one of a thousand jeepneys that own the streets of Manila, renting out space to pedicabs and pedestrians. The ride to Malate Church a result of careful bargaining with my wife totaled 20 cents, regardless of the distance, a flat rate on God is Love's route. Jeepney nicknames are on placards right above the windshield: 3 Brothers and a Sister, The Nazarene, California, Janice, Javelin, the cleverly named Jesusa, Marilyn Ley and Fidel. References to religion and American pop culture abound, Angry Bird, Sacremento Kings, Tweety bird logos plastered on jeepney sides, all punctuated with a "God bless our trip" and "how is my driving?" on the back, framing the cave you climb into.
Hopping in the front cab after being signaled by the driver, we headed down chaotic streets filled with motorcycles, pedestrians, squatters, pedi and metered cabs all coexisting in a shared space, horns with quick beeps warning those on foot or slower vehicles being passed, lanes being doubled or tripled is common. The cab was all bedazzled mini-lights, rosary beads, scapulas, change bin, and small photos of Jesus with the stigmata.
In the book I am reading, the author describes these decorations as "...the et cetera of our lives the jeepney cannot live without." I could not have described it better.